Cilantro-Lime Chicken – made with hearty chicken thighs or lean chicken breasts which are soaked in a fresh and vibrant cilantro-lime, and garlic seasoned marinade. Chicken is then grilled or pan-seared to golden brown perfection!
Flavorful Cilantro-Lime Chicken Recipe
A incredibly delicious chicken recipe I turn to time and time again! It’s super easy yet always wows with flavor! Plus it only requires a few fresh ingredients and cooking it couldn’t be easier.
Not to mention everyone loves it! Who can resist those perfectly browned edges?
It’s versatile too. You can throw this cilantro-lime chicken in tacos, grill bell peppers alongside it and serve it fajita style, make a burrito bowl, or build up a tostada – piled high with the works of course.
Or just keep it super simple and serve it with rice and it’s still plenty good enough to impress.
The best way to brighten up chicken is with fresh citrus and this recipe is proof of that.
It’s grilling season so let’s enjoy!
Happy Cinco de Mayo to those celebrating!
Cilantro-Lime Chicken Ingredients
- Chicken thighs: I like to use boneless skinless here, though bone-in, skin on will work too if going the grilling route (increase grill time of course). Boneless skinless chicken breasts work great here too if that’s what you prefer.
- Limes: Don’t forget to zest before slicing and juicing. I’ve done this myself a few times and it’s always much easier to zest whole limes.
- Olive oil: Just use standard refined olive oil not extra-virgin.
- Fresh cilantro: You’ll need about 1 bunch for this recipe.
- Garlic: It’s all about the fresh garlic for here, no powder. This builds up another layer of great flavor.
- Honey: Only a tiny is used, not to sweeten the chicken you won’t even notice any of that. Rather it is use to encourage browning. If you are pan searing chicken on the stovetop though skip this.
- Cumin: This spice pairs so well with cilantro and lime. It adds a light earthy flavor.
- Salt and pepper: I’ve listed the amounts I prefer in the recipe but of course adjust this to taste.
Continue scrolling down for ingredient amounts, directions and print option.
How to Make Cilantro-Lime Chicken
To make the marinade:
- In a mixing bowl whisk together lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, honey, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.
- Place chicken in a gallon size resealable bag, pour marinade over chicken. Seal bag and rub marinade over chicken.
- Let marinate 1 hour in refrigerator.
How to Cook It
- Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat (about 425 degrees).
- Remove chicken from marinade (I like to brush most of the cilantro off as it just turns to an unappetizing color and it has already seasoned the chicken).
- Grill chicken thighs until center reaches 165 degrees, about 5 – 6 minutes per side.
- Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Remove chicken from marinade, wipe excess marinade off.
- Cook chicken thighs in skillet until chicken registers 165 in center, about 6 minutes per side.
How Long to Marinate Chicken?
With a very acidic marinade like this I don’t recommend marinating longer than 8 hours for thighs or 4 hours for chicken breasts as it can start to alter the texture of the chicken. This marinade is super flavorful so 1 hour is even plenty.
What Sides to go with Cilantro-Lime Chicken?
Some of the things I love to serve this chicken with include:
- Coconut Rice
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Grilled mini bell peppers
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Fresh pineapple or mango (a sweet fruit to balance the tart)
- Avocado slices
- For the most tender results go with thighs instead of breasts (I used to always cook chicken breasts until I realized how much better thighs can be). They have more flavor too.
- Don’t skip marinating time to allow the flavors to penetrate.
- Use freshest ingredients for best flavor.
- Careful not to overcook the chicken or it will start to dry out (especially if you opt to use chicken breasts, thighs don’t dry as easily).
- Use an instant read thermometer to test doneness in center of portions to 165 degrees, for both food safety reasons and again so chicken doesn’t start to dry.
More Delicious Mexican Chicken Dinners to Try
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Chicken Fajitas
- Salsa Chicken Tacos (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot)
- Salsa Verde Chicken
Follow Cooking Classy
Made with hearty chicken thighs or lean chicken breasts which are soaked in a fresh and vibrant cilantro-lime, and garlic seasoned marinade. Chicken is then grilled or pan seared to golden brown perfection!
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat*
- 1 Tbsp lime zest
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1 Tbsp more for garnish
- 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp honey**
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make marinade: In a mixing bowl whisk together lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, honey, cumin and salt and pepper to taste (I use 1 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper - not included in nutrition estimate as this is per personal preference).
Place chicken thighs in a gallon size resealable bag, pour marinade over chicken. Seal bag while pressing out excess air. Rub marinade over chicken until it cilantro appears more evenly distributed.
Let marinate 1 hour in refrigerator (or up to 8 hours for thighs 4 hours for breasts).
Grill instructions: Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat (about 425 degrees). Remove chicken from marinade (I like to brush most of the cilantro off as it just turns to an unappetizing color and it's already seasoned the chicken). Grill chicken thighs until center reaches 165 degrees, about 5 - 6 minutes per side.
Stovetop instructions: Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, wipe excess marinade and cilantro off. Cook chicken thighs in skillet until 165 in center, about 5 - 7 minutes per side.
Serve chicken warm garnished with 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro.
*Boneless skinless chicken breasts may be used as well. Use about 6 oz. breasts, pound to an even thickness. Grill about 3 1/2 - 4 minutes per side or just to 165 in center.
*If you opt to cook thighs in a skillet then omit this ingredient, it is just added to promote browning on the grill. Thighs will brown plenty in a skillet.