Looking for a chicken fajita dish with seasoning that is delicious, fast, easy and makes a big family-sized meal? Fajita dishes will come and go, but this sheet pan version is a keeper!
When I think about making chicken fajitas, I often default and assume that I will cook them in the cast iron skillet. That's been our approach for years. But the truth is, it's not just my husband (with a big appetite) and myself eating dinner anymore. My almost 2-year old has a unprecedented appetite. As in, I get remarks from other moms about how much he eats. Good problem, right?
And when it comes to making family meals so that we have enough to serve for both dinner and lunch the next day, I'm not going to lie when I say our food budget has more certainly increased as of late. Lately, I've found myself making bigger meals and doing more batch cooking. Some for dinner, for lunch, and if there're still leftovers, they can be used on a salad, in a soup, a pizza or even chopped up on a quick nachos dinner down the road. And the beauty of something like a fajitas dish is that the filling is freezer friendly.
Back in the day before being parents, we also used to love dining out. We still do, but just not as often now. Waiting for service is not always conducive to nap time schedules and other family activities. However, one of our favourite things from our more frequent dining out days were the gourmet salsa options we would have when indulging in Mexican foods. The other thing about salsa and spices is that as much as my son loves a bit of chilli flavouring, anything beyond that is still too hot for him at this age. And, sadly many of the salsas at dining establishments are not made with a toddler in mind.
All that to say that finding a way to make a fast & easy family-sized fajita meal with a savoury gourmet salsa has been on my to-do list for while. And since Cinco de Mayo is around the corner, what better time than now?
Beginners Tips for Sheet Pan Dinners
The other concept I've been fascinated with lately is making meals on a sheet pan. I love the "idea" of it. But after experimenting with it a bit last year, I got turned off because some recipes would work, others wouldn't, and quite frankly there's nothing worse than suddenly not having a dinner to eat (because it is a little more than well done) when you have a hungry kid.
But yet, I still saw people posting these gorgeous photos of sheet pan dinners, saying that everything cooked perfectly on one pan, and how easy it was to pop it in the oven and walk away, make a side salad, or even relax for a moment. The appeal was real! So I decided to invest in doing some research, which then led to investing in some supplies.
Allow me to explain what I learned in a few tips for Sheet Pan Beginners (and you can learn with me):
- Make sure you have awesome sheet pans. The quality of the meal will depend on the quality of the sheet pan you use. In other words, you really want to have an original aluminum sheet pan that doesn't have nonstick coating on it. Not only do these coatings eventually wear off (and contaminate your food if placed directly against it), but they often cause the pans themselves to heat up higher than a simple aluminum pan would, leading to unpredictable temperatures and cooking results. I visited an excellent kitchen supply store and invested in two "half sheet pans" for our cooking and baking pleasure. Best investment ever!
- Use an oil to prevent sticking, burning and one that won't smoke! Use an oil (to prevent sticking) in combination with aluminum foil (for ease of clean up) and one that has a higher smoking point, as many sheet pan recipes will be in the 400-500F degree range. Good suggestions for this include grapeseed oil and canola oil.
- Know where to place your sheet pan in the oven for the recipe to cook best (this may vary from recipe to recipe). Make sure your oven rack is placed in the middle of the oven for this recipe (or chicken recipes in general). Some other types of meat may be okay for broiling, but middle of the oven is a great location for poultry.
- Make sure your veggies and/or meat are cut to appropriate sizes to ensure they cook well through without burning on the outside. For cooking chicken, make sure your pieces are not too thick to too big (not much more than 1/2-1 inch thick, and they should be no bigger than the size of a deck of cards (about 3X2 inches on the surface). For fajitas I cut the pieces a bit smaller than this since they work better for the dish.
- Make sure you have an excellent and reliable meat thermometer. There is nothing enjoyable about overcooked, dried out chicken. The cooked temperature for chicken is 165F. Every oven will be different, so while my oven only took 20 minutes at 450F to cook the chicken to this temperature, yours might take longer. Make sure to check!
Without further adieu, I share with you the fastest an easiest way to make big-batch & delicious chicken fajitas with no stress at all. And don't forget the salsa! (And if leftovers aren't your thing, just make half the recipe!)
Sheet Pan Chili-Lime Chicken Fajitas with Corn + Cilantro Salsa
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking TIme: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 8-10 servings
Fajita Seasoning Mix Ingredients:
- 1 tbsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 2 pounds chicken breast pieces, sliced into half inch thick + large bite sized chunks
- 4 sweet coloured peppers, sliced
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- Corn Tortillas (24 small, if you plan to eat the whole pan as fajitas!)
- Preheat oven to 450F. Cover one half sheet pan (21 inches by 15 inches) with aluminum foil and oil the foil with no more than 1 tbsp of canola oil.
In a large bowl, combine chilli powder, cumin, garlic powder, tamari, lime juice, canola oil, and maple syrup.
Cut chicken to desired serving size (pieces should be no thicker than 3/4 to 1/2 inch thick for ease of cooking).
Cut onion and peppers.
Add the prepared veggies and chicken into the large bowl with the fajita seasoning mix and toss well until seasoning is evenly distributed on the fajita filling.
Spread fajita filling out evenly on the prepared sheet pan.
Bake for 18-25 minutes (all ovens will vary in cooking times) until chicken is cooked (internal temperature should be no less than 165F) and the veggies are soft.
Serve fajita filling with tortillas, corn + cilantro salsa (recipe below), and all your favourite fajita fixings!
KIDS IN THE KITCHEN: If kids are old enough to use a knife, they can do so with the supervision of an adult. They can also help by measuring and mixing the fajita seasoning mixture, stirring all of the ingredients together, and helping to lay the recipe onto the sheet pan.
Corn + Cilantro Salsa
Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 3 cups
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 2 cups of frozen corn, cooked (if using fresh corn, even better!)
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp cumin
- In medium glass bowl, cook corn according to the package directions (or even a bit less, as it does not need to be hot), or rinse under hot water to defrost. Drain the corn.
- Add the diced tomato, diced red onion and chopped cilantro into the corn.
- In a small bowl, add in the lime juice, canola oil, cumin and combine well.
- Pour the lime juice mixture over the corn mixture and mix well.
KIDS IN THE KITCHEN: This is a perfect recipe to get kids involved! If kids are old enough, they can help to dice the tomato and the onion. But they could also help by rinsing the frozen corn and measuring and mixing the simple dressing for the salsa.
Are you a sheet pan dinner convert yet? So far, I'm loving the one bowl and one pan situation we had going on over with, and plenty of leftovers. And a large meal in just over half an hour, that can be prepped in advance? A winner in my books! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!