Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad


Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad is sizzling fajita ingredients served over a bed of crisp lettuce, tossed with a zesty Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette. 

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette via @Iowa Girl Eats

Did anyone catch the opening and closing acts at the Beyonce concert night? Is this the 50th time you’ve heard that joke…this hour?!

BaHA! Either way – wow, what a game AND performance by Beyonce et al. at the Super Bowl last night! The blackout was strange, but gave us more time to eat cupcakes. Ben and I brought, cough, EIGHT Scratch Cupcakes to my parents house last night for our 4-person Super Bowl feast.


In my defense, I wanted to buy 4 but was slowly convinced as we waited in the ginormous line at Scratch on Saturday afternoon to get 6. Somehow in the end we left with 8. Oh well, we had fun sampling them, and my new favorite is officially the Blackout Cupcake, which is chocolate cake filled with chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate buttercream frosting. TO DIE FOR!


My Mom also made an awesome array of nibbles including bruschetta and brushetta cups (phyllo cups filled with a cube of fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped tomatoes, and fresh basil then baked and drizzled with reduced balsamic vinegar.) I had 1,000.


She also took the hint and made the Turkey, Pesto, Onion & Cheese Poppyseed Sliders that I featured on last week’s Friday Favorites! They were INSANE! I cannot recommend them enough for any day of the week. Such a killer recipe. Thinking they’d be really good for Easter leftovers, swapping the turkey for ham. Yum!!


Before we headed over there, Ben and I hit the gym then I made us a nice, healthy salad for lunch so we wouldn’t go (too) overboard at my parents. A super-fresh Chicken Fajitas Sizzling Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette.

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette via @Iowa Girl Eats

Let it be known that I am not a fajita fan. When I go out to a restaurant I don’t want to have to make my own meal, know what I mean? Plus I hate bell peppers, which fajitas are usually swimming in. After tasting Ben’s fajitas at the Mexican restaurant we went to for lunch on Saturday afternoon (fine, it was Monterrey again!) I knew I had to find a way to fix to my problem. They were so, so good.

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette via @Iowa Girl Eats

Here’s what I did: I kept the flame-kissed flavor of chicken fajitas but swapped out the bell peppers for zucchini. Then I ditched the flour tortillas for a bed of crunchy, romaine lettuce instead. Rather than making fresh guacamole and salsa, traditional fajita toppings, I “deconstructed” ’em, and sprinkled fresh tomato wedges and chopped avocado on top. Finally, I drizzled the whole thing with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette. It was sensational!

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette via @Iowa Girl Eats

Sizzling salads, with that mix of cold and hot are so fun to eat. Not to mention both fresh, and really satisfying.

Start with the fajita marinade for the chicken. In a large glass bowl combine 1 Tablespoon lime juice with 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.


Next add 1 smashed garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon each cumin and chili powder. 


In goes 1/2 seeded and minced fresh jalapeno, and 2 Tablespoon chopped cilantro. 


Stir up the marinade then add 12oz sliced chicken breast (about 2 small chicken breasts) and stir to coat. Place a lid or plastic wrap on top, then let the chicken sit and marinate on the counter for 30 minutes. The perfect amount of time to get everything else ready!


Next make the Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette that’s drizzled on top. This bright and zingy vinaigrette is bold and packed with flavor. To a food processor or blender add 1/4 cup cilantro and 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (could use olive oil, but I liked the neutral taste of vegetable!)


Next add the juice from 1/2 a lime and salt & pepper. 


Finish up with 1 peeled garlic clove, and 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar. 


That’s all she wrote!


Mmm! Make it a double batch.


K – time to get cookin’. Heat a large, cast iron skillet or pot, or heavy-bottomed skillet, over high heat with 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil. Remove the garlic clove from the chicken then add it to the bottom in one layer. Let the chicken sit and cook for 1 minute to get a good sear then stir and cook for another minute or two. When the chicken’s done, remove it to a plate and set aside.


FYI, make sure you’ve got the fan on – the steam will be flyin’!


After the chicken’s been removed, heat another 1/2 Tablespoon oil in the pot then add 1/2 sliced onion and 1 zucchini cut into fry shapes. If you love bell peppers you could totally use 1 sliced pepper instead!


Same as the chicken – let the onions and zucchini cook for 1 minute before stirring then cook for another more before adding the chicken back in. Stir everything together then remove the pan from the heat. You’re done!


Divide hearty romaine lettuce, which stands up perfectly to the hot toppings, between 2 plates then add the chicken, onion, and zucchini mixture. Dot the top with fresh tomatoes and avocado, then drizzle with the Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette.

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette via @Iowa Girl Eats

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad

Serves 2


Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad is sizzling fajita ingredients served over a bed of crisp lettuce, tossed with a zesty Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette. 


  • 12oz chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, cut into sticks or 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • For the marinade:
    • juice of 1/2 lime
    • 1-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 jalapaeno, seeded and minced
    • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • For the Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette:
    • juice of 1/2 lime
    • 1/4 cup cilantro
    • 2 Tablespoons canola or vegetabke oil
    • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 garlic clove
    • salt & pepper


  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl then add chicken and toss to coat. Cover then let sit and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine ingredients for Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette in a food processor or blender then process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1/2 Tablespoon oil in a large cast iron pot or skillet, or heavy-bottomed skillet on high. Remove garlic clove from chicken then carefully add in one layer on the bottom and cook for 1 minute undisturbed. Stir then saute until cooked through, about another minute or two. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
  4. Heat remaining 1/2 Tablespoon oil in pot then add onions and zucchini (or bell pepper, if using.) Cook for 1 minute, undisturbed, then stir and saute until tender, about another minute. Add chicken back into the pot then stir to combine.
  5. Divide lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado between two plates then top with cooked chicken. Drizzle with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette.


Adapted from Simply Recipes

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette via @Iowa Girl Eats

Don’t be scared by the length of the ingredient list in this recipe – many ingredients, like lime and cilantro, are used twice, and most of the other ingredients are pantry staples.

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette via @Iowa Girl Eats

The end result – smoky, fresh, and flavorful, is so worth it!

Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette via @Iowa Girl Eats

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  1. I don’t love bell peppers either but I DO love the idea of swapping them for zucchinis!

    Glad to hear the turkey sliders were just as good in real life as they look on a computer screen:) Now I really need to try them!

  2. YUUUM. This salad gets about four thumbs up. I want it right now!! Definitely making it in the next week or two.

  3. I was just having a serious Mexican craving this morning on my walk into work. Is 7:30am to early to want guac?? This salad looks like it would hit the spot and is HEALTHY – what we all need after snacking our way through the game :)

    • Morgan 02.04.2013

      It is NEVER too early to crave Mexican!
      Can’t wait to try this.

  4. This looks fab. I am a big fajita fan, although I rarely order them at restaurants either as I echo your sentiments about having to do any work when I go out to eat!

  5. jamie 02.04.2013

    Your Mom’s brushetta cups sound great. How do you reduce balsalmic vinegar?

  6. Pam 02.04.2013

    Any chance you’ll post your mom’s receipes for the brushetta & brushetta cups?! I adore anything brushetta-ish!! :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.04.2013

      The brushcetta cups are as described above and then bake per the phyllo cup package instructions. For the bruschetta, just slice a baguette in thin slices then toast at 350 for 4-5 minutes a side or until crisp, and then top with bruschetta topping! :)

  7. Lauren 02.04.2013

    There is a fantastic Mexican restaurant back home that makes the very best chicken fajita salad, but dare I say yours even looks better!

  8. Megan 02.04.2013

    I made the feta stuffed buffalo chicken meatballs yesterday and they were a big hit!

  9. Jennifer 02.04.2013

    I always get chicken fajitas at Monterey-and I ask for it with no green peppers! The onion and tomato still makes it taste great! I only live a mile away from Scratch…..I hate having to drive by there everyday! Your homemade fajitas look wonderful…will try soon!

  10. Jessica 02.04.2013

    This looks seriously delicious. I’ve recently rediscovered how much I like fajitas… perfect timing for this recipe

  11. Rachel S. 02.04.2013

    What is that wire mesh thing on top of your pot?

  12. Noelle 02.04.2013

    This has nothing to do with the salad (which does look amazeballs, btw), but can I just say how much I love that almost every time you post photos of you and Ben at your parent’s house, that your dad is sitting in “his chair” and Ben is laying on the floor, up against that husband pillow. It makes me smile every time haha I know, I’m a weirdo.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.04.2013

      omg it’s like clockwork. Kisses and hugs hello then, assume the position!

  13. Erin 02.04.2013

    I had a question regarding the sliders. They look yummy but sticky and messy. Since you actually made them (or your mim did :)), were they?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.04.2013

      No not too sticky and messy. I ate them with my fingers. The taste outweighs any negative messy affects though. Seriously, AMAZING!

  14. Katie 02.04.2013

    Blackout cupcake on the night the superbowl has a blackout? What are the chances!

  15. That dressing sounds really yummy! I bet everyone at Scratch will know you by name soon enough. :)

  16. Jessica 02.04.2013

    OMG, this looks SO restaurant quality and like something!

  17. Oh my gosh….I’m a serious Mexican Food lover, and this looks PERFECT. Whenever I go out to eat for mexican, I like ordering the chicken salad they serve, (Yes, I eat salad as a choice, not cause I have to) but as we all know, restaurant salads aren’t always the healthiest. This looks like such a great alternative. Thanks!

  18. Lindsey 02.04.2013

    This looks amazing! I must make it ASAP. BTW, I made your jalapeno popper potato skins for the Superbowl and they were such a huge hit! I got a text from my friend this morning saying she couldn’t stop thinking about them! Your recipes are always the best!

  19. Nicole @fruitnfitness 02.04.2013

    That salad looks so good! The cupcakes of course look really good to!

  20. I love fajitas and this looks right up my alley….cannot wait to try this recipe!!

  21. Heather 02.04.2013

    I looked up the menu at Scratch(I, um, really like cupcakes)and I almost swooned. Everything sounded so amazing!

  22. This looks great! I love a great chicken salad! I also love the screen over your Dutch oven…I definitely need one of those!

  23. Jess 02.04.2013

    What a spread! But I cannot wait to try that salad – I’m hungry for it now. ;)

  24. I am starting to think that I seriously NEED some of those cupcakes. They all look and sound SO good. Maybe it is a good thing that I do not live in Des Moines? ;)

  25. Densie 02.04.2013

    I just want to say your mom is ADORBS! You can tell in her eyes and her smile how much she loves you! And, no kidding, those sliders are not only fun but oh so good!

  26. SaraJ 02.04.2013

    I stopped into Scratch last week….so yummy! The Salted Caramel and S’mores were both amazing.

    I’ve made several of your recipes recently, all delicious!!

  27. it’s okay, you can never have too many cupcakes :)
    also, what a coincidence that the blackout cupcake is your new fav! haha
    this salad looks awesome!

  28. Oh man, I love fajitas so this is totally right up my alley! Plus, I’ve never met a cilantro-lime dressing I didn’t like ;)

  29. Kari 02.05.2013

    Ohhh I can’t wait to get home to have scratch cupcakes again. I’m currently deployed so a year with out them is tortureeee!

  30. Rhonda 02.05.2013

    As usual your post is awesome and your photos are brilliant! Your mom’s brushetta cups sound wonderful. Can you post that recipe please?

  31. Sara B. 02.05.2013

    I get the steak salad at Dos Rios and it comes with a cilantro-lime dressing – it is to die for! I will be trying this recipe sometime.

  32. Ellen 02.05.2013

    I went to college in Cedar Falls when Sratch was just getting started and fell in love! I can’t wait to visit the Des Moines one! I think I’ve even spotted my cousin who works there in your picture! :)

  33. Amber 02.05.2013

    Finally a homemade chicken fajita salad with NO bell peppers! I thought I was the only one! Way to be proactive with the salad before Superbowl goodies…I made your buffalo chicken poppers for Superbowl AND no gym beforehand! *GASP* I’ve made so many of your recipes my husband is starting to call me “Virginia girl eats”. And I’m like “that’s awkward”….haha. Can’t wait to hit the gym and chow down on this for dinner tonight!

  34. Katherine 02.05.2013

    Blackout cupcake seems to have been a good choice of the night to go along with the game. Ha.

  35. This looks delicious! So perfect..Ive been looking for some healthy but still flavorful salads!

  36. […] Find – Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad. When I see avocado in a recipe, I definitely give it a second look and this find is no exception. […]

  37. Made this for supper tonight and it was well-loved! Plus, it was much faster than my usual fajita recipe.

  38. Sandy @ RE 03.18.2013

    Can you believe those sliders? LOL Amazing! Glad you liked them.

    Great post here, and love the salad!

  39. […] Fajita Salad via Iowa Girl Eats […]

  40. […] via Life Half Crunched on […]

  41. Dawn 03.19.2013

    That is THE BEST chicken,zucchini,dressing and salad EVER!!! You are a genius and I’m so glad I tried this recipe and found your blog!

  42. Lisa Hamel 03.24.2013

    This looks delicious and so healthy! Thanks for sharing!

  43. Abbey 04.01.2013

    Fajita salad looks AWESOME!!! I would probably replace the chicken with steak though because my boyfriend doesn’t care for chicken. Any cut of steak you would recommend to swap out for the chicken? Looks awesome!!!!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 04.05.2013

      A sirloin or strip steak would be divine – or even flank steak sliced really thin against the grain!

  44. […] Dinner: Fajita chicken salad w/ lime cilantro vinaigrette […]

  45. Ellen 04.16.2013

    Made this tonight but used peppers. Was delicious. Key is cook chicken quickly -don’t over cook

  46. […] Friday: Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad from Iowa Girl Eats […]

  47. Hannah 05.16.2013

    I JUST made this and very much enjoyed it! Excellent vinaigrette recipe!!

  48. Jennifer 06.19.2013

    Has anyone calculated the calories per serving? I am getting ready to do it but I’m lazy and thought I would ask first.

  49. […] Chicken Fajita Sizzling Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette – Recipe – Iowa Girl Eats […]

  50. I just made this tonight. It was awesome! I love cilantro and lime together. :) Thanks for a great recipe!

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