Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas + Avocado Crema

Chicken fajitas and sheet pan suppers would seem like a marriage made in a busy home cook’s heaven. I mean, who wouldn’t fall in love with the idea of chicken strips, bell peppers, and onions tossed in a Tex-Mex inspired marinade, oven-roasted for a few minutes, and plated up on a busy weeknight? Sadly, it turns out that the reality—like most fairytale Hollywood celebrity unions—rarely winds up as happily-ever-after as one would hope.

If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt been seduced by the noisy sizzle of fragrant onions and seasoned meat strips at a neighborhood Tex-Mex restaurant. (Psst! That sizzling cast iron platter? It’s just a prop to further a calculated marketing move called the “Fajita effect.” It doesn’t do anything other than make you drool while it overcooks your food.) I had high hopes of coming up with a one-pan approach to making restaurant-style fajitas, but my initial test batches were a let-down. The flavors were right, but the chicken, peppers, and onions ended up steaming in their own juices. I forced my family to choke down tray after tray of soggy, limp piles of meat and veggies swimming in orange-y liquid. Still, despite my kids’ insistence that I throw in the towel, I persisted.

Why? Because (A) I’m no quitter, and (B) I knew my flavors were right and sensed that a breakthrough was right around the corner. Also, (C) I don’t really care if my kids have to eat the same thing four nights in a row.

So I kept testing. I tried altering the cooking temperature, preheating the sheet pan in the oven before adding the ingredients, and adjusting the ratio of vegetables—all to no avail. Finally, Henry suggested that I raise the ingredients up on a wire rack—similar to what I do with many of my roasted chicken recipes (like this one and this one)—to see what would happen.

Spoiler: The rack worked!

The extra liquid released from the chopped up veggies and chicken drip through the rack, allowing the fajitas to cook more evenly when elevated! Just make sure you buy a sturdy, oven-safe stainless steel rack like this one. (Chrome racks can flake with time or vigorous scrubbing and may not be heat-safe up to 575°F, like stainless racks.)

No rack? I’m giving you fair warning that your fajitas will steam, and the vegetables will end up limp. It’ll still taste good, but you’ll want to tilt the pan and spoon off the extra liquid before serving.

Me? I’m going with the rack. See the difference?

While you’re waiting for your fajitas to finish cooking, you might as well whip up my simple dairy-free Avocado Crema as a topping, too.

This zesty sauce was developed as an accompaniment to the Shrimp Tacos in my exclusive One and Done! bonus e-book for those of you who have already preordered our cookbook, Ready or Not! (You’ve heard about our new book, right?)

This 40-page thank you gift is packed with 10 brand-new, never-before-seen one-pan/one-pot recipes. If you already preordered our second cookbook, you can download your copy here. Remember: These exclusive e-book bonuses will vanish into thin air come August, so don’t miss out!

Okay—enough blathering. Ready to cook up some incredible Whole30-friendly Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas?

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips (Step away from the boneless, skinless breasts. They’ll dry out.)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, deseeded, cored and sliced into ¼-inch strips
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, deseeded, cored, and sliced into ¼-inch strips
  • 1 small white onion, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Green or butter lettuce leaves (optional)
  • Grain-free tortillas (optional)
  • Avocado Crema (see recipe below)

Avocado Crema

  • 1 large Hass avocado
  • ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ cup chives, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Equipment:

Method:

Heat your oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle. Place a stainless steel wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the avocado oil, lime juice, minced garlic…

…kosher salt, chili powder, and cumin.

Whisk it all together.

Add the chicken thigh strips to the marinade. (Chicken breasts will dry out. Please use thighs.) Toss in the sliced peppers and onions, too.

Use your hands to combine well.

Plop the chicken and veggies onto the rimmed baking sheet…

…and spread everything in a single layer.

Place the tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Then, toss the chicken and veggies, and rotate the tray.

Switch to broil…

…and cook for  an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the peppers and onions are browned in places. Keep your eyes on the fajitas to make sure nothing burns!

While the chicken is cooking, make the Avocado Crema.

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender. Add the coconut milk, chives, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Blitz until smooth. Add some water to thin out the sauce if desired. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, or more lime juice. You can refrigerate the crema in a sealed container for up to 2 days.

Once the chicken and veggies are finished cooking, pull the tray out of the oven. Serve the fajitas with lime wedges, lettuce wraps or grain-free tortillas, and avocado crema.

One last thing: Wondering how to clean the stainless steel wire rack? After everyone grabs the chicken and veggies off the rack, I take the pan ’n rack to the sink. Then, I flip the rack upside down, place it in the rimmed baking sheet, and cover it with warm soapy water. I let the rack soak while we eat dinner. When we’re done with our meal, I simply wipe the grime off the rack with a sponge. Then, I can either rinse it or put it in the dishwasher to finish cleaning.

But if I were you, I’d get someone else to clean—after all, you did all the cooking! Just don’t tell them how easy it was to make dinner!

Wanna watch me make this dish on my Facebook Live broadcast (recorded on June 14, 2017)?

Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013) and Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017)!

PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas + Avocado Crema

Prep 10 mins

Cook 15 mins

Total 25 mins

Author Michelle Tam

Yield 4 servings

Sheet pan chicken fajitas are perfect for busy weeknight meals! Plus, it’s Whole30-friendly, even topped with a dairy-free Avocado Crema! (But you gotta use a stainless steel wire rackor they’ll be soggy!)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips (Step away from the boneless, skinless breasts. They’ll dry out.)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, deseeded, cored and sliced into ¼-inch strips
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, deseeded, cored, and sliced into ¼-inch strips
  • 1 small white onion, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Green or butter lettuce leaves (optional)
  • Grain-free tortillas (optional)
  • Avocado Crema (see recipe below)

Avocado Crema

  • 1 large Hass avocado
  • ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ cup chives, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle. Place a stainless steel wire rackin a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the avocado oil, lime juice, minced garlic, kosher salt, chili powder, and cumin.
  3. Add the chicken thigh strips to the marinade. (Chicken breasts will dry it. Please use thighs.) Toss in the sliced peppers and onions, too. Use your hands to combine well.
  4. Plop the chicken and veggies onto the rimmed baking sheet and spread everything in a single layer.
  5. Place the tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Then, toss the chicken and veggies, and rotate the tray.
  6. Switch to broil and cook for  an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the peppers and onions are browned in places. Keep your eyes on the fajitas to make sure nothing burns!
  7. While the chicken is cooking, make the Avocado Crema. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender. Add the coconut milk, chives, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
  8. Blitz until smooth. Add some water to thin out the sauce if desired. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, or more lime juice. You can refrigerate the crema in a sealed container for up to 2 days.
  9. Once the chicken and veggies are finished cooking, pull the tray out of the oven. Serve the fajitas with lime wedges, lettuce wraps or grain-free tortillas, and avocado crema.

Notes

One last thing: Wondering how to clean the stainless steel wire rack? After everyone grabs the chicken and veggies off the rack, I take the pan ’n rack to the sink. Then, I flip the rack upside down, place it in the rimmed baking sheet, and cover it with warm soapy water. I let the rack soak while we eat dinner. When we’re done with our meal, I simply wipe the grime off the rack with a sponge. Then, I can either rinse it or put it in the dishwasher to finish cleaning.

Courses Dinner

Cuisine Tex-Mex, Sheet Pan Supper, Whole30, Paleo, Primal, Gluten-free, Chicken

The post Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas + Avocado Crema appeared first on Nom Nom Paleo®.

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