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Easy, Delicious Make-Ahead Fajitas

These chicken fajitas are delicious straight from your sizzling skillet.  Or you can make them in advance and freeze for a quick, easy re-heat meal.  I’ve also included a make-ahead chicken fajitas for a crowd recipe at the end of the post in case you’re cooking for a large group.  It either serves a crowd of 45 or can be frozen in smaller batches for many quick, wonderful family dinners with minimal work after a busy day.  Either way – enjoy!

Here’s your easy Step-by-Step walk-through of how to do it.

In a large bowl, combine all marinade ingredients. Whisk to combine and set aside.

To help the chicken breasts cook more evenly, butterfly them so they are roughly the same thickness, approximately ½ inch thick.
Like so.

Divide chicken between one or several (if you’re making the large batch version of the recipe) 1 gallon freezer bags then one-third of the marinade to the bag(s) containing the chicken, dividing between the bags if using more than one bag.  Set aside the remaining two-thirds of the marinade for the vegetables.  Gently work the marinade throughout the bags to completely coat the chicken and seal, pressing air out. Refrigerate marinated chicken between at least 1 and up to 3 hours.

While the chicken marinates you can process the vegetables.  Aren’t these peppers beautiful!
Simply cut the onions and peppers in ½ inch strips and add to a large bowl. You may have to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your large bowl.

I like to take a page out of Rachel Ray’s book and use a ‘trash’ bowl.  All garbage goes in the bowl and then it’s disposed of once you’re done.  It’s a real time saver and helps keep your prep area clean and organized.  A real plus if you’re cooking in larger quantities.

Pour the reserved marinade over the vegetables and toss well to evenly coat the vegetables with the marinade.   Divide the vegetables between one or several (1 gallon) freezer bags and seal, pressing the air out. The marinade is acting as a seasoning for the vegetables at this point more than an actual marinade. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in your largest, heaviest skillet (preferably cast iron), over medium high heat.  When smoking hot, add enough chicken to form 1 layer deep.

Cook the chicken about 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, turning every couple minutes. Chicken is done when breasts reach between150 and 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer (which I recommend and love!)  If you’re at all unsure cut each piece in half from side to side once you think it’s done.  If it’s not done continue cooking until it is.

When done, remove chicken to several plates to cool. Continue cooking chicken in  batches until all chicken is cooked.  When all batches of the chicken are cooked, sauté the vegetables, in batches if necessary,  until they are mostly softened and just beginning to caramelize.

While the vegetables are cooking slice the chicken on the diagonal into roughly ¼ inch by 2 inch pieces.

NOTE: If serving immediately, once the vegetable are finished add the chicken and all chicken juices back to the skillet.  Cook just until chicken is hot.  Meanwhile, wrap tortillas in a damp cloth and microwave in 30 second increments until tortillas are hot.  Serve fajitas immediately with condiments and warm tortillas.

If not serving immediately remove vegetables to a large pan or baking sheet and let cool.  If not serving immediately divide the chicken between one or several (1 gallon) freezer bags. Pour all accumulated juices on the plates over the chicken in the bags. This keeps the chicken moist and is one of the best parts of this recipe.

If not serving immediately, once the vegetables are cooked and cooled, divide vegetables between one or several (1 gallon) bags (or smaller for family-sized portions).  The chicken and vegetables may be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 4 months.

 

When you’re ready to serve:

Day before serving – if frozen, thaw chicken and vegetables overnight in refrigerator.

1 hour prior to serving  – preheat oven to 325 degrees preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the chicken and vegetables in one or more large roasting trays. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and rewarm for 45 – 60 minutes.  (Convection ovens will take about 10 minutes less.)

20 minutes prior to serving – wrap flour tortillas with foil in batches of 10 – 15 and place in a 325 degree oven till soft and hot, approximately 10 minutes.  Keep wrapped in foil till serving.

Serve with warm flour tortillas, sour cream, and salsa.

Pin for Later

Or Make Now.

Family-size Make Ahead Chicken Fajitas

 

Chicken Fajitas
Print
Chicken Fajitas
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 


Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8 to 10 people
Author: Betsy Edwards
Ingredients
For the marinade
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
For the fajitas
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 5 medium peppers seeds removed and cut into ½ strips, different colors
  • 2 sweet onions sliced pole to pole ½ inch strips
  • 8 - 10 large flour tortillas warmed
Garnishes
  • sour cream
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce shredded
  • cheddar cheese shredded
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. To help the chicken breasts cook more evenly, butterfly them so they are roughly the same thickness, approximately ½ inch thick. Put the chicken in a (1 gallon) freezer bag then pour one-half of the marinade in the bag. Set aside the remaining one-half of the marinade for the vegetables. Gently work the marinade throughout the bag to completely coat the chicken and seal, pressing air out. Refrigerate marinated chicken between at least 1 and up to 3 hours.

  3. While the chicken marinates, cut up onions and peppers in ½ inch strips and add to a large bowl. Pour the reserved marinade over the vegetables and toss well to evenly coat the vegetables with the marinade. Place the vegetables in a (1 gallon) freezer bag and seal, pressing the air out. The marinade is acting as a seasoning for the vegetables at this point more than an actual marinade. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

  4. When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in your largest, heaviest skillet (preferably cast iron), over medium high heat.
  5. When smoking hot, add enough chicken to form 1 layer deep. Cook the chicken about 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, turning every couple minutes. Chicken is done when breasts reach between150 and 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer (which I recommend and love!)   When done, remove chicken to several plates to cool. Continue cooking chicken in batches until all chicken is cooked.

  6. When all batches of the chicken are cooked, sauté the vegetables until they are mostly softened and just beginning to caramelize.  

  7. While the vegetables are cooking, slice the cooled chicken on the diagonal into roughly ¼ inch by 2 inch pieces.  Add the chicken in with the vegetables and if serving immediately heat until chicken is rewarmed.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: If not serving immediately, place the chicken and vegetables in one or several (1 gallon) freezer bags. Pour all accumulated juices on the plates over the chicken in the bag. This keeps the chicken moist and is one of the best parts of this recipe. When ready to serve, Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large skillet to smoking over medium-high heat. Add chicken and vegetables, cook, stirring until just warmed through out. Can be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 4 months. Day before serving, if frozen, thaw chicken overnight in refrigerator.
  1. When ready to serve, Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large skillet to smoking over medium-high heat. Add chicken and vegetables, cook, stirring until just warmed through out. Wrap flour tortillas with damp towel and microwave in 30 second increments until warm.

  2. Serve with warm flour tortillas, sour cream, and salsa.

 

Make Ahead Chicken Fajitas for a Large Group

When you’re cooking for a crowd, you really want to have all the heavy lifting done far, far in advance.  This recipe provides you the great taste you can only get from cooking in a hot skillet and yet still have super-moist fantastic make ahead chicken fajitas.  Here’s your game plan.

Make in Advance Game Plan

  1.  Up to 4 months in advance: Make chicken and vegetable fajita filling and freeze.
  2. Day before: Move chicken and vegetables to refrigerator to defrost.
  3. Up to 4 hours before serving – and no later than 1 hour and 15 minutes: Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix chicken and vegetables in 3 large (12.5″ x 17″ x 3″) roasting pans and cover tightly with foil.  Place chicken and vegetables (still covered tightly) in 325 degree oven for 45 – 60 minutes to warm up.  Meanwhile, wrap batches of 10 – 15 flour tortillas with foil and set aside.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: Can be made up to this point and held in a slow cooker on low for up to 2 hours.  Meanwhile get condiments ready.

  1. 20 minutes prior to serving, place foil-wrapped batches of flour tortillas in a 325 degree oven till soft and hot, approximately 10 minutes.  Keep wrapped in foil till serving.

Serve with warm flour tortillas, sour cream, and salsa.

Chicken Fajitas
Print
Make Ahead Chicken Fajitas for a Crowd
Prep Time
1 hrs
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
2 hr
 

Serves 45 

Yield: 7 pounds 12 ounces of chicken (124 ounces of chicken) 45 servings of chicken 

Yield: 15 pounds of vegetables (240 ounces of vegetables) 45 servings of vegetables 

Serving size 1 tortilla with 2 ¾ ounces of meat and 5 ½ ounces of vegetables

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 45 people
Author: Betsy Edwards
Ingredients
For the marinade
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 1 ½ cup lime juice (juice of 8 limes)
  • ½ cup seasoned salt
  • ¼ cup dried oregano
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 6 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
For the fajitas
  • 10 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 24 inch medium peppers seeds removed and cut into ½ strips, different colors
  • 12 sweet onions sliced pole to pole ½ inch strips
  • 45 large flour tortillas
  • sour cream
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce shredded
Special Equipment
  • 20 1 gallon freezer bags
  • 3 (12.5 x 17 x 3) disposable aluminum roasting trays
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl add all marinade ingredients.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

  2. To help the chicken breasts cook more evenly, butterfly them so they are roughly the same thickness, approximately ½ inch thick. Divide chicken between 2 (1 gallon) freezer bags then divide one-third of the marinade between both bags. Set aside the remaining two-thirds of the marinade for the vegetables. Gently work the marinade throughout the bags to completely coat the chicken and seal, pressing air out. Refrigerate marinated chicken between at least 1 and up to 3 hours.

  3. While the chicken marinates, cut up onions and peppers in ½ inch strips and add to a large bowl.  You may have to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your large bowl.  Pour the reserved marinade over the vegetables and toss well to evenly coat the vegetables with the marinade.  Divide the vegetables between 7 (1 gallon) freezer bags and seal, pressing the air out. The marinade is acting as a seasoning for the vegetables at this point more than an actual marinade. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

  4. When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in your largest, heaviest skillet (preferably cast iron), over medium high heat.
  5. When smoking hot, add enough chicken to form 1 layer deep. Cook the chicken about 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, turning every couple minutes.  Chicken is done when breasts reach between150 and 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer (which I recommend and love!)   When done, remove chicken to several plates to cool. Continue cooking chicken in about 7 – 8 batches until all chicken is cooked.

  6. When all batches of the chicken are cooked, sauté the vegetables in 4 – 5 batches until they are mostly softened and just beginning to caramelize. Remove to a large pan or baking sheet and let cool.

  7. While the vegetables are cooking, slice the cooled chicken on the diagonal into roughly ¼ inch by 2 inch pieces. Divide the chicken between 2 (1 gallon) freezer bags. Pour all accumulated juices on the plates over the chicken in the bags. This keeps the chicken moist and is one of the best parts of this recipe.

  8. Once the vegetables are cooked and cooled, divide between 5 (1 gallon) freezer bags.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: Can be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 4 months.
  1. Day before serving, if frozen, thaw chicken and vegetables overnight in refrigerator.

  2. If reheating in oven, 1 hour prior to serving preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the chicken and vegetables in 3 (12.5 x 17 x 3)  aluminum roasting trays.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and rewarm for 45 – 60 minutes. (Convection ovens will take about 10 minutes less.)

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: Can be made up to this point and held in a slow cooker on low for up to 2 hours.
  1. 20 minutes prior to serving, in batches of wrap batches of 10 - 15 flour tortillas with foil and place in a 325 degree oven till soft and hot, approximately 10 - 15 minutes.

  2. Serve with warm flour tortillas, sour cream, tomatoes, and lettuce.

1 Comment

  1. Tani

    Great for busy moms who need to cook ahead.

    Reply

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