Chicken Fajita Bowls

These Chicken Fajita Bowls are better than any restaurant and the marinade does practically all the work! 

These Chicken Fajita Bowls are bursting with honey lime chipotle chicken on a bed of Cilantro Lime Rice and Black Beans all topped with creamy Chipotle Sour Cream.  Its a flavor, texture bomb in every can’t-stop-eating bite!  

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chicken fajita bowls with rice and bell peppers

Chicken Fajita Bowls

Happy Spring!  I always remember the first day of spring because its on my brother’s birthday – March 20th.  He would always joke, “Spring began when I was born.”  So in honor of my brother, Spencer, I bring you his favorite type of food – Mexican food in the form of these Chicken Fajita Bowls!

Mexican Food conveniently also happens to be one of my favorite foods.  In fact, my recipe index is 95% Mexican and Asian food because I can’t get enough of the multidimensional flavors which make me want to close my eyes and savor every last taste upon my tongue.  And you will want to savor every last bite of these Chicken Fajita Bowls!

I set off in this Fajita Bowl recipe to create a bowl that was packed with the layered flavors and textures I adore and nothing short of what you would find at your favorite Mexican restaurant – and then some.

So I am just going to say it right now…

These Chicken Fajita bowls are INSANELY DELICIOUS!!!  PLEASE MAKE THEM!

WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST FOR chicken FAJITA bowls?

You have two options when it comes to what chicken you would like to use for this Chicken Fajita Bowls recipe, either chicken thighs or chicken breasts. In the end, I think it comes down to personal preference.

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts:  are leaner than thighs but still emerge wonderfully juicy from the chicken fajita marinade and are traditionally used in Chicken Fajitas. 
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: are dark meat and therefore inherently juicier and more forgiving as far as cooking time.  It is hard to dry out chicken thighs, so they are always a winner.

CHICKEN FAJITA bowl ingredients

The most effective way to infuse chicken with flavor and tenderize it at the same time is with a marinade.   Our dynamic Chicken Fajita Bowl Marinade also allows you to use leaner cuts of chicken like chicken breasts without the chicken drying out.  Of course, you are welcome to use chicken thighs if you prefer.

The ingredient list is somewhat lengthy, but remember, all we are doing is dumping and stirring and each spice, each dash of citrus, each splash of liquid smoke works together to create an explosion of epic fiesta proportions. Here’s what you’ll need for the marinade:

  • olive oil: use quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • lime juice: you will need the juice from about one lime.
  • soy sauce: use reduced sodium soy sauce so we can control the salt.
  • brown sugar: balances the tangy orange, lime juice and umami of the soy.
  • Dijon mustard: adds a hint of acid and tangy heat.
  • liquid smoke: adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the chicken as if it has been grilled on an outdoor barbecue over a hot flame.  It elevates these Chicken Fajitas to the best ever!
  • fajita seasonings: we make a homemade fajita seasoning blend with pantry friendly seasonings of chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika,, chipotle chili powder, dried oregano and pepper.

DO I HAVE TO ADD CHIPOTLE CHILI POWDER?

You are probably familiar with all of the chicken fajita marinade ingredients except perhaps chipotle chili powder and liquid smoke – but I recommend purchasing them both as they will (or should) become pantry staples.

Chipotle Chili powder is ground up dried chipotles and adds a smoky heat as opposed to just pure heat. It can be found in any grocery store along with the rest of the seasonings.  It is sometimes called chipotle chili pepper or chipotle chile powder. If you need to make these Chicken Fajita Bowls NOW, then you can substitute the chipotle chili powder with ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper is spicier, so that is why you’ll want use less.

DO I HAVE TO ADD LIQUID SMOKE?

Liquid smoke (it really is liquid smoke!), is worth seeking out. I use it in many of my recipes from Mexican Chicken to BBQ Brisket to these Chicken Fajita Bowls. Liquid smoke is created by capturing smoke as it rises through a combustion chamber filled with wood chips to a condenser.  In the condenser, the smoke cools and forms a liquid, thus liquid smoke.  (thank you Wikipedia).  It is a very common ingredient and should be easy to find next to the barbecue sauces in your grocery store.

chicken fajita bowls with crema in na bowl

how to make Chicken Fajita Bowls

I made these Chicken Fajita Bowls twice in one week to fine tune the recipe and I loved every second of it!

Chicken Fajita Marinade

I loved every second of anticipation as I whisked together the honey, lime juice, chipotle powder, cumin, smoked paprika and liquid smoke and thought of the chicken soaking up the dynamic spices overnight.

Fajita Vegetable Marinade

I loved every second of anticipation as I whisked in more honey to create the tantalizing fajita vegetable marinade and then added black beans, sweet corn, red onion and bell peppers.

Cilantro Lime Rice

I loved every second of anticipation until it was finally time to cook the Chicken Fajita Bowls, beginning with lime, cumin spiced rice with black beans and cilantro – this rice alone is enough to get excited and rave about!  (Note how much of the prep work is done before its time to cook!!! So even though the ingredient list is long, most of the ingredients are spices in the marinade and vegetables prepared hours before you cook.)

Fajita Chicken

I loved every second of anticipation as I cooked my juicy chicken in all its spiced glory until  browned and golden and then had a hard time slicing it “pretty” for the pictures because it was oh so tender.

Chipotle Lime Crema

I loved every second of anticipation as I prepared my Chipotle Lime Crema with sour cream, lime juice, chipotle powder and clilantro (I’m drooling all over again!) while my chicken was browning by simply whisking all of the ingredients together.

How to Cook Fajita Vegetables

I loved every second of anticipation as I added my fajita vegetables to the skillet my chicken was cooked in (less pans to clean!) and cooked until just heated through so they would still seep of honey and lime and taste crisp, and fresh.

How to Assemble Chicken Fajita Bowls

I loved every second of anticipation as I layered my bowl with Cilantro Lime Black Bean Rice, Montery Jack Cheese (I love cheesy rice!), crisp Honey Lime Fajita Vegetables, then Honey Lime Fajita Chicken and topped it all with Chipotle Lime Crema.

And finally, I LOVED the moment I shoved the layers and layers of texture and honey lime chipotle flavor into my mouth.  Worth every single second of anticipation and preparation…and then some!

TIPS AND TRICK TO MAKE CHICKEN FAJITA BOWLS

  • Cast Iron Skillet:  A cast iron skillet will give your fajita chicken and vegetables the best sear.  If you don’t own a cast iron skillet, make sure your pan is sizzling hot before you add your chicken.
  • Liquid Smoke:  Liquid smoke adds a wonderful  smoky flavor to the chicken as if it has been grilled on an outdoor barbecue over a hot flame.  Liquid Smoke can be found next next to the barbecue sauces at your grocery store.
  • Chipotle Chili Powder:  This spice is ground up dried chipotles and can be found in any grocery store along with the rest of the seasonings.  It is sometimes called chipotle chili pepper or chipotle chile powder.
  • Bell peppers.  You can use whatever combo of peppers you like.  You can even add more peppers if you prefer.
  • Pineapple.   Try adding pineapple to you fajita bowls  –  it adds a delightful, juicy freshness.
  • Rice Cooker.  You can cook the Cilantro Lime Rice and black beans in your rice cooker and adjust liquid according to your manufactures directions.  Make sure you add thte rice then the correct amount of liquid and then the black beans otherwise the volume of the black beans will throw off the liquid measurement.  Substitute the red onion for ½ teaspoon onion powder and the garlic for 1 teaspoon garlic powder.  Add the cilantro and lime juice once the rice is finished cooking.
  • Cheese.  Feel free to add either Mexican, sharp or Monterrey cheese to your Chicken Fajita Bowls.  I would add the cheese after the right but before the chicken so it is sandwiched in between the hot layers and melt without needing to be microwaved.
  • Spice it up or down.  If you know you don’t like heat then only use 1 teaspoon chipolte chili powder and omit the cayenne pepper.  It it is easy to add spice later with hot sauce but it is hard to tone it done!
  • Yogurt Substitute.  You can substitute yogurt for the sour cream in the Chipotle Crema and start with less lime juice to taste because yogurt is inherently tangier than sour cream.
top view of chicken fajita bowls garnished with cilantro

CHICKEN FAJITA bowl VARIATIONS

  • Versatile bell peppers.  You can use whatever combo of peppers you like.  You can even add more peppers if you prefer.
  • Beans. Omit the beans or swap them for your favorites.
  • Add Veggies. You can add additional veggies or swap some of the bell peppers for veggies such as zucchini, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Corn Salsa.  I’m obsessed with sweet, smoky, crunchy, juicy corn salsa.  I’ve already used in my pork tacos and think it belongs on everything!  OR you can just serve it on the side with some chips.
  • Add pineapple or pineapple salsa.  Freshly chopped pineapple or grilled sweet and smoky pineapple salsa pair beautifully with Chicken Fajita Bowls and add a delightfully juicy, sweet freshness.
  • Shrimp Substitute.  You can substitute chicken for raw, deveined, shrimp.   The shrimp should only be marinated 30 minutes at room temperature and will only take 5 minutes or so to cook – just until opaque.
  • Spice it up.  The spice level as written should be perfect for most people but if you know you love spicy then feel free to add extra cayenne pepper or you can add hot sauce to taste to the assembled chicken fajitas.
  • Freeze Marinating Chicken: Add chicken to the marinade in a freezer bag, squeeze out excess air, label and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight then use immediately.
  • Chicken: After you have cooked the chicken, let it cool completely then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for 2 to 3 months.

WHAT TOPPINGS GO ON CHICKEN FAJITA BOWLS?

I love topping Chicken Fajita Bowls with the Chipolte Lime Crema but you can simply use sour cream if you prefer.  Other favorite toppings include:

  • Sour Cream:  adds delightful tangy creaminess.   If you are trying to save some calories, you may the substitute the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt.  Although not authentic, it gets the job done and you don’t have to feel guilty about piling it on.
  • Avocado Crema: is my addiction and my preference over chopped avocados or guacamole.  Avocado crema is a marriage of avocados, sour cream and lime juice, is wonderfully silky, tangy and just takes minutes in your blender.  The luscious, refreshing tanginess cuts through and compliments the robust, smoky flavors.
  • Guacamole:  use your favorite recipe or my homemade guacamole recipe (amazing!) or you can even use store bought.
  • Avocados: chopped or sliced avocados are the easiest avocado option and add a wonderful creaminess.
  • Pico de gallo:  is fresh tomato salsa that adds a vibrant, punchy freshness.  You can use my homemade pico de de gallo recipe or store bought. You can make the pico de gallo ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Cheese: Cotija or queso fresco.  Cotija is found with the specialty cheeses and is delightfully salty.  It is often called the “Mexican Parmesan.”
  • Cilantro:  if you skip the pico de gallo, you can load on fresh cilantro and tomatoes instead.
  • Jalapenos: you can also amp up the heat with chopped or sliced jalapenos or hot sauce.   
  • Pickle onions: are tangy, punchy fantastic.
  • Salsas: so many to choose from!  Store bought salsa is always an easy topping or get fancy with my homemade restaurant salsa salsa verdeblack bean corn salsaavocado salsa, charred corn salsa, mango salsa, or pineapple salsa.

WHAT SIDES SHOULD I SERVE WITH CHICKEN FAJITA Bowls?

These Chicken Fajita Bowls are a meal-in-one and don’t need much by the way of sides. Still, they are fabulous with:

WHAT CAN I PREP AHEAD?

Many of the components of these Chicken Fajita Bowls can be prepped ahead:

  • Marinade: Whisk all the marinade ingredients together and either store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or proceed to marinate your chicken.
  • Vegetables: Slice your bell peppers and onions and store in an an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
  • Chipotle Lime Crema: Can be whisked together and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days in advance.
  • Toppings: pico de gallo and guacamole are common toppings for Chicken Fajita Bowls. Pico de gallo and guacamole can be made the morning you plan on serving the fajitas.

HOW LONG DO CHICKEN FAJITA Bowls LAST IN THE FRIDGE?

Chicken Fajita Bowls should be stored in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

HOW TO REHEAT CHICKEN FAJITA bowls

  • Microwave:  transfer to a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 60 seconds then at 20 second intervals as needed.
  • Skillet: warm in a skillet on the stove top over medium heat, stirring often until warmed through.

CAN I FREEZE CHICKEN FAJITA bowls?

Yes, you may freeze either the chicken after it is cooked or the chicken when it is added to the chicken fajita marinade. I do not recommend freezing the bell peppers as they will become mushy when thawed.

Cook’s Last note

I can’t even begin to describe how good these Honey Lime Chipotle Chicken Fajita Bowls are…that’s why I had to describe my anticipation, because really, I have no words for the end product!  I really hope you don’t get discouraged by the somewhat lengthy list of ingredients.  Most of them, really are in the marinade or simply spices and veggies, and its a meal in one so you don’t have to make any side dishes, so…PLEASE MAKE THESE CHICKEN FAJITA BOWLS!!!  I know you are going to love them and that would make you happy and that would make me happy that you are happy!

Spring began when Honey Lime Chipotle Chicken Fajita Bowls with Chipotle Lime Crema were born in your home.  They will make your taste buds come alive!!! xoxox!

chicken fajita bowls with sliced chicken lined in a row on top of rice

Looking for More Fajita Recipes?

Honey Lime Chipotle Chicken Fajita Bowls with Chipotle Lime Crema

These Chicken Fajita Bowls are better than any restaurant and the marinade does practically all the work! They are bursting with honey lime chipotle chicken on a bed of Cilantro Lime Rice and Black Beans all topped with creamy Chipotle Sour Cream.  Its a flavor, texture bomb in every can’t-stop-eating bite!  
Servings: 6 -8 bowls
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts pounded thin (3-4 chicken breasts)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic,finely minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder (2 for spicier)
  • 1 tsp EACH salt, ground cumin, smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Fajita Vegetables

  • Reserved marinade
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 red onion, diced **OR QUARTERED if grilling**
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced then cut into thirds **OR QUARTERED if grilling*
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced then cut into thirds **OR QUARTERED if grilling*
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet corn (fresh canned or frozen-thawed) **OR 1 EAR CORN, shucked if grilling**

Cilantro Lime Rice and Black Beans

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups long grained rice
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14.5 oz. can black beans,, drained and rinsed
  • 1 dash salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice

Chipotle Lime Sour Crema

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (start with ¼ tsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of cayenne (optional)
  • ¼ – 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped

Cheese

  • 2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

Instructions

  • Marinade: Place chicken in a large freezer bag and pound thin with meat mallet (or with the side of a large can or rolling pin). Mix marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and add half of the marinade to the chicken in the freezer bag, place in refrigerator. To the remaining marinade, whisk in ⅓ cup honey. Add this marinade to another freezer bag and add fajita vegetables (including corn). Marinate chicken and vegetables separately 6-10 hours.
  • Rice: When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add red onion and saute 3-5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cumin and saute 30 more seconds (adding more oil beforehand if necessary). Add rice and saute for a few seconds. Add beans and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for approximately 20 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring at 15 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
  • Chipotle Lime Crema: While the rice is cooking, prepare Chipotle Lime Crema by mixing together the sour cream, lime juice, salt, cilantro and just ½ teaspoon chipotle powder, adding more to taste. After adding desired chipotle powder, add cayenne if desired. Store in the refrigerator.
  • STOVETOP DIRECTIONS
  • Chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once skillet is very hot, remove chicken from freezer bag, discard marinade and add to skillet. Cook, undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-8 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 3-5 minutes before slicing.
  • Fajita Vegetables: While chicken is resting, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same skillet chicken was cooked in and heat over medium heat. Discard marinade from fajita vegetables and add to skillet. Cooked just until warmed through, stirring occasionally.
  • Assembly: In bowls, layer rice, cheese, fajita vegetables, and chicken. Top with Chipotle Lime Crema.
  • GRILLING DIRECTIONS
  • Chicken: Let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting). Meanwhile, grease and preheat grill to medium heat, 375-450°F. Discard marinade from chicken and grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.) Remove chicken from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Fajita Vegetables
  • Discard marinade from fajita vegetables. Lightly coat bell peppers and onions with olive oil. String onions onto a skewer (let skewer soak 30 minutes if wooden), and grill both onions and peppers at medium high heat until slightly tender and lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes for the onions, 6 minutes for the bell peppers, flipping occasionally while cooking. Once cool enough to handle, slice into strips.
  • Meanwhile, brush corn with olive oil and wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil. Grill for approximately 15 minutes or to desired tenderness – does not need to be cooked through – rotating occasionally. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from ear of corn.
  • Assembly: In bowls, layer rice, cheese, fajita vegetables, and chicken. Top with Chipotle Lime Crema.

Notes

TIPS AND TRICK TO MAKE CHICKEN FAJITA BOWLS

  • Cast Iron Skillet:  A cast iron skillet will give your fajita chicken and vegetables the best sear.  If you don’t own a cast iron skillet, make sure your pan is sizzling hot before you add your chicken.
  • Liquid Smoke:  Liquid smoke adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the chicken as if it has been grilled on an outdoor barbecue over a hot flame.  Liquid Smoke can be found next next to the barbecue sauces at your grocery store.
  • Chipotle Chili Powder:  This spice is ground up dried chipotles and can be found in any grocery store along with the rest of the seasonings.  It is sometimes called chipotle chili pepper or chipotle chile powder.
  • Bell peppers.  You can use whatever combo of peppers you like.  You can even add more peppers if you prefer.
  • Pineapple.   Try adding pineapple to you fajita bowls  –  it adds a delightful, juicy freshness.
  • Rice Cooker.  You can cook the Cilantro Lime Rice and black beans in your rice cooker and adjust liquid according to your manufactures directions.  Make sure you add thte rice then the correct amount of liquid and then the black beans otherwise the volume of the black beans will throw off the liquid measurement.  Substitute the red onion for ½ teaspoon onion powder and the garlic for 1 teaspoon garlic powder.  Add the cilantro and lime juice once the rice is finished cooking.
  • Cheese.  Feel free to add either Mexican, sharp or Monterrey cheese to your Chicken Fajita Bowls.  I would add the cheese after the right but before the chicken so it is sandwiched in between the hot layers and melt without needing to be microwaved.
  • Spice it up or down.  If you know you don’t like heat then only use 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder and omit the cayenne pepper.  It it is easy to add spice later with hot sauce but it is hard to tone it done!
  • Yogurt Substitute.  You can substitute yogurt for the sour cream in the Chipotle Crema and start with less lime juice to taste because yogurt is inherently tangier than sour cream.
 

HOW TO store and REHEAT 

  • Storage: Chicken Fajita Bowls should be stored in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Microwave:  transfer to a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 60 seconds then at 20 second intervals as needed.
  • Skillet: warm in a skillet on the stove top over medium heat, stirring often until warmed through.

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47 Comments

  1. Brady says

    That was the most delicious thing I’ve ever found on Pinterest!!!!!
    I didn’t have liq. Smoke and I used tri color sweet peppers and red onions only. Holy Cow!

    • Jen says

      Hi Brady, sorry for the delay as I am way behind after recovering from pneumonia, but I so appreciate your comment! I am so flattered and honored you loved this recipe so much and that its the best recipe you’ve found on Pinterest – the ultimate compliment. Thank you!

  2. Darlene says

    LOVE your recipes! Your recipes are the best overall, that I have found on the internet…AMAZING!
    I made your chipotle chicken fajita bowl today and it tasted really good…only problem I had was when cooking the chicken on the stove (in an extremely hot pan of course), because of the wetness of the chicken from the marinade the chicken would not sear or blacken. Same with the marinated vegetables.
    The meal was still great but I know it would have been even better if it had blackened.
    Any suggestions for future attempts?

    • Jen says

      What an awesome comment, thank you SO much Darlene! I am honored flattered you are loving my recipes so much! As far as the chicken goes, I would dab off the excess marinade and that should do the trick!

  3. Debra says

    Mmmm! I made this last night for supper and it was super delicious! Both my boyfriend and I enjoyed it immensely! I really enjoy cooking, so it was really fun to make too! Many thanks!!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Debra, thank you s much for taking the time to comment! This was one of the first recipes I posted so I’m happy to hear it’s still being enjoyed! I hope you find many new favorites here!

  4. Kimberly M. says

    Hi Jen! Your commentary mentions orange juice but I don’t see it in the ingredient list! Am I missing it?! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Sorry about that! That is a mistake transferred from another recipe -fixed!

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