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. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says

    The first time I tried cilantro it was — yueuuuuuu! I was not a fan! The second time I tried it — Hey, that’s not too bad. After that it was — oh, no! We’re out of cilantro! Needless to say, I am saving the is recipe because I’ve got to make it. We have chicken at least 3 times a week so I will be making it soon. Have a great day!! xoxo

    • Jen says

      phew! I’m glad you acquired the taste for cilantro 🙂 My husband swears he doesn’t like it but he loves everything I put it in 🙂 We have chicken all the time too and this recipe is a flavorful, easy way to mix it up! I hope you love it as much as us! xo

  2. Kristen says

    Does this recipe work in a slow cooker too?!

    • Jen says

      Hi Kristen! I have never tried this exact recipe in the slow cooker but I think it should work great!

      • Jen Bouton says

        I was wondering about a slow cooker version too (and your Greek Chicken (and all your chicken) marinade(s), for that matter :o> ) For a slow cooker version, could you perhaps double the marinade to have enough liquid? Thanks for sharing your great recipes and glad you are healthy!!

        • Jen says

          Hi Jen, I haven’t tried my chicken marinades in the slow cooker but I’m sure they would work great. You only need about 1/4 cup liquid when slow cooking chicken so I don’t even think you’d need to double to double the marinade – maybe just add a couple tablespoons of water. After you shred the chicken, return it tot the slow cooker on low for 20-30 minutes to soak up all the juices. Good luck!

    • Jen Bouton says

      Have you tried this in the slow cooker and how’d it go? Pls share any comments, thanks :o)

  3. Cheryl says

    DELICIOUS! I just made this using chicken thighs and grilled it on my indoor grill. FANTASTIC!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m so happy this Cilantro Lime Chicken was such a hit and it sounds fabulous with chicken thighs!

  4. Denise says

    I wish the nutrition info was included

  5. Maria says

    This looks AMAZING, but I haven’t tried it yet because I’m nervous about leaving the chicken in a citrus marinade… I’ve heard that if you marinate chicken in citrus it can start to “cook”, affect the poultry somehow, have you had this happen??? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Maria, yes this can happen but I haven’t experienced that with this recipe due to the ratio with other ingredients. If you are using thin chicken then I would marinate for less time. Enjoy!

  6. Nour says

    just made the chicken today and it tasted amazing!!!, thanks for the recipe

  7. Terri thompson says

    My new favorite what is the calorie intake of the cilantro lime chicken please

  8. d4v1d says

    This was simply fabulous. two thoughts – you can save a lot of needless mess (cleanup) by avoiding the food processor and the bag. Chop the cilantro by hand then mix the marinade (faster, less messy). Since I re-use bags, I used a shallow bowl – and made sure to turn while it steeped in this delicious marinade.

    Truly a great recipe, now taped to the inside of my cabinet door for *frequent re-use.*

    • Jen says

      I’m honored this recipe qualified for the coveted inside cabinet door “frequent re-use!” Thanks so much!

  9. Kandra says

    This is by FAR the best grilled chicken I have EVER tasted! It is so juicy and delicious. I’ve just made it for the second time in a week and I can’t get enough. Impossibly perfect !

    • Jen says

      WAHOO! Thanks so much Kanddra! I’m honored this is the “best grilled chicken!” Thanks for making my day!

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I’m so happy you loved it!

  10. Dawn says

    This is a recipe that I definitely want to make. I can’t seem to locate the other”Fiestalicious” spices added to the marinade on the this post. could you direct me to them Thanks!!! & Thanks for such great recipes !

    • Jen says

      Hi Dawn, they are listed in the recipe, enjoy!

      1 tsp EACH chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder
      1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, salt, pepper, sugar
      1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

  11. Lisa says

    The cilantro lime chicken marinade is absolutely amazing! It is quick and easy, but has incredible flavor. We used boneless skinless chicken thighs and chopped up the grilled chicken for tacos. My husband said they were the best tacos he’s ever had!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Lisa – you made my day! Your tacos sound divine!!!

  12. Becky Whitcomb says

    Have you (or any other readers/followers) made this in an instant pot? I wonder if I’d follow the same instructions as I do for simply seasoned chicken breasts?

    • Jen says

      Hi Becky, I would imagine so but I haven’t personally tried it. Maybe other readers can help you out.

  13. Bonnie Schmidt says

    No where in this recipe of cilantro chicken taco salad do you say how to make the marinade. We looked 5 times. You mention it once and it’s very vague, does NOT list the spices or the proportions of anything. Please Jen fix this. I’m making it tonight and I will have to guess on the marinade part. So disapointed as you always have the complete recipe. Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Hi Bonnie, it looks like you are commenting on the Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe which includes the full recipe ingredients, measurements and instructions like all my recipes. If you are looking at the Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad, you have to click on the green link in the recipe where it says, “1 recipe Cilantro Lime Chicken” and it will take you directly to the full recipe. Not sure why it’s not showing up for you?

  14. Dalia says

    I’ve made this recipe 3 times in the last two weeks, sharing it with family and friends. Everyone always says the same thing…this Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade is INCREDIBLE! The recipe is easy, the flavor is amazing and the chicken is so juicy. Anxious to try it in the Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad. Love this site, so many great recipes!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Dalia, I’m so pleased the Cilantro Lime Chicken is a favorite! And I love hearing you’re enjoying my other recipes!

  15. Marci says

    Yummy Yum Yum! A messy burrito stuffed with your Mexican Rice, Cilantro Lime Chicken, salsa, cheese, a dollop of sour cream and homemade guacamole. Hubby said he felt like he was eating a seven layer burrito. I stuffed it a little to full and struggled wrapping it up so it was a bit messy but made with love :). Thank you Jen for your amazing recipes!

    • Jen says

      Mmmmmm – messy burritos mean they’re stuffed with deliciousness – yours sounds amazing! I’m so pleased you’re loving this Cilantro Lime Chicken!

  16. Holly says

    We loved this marinade! I can already tell it’s going to become a staple

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that, thanks so much Holly!

  17. Kathie says

    The Cilantro lime marinade is one of my family’s favorites!!!! Can I make a larger batch and store in refrigerator for a few days up to a week?

    Thanks so much for your many fabulous recipes!

    • Jen says

      Yesss, I love hearing that Kathie, thank you! Cilantro is good for 7-10 days so storing the marinade in the refrigerator for up to a week shouldn’t be a problem.

  18. Josey says

    My go to chicken recipe now. Unless I do something specific this is the chicken recipe to make!

    • Jen says

      Yesss! I’m thrilled it’s a repeat favorite, thanks Josey!

  19. Sunshine Porter says

    Can you use lemon instead of lime

    • Jen says

      Hi Sunshine, I love our name! Lime juice pairs better with these seasonings for the fiesta flair. You can use lemon juice but just expect a different flavor profile.

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. Kathleen says

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

  24. 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.

  25. Robin says

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

    • Jen says

      Love hearing that, thanks Robin!

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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!