Chicken Fajita Canning Recipe and Spice Blend

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While canning this recipe, I was thinking about the history of the fajita. Like where did this concept come from and how did the fajita become so popular? Well, thanks to the power of the Internet, I learned a bit of history. But what I got from the fajita’s history is a strong example of human resilience. The history of the fajita demonstrates how man can turn something typically ‘cast aside’ into one of the most popular dishes in American Tex-Mex cuisine.

The History of the Fajita

What’s Cooking America shared the history of how the fajita came to be, and as they put it, Texans would like to lay claim to the founding of the fajita, however history gives credit to Mexican ranch workers living in West Texas, an area along the Rio Grande river on the Texas-Mexico boarder in the late 1930s to early 1940s. It was said when a steer was butchered, these workers were given the least desirable parts to eat, which was considered partial payment of their wages. As I shared earlier, what normally was cast aside was made into something amazing; it were these men who learned to make good use of such a tough cut of beef, known as skirt steak, by using marinades and spices.

The fajita is truly a Tex-Mex food (a blending of Texas cowboy and Mexican panchero foods).  The Mexican term for grilled skirt steak is arracheras, and its American counterpart is fajitas. The first serious study of the history of fajitas was done in 1984 by Homero Recio as part of his graduate work in animal science at Texas A&M. Intrigued by a spike in the retail price of skirt steak, Recio’s research was sparked to learn how a once humble skirt steak from a throwaway cut of beef turned into an American menu star. Virginia Wood with the Austin Chronicle did an amazing job detailing the Fajita History in an article published back in 2005. A recommended read if you enjoy history.

Fajita Spice Blend Recipe

While there are many, many versions of this popular cuisine available, here is my homemade spice blend which is perfect to use when home canning fajitas, or if you are prepping a fresh batch of meat to later cook on the grill. Whether you are making chicken or beef fajitas, this spice blend is sure to please.

6 tablespoons chili power
3 tablespoons ground cumin powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (or regular if that is all you have on hand)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground mustard
2 teaspoons of sea salt (omit if you are watching your sodium intake)
1-3 teaspoon cayenne pepper,  depending on the heat you prefer
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Measure each spice and place into a bowl. Whisk the spices altogether, working to blend them well. Store in a spice jar or empty 8-ounce jelly jar free from direct sunlight and moisture. And by all means, add (or omit) any additional spices to ensure you get the flavor you truly desire!

Chicken Fajita Canning Recipe

Makes approximately 5 quarts or 10 pints

Inspired by a fellow canner, and my son’s love for all things fajita, this recipe embodies Tex-Mex flavors with its combination of beans, meat, peppers and spices. Prefer to omit the beans and just focus on the meat? No worries, simply omit the beans and double the chicken, peppers and onions, then process as described in the instructions. You’ll have a fajita meal starter in every jar. Feel free to substitute beef for chicken too. See, there are so many possibilities!



4 cups dried black beans
2 cups dried pinto beans
2 1/2 cups sliced peppers (green, red, orange or yellow or any combination)
2 1/2 cups sliced sweet onions
5 Roma tomatoes
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 tablespoons homemade Fajita spice blend
8 cups chicken broth


  1. Using clean wide-mouth jars, be sure each jar is room temperature seeing we will be raw stacking each cold ingredient.
  2. Mix the black and pinto beans together in a bowl and set aside. Using a measuring cup and funnel, add 1 cup of mixed beans to each quart jar, and a 1/2 cup to each pint jar.
  3. Next, place 1/2 cup of peppers in each quart jar, then add a 1/2 cup of onion slices right after. Gently tamp down the pepper and onions using your headspace measuring tool, to ensure room is made for the remaining ingredients. If using pints, add 1/4 cup of each ingredient.
  4. Core and dice one Roma tomato at a time and add to each quart. If using pints, a half of diced Roma tomato is added to each pint.
  5. Slice one chicken thigh and slice one small chicken breast and add to each quart. To tenderize the breast meat, mix the thigh and breast meat together in the jar before adding the spices and broth. If using pints, slice a half breast and half thigh, mix and add to each pint.
  6. Add 1 generous tablespoon of the fajita spice blend to each quart jar and a generous 1/2 tablespoon to each pint jar.
  7. Next, slowly add chicken broth until it stops filling. Using the flip side of the headspace measuring tool, remove air bubbles by sliding the tool down the sides of the jar and pressing into the jar’s center mass. Add additional broth and repeat until there are no air pockets remaining and the broth is at 1-inch of headspace. Complete this step for every jar.
  8. Wipe the jar rims with a wet washcloth dipped in vinegar. Add a canning lid and ring to each jar and hand tighten.
  9. Process in a pressure canner at 10 PSI or according to your elevation; 90 minutes for quarts and 75 minutes for pints.

The best part of creating a meal in a jar is you simply need to heat and serve! I like to empty the entire jar into a skillet and quickly heat through on medium-high heat. I use my cast iron skillet to lightly toast corn tortillas while the fajita mixture heats through. Small bowls of freshly chopped cilantro, lime wedges, shredded cheese and my homecanned salsa are set aside to give the fajitas a finishing touch.

Happy Canning!

Diane, The Canning Diva

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