These are absolutely one of my go-to busy night dinners! They are inspired by my husbands grandmother who makes the absolute best fajitas I have ever had, ever since the first time I had them I have been trying to recreate her magic. This is as close as it gets!
These are not your traditional fajitas, the star of the show is the deeply caramelized sweet onions. We don’t typically add peppers (you are thinking we are crazy, I know), but I swear – you will not miss them.
The trick to these is slowly cooking the onions over a long period of time until the flavor becomes deep and intense and the onions are so soft they almost melt. For years this was a meal that was not a weeknight meal. Going the traditional route with the onions on the stovetop meant that we had to cook them for a minimum of an hour over low heat. On top of that we were grilling the chicken (which I still also love to do!) so it was an entire event.
Now, welcome the Instapot. In fact, I guess I always had a pressure cooker but I was terrified of using it. No, really, the first time I ever used it I set it on the stove, ran down the hallway and watched it from far away – I was convinced if I did something wrong the whole thing would explode. Let’s just say while it is one of the most amazing tools in the kitchen – before the Instapot they were a little scary.
Luckily, if you have an Instapot you can make these quickly in only one pot. If you don’t they are totally still worth making, but make sure you have the time to let the onions do their thing. We made them that way for more than 15 years, and his grandmother still makes them that way today.
I know there are many pre-made fajita seasonings out there, but I have found that i like to make my own, that way I can adjust the heat and salt to my liking. This is totally optional, if you have a fajita seasoning you like – go for it. If you are making more than 4 chicken breasts, or you have large pieces, you may want to double the recipe for the seasoning. I also vary the heat with the cayenne. this is up to you, in the combination here I would not recommend any more than 1 tsp. or it will overpower all the other flavors and be very spicy.
Do you pat your chicken dry? If not, you need to start today. I am typically not as concerned with rinsing my chicken because I trust the vacuum sealed chicken I get from Wegmans, but no matter what, anytime I am making any protein – patting it dry allows the seasonings to really stick to it. Your meats will instantly taste better if you take this small step.
I like to use the shake and bake model for preparing this chicken. You can do this a day in advance, or quickly while the other ingredients are in the works. If you are traditionally grilling these I recommend adding the Italian dressing into the bag and marinating for at least several hours.
Onions, it is all about the onions.
Deep, flavorful, sweet onions are the backbone of this recipe. I promise you, they are worth it. The Instapot could not make it easier to get caramel goodness. Simply slice and toss in with salt, pepper and butter and let the Instapot do it’s thing for only 5 minutes.
Moist, Flavorful Chicken
I have heard so many people complain that their chicken comes out dry in the Instapot. I have to say, I have never experienced this. Anytime I make any chicken I follow this method: 1 cup of liquid, 10 minutes on High Pressure, allow steam to naturally escape, let rest. I swap the liquids depending on what I am doing. For this I equal parts Italian dressing, Kraft Zesty is my go to, and water. For other recipes I simply use chicken broth or even water depending on what I am doing. I always test my chicken breast with a thermometer to make sure they are done when I open the Instapot. Timing can vary slightly depending on the thickness of the chicken. If I have some thicker pieces I tend to pound them thin to help speed up with cooking process. I honestly prefer my chicken on the thinner side.
Assembling and Topping!
We have given specific instructions for how we like to assemble, and what toppings we like, but ultimately there is some personal preference here. Sometimes we add queso, sometimes our salsa is fresh or the cheese is different. What we have in our recipe are the constants. Personally, I like to spread some sour cream thinly across the tortilla. I don’t enjoy clumps of sour cream spread unevenly where every bite is inconsistent (Chipotle, I am looking at you). I like to layer my onions and then chicken, top with cheese and some salsa. This is my typical go to. Although, I sometimes add other fillings – it really just depends on my mood and what we have available at that time.
- 1 Instapot pressure cooker A traditional pressure cooker would work for this recipe as well. For many years we did this manually instead of using a pressure cooker at all!
- 3 sweet onions (vidalia or mayan)
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 package fajita tortillas
- 1 Cup shredded mexican cheese
- 1/2 Cup italian dressing We prefer Kraft Zesty Italian.
- 1/2 Cup water
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- Pinch of Cayenne pepper, more or less depending on your level of spice.
- Pinch of cumin. I like to keep the cumin light, but feel free to add upto 1/4 tsp.
- 1 bag Birdseye Southwestern Rice Steamables
- salsa, your favorite – We like Newmans Own or fresh Pico when it is in season.
- sour cream
- 1 cup mexican cheese
- Prepare chicken breast by removing from package and patting dry.4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- Mix all dry seasonings together in a small bowl.1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, Pinch of Cayenne pepper, more or less depending on your level of spice., Pinch of cumin. I like to keep the cumin light, but feel free to add upto 1/4 tsp.
- Add the dry chicken to a storage bag or ziplock bag.
- Add the dry seasoning to the bag and close the bag making sure it is secure. Shake the bag to coat the chicken breasts entirely.
- Place in refrigerator while other ingredients are prepared. This can be done up to one day in advance.
- Slice the onions into thin rounds as equally as possible.3 sweet onions (vidalia or mayan)
- Add the onions to your Instapot
- Add 4 tbsp butter, salt and pepper.4 tbsp unsalted butter
- Cover and close your Instapot with the steam valve closed.
- Set to Pressure Cook for 5 minutes
- After 5 minutes carefully release steam and turn the Instapot to saute
- The onions will be liquidy, so using the saute feature will help remove the excess liquid. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Remove onions from Instapot and set aside.
- *Optional* I like to add a splash of dry white cooking wine to my onions as it deepens the flavor as they saute. This is not necessary if you do not have dry white wine on hand.
- Add 1/2 cup italian dressing and 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pot.1/2 Cup italian dressing, 1/2 Cup water
- Add the chicken directly into the liquid.4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- Cover and close the Instapot making sure the steam valve is closed.
- Set to Pressure Cook High for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, allow the steam to leave naturally and carefully open.
- Remove the chicken from the Instapot and let it rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes.
- Slice chicken on a diagnol.
Assembling the Fajitas
- Begin by warming your flour tortilla using a damp paper towel wrap your fajitas and microwave for 30 seconds. Also, check the directions on your tortillas for specific heating guidelines.1 package fajita tortillas
- If desired, spread a thin layer of sourcream onto the tortillasour cream
- Layer the onions and chicken in the top 1/3 of the wrap.
- Sprinkle with cheese and spoon on your favorite salsa.
- Fold the two edges where the fajita ingredients are closest. Fold and roll the top edge making a tight roll.salsa, your favorite – We like Newmans Own or fresh Pico when it is in season., 1 cup mexican cheese
- If desired serve with southwestern rice per the bags instructions.1 bag Birdseye Southwestern Rice Steamables
- You can absolutely add the rice directly to the fajita. Depending on my mood I will add the rice in the roll.
- Place ingredients over the rice in a bowl for a carb-friendly alternative to the wrap.
- Feel free to add frozen peppers, I often use a combination of red, green, and yellow peppers that I put in the Instapot for 5 minutes on high pressure. If you prefer fresh you can add fresh as well. I typically don’t use peppers in this recipe because the flavor of the chicken and onions is so robust the peppers get lost.
- If you do not have an Instapot, don’t worry you can still make this recipe. Alternatively, you will need to slow cook your onions in a saucepan with butter, covered, on low heat for about an hour. You want them to be soft and golden.
- The chicken can be grilled. If grilling chicken, we recommend adding the Italian dressing into the marinate bag to help create a crispy outside.