When you’re in a restaurant, you always know when someone orders fajitas. First, that incredible smell hits your nose, the tantalizing aroma of grilled meat, onions, and bell peppers. Then, the sound of something sizzling on a very hot cast-iron tray. Fajitas are literally a head-turner, as patrons swivel around to catch a glimpse of this very popular Tex-Mex dish.
When ordering fajitas in a restaurant, the sides that come with it are the standard refried beans and rice that come with just about any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal. However, when you make fajitas at home you can be a lot more creative and pair them with something different.
Here are 15 suggested sides for your next fajita dinner! And don’t worry, these work well with any grilled fajita meat – beef, chicken, or even shrimp!
1. Queso Blanco
You can’t go wrong with queso! It’s so easy to make, and very addictive. Make sure you have enough for seconds! You can eat the queso with chips or pour directly onto the fajitas.
Queso is also very customizable. You can make it as spicy or mild as you like, or add extra ingredients like chili, chorizo, or salsa.
This salsa goes great with everything – chips, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and of course, fajitas. Salsa is usually made with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and peppers, but this recipe requires roasting the veggies first. The result is a deeper, richer flavor, almost like a soup.
The recipe notes that if you want to kick up the heat factor, replace the jalapeños with your pepper of choice like serrano, or even habañero.
This is a yummy alternative to standard guacamole. It’s like a cross between salsa and guacamole, but the difference is that salsa de aguacate (avocado in Spanish) also contains tomatillos and has a smoother consistency similar to baby food. In contrast, guacamole is very thick and often chunky.
You can adjust the level of spiciness by adding a second jalapeño.
Calabacitas is a filling vegetarian dish that consists of zucchini and corn. In fact, the name roughly translates to “zucchini”, but if you’re not too crazy about that particular vegetable you can swap in a different squash.
The recipe mentions that you can use calabacitas as a vegan substitute for filling (tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc). It’s also hearty enough to be a dish on its own.
This bright, colorful corn salad is a fun side dish for fajitas. All the different textures work well together, and the sweetness of the corn brings out the flavor of the grilled fajita meat and veggies. You can use canned, frozen, or fresh corn for this recipe.
Roasted vegetables of any kind are delicious to begin with, but tossing it with taco seasoning brings it to a new level. It’s also super easy and fast to make. If you wish, you can purchase pre-cut veggies in a bag to save even more time.
You can choose any vegetables you want to roast, but just make sure that they are cut the same size so that they cook evenly.
Charro beans are a great alternative to the standard refried bean side dish. They are spicy, savory, and smoky thanks to the serrano chiles and bacon bits. Unlike refried beans which are creamy and smooth, charro beans are chunky and heavy, with whole beans and bacon sitting in a rich broth.
This recipe demonstrates three different methods to cook charro beans: stovetop, Instant Pot, and CrockPot.
8. Frijoles de Olla (traditional Mexican beans)
The name translates to “beans in a pot”, and is a very simple but hearty vegetarian dish. You can use a variety of beans that include peruanos, bayos, or flor de mayo. However, regular pinto beans are perfectly fine and the most commonly used beans for this recipe.
Keep in mind that this is no speedy dish as it’ll take two hours just to boil the beans.
9. Cowboy Beans
Cowboy beans are a Tex-Mex side that’s similar to charro beans in that it’s a bit spicy and smoky. However, cowboy beans only use cumin as a spice, whereas charro beans also contain Mexican oregano and chili powder in addition to cumin.
According to this recipe, this dish was dubbed “cowboy beans” because cowboys used to eat beans a lot when they traveled.
This cheesy rice is sure to be a hit at your next family dinner, potluck, or any other event. According to the recipe, the key to perfecting this dish is patience. You must allow the cheese to form a crust by toasting it under low flame, then scrape it and mix it in with the rice. In addition, using a cast iron pan helps create the perfect crust.
When it comes to Mexican rice, we’re used to seeing the red kind that’s served in every Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurant. This version is white and contains corn, though you can use other vegetables such as carrots.
According to the recipe, the secret to fluffy rice is to add the liquid in small amounts over time, just like when you make risotto. This allows control over the consistency of the rice.
12. Taco Rice
For those with tomato allergies or simply don’t care for them, here’s another tomato-less, white rice side for your next fajita dinner. It’s got a more Southwest style to it and is super easy to make. This rice dish also goes well with tacos, burritos, and other typical Mexican dishes.
A steaming hot bowl of soup is perfect for when the weather gets colder and the skies are gray. This tomato-based soup is filled with shredded chicken and black beans, and is packed with flavor.
This soup normally takes about 45 minutes to prepare because you have to cook and shred the chicken first. However if you want to expedite the process you can purchase rotisserie chicken.
Pozole is usually made with a chili-tomato sauce with pork. In contrast, this version uses tomatillos and chicken. And while it’s delicious, pozole rojo takes a very long time to cook since it takes over two hours just to cook the pork. Meanwhile, it only takes about 20 minutes to cook the chicken for this recipe; even less if you use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.
This vegetarian soup is packed with tons of veggies and flavor. Everything goes in one pot, so it’s super easy and fast to make. It’s also very customizable, as you can adjust the spiciness level and use whatever vegetables you like.
For a heartier soup, add chicken or noodles to the recipe.
And I'll leave you with my delicious corn salad recipe. Which pairs beautifully with fajitas.
- 4 cups sweet corn
- 6 center cut bacon slices, cooked and chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- ⅓ cup green onions, diced
- Juice of 1 lime
- ½ cup light crumbled feta
- ¾ cup ranch dressing *I used my own ranch recipe
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- Pinch of salt & pepper
- Cook the bacon, drain and cut into small pieces.
- Dice the red onion, green onion, and jalapeno.
- Cut the grape tomatoes in half.
- Add all ingredients to a bowl except the feta and mix well. Add in the feta and carefully mix it into the salad.
- This salad makes 11- ½ cup servings. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.