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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

What Can You Serve with Fajitas



fajitas in blue bowl with knife lying on wood table beside bowl
What can you serve with fajitas? They seem to be a meal in themselves, but we have lots of side dish options that will make your family fajita night even better.

If there is one Mexican food that I simply can’t resist, it has to be fajitas. The combination of meat, veggies, cheese, caramelized onions, and spices is simply irresistible.

Since they are a meal on their own, though, it is sometimes hard to come up with what can you serve with fajitas.

Here are my favorite recipes for sides that will make your fajita experience even better. They fit the Mexican vibe with their delicious flavors and popping colors. These side dishes can wow everyone’s taste buds and truly complement fajitas.

Click the type of side dish you want to create below, or take a look at all our side dish recipes to get inspired.

Fajitas Side Dishes: Beans

Fajitas Side Dishes: Salads

Fajitas Side Dishes: Other Delicious Options

wooden spoon holding black beans over pot of black beans
plate of refried beans with sour cream and sprig of cilantro

Fajitas Side Dishes: Beans

Canned beans deserve more love than they get. They are incredibly versatile that aside from hummus and casseroles, they are also a mainstay in many Mexican dishes.

Beans can just be tossed with some Tex-Mex spices and salsa, and they’re good to go.

Mexican black beans are not only flavorful, they are packed with nutrients that are good for you. They are a perfect and easy side dish for fajitas and any other Mexican dish, for that matter.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped


  • Heat a heavy skillet (we prefer using a cast iron pan) over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper and sauté for another 1 minute.
  • Add the black beans with the juices from the cans. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Top with fresh cilantro.

This should be your go-to side dish when you don’t have the time to make refried beans but hate the canned variety. This side dish can be ready in just 20 minutes! You’ll have the perfect dinner when you pair this Mexican favorite with fajitas.


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of ½ lime


  • In a heavy skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, turning once, until brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes. Smash cooked garlic with a fork in the skillet.
  • Stir in pinto beans, cumin, chili powder, and salt into the garlic and cook with occasional stirring until beans are thoroughly heated, about 5 minutes.
  • Mash bean mixture with a potato masher until you get your desired texture. Squeeze lime juice over the mashed potatoes and stir to combine.

white bowl of corn salad on wood table
teal bowl of southwestern salad on blue plate with dips and fajita chip strips
two bowls of green salad with feta on wooden table

Fajitas Side Dishes: Salads

It’s good to pair a light and refreshing salad with the heavy fajitas. The vinaigrette dressing of the following salads combined with the leafy greens and corn give a refreshing balance to the spicy and cheesy flavors of the fajitas.

Corn salad is one of my favorite easy sides because it tastes fresh and can be prepared with no fuss.

No cooking is required for this recipe that features sweet corn off the cob, cucumbers, and tomatoes in a light vinaigrette.


  • 4 cobs of corn
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup cucumbers, diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


  • Cook corn either by boiling or grilling. Once cooked, remove kernels from corn.
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and gently toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Everyone will go wild for the Southwestern Chopped Salad with the most delicious avocado, cilantro, and lime dressing. With the salad, they create beautiful colors, flavors, and textures. Plus, all these ingredients are so crisp and refreshing together!


  • 1 large romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups sweet corn
  • 5 stalks green onions

For the cilantro-lime dressing:

  • 1 cup cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • ½ avocado
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste


  • To make the dressing, blend all the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings according to taste.
  • In a large bowl, put all the salad ingredients. Add the desired amount of dressing and toss.

A great side dish for fajitas, especially on warm summer nights. You can add as many fruits and vegetables that are in season as you wish to make this side dish even crisper and fresher.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • ½ cup almonds, sliced
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled


  • In a large bowl, put together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine. Add the avocado and mix to coat with the dressing. Set aside until serving.
  • Right before serving, add the greens to the bowl of dressing and avocados. Toss to coat evenly with the dressing. Sprinkle almonds and feta cheese over the top.

Fajitas Side Dishes: Other Delicious Options

These are my favorite side dishes to serve with fajitas. From the staples – guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips – to the more filling ones, like rice and corn, we’ve loved all of these. Try not to be obsessed with them as I am!

mexican street corn

While this side dish is great during the summer months, it’s a perfect side to any Tex-Mex dish like fajita any time of the year. Grilled corn on the cob with a creamy, tangy sauce, and sprinkled with crumbled cheese, you would want to make it as the main course!


  • 6 medium sweet corn, husks removed
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup minced cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Ground chipotle pepper, to taste
  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice of one lime
  • ½ cup cotija cheese (or feta), crumbled
  • Lime wedges, for garnish


  • Heat grill to 400°F.
  • Prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, chipotle pepper, lime zest, and lime juice. Taste if you need to add salt. Set aside.
  • Place the corn directly on the grill grates. Grill, undisturbed, until the kernels begin to turn golden brown and charred, about 3 minutes. Turn over and repeat. When all sides are browned, remove from the grill and transfer to a plate.
  • Coat each corn with the prepared sauce using a brush or a spoon. Sprinkle with cojita cheese and chipotle pepper, if desired. Serve with lime wedges while hot.
tortilla chips with bowl of salsa

This recipe is so easy to make using pantry staples. Who doesn’t love fresh tortilla chips with fajitas?

You can make them whenever your cravings for chips and your favorite dip strike. They are deliciously crunchy, just like the ones you get from Mexican restaurants. Serve them hot for extra goodness.


  • 20 extra-thin corn tortillas (5 ½ to 6 inch sized)
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • Salt, to taste


  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan to 340°. Line a baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels.
  • Make a stack of 5 tortillas and cut through into 6 wedges similar to cutting a pizza. Work through the other 3 stacks of tortillas.
  • Quickly add 15 wedges into the pan in a single layer. Cook until chips slightly curl, about 20 seconds. Using a spider strainer, collect as many chips as possible and flip to their opposite sides. Repeat until all chips have been flipped.
  • Cook the opposite side until the chips turn just barely a shade darker but not browned, about 20 seconds. Use the spider strainer again to collect the chips, carefully shaking the excess oil into the pan. Transfer to paper towels in the baking sheet to drain. Repeat with the rest of the chips. Season with salt.
  • Scoot the cooled chips to one side of the paper towels to make room for just cooked chips to drain.
square white bowl of spanish rice

One of the best accompaniments to chicken fajita is the Spanish rice. Nothing beats the rich flavor of the rice that absorbed chicken broth as it was being cooked.

Another reason why I love this recipe is I almost always have all these ingredients on hand. Yes, it’s great with fajitas, but it works with lots of other entrees as well, such as steak and fish.


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash cumin
  • Dash garlic pepper


  • In a heavy skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender.
  • Mix in the uncooked rice into the skillet with frequent stirring. When the rice starts to brown, stir in the chicken broth, crushed tomato, salt, cumin, and garlic pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, about 20 minutes. Fluff before serving.
salsa on tortilla chip

Salsa is one of the most frequently made Mexican recipes anywhere.

It’s perfect to serve with homemade fried tortilla chips (see recipe above) or as a side for any Mexican food like tacos, burritos, and, of course, fajitas. It’s always a party staple and a must-have healthy snack, too.


  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper, include the seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste


  • Stir in the tomatoes, green bell pepper, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well and adjust seasonings according to taste.
square white bowl of guacamole surrounded by other foods on dining room table

Here is my all-time favorite guacamole recipe that is so easy to make. This side dish is made with the usual fresh ingredients and a dash of cumin.

What makes it different is that the ingredients are well-balanced and do not overwhelm the avocados. It’s not too spicy, not too tangy, and you control the saltiness of the taste.


  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • At least 1 jalapeño, cored and finely diced (add more if desired)
  • ½ cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground cumin to taste
  • 1 Roma tomato, cored and chopped


  • In a medium bowl, mash the avocados to desired consistency using a fork or a potato masher. Stir in the jalapeño, onion, lime juice, cilantro, salt, cumin, and tomatoes. Keep stirring until well-mixed.
  • Taste and season with more salt and add lime juice, jalapeño, or cilantro if needed.
roasted potatoes on white plate

These oven-baked potatoes are coated with chili and garlic powders that give this side dish for fajitas a nice kick.

The potatoes are roasted until they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. You can give this classic potato dish a Mexican twist by adding taco seasoning or sour cream.


  • 5 medium red potatoes with peel, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  • Arrange the potatoes and onions in the baking dish. See to it that they are evenly distributed. Season with garlic powder, salt, and chili powder. Drizzle with olive oil. Stir the potatoes and onion to coat them evenly with the oil and spices.
  • Bake in the oven until the potatoes are fork-tender and slightly crisp, about 35-40 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes. When done baking, sprinkle with cheese and wait for it to melt before serving.

Tips to Make Fajitas

  • For chicken fajitas, use boneless thighs instead of breasts, since the former will cook up more tender and juicier.
  • For beef, skirt steak is the wiser choice. It is best cooked to medium-rare or medium, which gives you a little flexibility in your cooking time.
  • If you’re going for pork, look for a thin-sliced pork shoulder because it has enough fat to hold up to cooking.
  • Give the meat a fajita rub no more than two hours before cooking. Once you have rubbed the meat, store it in an airtight container or zip lock bag until it is time to cook.
  • For skirt steak, slice the meat thinly and across the grain. This will make even tough cuts tender.
  • Use fresh tortillas. Homemade flour tortillas will make your fajitas more delicious. Store-bought tortillas should be warmed. Keep them warm after heating them in the oven by wrapping them in a clean kitchen towel.
  • For a fun dinner, don’t assemble the fajitas in your kitchen. Instead, set up a toppings bar like grilled veggies, salsa, cilantro, etc. Everyone can choose their toppings for their fajitas.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What kinds of different meats can I put in my fajitas?

The classic Tex Mex fajitas are usually made with grilled strips of skirt steak.

Today, fajitas have been expanded to include chicken, pork, and shrimp.

You can even have an all-vegetable fajita for a healthier alternative.

Even the cuts used in the meats have become flexible. Some prefer rump or the leaner cut, flank, for their beef fajitas.

While it is customary to use chicken breast for chicken fajitas, some prefer thigh fillets since they are juicier and more tender.

Pork tenderloin is often the choice for pork fajitas, but pork chops and shoulders are now becoming popular as well.

Should I use chili powder or fajitas seasoning in my fajitas?

Definitely use fajita seasoning for flavorful fajitas.

Chili powder is just one component of the fajita seasoning along with salt, paprika, sugar, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.

It is best, though, to prepare your own fajita seasoning if you have the time, rather than buying it in a packet. It might contain chemicals or other ingredients that might be harmful to your body such as maltodextrin, coloring, modified corn starch, and yeast extract. There are plenty of recipes you can find online and it is easy to prepare.

Additional Resources:

Image Credits from Flickr: “Fajitas” (CC BY 2.0) by spurekar; “Top view of wooden spoon of cooked black” (CC BY 2.0) by wuestenigel; “Glory Foods Refried Beans and Chorizo Di” (CC BY 2.0) by Glory Foods; “fresh corn salad” (CC BY 2.0) by wuestenigel; “Southwestern Style Salad” (CC BY 2.0) by ShebleyCL; “Trudy’s Bean Salad – Red Moon Sanctu” (CC BY 2.0) by Red Moon Sanctuary; “Mexican Corn” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by star5112; “Mmm… deep fried flour tortilla wedges” (CC BY 2.0) by jeffreyw; “Easy Spanish Rice” (CC BY 2.0) by Krysta Fecke; “20070630 salsa 03” (CC BY 2.0) by jspatchwork; “Guacamole” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Kjokkenutstyr.net; “Sous vide potatoes” (CC BY 2.0) by sousvideguy

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Rhonda Richardson, Editor

Rhonda grew up with parents who gardened, hunted, fished, canned, and preserved food. Her mother was a professional cook and Rhonda credits her teaching everything from how to make homemade biscuits and gravy to what kind of meals to serve for different occasions. In the kitchen, Rhonda uses a mix of old-fashioned country cooking and up-to-date fads in the kitchen, often experimenting with replacing higher-calorie or fat ingredients with healthier options that still retain the delicious flavors of the originals.

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