If you want great big flavor but you only have a small window of time, Steak Fajita Salad is what’s for dinner. Tender fajita veggies and seasoned beef are right at home on a crisp, fresh salad. Top it off with a tangy homemade cilantro lime dressing in just about 30 minutes!
Dinner salads are one of my favorite ways to work a little bit of detention into the school day, if you catch my drift. I’m a big proponent of the concepts of healthy and wholesome eating, even mindful and intuitive eating, but my intuition also tells me that under certain circumstances, bacon, cheese, and candied nuts are perfectly acceptable salad ingredients.
The whole point of salad is balanced nutrition, right? Not just “Oops, I ate nachos and a pan of brownies for lunch, so I should have some lettuce with oil and vinegar for dinner,” but finding satisfying ways to balance macro and micronutrients in each meal.
Including ingredients that ramp up the protein, healthy fat, and yes, even carbohydrates to complement the vitamins and minerals from your veggies are all important for building a balanced healthy salad. That’s why my chicken taco salad has tortilla chips for crunch and my healthy steak salad features potatoes.
Even if you’re a staunch carb counter (or following a Whole30, keto, or paleo plan), you know that adding more protein and healthy fat will do wonders for helping you feel full when a simple salad just won’t cut it. It’s why chicken salads, from Buffalo chicken salad to chicken shawarma salad, are popular go-tos for people who don’t want to sacrifice flavor while minding their macros. Even better, most dinner salads fall into the 30 minute meal camp, so they’re quick to make too!
Fajita salads – steak, chicken, and even shrimp – are great examples of healthy dinner salads. Limited red meat, no additives, well-balanced nutrition, and while there’s no bacon, feel free to add as much or as little cheese as your heart can handle. Literally and figuratively. Don’t make me call your cardiologist.
What Makes Fajita Salad So Darn Good!
Homemade Fajita Seasoning: What do we say to store-bought spice rubs filled with sugar and preservatives when we have the ingredients to whip up a bold fajita spice blend at home in under two minutes? That’s right. Not today, satan.
Seared Steak: We’re a red-meat-within-reason household, so I’ve spent a lot of time on “working area” cuts (like flat iron or flank steak). Skirt steak is perfect for steak salads since it’s supposed to be served sliced. This impressive cut of meat boasts more gorgeous (and delicious) marbling for better flavor, all while cooking quickly and costing less than other working cuts.
All the Veggies: Create perfect contrast by pairing crisp, fresh salad greens, creamy avocado, with tender, smoky fajita veggies for an extremely well-rounded bite.
Homemade Cilantro Lime Dressing: One of our favorite flavor duos, this fast, fresh dressing is the perfect complement for Mexican-seasoned fajita salads. P.S. No hidden sugars or starchy fillers!
How to Make Fajita Salad with Steak
This quick and easy Fajita Salad with Steak topped with a zingy cilantro lime vinaigrette is about to become your go-to Tex-Mex dinner recipe. It’s got no added sugar, plus it’s naturally grain and nut free. Best of all, it’s ready in just 30 minutes!
For the Salad
- Combine the dry rub ingredients and stir until evenly combined.
- Rub the seasoning into both sides of the steak.
- Sear the steak in a very hot skillet (preferably cast iron) for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the skillet and rest on a cutting board while you saute the vegetables.
- Reduce the heat to medium high, then add the onions and peppers. Saute 6-7 minutes, tossing frequently, until charred in spots and bite tender.
- Thinly slice the steak against the grain.
- Compose the salad. Layer chopped romaine, tomatoes, and avocado in a bowl. Top with steak and fajita veggies. Serve with queso fresco, if desired, and cilantro lime vinaigrette to taste.
For the Vinaigrette
- Gather and prep ingredients – fresh cilantro, white wine vinegar, lime juice, garlic, honey, salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.
- If your cilantro is gritty, wash thoroughly and dry (see chef’s tips below for our favorite method).
- Combine all of the ingredients except olive oil in a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour the olive oil through the feed tube while processing until the dressing just barely emulsifies.
- To remove any grit or dirt from cilantro, use a salad spinner! Place in a bowl, cover with water, then swish around for a minute or so. Drain, then give it a few spins to remove any clinging water particles. If you don’t have a salad strainer, shake to release as much moisture as possible then gently pat dry.
- Moisture is the enemy of a good crust – be sure to pat your steaks dry before seasoning and searing.
- Bring the raw steak to room temperature for faster and more even cooking.
- Always check the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer. Pull the steak once the internal temperature registers no higher than 125-130°F. It will gain another 5° while it rests.
- Always rest your steak! This allows the juices to settle, and allows the steak to “finish” cooking during the resting period.
- Slice thinly against the grain, at an angle if desired. Slicing steak against the grain results in more tender bites. If you’re not sure how to determine the grain before slicing, see this very helpful article!
- Unless you’re very fast with a knife, we recommend you do some mis en place work to get all your vegetables prepped and sliced before you start cooking.
Is Fajita Salad Healthy?
Overall, fajita salads are a terrific choice for home cooks seeking a healthy balance between meat and veggies. You only need a small portion of meat to feel satisfied (our steak version is topped with just 3 ounces of seared steak). The remainder of the salad is packed with a variety of vegetables and healthier fats like avocado and olive oil.
Rest assured, you can absolutely have steak as part of a healthy diet. And if you eat red meat, it’s a great way to get essential nutrients like iron.
As prepared, this steak salad recipe full of anti-inflammatory vitamins C, E, and K, and loaded with antioxidants. Plus it’s great for getting fiber and micronutrients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Just mind your portion sizes!
Fajita steak salad also fits naturally into a variety of dietary accommodations:
- It’s naturally Whole30 and paleo if you omit the queso fresco and honey from the dressing.
- It’s keto and low carb right outta the skillet; DO omit the honey from the vinaigrette.
- It’s also gluten free, grain free, and nut free
Can I Grill the Steak?
You sure can! We love grilled skirt steak, so go ahead and fire up the grill if you have one and the weather permits. But do it with a few (minor) changes:
- Grill over high heat with the lid open for 3-4 minutes per side.
- Use about two-thirds of thirds of the fajita dry rub to coat the steak, and skip the olive oil.
- Toss the onions and peppers with the remaining fajita seasoning before sauteeing. In the recipe as written, the fajita veggies will absorb the seasoning left behind by the steak. They’re super tasty with a bit of seasoning, so this helps flavor them.
- OR, grill the veggies too! Do still toss them in the remaining fajita seasoning, but add a tablespoon of olive oil as well so they don’t stick to the grill grates. We like to use a grill basket for grilling sliced vegetables that would otherwise easily fall through the grates.
Make it Your Way
Change up the lettuce: crunchy romaine is in the recipe card, but you can definitely use other lettuces! Try swapping half of the romaine for spinach or kale, or using a different crunchy base like iceberg lettuce or butter lettuce.
Cheese: we like queso fresco’s mild flavor, but feel free to swap for cotija or switch over to shredded jack or a Mexican cheese blend. If I have crema on hand, I actually prefer that over cheese, but have sometimes been known to throw caution to the wind and use both. (I know. Whatta rebel.)
Even more protein: add a can black beans (rinse and drain before using – no need to heat up!)
Crunch: add broken corn tortillas or fried tortilla strips if you tolerate grains.
Did you make this fajita steak salad? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
30-Minute Steak Fajita SaladPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Food Processor
- 10" cast iron skillet
Fajita Dry Rub
For the Salad
- 1 lb skirt steak
- 2 tbsp olive oil, or avocado oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into to ½" strips
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into to ½" strips
- 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced into to ½" strips
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 avocado, sliced
- 4 tbsp queso fresco, crumbled (optional)
- Remove the steak from its packaging then place on a plate or cutting board; rest 15 minutes and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the dressing and salad ingredients.
- Combine the vinegar, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, honey, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender; pulse until the ingredients are minced. Switch the motor to continuous, or set the blender to low, then slowly pour in the olive oil through the feed tube or venting cap. Process until the dressing is emulsified. Taste for seasoning and adjust the lime juice, honey, salt, and pepper until the flavor is balanced to your liking.
- Combine the fajita dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and stir until evenly combined (cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, chili powder, onion, garlic power, and oregano).
- Evenly coat all sides of the steak with the dry rub, pressing in with your hands to ensure it adheres well.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat; add the oil and swish around the pan to evenly coat. Add the steak and sear 3-4 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature registers 125-130°F for medium rare. Cook undisturbed to allow a good crust to form. Remove the steak once cooked to your liking and set onto cutting board to rest.
- Add the remaining oil to the skillet, then add the onion and bell peppers. Toss to coat in the oil and residual fajita spices, then sear for 2 minutes. Toss again every 2 minutes until the vegetables are blistered in spots and bite tender, 6-7 minutes total. Remove the skillet from heat.
- Thinly slice the steak against the grain.
- Compose the salad. Divide the lettuce between four plates, then top with half a sliced avocado and one quarter of the tomatoes. Top each salad with a quarter of the onions and peppers and a quarter of the sliced steak. Sprinkle with queso fresco if using, and drizzle with cilantro lime vinaigrette to taste. Serve right away, and enjoy!
- One serving includes approximately 3 ounces of cooked steak.
- Make it Whole or Paleo: omit the queso freso from the steak; omit the honey or agave from the vinaigrette for Whole30.
- Make it Keto/Low Carb: omit the honey or agave from the vinaigrette.