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How long do you leave fajitas on the grill?

Fajitas are a delicious Tex-Mex dish of marinated and grilled steak, chicken or shrimp served with warm tortillas, sauteed peppers and onions, guacamole, salsa, cheese and other toppings. Getting the timing right when grilling fajitas is important to ensure the meat is cooked through without drying out and the veggies are tender-crisp.

Quick Answer

The total grill time for fajitas is usually 8-12 minutes. Chicken fajitas take about 8-10 minutes, shrimp fajitas take 6-8 minutes, and skirt steak fajitas take 10-12 minutes to grill. You want the meat and veggies to get nice char marks without overcooking. The meat should be cooked through while still remaining juicy.

Detailed Grilling Instructions

Here are more details on how long to grill each type of fajita:

Chicken Fajitas

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs trimmed of excess fat are commonly used for chicken fajitas. They are typically marinated for 30 minutes up to overnight before grilling. Grill chicken fajitas over direct high heat for 4-5 minutes per side, for a total of 8-10 minutes. This allows the exterior to develop char marks and caramelization while the interior cooks through to 165°F.

Shrimp Fajitas

Medium shrimp are the most common choice for shrimp fajitas. Marinate the peeled, deveined shrimp for 15-30 minutes before grilling. Grill the shrimp over direct high heat for 2-3 minutes per side, for a total of 6-8 minutes. Shrimp cooks very quickly, so watch it carefully to avoid overcooking.

Skirt Steak Fajitas

Skirt steak is the traditional choice for beef fajitas due to its flavor and texture. Marinate the skirt steak for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours for more flavor. Grill over high direct heat for 5-6 minutes per side, for a total of 10-12 minutes for medium doneness. Let the steak rest 5 minutes before slicing across the grain into thin strips.

Peppers and Onions

Sliced bell peppers and onions are a key component of fajitas. Toss them in a bit of oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the veggies over direct high heat alongside the meat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and tender-crisp, about 8-12 minutes total. Onions may take a few minutes longer than the peppers to become tender.

Tips for Grilling Fajitas

Follow these tips for perfect fajitas off the grill every time:

  • Use a hot grill. Heat your gas or charcoal grill to high heat. You want a hot cooking surface to achieve those nice char marks.
  • Use long grilling tongs to flip the meat and veggies. A grill spatula can easily tear the tortillas.
  • Cut the meat across the grain into thin strips for tenderness after grilling.
  • Wrap the tortillas in foil and place on the grill the last 1-2 minutes to warm through.
  • Don’t overload the grill. Avoid overcrowding which can cause steaming instead of searing.
  • Let meat rest before slicing and serving for juicier fajitas.
  • Serve the meat and veggies immediately for the best flavor and texture.

Common Questions

Can you bake fajitas instead of grilling?

Yes, fajitas can be baked in the oven instead of grilled. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place sliced peppers and onions on a baking sheet and toss with oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway, until tender and lightly charred. In a separate pan, cook the meat over medium-high heat until cooked through, then keep warm. Wrap tortillas in foil and warm in the oven the last few minutes.

How do you grill fajitas on a gas grill?

For gas grills, preheat all burners on high for 10-15 minutes. Clean and oil the grates. Cook the meat and veggies over direct high heat, turning once halfway through. Avoid excessive flaring by keeping the lid open. Cook the meat to the recommended internal temperatures.

How do you grill fajitas on a charcoal grill?

For charcoal grills, ignite a full chimney of coals. Once they are ready, distribute evenly and let the coals heat the grates for 5-10 minutes. Scrape the grates clean and lightly oil them. Cook the fajitas over direct high heat, turning once, until done. Add additional fresh coals as needed to maintain heat.

What is the best cut of meat for fajitas?

Skirt steak is considered the traditional and best cut for beef fajitas because of its robust beefy flavor and moderate tenderness when grilled correctly. Other good options include flank steak, hanger steak, sirloin flap, and ranch steak.

What is the difference between skirt steak and flank steak?

Skirt steak comes from the diaphragm muscle of the cow, while flank steak comes from the lower belly. Skirt steak has more marbling and intense beefy flavor. Flank steak is leaner with a looser grain that requires slicing across the grain for tenderness.

How long do you marinate fajita meat?

For the best flavor, marinate fajita meat for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight in the refrigerator. Quick marinades for 30 minutes to 2 hours are common. Longer marinating times allow the meat to absorb more flavor.

How do you know when fajitas are done grilling?

Chicken fajitas are done when the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Steak and shrimp fajitas are done when they have developed nice grill marks and the interior is opaque. Shrimp will turn pink and orange when cooked through. The vegetables are done when they have grill marks and are tender-crisp.

Can you cook raw fajitas from frozen?

It’s best not to cook frozen fajitas directly on the grill. Defrost them first by placing the sealed package in the refrigerator overnight. For quicker defrosting, seal the frozen fajitas in a plastic bag and submerge in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until thawed.

Should you soak wooden skewers before grilling fajitas?

Yes, if using wooden skewers for fajitas or any food on the grill, it’s important to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes first. This prevents the wood from burning during grilling. Double skewer for more stability if needed.

Nutrition Facts

The nutrition facts for fajitas can vary significantly based on the type of meat, veggies, and serving size. Here is the approximate nutrition breakdown for a typical serving of chicken fajitas with onions and peppers:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 230
Fat 8 g
Carbs 10 g
Protein 28 g

Fajitas made with steak or shrimp will be slightly higher in calories and fat. Adding toppings like cheese, guacamole and sour cream will also increase the calories. Going easy on high-calorie toppings makes fajitas a relatively healthy grilled meal.


Grilling fajitas is easy and fun. The key is using a hot grill and avoiding overcrowding. Chicken fajitas take 8-10 minutes total to cook, shrimp fajitas take 6-8 minutes, and skirt steak fajitas take 10-12 minutes. Get the peppers and onions tender-crisp while the meat cooks through and you’ll have delicious fajitas ready in about 10 minutes. Use marinades for flavor and slice the meat thinly across the grain after grilling. With a little practice, you can be an expert at making perfect fajitas on the grill every time.