Steak Fajitas + Cilantro Lime Rice = THIS yummy bowl o’ goodness right here! Learn how to marinate flank steak and make cilantro lime rice for the best fajita flavor!
Aren’t fajitas the best?
There’s all the different pieces…flavors, colors, temperatures, and textures. Plus, if you order them at restaurants, they usually come on one of those sizzling plates and everyone stares over at you, longingly, dreaming of how tasty your food looks.
Yep, that’s right: I ordered FAJITAS!
So much yum.
Luckily, it’s one of the meals Dustin and I equally enjoy — though our finished fajita looks quite different. He goes for meat and cheese only on the tortilla, whereas I like to add a little bit of EVERYTHING to mine. With all those tasty toppings, like pico de gallo, guacamole, and fajita bell peppers and onions, it’s hard not to.
When we aren’t ordering fajitas out at a restaurant, we also like to make this super yummy steak fajita bowl with cilantro lime rice at home. And you know I gotta include all my toppings, too!
How to Cook Flank Steak
When cooking flank steak, there are three major tricks for the most tender, flavorful flank steak, which are…
- Marinate the flank steak. Marinating flank steak allows the tougher fibers to break down, making the overall steak much more tender. This also works to flavor the steak, which will make your cooked flank steak all the better.
- Cut across (or against) the grain. Cutting your flank steak across the grain will make your meat very tender, since it’s cutting against all the muscle fibers. If you cut with the grain in the meat, your steak will be unnecessarily chewy. If you need help on finding the grain, watch this video.
- Cut your flank steak into thin slices, no more than 1/2 inch. Flank steak isn’t the most tender meat so slicing the steak into thin slices is best.
When cooking flank steak in a pan, make sure to heat your pan over medium-high heat until it’s nice and hot. Remove the flank steak from the marinade and allow most of the marinade to drip off, since we don’t want much liquid in the pan along with the meat (it ruins the searing process). Let your steak sizzle and cook for 4-5 minutes without touching it for a medium steak (3-4 minutes for medium-rare). Then, it should look nicely browned. Flip your steak over and cook the other side the same way, removing from the heat and allowing the steak to rest for 5 minutes before slicing across the grain into thin slices. Cooking flank steak beyond medium will increase the toughness of the steak, so I usually shoot for medium.
How to Marinate Flank Steak
Marinating flank steak is very helpful to making your flank steak be as tender and as flavorful as possible. You typically want to marinate flank steak for a minimum of two hours, up to 1 day in the refrigerator. This will allow the meat time to tenderize and to fully absorb the flavors from the marinade. Marinades usually consist of an acidic ingredient, like vinegar, lime juice, wine or yogurt, plus spices and an oil. The acidic component softens the food as it marinates, allowing the meat to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Marinating longer than a day can actually cause the meat to become more tough, especially with highly acidic marinades.
Here are some quick tips on how to marinate flank steak:
- Use a sealable plastic bag or large bowl with plastic wrap. You want to seal in the juices and flavors as much as possible.
- Marinate your food in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
- Keep marinating meat away from other foods in your fridge to avoid unsafe contamination of the raw meat.
- Discard the unused marinade once it’s time to cook the meat (don’t use it as a sauce unless you cook it first).
- Aim to marinate the meat the night before you cook it for maximum flavor.
- Use a combination of an acid, oil, and spices in your marinade.
- If you can’t get to it in time to cook it, you can also freeze the meat in the marinade to be used later.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Rice
Making cilantro lime rice is so easy and adds so much flavor to regular ol’ rice for this steak fajita bowl. I like using brown rice instead of white rice since it is less processed and has higher fiber and nutrients, but either rice will work. In order to add the most flavor into the rice, instead of cooking it with water, use a combination of low sodium chicken broth and lime juice. While you could use a rice cooker, I cook it on the stove using either a deep stock pot or a deep sauce pan, depending on how much rice I’m making. I actually don’t even own a rice cooker.
In general, you’ll want to have a 2:1 ratio of liquid to uncooked rice, meaning you’ll want double the amount of liquid to the rice. Measure one half cup of uncooked rice per person and scale this ratio up or down depending on how much you’re making. Once you have the rice, liquid, and a little salt in your pot, bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat all the way down and cover the pan tightly with a lid. While the rice is cooking, try not to stir it or mess with it — just leave it covered until all the liquid is absorbed.
You’ll want to start checking the rice to see if all the liquid is absorbed around 16-18 minutes for white rice and 25-28 minutes for brown rice. If you find that the rice is not quite cooked enough, you can add a little more liquid, if necessary. Once the rice is completely cooked and ready to go, fluff it with a fork and toss in the freshly chopped cilantro. You’ll want to add the cilantro right at the end so it maintains its flavor and color.
More Healthy Marinades To Try
In case you were wondering, YES these marinated steak fajita bowls work perfectly for meal prep, too. Just hold off on the guacamole and pico de gallo until after heating it up, if you can. I like to pack them in these meal prep containers or you could stack them in mason jars for an easy gran and go lunch or dinner. Good stuff!
Steak Fajita Bowl with Cilantro Lime Rice
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 cup low sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 cup lime juice (approx. 2 limes)
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 avocados
- 2 tbsp. lime juice (approx. 1 lime)
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- ⅓ cup lime juice (approx. 2-3 limes)
- ¼ cup pineapple juice no sugar added
- 2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. olive oil , plus more to cook steak
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 lbs. flank steak
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 1 poblano chile, sliced
- 2 red bell peppers, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- pico de gallo
- 1 cup cooked black beans rinsed and drained
In a large bowl or ziplock bag, combine the flank steak with freshly squeezed lime juice, no sugar added pineapple juice, low sodium soy sauce, olive oil, minced garlic, ground cumin, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, sea salt, ground black pepper, and chopped fresh cilantro.
Place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to 8 hours.
To make the cilantro lime brown rice, combine uncooked brown rice, minced garlic, low sodium chicken broth, sea salt, and freshly squeezed lime juice in a deep stock pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is completely absorbed by the rice and the rice is tender, about 20-30 minutes. Then, toss in freshly chopped cilantro and stir to combine.
Once the steak is marinated, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet until hot.
Add the marinated steak, cooking on both sides until cooked through, about 4-6 minutes per side.
Remove the steak from the pan and set aside to rest. Slice into thin slices against the grain.
- In the same pan, add sliced white onion, sliced poblano pepper, sliced red bell peppers, sliced green bell pepper, sea salt, and ground black pepper, and toss to combine. Cook over medium-high heat until the bell peppers and onion are tender, about 4-6 minutes.
To make a quick guacamole, combine a couple ripe avocados, freshly squeezed lime juice, and sea salt and mash together.
To assemble the steak fajita bowl, start by adding the cilantro lime brown rice to your bowl, followed by the sliced steak, no salt added black beans, our bell pepper and onion mixture, pico de gallo or whatever salsa you prefer, and then top it all off with our fresh guacamole.
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