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When I’m in the mood for Mexican food, my favorite dish is beef steak fajitas. When eating out was not an option during the pandemic, I came up with an easy homemade version with a couple of changes. I’m all about quick and EASY.
The first change was the type of steak. Flank steak and skirt steak are usually used and cut against the grain to increase tenderness from a tougher cut of meat. I’m not a fan of cutting meat, so I went a different (less stressful) direction and bought pre-sliced steak typically used for stir-fry. Just because it’s labeled “stir-fry” doesn’t mean that I have to use it that way! Stir-fry steak is usually a more tender steak, either sirloin, flat-iron, or tenderloin. Better yet, it was on sale (I always shop the sales!).
Pre-cut steak reduces the prep to around 10 minutes to slice up the bell peppers and onion and mince the garlic. (Save more time buying pre-sliced peppers & onion.) It also cuts down on how long the steak needs to marinate. As it is already a tender cut, the marinade is more about flavoring than tenderizing.
The marinade is simply olive oil, various commonly used herbs and spices, and a little lime and orange juice. Of course, fresh is always best if you grow your own herbs and have the time to juice fruit. Maybe on the weekend, but that’s a big “not-going-to-happen” on a weekend night. Dried herbs and bottled juice work just fine! I don’t like spicy foods, so this is a low-heat recipe. Feel free to increase the chile powder or add a jalapeno or habanero pepper or two. If you’re not sure, you can always sprinkle some crushed red pepper at the end if you decide you want an extra kick.
I make the marinade in a gallon-size ziplock plastic bag. I can squeeze out most of the air, allowing maximum contact between the meat and the marinade. It also reduces possible cross-contamination in the refrigerator, not to mention it’s one less bowl in the dishwasher. The steak needs to marinate for at least 30 minutes but can hang out in the fridge overnight.
When the steak is ready, remove it from the bag and generously season with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a cast iron or stainless steel frying pan. My pan of choice is a cast iron skillet which was invented for searing steak! However, stainless steel will work just as well. What won’t work is a non-stick skillet, the high temp needed for the sear will ruin the non-stick finish. Non-stick should never be heated higher than med-high. For more info, check out my Navigating Cookware video or blog post.
The oil should be heated until it is shimmering (not smoking) and sizzles when adding the steak mixture. This is a quick sear. Depending on the thickness of the slices, the steak only needs a few minutes on each side. When the steak is done, remove it from the pan onto a plate.
If necessary, add another tablespoon of oil before adding the peppers and onions to the hot pan. I also added the remaining marinade from the ziplock bag for more flavor. It will take around 5 minutes for the peppers/onion to get soft and tender. Add the steak back to the pan and combine with the veggies.
If you’re living a low-carb or keto-friendly lifestyle, serve the fajitas with low-carb tortillas, lettuce wraps, cauliflower rice, or on a green salad. If carbs are of no concern, flour or corn tortillas are traditional. Guacamole, salsa, and sour cream are great toppings!
Easy Steak FajitasCourse: Main, DinnerCuisine: Mexican, Low Carb, Keto-FriendlyDifficulty: Easy
Easy Steak Fajitas made with pre-cut steak strips and a healthy dose of bell peppers and onions are tender, juicy, and packed with flavor. Stay low-carb and keto-friendly by serving with low-carb tortillas, lettuce cups, or cauliflower rice.
1/8 cup olive oil canola plus 2 tablespoons (divided)
1/8 cup orange juice
1 tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic , minced
1 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 pound steak, cut in strips
1 medium white onion, sliced
½ red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 pinch salt
Optional toppings: guacamole, sour cream, cilantro
Serving Options: flour tortillas, corn tortillas, lettuce cups, low carb tortillas, cauliflower rice or a salad
- Prep: Slice the bell peppers and onion and set aside. Mince the garlic.
- In a large resealable plastic bag (or a large mixing bowl) add 1/8 cup olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika and the steak strips. Toss to combine. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Remove the meat from the marinade, transfer to a plate or cutting board. Generously season both sides of the steak with coarse sea salt and black pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add the steak to the skillet and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, depending on how thick the steak is and the desired doneness. Remove the steak from the skillet, transfer to a plate.
- If needed, add an additional tablespoon of canola oil to the skillet. Add the onions, peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the veggies are soft. Return the steak to the skillet and combine. Serve along with the fajita veggies in tortillas, on a salad or in lettuce cups and enjoy!
- Skillet: Cast iron was made for steak fajitas, providing the best sear and the signature fajita sizzle. A stainless steel skillet will also work. Do not use a non-stick skillet, the necessary high temperature will damage the non-stick properties.
- Steak: I use pre-sliced stir-fry steak (usually sirloin, flat iron, shoulder, or tenderloin). If using flank steak or skirt steak (less tender cuts) slice the strips against the grain
- Peppers and Onions: Save time with pre-sliced peppers and onions available in the produce department
- Juice (lime and orange): While fresh is always best, store-bought bottled juice is fine.