Chicken isn't generally the go-to meat for fajitas (flavorful skirt steak is the deserving star usually), but this flavor-packed marinade made with cilantro, tart lime juice, brown sugar, cumin, and crushed red pepper makes it a worthy stand-in. Here, we thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and cook them kebab-style. It's everything there is to love about chicken fajitas on one stick, minus the tortilla, of course.
Why this recipe works:
- Chicken thighs stay juicier and have more flavor on kebabs compared to chicken breasts.
- The cilantro and lime-heavy marinade gives the chicken a bright and fresh character.
- Red and green bell peppers and white onion soften well over direct heat and round out the fajita flavor.
Note: If chicken thighs do not cube well, cut the meat into strips larger than 1 1/2 inches and fold it over when threading onto the skewers to make a cube-like shape.
- 1/2 cup packed coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1/3 cup lime juice from about 6 limes
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (see note)
- 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large white onion, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes and separated into 3-layer segments
- Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use
- Type of fire: Direct
- Grill heat: medium-high
Place cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, salt, cumin, and crushed red pepper in the jar of blender. Pureé until smooth. Place chicken cubes in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour in marinade and seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Place in refrigerator and marinate for at least 1 and up to 5 hours.
Thread chicken onto skewers, alternating with pepper and onion squares.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill skewers until well browned on all sides and center of chicken registers between 160-165°F on an instant read thermometer, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer skewers to platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.