Beef fajitas are often a more expensive choice on the menu at a Mexican restaurant. They come to the table steaming and sizzling with a colorful assortment of peppers and onions. They’re most definitely a crowd pleaser. The truth is, beef fajitas can be made at home and they don’t have to break the bank. The key to sensory overload, flavorful beef fajitas is in choosing the right seasoning, marinade, and cut of meat.
You can have restaurant quality fajitas at home.
Most often, beef fajitas are made using skirt steak. A skirt steak comes from the belly of the cow. It is generally a long and narrow cut of beef. It is known to be a tough cut that benefits from time spent in marinade. To make fajitas from skirt steak, the cut is sliced first, then placed in marinade, and finally cooked.
Most recently, when my family decided to do fajitas for dinner, our freezer was out of the traditional skirt steak. We did have ribeye steaks on hand, though. Typically, ribeye steaks are pan seared or grilled, and served as whole steaks. They are well marbled and known for their beefy flavor and tender cut. When serving ribeye steaks, we generally serve one steak per person. Turning two ribeye steaks into fajitas seemed like an economical way to stretch the steaks beyond just two people. In this economy, every budget saving meal is a win.
When using ribeyes rather than skirt steak, keep the steaks whole for cooking. I scored the steaks with a knife to allow the seasoning into the meat.
The seasoning was sprinkled into the bag and massaged into the meat with hands outside the bag.
Once the marinade was added to the bag, the bag was placed into the refrigerator for two hours. The bag was flipped once during that time.
To use ribeye steaks for fajitas, I decided to marinade and sear the steaks whole, rather than in pre-cut pieces. I used a very sharp knife to score the steaks in cross hatches about 1/4 inch deep. After patting the steaks dry, I placed them in a ziplock bag. I poured the dry seasoning mixture over both sides of the steaks. Then, with my hands on the outside of the bag, I massaged the seasonings into the meat. Before closing the bag, I added in the liquid marinade. I then put the bag in the refrigerator for four hours, flipping it once to redistribute the marinade.
When it was time to cook dinner, I removed the steaks from the refrigerator and from the ziplock bag. I pat them dry with a paper towel and set them on a plate to warm to room temperature while I cooked the vegetables. I cooked the peppers, onions, and garlic in a separate pan before searing the steaks. I prefer to sear steaks in a cast iron pan. I heated this pan over medium heat before adding the oil. When the cast iron pan and oil were hot, I liberally salted one side of the steaks, and placed them in the pan salt side down. These ribeye steaks were a little over an inch thick. I seared each side for 4-5 minutes, salting the second side before flipping the steaks.
Colorful, fresh ingredients make for colorful fajitas.
I cooked the vegetables in a separate pan before adding them to the fajita meat.
After the steaks were nicely browned on both sides, I turned off the heat, and moved the steaks from the pan to a cutting board. I allowed them to rest for about five minutes before slicing them into strips. There is a lot of fat on a ribeye steak. I cut around this to get nice, clean strips. Once cut, I placed the strips of steak back into the pan. I poured the drippings over the strips of meat. I stirred the strips around for a minute before scooting them to the side of the pan. At that point, I placed the cooked vegetables on the other side of the pan. This was then ready for serving, with all the beauty of restaurant fajitas.
The steaks should be browned and caramelized when you flip to the second side.
Regarding reviews, my family enjoyed fajitas made from ribeye steak much more than the traditional skirt steak. The steak was tender and juicy and well flavored. It wasn’t hard to chew for the child in our family. In terms of being budget conscious, we were able to comfortably feed six people from two ribeye steaks rather than just two people being served whole steaks. We will definitely repeat ribeye steaks as fajitas.
Beef Fajita Seasoning and Marinade
– 2 ribeye steaks about 1 inch thick (see notes above regarding this cut of meat)
– 1 gallon sized ziplock bag
– 2 tsp cumin
– 2 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp cayenne powder
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp sea salt
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
– 1/3 c lime juice
– 1/4 c orange juice
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 2 tbsp “No Soy” sauce (or other gluten free soy alternative)
– 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1. Remove the steaks from packaging and pat dry with a paper towel. With a very sharp knife, slice cross hatches into the steaks about 1/4 inch deep, then place the steaks into a gallon size ziplock bag.
2. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. After thoroughly mixed, remove 1 tsp of the dry mixture and set it aside in another bowl.
3. Pour the remaining dry ingredients over both sides of the steaks. With hands outside the ziplock bag, massage the dry ingredients into the steaks.
4. Mix the wet marinade ingredients together in a bowl. When done, remove 2 tbsp of the marinade and combine it with the tsp of dry seasonings reserved earlier. (This will be added to the peppers and onions when cooking later.)
5. Pour the remaining marinade into the ziplock bag. Remove the air from the bag and seal it. Move the liquid around the bag to combine it with the dry ingredients.
6. Set the ziplock bag in the refrigerator for 4 hours, turning once to move the marinade around the steaks.
Ribeye Beef Fajitas
– 2 large skillets or cast iron pans (I prefer cast iron for cooking steaks)
– ribeye steaks post marinade (see recipe above)
– 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
– 2 large sweet peppers (orange, red, or yellow), sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
– 1 large red onion, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
– 3 cloves garlic, mashed and diced
– reserved seasoning and marinade (see recipe above)
– sea salt
– tortillas, cilantro, and lime juice for serving
1. Remove the steaks from the ziplock bag and place them on a plate. Discard the bag and marinade. Pat the steaks dry using a paper towel. Leave them on the counter to warm to room temperature as you cook the vegetables.
2. Heat a large skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Once hot, add half the oil to the pan.
3. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute over medium heat. The peppers will begin to blister. The bottom of the pan may begin to brown and collect crust.
4. Once the vegetables are soft to your preference, add the reserved seasoning and marinade mixture. Use this to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Stir the mixture thoroughly. Turn the heat down all the way, using just enough heat to keep the mixture warm.
5. Heat the separate skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat, and when hot, add the remaining oil.
6. Salt one side of the steaks liberally. Place the steaks into the skillet, salt side down. Sear the steaks for 4-5 minutes or until a brown crust has developed on the bottom side.
7. Before flipping the steaks, salt the top side liberally. Then, using tongs, flip the steaks over. Sear the second side for 4-5 minutes.
8. Turn off the burner when done. Move the steaks from the pan to a cutting board. Allow them to rest for about 5 minutes, then slice the steaks into fajita strips. Return them to the pan when done and pour any drippings over the slices.
9. Move the sliced steak around in the pan for a minute of two. Once all of the brown bits and drippings have been absorbed, slide the steak to one side of the pan. Add the cooked vegetables to the other side of the pan. Use this pan for serving.
Here on SpringForestFarm.com, Jennifer Taylor Schmidt writes beef recipes for the busy, natural homemaker. It is possible to seek optimal health with limited time and money. Join Jennifer in future posts as she explores the possibilities found in a 1/4 and a 1/2 beeve. You can also find her thoughts and personal health journey on RealFoodRealHealing.com.