This simple recipe for grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken is juicy and flavorful, marinated in a fresh mix of lime juice, herbs, and seasonings, then cooked to perfection!
You can make this on your outdoor grill, on the stove with a grill pan, or bake it in the oven. Any way you decide to cook this delicious marinated chicken, it will be delicious.
This easy chicken recipe is so tasty, you’re going to want to make it every week! A simple cilantro lime chicken marinade with garlic, honey, and a little bit of spice turns inexpensive chicken thighs into a juicy and delicious meal.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Bold Tex-Mex Flavor – Cilantro and Lime are the stars of this show, but supporting them is warm cumin, spicy chili powder, and a generous amount of garlic too. You will love this chicken sliced and added to tacos or a Tex-Mex salad.
- Cook it Your Way – I think grilling brings out the flavor of this chicken the best, but I’ll also share how to bake, air fry, or pan-sear marinated chicken thighs.
- Versatile Recipe – This marinade will work with any type of chicken that you have! It’s also tasty on pork chops.
Ingredients In Cilantro Lime Chicken
Here’s everything you need to make this tangy, garlicky chicken:
- Chicken: I’m using boneless, skinless chicken thighs today, but this marinade will be amazing on any type of chicken you’d like to cook. Try it with boneless chicken breast, chicken tenders, or bone-in versions.
- Cilantro: This fresh herb has a lovely flavor and is key to many Mexican dishes. Be sure to wash the cilantro well before chopping it coarsely.
- Lime: Use fresh lime juice, please! Bottled lime juice will not give you the same flavor. We’ll also zest the lime to be sure we get all of that citrusy goodness.
- Olive Oil: Oil in marinades helps to mellow the acidic effects of the citrus juice, and helps the meat absorb more of the flavors in the marinade.
- Garlic and Honey: for more layers of flavor, fresh garlic adds savory warmth while honey gives a bit of sweetness.
- Spices: Ground cumin and chili powder give cilantro and lime chicken that spicy, smoky flavor you expect.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
How To Make The Best Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Make the Marinade: In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice and zest, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Marinate the Chicken: Add the chicken thighs to the bowl and mix so that the chicken is thoroughly coated. Cover, and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but preferably longer, and up to 24 hours.
- Cook: Preheat your grill, skillet, or oven. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and cook until it is done. Check with a thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature is at least 165°F/74°C.
Instead of a mixing bowl, marinate the chicken in a ziptop bag! I suggest putting the bag in a bowl or on a tray in the fridge just in case though.
Ways to Cook Cilantro Lime Chicken
As mentioned, you can cook this chicken however you like! The amount of time it will take will depend on your cooking method, and if you’re using chicken thighs or breasts.
Here are simple instructions for cooking marinated boneless skinless chicken thighs in a variety of manners:
Grill or Grill Pan: Preheat your outdoor or indoor grill, oil the grill grates, and add the chicken. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until you get grill marks and the chicken is cooked through.
Skillet: Preheat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of oil and the marinated chicken thighs. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
Air Fryer: Cook chicken thighs for 12-15 minutes at 390°F/200°C, flipping over halfway through the cooking time.
Oven: Add the marinated chicken thighs to a sheet pan or baking dish and cook in a preheated 400°F/200°C oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until fully cooked.
- Marinate Long Enough. You need to let the chicken chill in the marinade for at least half an hour, but several hours would be preferred.
- If you’d like to adjust the heat in this recipe, you can reduce or increase the amount of chili powder you add.
- In place of honey, try maple syrup or brown sugar.
- Zest the lime first, then juice it. It’s difficult to remove the zest from a lime that’s already been cut in half. To make zesting super simple, I like to use a microplane.
- Use a thermometer to test the chicken so you know when it’s cooked fully.
Store leftover cooked chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days. This recipe works well for meal prep or lunches for the week.
What To Serve With Cilantro Lime Chicken
Serve this chicken with Mexican marinade with your favorite Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes!
For dessert, try my simple and fresh Mexican Fruit Salad!
Yes! This tasty marinade works with any kind of chicken.
The maximum amount of time should be 24 hours. Any longer than that and the meat will start to change texture due to the acidity from the lime.
At a minimum, you should let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes. Ideally, let it marinate for a couple of hours though. The longer you let the chicken marinate, the tastier and juicier it will be.
Tangy and fresh, this Cilantro Garlic Chicken Marinade is a go-to when you need a delicious meal. Grill it, bake it, or pan-fry it – it’s perfect any way you cook it!
- In a large bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients (olive oil, zest of a lime, juice of a lime, garlic, cilantro, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper).
- Give the marinade a whisk then add the chicken thighs, and mix so the chicken thighs are thoroughly coated. Cover, and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes but preferably longer, and up to 24 hours. Alternatively, this can be done in a ziptop bag.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook using your preferred method, until the chicken is cooked through, and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F/74°C.
- Ways to cook boneless, skinless chicken thighs:
- To Grill: Preheat your outdoor or indoor grill pan, oil the grill grates, and add the chicken. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until you get grill marks and the chicken is cooked through.
- To Cook in a Skillet: Preheat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of oil and the marinated chicken thighs. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
- To Air Fry: Cook chicken thighs for 12-15 minutes at 390°F/200°C, flipping over halfway through the cooking time.
- To Bake: Add the marinated chicken thighs to a sheet pan or baking dish and cook in a preheated 400°F/200°C oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until fully cooked.
- You can also use this marinade recipe for other cuts of chicken, including chicken breasts, tenders, or bone-in chicken pieces.
- For the best flavor, let the chicken sit in the marinade for several hours. Minimally, marinate for 30 minutes, and for no longer than 24 hours.
- To Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen