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Cilantro Lime Chicken

This juicy and super easy Cilantro Lime Chicken is prepared with boneless chicken thighs soaked in a flavor-packed marinade and pan-seared to crispy, perfectly juicy deliciousness! You’ll love how tender it turns out and how simple and quick it is to make!

Overhead picture of chicken thighs cooking in a cast iron skillet.


 

Guys, get ready to wake up those taste buds! This cilantro lime chicken recipe is bringing the heat and the zing with this Tex-Mex-inspired masterpiece, and let me tell you, it’s something you don’t want to miss. Cooking it up in a hot cast iron skillet guarantees that incredible “grilled” vibe we all love.

I know cilantro can be a bit of a polarizer. But even if you’ve been on the fence, this cilantro lime chicken marinade might just convert you. It’s a game-changer with its fresh, herbal kick – it is a treasure trove of taste. We’re talking a hefty dose of garlic, a touch of honey for sweetness, a bit of olive oil, and a blend of Southwest spices that’ll make your taste buds sing. A sprinkle of salt and pepper, and the chicken’s ready to soak up all that goodness.

So, whether you’re a cilantro lover or a skeptic ready to be converted, this cilantro chicken recipe is about to become your new favorite. Let’s marinate the chicken and make some taste-bud magic happen!

Up close photo of cilantro lime chicken thighs with a lime wedge set next to the thighs.

What You’ll Need

The simple ingredients for this dish are so fresh and zesty! The stars of the show are juicy chicken thighs and tasty cilantro. This leafy green, a close relative of coriander, brings a fresh, citrusy punch that’s unmatched. Paired with the bright, slightly sweet tang of lime, it’s a match made in flavor-heaven!

  • Olive Oil: You’ll need ¼ cup of good olive oil for the base of this marinade.
  • Lime: We will use fresh lime juice and zest.
  • Garlic: I use fresh garlic, minced or pressed, but you could use about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
  • Cilantro: I suggest using 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro here. You can use less or more, but I personally wouldn’t use more than 1/4 of a cup. Also, don’t use less than 2 tablespoons. 
  • Honey: A tablespoon of your favorite honey adds sweetness and complements the chicken.
  • Chili Powder: You’ll need a tablespoon of chili powder for this tasty marinade.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: I add a teaspoon for a spicy dish, but you can leave these out if you’d like it milder.
  • Ground Cumin: An absolutely essential spice for this Mexican-inspired dish!
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they’re extra tender and juicy.
  • Lime Wedges: For serving.

Can I Use Chicken Breasts?

Definitely! You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the thighs with no problem! The high-heat method used to make this dish will result in tender, juicy white meat. Just adjust the cooking time to get the correct internal temperature of 165˚F. Please use an Instant Read Meat Thermometer to check for doneness.

How to Make Cilantro Lime Chicken

This cilantro chicken is very easy to make. You can mix up the marinade in no time, and after as little as half an hour of marinating, the chicken is ready for the pan. It only takes several minutes to cook per side, and it’s good to go!

  1. Make the Marinade. In a mixing bowl (or a zip-top bag), combine the olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, honey, chili powder, pepper flakes, cumin, salt, and pepper; mix well. Measure out 1/4 cup marinade and put it in a bowl or a cup; reserve that for later.
  2. Marinate the Chicken. Add the chicken thighs to the marinade, tossing around to coat well. Cover and let stand at room temperature for half an hour, or refrigerate for up to two hours.
  3. Cook the Chicken. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs to the hot skillet. Cook the thighs for 5 minutes; flip and continue to cook for 6 to 8 more minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, drizzle it with the reserved marinade, and serve it with lime wedges.

Recipe Tips

  • Make Ahead: The flavorful marinade is what sets this chicken dish apart, but to save you time, you can make the marinade ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week! Also, if you want to make it really fast, try dropping the ingredients into your blender and pulsing until you have a chunky liquid.
  • Bone-In Chicken Thighs: I don’t recommend using bone-in chicken here, but if that’s all you have on hand, just de-bone them using a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
  • Double the Recipe: This is a really nice recipe that’s very versatile! You can use the chicken in a lot of ways for meal prep, so I think it’s good to make extra for later in the week. I use it in salads, rice bowls, and tacos.
  • Grill It. Marinate the chicken, then toss it on the grill. Cook it until it’s perfectly browned and juicy on both sides. That open flame is going to add an extra layer of smoky goodness to the chicken, making it even more delicious!
  • Air Fry It. Pop the chicken into the air fryer and set it to 400˚F. Cook it for 8 minutes on one side, flip it, and continue to cook for 5 more minutes or until the internal temperature registers at 165˚F.
Overhead image of chicken thighs cooking in a cast iron skillet. The thighs are garnished with chopped cilantro.

Serving Suggestions

Thinking about whipping up this cilantro lime chicken but aren’t sure what to pair it with? No worries—I’ve got you covered with some side dish suggestions that promise next-level flavor and will make this great recipe even more memorable.

  • These chicken thighs make a wonderful burrito bowl! I just make some white rice or Cauliflower Rice for the base, and then add the chicken, a handful of black beans, a dollop of sour cream, and some chopped tomato on top.
  • A side of my delicious Green Goddess salad or this Heirloom Tomato salad will never let you down.
  • Beautiful, lightly caramelized chunks of Honey Roasted Butternut Squash make a wonderful side dish for this fantastic chicken recipe. As are these Mashed Turnips.
  • My easy Elote recipe is mouthwatering, especially alongside these tasty marinated thighs!
Close-up picture of cilantro chicken thighs with lime wedge next to the thighs.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

To store leftovers, place the chicken in shallow, airtight containers or in food storage bags. Leftovers will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. To reheat, place leftovers in a covered skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Cook until just heated through.

More Chicken Thigh Recipes to Try

overhead picture of chicken thighs cooking in a cast iron skillet

Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe

Katerina | Diethood
This cilantro lime chicken soaks in a marinade bursting with flavors, and it all cooks together in only one pan!
5 from 11 votes
Servings : 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, omit if you don’t want a spicy dish
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • lime wedges, for serving

Instructions
 

  • Make the Marinade. In a mixing bowl (or a zip-top bag), combine the olive oil, juice, and zest of 2 limes, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, honey, chili powder, pepper flakes, cumin, salt, and pepper; stir or mix until well combined.
    Remove about 3 tablespoons of the marinade, place it in a bowl, cover it, and set it aside for later.
  • Marinate. Add the chicken thighs to the marinade and toss around to coat well; cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 2 hours.
  • Cook. Set a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and heat it until hot. Add the chicken thighs to the hot skillet—be careful, they will sizzle—and cook them for 5 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom; flip and continue to cook for 6 to 8 more minutes, or until cooked through. The chicken is done when its internal temperature registers at 165˚F.
  • Finish. Remove the chicken from the skillet and let it rest for a few minutes. Brush the chicken thighs with the reserved marinade, garnish it with chopped cilantro, and serve it with lime wedges.

Nutrition

Serving: 6 ounces | Calories: 419 kcal | Carbohydrates: 7 g | Protein: 44 g | Fat: 23 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 215 mg | Sodium: 535 mg | Potassium: 630 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 5 g | Vitamin A: 822 IU | Vitamin C: 1 mg | Calcium: 39 mg | Iron: 3 mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American/Southwest, Mexican/Southwest
Keyword: chicken thighs recipe, cilantro lime chicken, cilantro lime marinade, easy chicken marinade
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28 comments on “Cilantro Lime Chicken”

  1. Can the chicken be marinated overnight? Or even placed in the marinade and be frozen till ready to cook? Thanks!

    1. Hi!
      Yes, you can marinate it overnight (in the fridge), and you can also freeze it in the marinade for up to three months.

  2. Avatar photo
    Jennifer McCleary

    This is a go-to recipe all year round, but particularly in the summer months when we grill most of our meals. Easy to prepare and always flavourful. If you haven’t yet tried this recipe, don’t wait any longer. You most certainly will not be disappointed.

    1. It’s great to know you love the recipe and find it perfect for grilling season. Thanks for the high praise and encouraging others to try it too! 🙂

  3. Avatar photo
    ROBERT STORCK

    The marinade made this recipe. Outstanding! I cook on an out side griddle preheated to approx 375F. I kept the red pepper flakes, and it was not at all spicy. Paired with dry skillet roasted cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and onion. Will make again and serve when we have visitors. Overall a very healthy meal.

    1. Your meal sounds amazing, especially with that standout marinade! Cooking on the griddle and the vegetable choices make it both delicious and healthy. It’s great that you’re planning to make it again for guests. Can’t wait to hear how it goes! Thank YOU! 🙂

  4. I’ve made this recipe several times, as well as used the marinade for grilled salmon. So far, I’ve gotten the best results from baked chicken thighs; 25 minutes at 425 on a lined baking sheet.

  5. I made this and unfortunately didn’t have any cumin BUT it was still really good. I didn’t want to fry out of laziness so I baked it in the marinade so the marinade could be used for rice and it was soooo good. I will definitely be doing this one again.

  6. Delicious! We’re not much chicken eaters but I will make theses again. They were moist and flavorful.

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Sure! Arrange the chicken thighs in the slow cooker, pour the marinade over the chicken, and then cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours. If you want to use bone-in chicken thighs, cook them for longer.

  7. Cilantro plus lime plus chicken is a perfect combination! I can’t imagine a better dinner!

  8. Thanks for the tip about making the marinade ahead of time. So easy to pull it out and use it when we’re ready. Such a great dinner!

  9. Avatar photo
    Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert

    This Cilantro Lime Chicken is such an amazing flavor combo!! Would love to try it!

  10. This looks so juicy and full of flavor! My family is going to love this! So excited to give this a try!

  11. Avatar photo
    Dorothy Reinhold

    Look at that beautiful color on that chicken! All of your tips are really helpful! This is going on the menu this week!

  12. Holy cow this was SO delicious! I added even more cilantro and everyone in my family loved it!

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