Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe

Cilantro Lime Chicken (skillet or grilled) is seeping with flavor and is a meal in itself or instantly transforms salads, tacos, burritos, wraps, etc into the most epic meal EVER!   

This Cilantro Lime Chicken is wonderfully versatile, healthy and prep ahead so you so you can throw your marinated cilantro lime chicken on the grill or stove the second you are craving dinner.  Just be prepared for a satisfyingly delicious punch of tangy, garlicky, fiestalicious flavor!


Watch: How to make this Lime CILANTRO Chicken Recipe

Cilantro Lime Chicken


Lime Chicken you will LOVE

If know people who can’t stand cilantro, studies show it is actually a genetic predisposition!  All those haters out there (4-14% of the population) who insist cilantro tastes like, soap, dirt or bugs actually have a gene called  OR6A2 that enables them to smell certain unpleasant chemicals, one of which is  E-(2)-Decenal, a primary constituent of cilantro.  The rest of us who can’t detect aldehyde chemicals are left with the pleasant aroma of fresh, zesty, citrusy cilantro.  Sometimes not knowing is better :).

Cilantro Lime Chicken on the skillet.

So for the cilantro lovers, this Cilantro Lime Chicken is for you.  It joins the cast of my other Mexican inspired marinades of Chipotle Chicken and Chili Lime Chicken, and this my friends, is a keeper.  Its tangy, garlicky with just the right kick of spice and is healthy and versatile too.   You’ll also want to check out my Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa that were inspired by this sensational chicken.

Cilantro Lime Chicken ingredients

  • Chicken: Either boneless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs will both work in this recipe.
  • Cilantro: Use one cup loosely packed cilantro, including both the leaves and stems. There is no need to chop before adding to the food processor.
  • Olive oil: Use quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Lime juice: Please use fresh lime juice for this recipe! I like to freeze extra lime and lemon juice by the 1 tablespoon ice cubes so it is always handy.
  • Garlic: Peel four garlic cloves before adding to the food processor. You may use more or less as desired.
  • Seasonings: The chicken is seasoned with chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, ground coriander, salt and pepper. If you do not have coriander stocked, it’s okay to skip it.

Lime Chicken Recipe variations

  • Use different cuts of chicken. Choose from chicken breasts, bone-in chicken breasts, boneless chicken thighs, or bone-in chicken thighs. I recommend removing the skin for either bone-in thighs or breast. The cooking time will slightly vary between cuts of chicken.
  • Swap cilantro: Use the same cooking method but swap the cilantro for parsley and the lime juice for lemon juice. With this combo, you can also add other herbs such as fresh basil, dill, and tarragon.
  • Spice it up. Make the Cilantro Lime Chicken spicy by adding additional cayenne pepper.
  • Skewers. Make chicken kabobs by threading chicken onto skewers. You can also add vegetables and/or pineapple.
  • Swap seasoning. Use the same cooking technique but mix up the flavor profile by using your favorite spice mix such as Old Bay Seasoning, Cajun Seasonings or Taco Seasoning.
Showing how to make Cilantro Lime Chicken marinade.
Cilantro Lime Chicken marinading in a bowl.

How to Make Cilantro Lime Chicken

This Cilantro Lime Chicken starts with a marinade bursting with simple, fresh aromatic ingredients.  We add our 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (stems and all), plenty of garlic, lime juice, olive oil and then our fiestalicious seasonings to a food processor and process until chopped fine.  Reserve 2 tablespoons for basting and the rest bathes your chicken for 2 hours up to 10 – the longer the marinating time, the bigger the flavor.

Cilantro Lime Chicken skillet grilled.

You can grill or pan fry this Cilantro Lime Chicken, so is fresh and summery flavor can be devoured year round.

Sliced Cilantro Lime Chicken.

And you are going to want to devour this tangy, savory, garlicky goodness year round especially in this Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad with Baja Catalina Dressing!

Can I make this Lime Chicken Recipe with chicken thighs?

You can use chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this Cilantro Lime Chicken – totally your preference.  The dark meat of chicken thighs will always be more tender but with this glorious marinade, chickens breasts also emerge incredibly juicy.

How to serve this Lime Cilantro Chicken Recipe

If you are reading this post, then you are probably a cilantro lover which means you are going to LOVE this Cilantro Lime Chicken!  Serve this fiesta chicken with Cilantro Lime Rice,or Mexican Rice, Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing or Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Lime Butter, Southwest Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing or Southwest Orzo Salad with Chipotle Honey Lime Vinaigrette and you have a fabulous fiesta meal in your very own home!

Additionally, this Cilantro Lime Chicken makes fabulous chicken for burritos, tacos, burrito bowls, enchiladas, and of course salads!

Serve Cilantro Lime Chicken plain with sides such as rice, pineapple and veggies or enjoy it in salads, tacos, burritos, bowls, etc. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad: See my wildly popular Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad for inspiration.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos or Lettuce Wraps: Pile chopped chicken in tortillas or bib lettuce and top with mango salsa, pineapple salsa, corn salsa, or black bean and corn salsa and avocado crema.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Quesadillas: Sandwich chicken, Monterrey Jack cheese and black beans in between two flour tortillas and toast in a skillet to golden, cheesy perfection. Serve with pineapple salsa or pico de gallo, salsa, and guacamole.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with cilantro lime rice or pineapple rice, black or pinto beans, chicken, guacamole, sour cream, pineapple salsa or mango salsa.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Bowls: Layer cilantro lime rice or pineapple rice with black beans, chicken, chopped lettuce, crushed tortilla chips, pineapple or mango salsa and Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Grain Bowls: Add your favorite grains to a bowl and pile with chicken and your favorite veggies. I enjoy a combination of roasted veggies like sweet potatoes and cauliflower with fresh veggies such as cucumbers, sprouts etc.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Tostadas: Layer a tostada with refried beans or avocado mash, top with chicken, lettuce, avocados, sour cream, cotija cheese or queso fresco etc. and pineapple salsa or mango salsa.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Nachos: Pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with cheese and beans and bake. Top with chicken and toppings such as jalapenos, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and pineapple or mango salsa.

How to store Lime Chicken

Store cooked lime chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Thaw before enjoying or reheating.

Lime Chicken Recipe FAQs

What does lime juice do to chicken?

· Adds flavor: Lime juice adds a bright, tangy, and refreshing citrus flavor to the chicken.
· Tenderizes: Lime juice contains citric acid, break down the proteins in the chicken, making it more tender.
· Increases moisture retention: Lime juice helps the chicken retain moisture during marinating by creating a barrier that prevents excessive moisture loss, resulting in juicier chicken

How do you keep chicken breast moist in the oven?

It is important to cook chicken breasts at a higher temperature, not overcook, and let the chicken rest for slicing or chopping in order to achieve moist chicken breasts in the oven. Here is the deets:
· Do not overcook. Overcooking chicken breasts is the most common cause of dryness. Use a meat thermometer and bake to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. The chicken will reach 165 degrees F while it rests for 5 minutes.
· Bake chicken breasts at a higher temperature. Chicken breasts cook more quickly at a higher temperature, such as 425°F (220°C), which means less moisture is released while baking.
· Allow the chicken to rest. After removing the chicken breasts from the oven, allow them to rest for at least 5 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, resulting in juicier and more flavorful meat.

Can you marinate chicken too long in lime?

Yes, marinating chicken in lime juice for too long can negatively affect the flavor and texture of the meat. Lime juice contains enzymes, such as citric acid, that breaks down the proteins in the chicken, resulting in a mushy or overly soft texture. Additionally, the acidity of lime juice can start to “cook” the chicken and make it rubbery, like the way ceviche is prepared. As a general guideline, you should only marinate chicken in lime juice for up to 10 hours.


Cilantro Lime Chicken with dressing being poured over.

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Easy, juicy, flavorful Cilantro Lime Chicken seeping with flavor is a meal in itself or instantly transforms salads, tacos, burritos, wraps, etc into the most epic meal EVER! I love having this chicken on hand!

Lime Chicken Cilantro Recipe

Cilantro Lime Chicken (skillet or grilled) is seeping with flavor and is a meal in itself or instantly transforms salads, tacos, burritos, wraps, etc into the most epic meal EVER!  This Cilantro Lime Chicken is wonderfully versatile, healthy and prep ahead so you so you can throw your marinated cilantro lime chicken on the grill or stove the second you are craving dinner.  Just be prepared for a satisfyingly delicious punch of tangy, garlicky, fiestalicious flavor!
Servings: 4 servings
Total Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

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  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts pounded to an even thickness

Cilantro Lime Marinade

  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp EACH chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, salt, pepper, sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)


  • Add all marinade ingredients to your food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down sides several times. Remove and reserve 2 tablespoons for basting (if making salad, you will use 1 tablespoon for basting, 1 tablespoon for dressing).
  • Add the remaining marinade to a shallow dish or large freezer bag. Add chicken and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator 2-10 hours.
  • When ready to cook, remove chicken from fridge and let sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes.


  • Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Once very hot, drain chicken from marinade, pat off excess and add to skillet.
  • Cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 4-6 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove chicken to cutting board and baste with reserved 2 tablespoons marinade. Garnish with additional lime juice to taste if desired. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.


  • Grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.
  • Drain chicken from marinade, pat off excess and add to grill. Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.)
  • Remove chicken to cutting board and baste with reserved 2 tablespoons marinade. Garnish with additional lime juice to taste if desired. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.



Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!

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  1. jeannie says

    I was looking for a recipe with cilantro and lime without using honey….honey ruins everything. 🙂 So this was perfect!

    Loved it! So easy and flavorful….fresh tasting. This will be on a regular rotation for me! Sent the recipe to my Mom and she also loved it.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the awesome review Jeannie, I’m so pleased it is a new repeat favorite!

  2. Ramona says

    Made this today. We grilled it. It was so good. The whole family love it. Served it with white rice, black beans and salad with a vinaigrette.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Ramona, I’m so pleased it was a hit! Your entire meal sounds delicious!

  3. Abby says

    Hi Jen! This is so delicious – another keeper!! Wondering if I made a double batch, could I freeze the chicken (with the marinade on it)? Or better to cook and freeze after? Thanks again for another wonderful recipe!

    • Jen says

      Hi Abby, so pleased you loved it! Yes, you can freeze the chicken with the marinade on it, just make sure it doesn’t sit long after thawing to cook.

  4. Kathleen says

    Could I use the air fryer to cook the cilantro lime chicken?

  5. Maria says

    The cilantro chicken marinade is so flavorful I loved it my husband asked me when can you make that again it’s my favorite.
    can I use this marinade for beef?

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Maria, I love hearing it’s already being asked for again! Yes, you can absolutely use this marinade on beef, pork shrimp, fish,, etc.

  6. Robin says

    This is my go to marinade. The best I have ever had.

    • Jen says

      Love hearing that, thanks Robin!

  7. Elaine says

    Made this on the grill tonight. Topped with a little cotija cheese. Delicious!

    • Jen says

      I love the addition of Cotija cheese – yum!

  8. Crystal says

    Can I make the marinade a couple days in advance and store it in the refridgerator (not marinade the chicken)?

      • Christine says

        Can you bake this? If so, temp and length of time?

        • Jen says

          Yes! Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.
          Bake the chicken for 14 to 16 minutes (for small/medium breasts that are about 5-6 ounces), 16 to 20 minutes (for medium/large breasts that are 7 to 9 ounces), or 20 to 25 minutes (for larger breasts). As always, I recommend using an instant read meat thermometer for the most accurate/juiciest chicken. Cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, then allow to rest for 5 minutes to carryover to 165 degrees F.

  9. Allison says

    Very very good. I left out the hot spicy ingredients because my Grandkids were here, but next time i will add them. There is absolutely nothing about this recipe that we didn’t love.perfection !

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, Allison! I love hearing it’s a repeat! Thanks for making my recipes!

  10. Pav says

    I throw in 2-3 Serrano chilies and sub 1/4 cup of white onion instead of onion powder. The chilies really add a lot of depth and power to the marinade. It’s also great on chicken thighs!

    • Jen says

      Yum! I am so glad you love it and the chilies sound like a great addition!

  11. Jessica says

    I love your recipe. My daughters play softball–so game night dinner is a challenge. Your recipe also works by throwing everything into the crock pot and letting it cook for a few hours. The chicken literally falls apart. I shred it with a fork and voila! Best chili lime chicken tacos ever!! A fan favorite at our house–thank you!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Jessica! I’m so glad it’s just the thing for game night!

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