Fajita Chicken and Rice – sometimes called Fajita Chicken Casserole because I’m absolutely terrible at naming things – has been a favorite in my house for just over a decade now. I know because my youngest just turned sixteen this past week and it was what she asked for breakfast on her 5th birthday (it’s funny the small things we remember as time passes)! That kid would probably try to survive on just this, Cajun Chicken Pasta, Honeycrisp apples, and Takis if I let her.
Not that she’s the only one that loves it: we all do! I make a version with plant-based chik’n specifically for my oldest daughter since she stopped eating meat. I think of Fajita Chicken and Rice as the perfect comfort food for us: it’s warm and filling, creamy and cheesy, and spicy, too! Best of many worlds.
Fajita Chicken and Rice Ingredients
Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this Fajita Chicken and Rice recipe:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts: Cut them into bite-sized pieces – they don’t need to be evenl unless you want that. I slice the breasts thinly all the way down, but you can cube it if you like. Also, thighs work, too.You’ll just need to cook them longer.
- Bell peppers: Two or three, it’s up to you. Colors are up to you, too, but can I recommend at least two different ones? For appearances!
- Yellow onion: ICYMI there’s a salmonella outbreak linked to onions going on so the only ones my husband could find at the store were red and vidalia. I opted for red in this one, since vidalia is a tad too mellow, but yellow is my strong preference, with white just after.
- Jalapeno: Remove the seeds and ribs from the inside if you’re sensitive to heat.
- Garlic: Now pay no attention to the videos I made to accompany this recipe because I forgot the garlic. We use it to flavor the oil we’ll toast the rice in.
- Rice: Unless otherwise stated I always use Uncle Ben’s Original long grain rice, which is parboiled, enriched, and coverted. If you use a different type you’ll need to adjust the cook time and liquid amount as directed on the package.
- Fajita spice blend: Mine is homemade. There’s a recipe for one in my ebook As Seen On IG – where this recipe was orgiinally – but you can pick some up at the grocery store. The yellow packet most of us are familiar with is just fine. You’ll need about 3 tablespoons or so.
- Kosher salt:
- Chicken stock: To cook the rice. Water works, if that’s what you want to use. Just increase the amount of salt.
- Monterrey jack cheese, sharp cheddar cheese: The cheeses are up to you, too! My daughter likes it when I use habanero cheddar and colby jack. I do recommend using more than one kind, whatever kinds you opt for.
- Cilantro: Optional, but it gives a nice herbaceous finish.
- Vegetable oil: Whatever oil you want to use is fine. So is butter or bacon grease or whatever kind of fat.
How to Make Fajita Chicken and Rice
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of this Fajita Chicken and Rice recipe:
- Prepare the ingredients. Season your chicken liberally, coating each piece well, with 2 tablespoons of fajita seasoning. Do this a few hours or the night before preparing this meal for the best flavor, but bring it out of the fridge about half an hour before cooking so it cooks evenly. When you’re ready to start making this meal, preheat your oven to 375°F and combine your cheeses together, then set them aside.
- Cook the chicken. Place a large oven-safe skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat and add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. When it starts shimmering, go ahead and add the chicken in a single layer. You want a nice sear on all sides so cooks the chicken in batches if needed. If the chicken sticks to the pan use a few teaspoons of chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes, until you don’t see any more pink, then remove and set aside. If you’re going to finish the dish in the oven – see the post above or keep reading through the entire recipe before you continue – it doesn’t matter if the chicken is cooked through yet. If you’re skipping the oven finish (I do, often), make sure the chicken is cooked through before removing it from the pan.
- Sear the veggies. Add another small drizzle of oil to the empty pan and increase the heat to high. Add the bell peppers and onion. Season them with a couple of pinches of salt and toss them around in the pan until they begin to char on the edges and soften just a tad. How long is up to you: I only sear them for a couple of minutes and remove them because I like a firmer bite. When they’re done to your liking, remove the peppers and onions to rest with the chicken.
- Toast the rice. Reduce the heat back down to medium-high. Drizzle another tablespoon or so of oil in the pan, then add the garlic and jalapeño and cook for 2 minutes, just until fragrant. Next, pour in the rice. Stir it around to coat in the flavored oil, and let it toast for 2-3 minutes until it’s lightly browned.
- Cook the rice. Stir in the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the liquid, has almost entirely evaporated and the grains of rice on the surface are visible.
- Combine. When the rice is almost dry stir in the chicken, veggies, and 3/4 of the shredded cheese. Combine everything thoroughly, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the dish in an even layer.
- Choose Your Own Adventure. Bake uncovered on the middle rack for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbling. Alternatively, for a looser texture, just pop it under the broiler on high for 2-3 minutes, until toasted to your liking on top. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before diving into the Fajita Chicken and Rice. Sprinkle cilantro over the top of the whole shebang, or individual servings if you have cilantro haters in your household. Dassit!