Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken seeping with flavor with minimal effort all made in the crockpot!

This Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken is guaranteed to become a family favorite you will make again and again because it’s SO good and SO easy!  It takes less than 10 minutes to prep, is made with pantry friendly ingredients, is healthier than takeout, reheats like a dream and is wonderfully versatile.  To make, the chicken cooks in a sticky honey garlic sauce made of honey, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, ketchup, hoisin, cider vinegar, garlic and ginger.  It’s sweet, spicy, tangy, savory, garlicky and so intoxicatingly delicious you will be licking the crockpot – or strongly tempted to. This Honey Garlic Chicken recipe will have your taste buds skipping for joy and your family skipping the takeout!  This Honey Garlic Chicken also reheats well and freezes beautifully for meal prep or make ahead lunches or dinners.

up close of a spoon serving honey garlic chicken recipe in a crockpot

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HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN RECIPE

I love using my crockpot all year round because it creates the richest, complex flavor profiles and the juiciest chicken, beef or pork with hardly any effort in ONE POT.  Some of my favorite Asian crockpot meals include my Mongolian ChickenSesame Chicken, Honey Soy Chicken and now this Honey Garlic Chicken! 

By cooking the chicken in the crockpot, there is no breading required, no babysitting and no oil!  This means healthier and easier fakeout takeout Honey Garlic Chicken that’s fall apart tender and dripping with flavor.  So, just because summer is quickly approaching, keep those crockpots front and center because you are going to want to make this Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken 365 days a year!

This Honey Garlic Chicken recipe is all about the intoxicatingly sweet, savory, sticky, garlicy sauce!  I actually made this recipe three times before landing on the perfect sauce.  It’s an adaptation of my Asian BBQ Salmon recipe which a reader recently reminded me of when she commented, “This is THE BEST marinade [sauce] I have EVER made in my life! My entire family was scraping every last bit of it and still craving more!” 

To reach such epic heights, I played with different options such honey with apricot preserves, with or without pineapple juice, rice vinegar or apple vinegar, with ketchup or tomato paste, with or without hoisin and the correct ratio of each of the ingredients until the BEST Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken was born.  The resulting sauce is sweet from the honey, salty from the soy, amped with sweet heat from the sweet Asian chili sauce, sweet and tangy from the hoisin and ketchup, a kick of heat from the chili sauce and of course a punch of garlicky goodness. 

You should have all of the ingredients to make this Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken on hand if you do much Asian cooking at all, and if you don’t, they are easy to find at your grocery store.  All of the ingredients get whisked together then tossed into the slow cooker so the juicy Honey Garlic Chicken can soak up the complex flavors while the house fills with the tempting aromas of tender, juicy, fakeout takeout chicken all while go about my day. 

What chicken is best for slow cooker honey garlic chicken?

You have two options when it comes to what chicken you would like to use for this Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken recipe:

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: are dark meat and therefore inherently juicier and more forgiving as far as cooking time.  It is hard to dry out chicken thighs.  You will want to cook the chicken thighs for less time than thick chicken breasts as they are usually much thinner.  I’ve included cooking times for both thighs and breasts in the directions.
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts:  are leaner but still emerge wonderfully juicy from cooking in the bath of flavor all day.  You will want to check your chicken breasts towards the earlier end of the chicken breast cooking window to make sure they don’t become overcooked.
  • Both!  Crockpot meals are a great way to use up random, miscellaneous chicken hanging out in your freezer.  For these Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken photos, I actually used both chicken thighs and chicken breasts and it was fantastic!  The key to cooking both chicken breasts and thighs together is to make sure they are the same thickness.  You will likely need to cut your chicken breasts in half through the equator to create chicken fillets roughly the same thickness as the thighs. 
  • Bone-in chicken thighs or breasts: you can also make Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken with bone-in chicken thighs or breasts.  If you choose this option, I recommend removing the skin first so that the sauce doesn’t become greasy.  You will also need to extend the cook time by about 2-3 hours.

CAN I USE FROZEN CHICKEN FOR CROCKPOT CHICKEN RECIPES?

Although it is tempting to add frozen chicken directly to your crockpot, this is a big no-no.  The chicken spends too long in the “danger zone” at room temperature as it thaws and can grow bacteria.

  • Chicken – no matter what cut – needs to be thawed before it is added to the slow cooker.
  • It is best to thaw your chicken overnight in the refrigerator so it thaws evenly and completely.
  • If you are in a big hurry, and needed your thawed chicken yesterday, you can use the microwave.  Place chicken in a microwave safe dish and use the defrost setting, rotating the chicken occasionally.  Take care not to thaw to the point the chicken starts to cook.
showing how to serve crockpot honey garlic chicken recipe by adding to a bowl with rice and a broccoli, bell pepper stir fry

INGREDIENTS FOR SLOW COOKER HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN

This sauce for this Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken is easy to make with pantry friendly ingredients.   You will need: 

  • Honey. This adds a mild sweet flowery taste without having to use additional sugar.  The honey balances all of the savory, tangy, punchy flavors of the soy, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, chili sauce etc.  You can use any honey you have on hand. 
  • Soy sauce. The combination of honey and soy sauce is heavenly!  Please use only reduced sodium soy sauce or your Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken will be too salty.  
  • Hoisin sauce. Can be found in the Asian section of any grocery store.  It tastes like a sweet, salty and tangy, thick Asian BBQ Sauce.   Please use only quality hoisin sauce like Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman as all hoisin sauces are not created equal – you truly can taste the difference.  I use hoisin sauce all the time in my Asian recipes such as Kung Pao Shrimp, Mongolian Chicken, Orange Chicken, etc., so I promise it will not go to waste!
  • Ketchup.  Might sound like an odd ingredient but is fairly common in Chinese-American dishes such as Sesame Chicken.  I promise you won’t be able to detect the ketchup!
  • Asian sweet chili sauce. I use this Asian condiment ALL the time.  It is sweet and spicy and packed with flavor.  I love using it instead of extra sugar because it is sweet but also packs a flavorful punch with a slight zing.    It can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.
  • Chili Sauce.  You will want to add some chili sauce to cut through the sweetness and round out the flavor profile – in fact, if you feel like your Honey Garlic Chicken is missing something, it is probably heat!  You can use sambal oelek or Sriracha to taste or add more to your individual serving to keep it family friendly.
  • Apple cider vinegar.  I prefer apple cider vinegar here instead of rice vinegar because it plays up the honey with its fruity, tangy acidic punch.
  • Garlic.  use 4 minced garlic cloves or even more depending on how pronounced you would like garlic flavor.  You can also substitute fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Garlic pro tip.   Purchase the pre-bagged, already peeled garlic to save time.  They are actually less expensive than whole garlic cloves (at least when I did the math).
  • Ginger.  Adds a warm spicy, almost pepper taste that cuts through the sweetness.  You can use fresh ginger or ginger powder.
  • Ginger pro tip:  I like to freeze ginger so it’s always at my fingertips.  To freeze ginger: grate it, spread it by the teaspoon or tablespoon on parchment paper and flash freeze until solid, about 1 hour.  Transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months.   You can add frozen ginger directly to your Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken.   You can also grate frozen garlic if you have a quality microplaner.
  • Cornstarch.  Thickens the sauce – you can’t have gorgeously thick, glossy, sticky Honey Garlic Chicken without cornstarch!

About Honey Garlic Sauce

The Honey Garlic Sauce is extremely EASY and can be whisked together in minutes!

  • Quick. It probably takes 3 minutes to whisk together – that’s it!   
  • Make ahead.  Honey Garlic Sauce can be whisked together ahead of time and stored in an airtight container or mason jar in the refrigerator for up to three days. 
  • Adaptable.  While the sauce is just right for us, you can adjust it to make it just right for YOU (make it sweeter, spicier, tangier, etc.) and your family’s personal tastes. Just keep a note of your adjustments then whip out the perfect sauce every time.  
  • Thick and glossy.  The sauce is removed from the crockpot at the end of cooking and simmered to luscious, gorgeously thick consistency – you cannot achieve such gorgeously thick consistency by simply cooking in the slow cooker.  If you still would like a thicker sauce, then just keep simmering until it reaches desired consistency. 
  • Can I use less honey?  I don’t suggest using less honey because it balances the rest of the ingredients.  If you don’t have honey on hand, you can substitute with granulated sugar.
showing how to make slow cooker honey garlic chicken by shredding chicken in the crockpot

IS HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN RECIPE GLUTEN FREE?

As written, this Honey Garlic Chicken recipe is not gluten free – but almost!  To make it gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce or tamari.  You will also want to double check that your hoisin and chili sauce are gluten free.  The rest of the ingredients are gluten free.

HOW TO MAKE HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN in the Crockpot

  • Whisk Honey Garlic Sauce together.  Whisk the honey, soy sauce, water, hoisin, ketchup, vinegar, chili sauce, sweet chili sauce, ginger and garlic together in a small bowl.  Pour sauce over chicken.
showing how to make Honey Garlic Chicken by whisking soy sauce, water, soy sauce, hoisin, chili sauce, garlic and ginger
  • Cook.  Cook on low for 4-5 hours for thighs (5-7 for breasts) or on high for 2-3 hours for thighs (3-4 hours for breasts), or until chicken is tender enough to shred. The key to tender chicken is to cook it long enough.  If it’s not easily shredding, it simply needs more time to tenderize. If you are available, flip the chicken over once halfway through to coat both sides, if not, don’t stress it.
showing how to make Slow Cooker Honey Garlic by pouring sauce over chicken and cooking chicken until tender
  • Shred Chicken. Remove chicken to a cutting board to shred. For many recipes, I shred my chicken directly in the crockpot, but for this Honey Garlic Chicken, we want to remove it so we can easily add the slow cooker liquid to a skillet.
  • Thicken Sauce. Strain any excess liquid from the slow cooker into a large nonstick skillet. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.
showing how to make Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken by simmering sauce until thickened
  • Get Saucy! Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and toss with thickened sauce. Let the Honey Garlic Chicken cook in the crockpot an additional 30 minutes on low.  You will be amazed at what this one step does for your chicken! It allows the shredded chicken to absorb the sauce in every nook and cranny, and to become flavorful through and through.

HOW TO MAKE STICKY HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN

The only way to make truly gorgeously thick, sticky Honey Garlic Chicken is to thicken the sauce on the stove. Adding a cornstarch slurry to the crockpot will not simmer and reduce to create a sticky sauce.  It can work for thickening soups, but not for Asian Sauces.

Instead, for sticky Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken, thickening the sauce on the stove is essential the only way to go.  By thickening on the stove, you can also control the consistency. For a thicker sauce, simmer longer, for a thinner sauce, simmer for less time. Take care to use a large nonstick skillet to reduce the simmering time.

SLOW COOKER HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN RECIPE VARIATIONS

While this Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken is just right for us, you can adjust it to make it just right for YOU and your family’s personal tastes.

  • Sweeten it up: with additional honey are adding sugar at the end.  You won’t want to stir honey in at the end because it won’t easily incorporate into the sauce.
  • Add sweet heat: with Asian sweet chili sauce.
  • Spice it up:  add additional Asian chili sauce to taste.
  • Add herbs: such as Thai basil, coriander or cilantro.
  • Amp up the garlic and/or ginger: for a stronger punch of flavor.
  • Add veggies: add vegetables partly through cooking for a meal-in-one.
  • Add crunch: with peanuts or cashews; take care to purchase raw, unsalted nuts so your Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken isn’t too salty.  To elevate your cashews or peanuts, dry roast them in a skillet until toasted- YUM!
  • Water chestnuts:  are delightfully crunchy and easy to find at any grocery store.
  • Sesame seeds:  add a nutty sesame flavor.  Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
  • Fruit:  pineapple, Mandarin oranges or mangos add a juicy, fresh, sweet dimension. They are the sweet ying to the umami yang– just think teriyaki chicken and pineapple. If you’re intimidated by choosing or cutting mangos, check out this post here.  For the oranges, fresh oranges hold together better but canned or super convenient.
  • Make it Gluten Free: use gluten free soy sauce or tamari.  You will also want to double check that your hoisin and chili sauce are gluten free. 
showing how to garnish slow cooker honey garlic chicken recipe by topping chicken with green onions

WHAT VEGETABLES CAN I ADD?

This Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken recipe is delectable in its simplicity or you can add veggies directly to the chicken in the crockpot.  Most vegetables (with the exception of carrots), will not need the full cook time in the crockpot or they will become soggy, so you’ll want to add them part way through cooking.  You will also want to reduce the chicken to 1 pound to maintain the chicken to sauce ratio.   Here are a few vegetable add-in ideas for Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken: 

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell Peppers
  • Snow Peas
  • Snap Peas
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Edamame
  • Spinach
  • Bok choy

HOW TO SERVE SLOW COOKER HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN

To make this Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken recipe a full meal, I like to serve it with rice and veggies.  The rice soaks up the flavorful sauce and offers a neutral textural component.  Here are some side serving ideas:

RICE OPTIONS

  • Rice. You can pile your Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken on white rice (I recommend jasmine), or brown rice.  You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.  
  • Low carb.  Cauliflower rice, quinoa or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options.  I love keeping brown rice/quinoa packets handy so I can cook up one of those for me while my husband eats his chicken with rice. You can also pile your Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken in lettuce wraps. 
  • Noodles.  Ramen, soba noodles, rice noodles or even linguine are a fun way to mix things up! You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.

SIDE OPTIONS

up close of a spooning honey garlic chicken showing how saucy the chicken is

HOW TO STORE & REHEAT HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN RECIPE

This Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken recipe makes fantastic leftovers as it reheats beautifully and stays tender, juicy and saucy for days! 

  • How to store:  store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • How to reheat on the stove:  heat a skillet over medium heat on the stove.  Once hot, add the chicken, reduce to medium low and continue to cook and stir occasionally until warmed through. You may need to add a splash of water for saucier chicken.
  • Reheating in microwave:  transfer chicken to a microwave safe plate.  Heated on high for 90 seconds, stir then continue to cook at 30 second intervals as needed until heated through.     

CAN I FREEZE HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN RECIPE?

Yes!  This Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken recipe freezes very well.  To freeze:

  1. Let chicken cool completely.
  2. Transfer chicken to either a large freezer size bag or divide into smaller size bags.  Alternatively, transfer to airtight container(s).
  3. Press air out of the freezer bag, seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. When ready to eat, defrost Honey Garlic Chicken in the refrigerator.
  5. Heat on the stove until warmed through.

LOOKING FOR MORE FAVORITE ASIAN RECIPES?

HELPFUL TOOLS FOR HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN RECIPE:

  • Slow Cooker: is one of my most used kitchen gadgets all year round and is just SO convenient and easy for one-pot meals and makes them taste even more delicious! 
  • Nonstick Skillet: This skillet is my favorite pan in the in the WORLD!  I have both the 10 and 12-inh and use them for practically everything.   I’ve had this pan for forever and they’re still as good as new.  I love giving this nonstick skillet for wedding gifts because it sets you up for cooking success!  It is on the pricier side but it’s practically the only pan you’ll ever need!  If you’re looking for a more economical nonstick skillet, this one also has good reviews – but I can’t guarantee it will last as long!
  • Garlic press:  I use this every single day!   It is the ultimate garlic press- it is easy-to-use, easy-to-clean and minces garlic with one squeeze.  Unlike other presses, this garlic press has beveled holes that finely cut the clove rather than bruising it, bringing out the best flavor.
  • Zester/microplaner: cooking is made 100X easier when you have the right tools for the job! This zester is razor-sharp and makes grating everything a snap from ginger, lemons, limes, Parmesan, nutmeg and chocolate.  
  • Rice Cooker:  I LOVE my rice cooker and use it all the time – it is pretty much the only way I make rice.  Many instant pots have built in rice cookers these days, but if you’re not ready for that big-ticket item, then this reliable rice cooker will always get the job done without any babysitting!  

top view of garnishing slow cooker honey garlic chicken recipe in a bowl with rice with green onions and sesame seeds

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

This Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken is guaranteed to become a family favorite you will make again and again because it’s SO good and SO easy! It takes less than 10 minutes to prep, is made with pantry friendly ingredients, is healthier than takeout, reheats like a dream and is wonderfully versatile. To make, the chicken cooks in a sticky honey garlic sauce made of honey, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, ketchup, hoisin, cider vinegar, garlic and ginger. It’s sweet, spicy, tangy, savory, garlicky and so intoxicatingly delicious you will be licking the crockpot – or strongly tempted to. This Honey Garlic Chicken recipe will have your taste buds skipping for joy and your family skipping the takeout! This Honey Garlic Chicken also reheats well and freezes beautifully for meal prep or make ahead lunches or dinners.
Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons quality hoisin sauce like Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Asian sweet chili sauce like Mae Ploy
  • 2-4 teaspoons Asian chili sauce or sriracha or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger or ¾ teaspoon ginger powder

Instructions

  • Lightly spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Add chicken to the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • Whisk together all of the Sauce ingredients and pour over chicken.
  • Cook on LOW for 4-5 hours for thighs (5-7 hours for breasts) or on HIGH for 2-3 hours for thighs (3-4 hours for breasts), or until chicken is tender enough to shred. If you are available, flip the chicken over once halfway through, if not, don’t stress it.
  • When chicken is tender, remove to a cutting board and shred.
  • Meanwhile, add sauce from the crockpot to a large nonstick skillet (NOT a small saucepan). Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add sauce back to slow cooker along with shredded chicken. Stir to combine. Cook an additional 30 minutes on LOW to absorb sauce.
  • Taste and season with salt to taste. Add additional Asian Sweet Chili Sauce for more sweet heat, chili sauce for spicier, or sugar for sweeter if desired. Serve with rice and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

Notes

LEFTOVERS

This Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken recipe makes fantastic leftovers as it reheats beautifully and stays tender, juicy and saucy for days!
  • How to store:  store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • How to reheat on the stove:  heat a skillet over medium heat on the stove.  Once hot, add the chicken, reduce to medium low and continue to cook and stir occasionally until warmed through. You may need to add a splash of water for saucier chicken.
  • Reheating in microwave:  transfer chicken to a microwave safe plate.  Heated on high for 90 seconds, stir then continue to cook at 30 second intervals as needed until heated through.

How to FREEZE 

  • Let chicken cool completely.
  • Transfer chicken to either a large freezer size bag or divide into smaller size bags.  Alternatively, transfer to airtight container(s).
  • Press air out of the freezer bag, seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to eat, defrost Honey Garlic Chicken in the refrigerator.
  • Heat on the stove until warmed through.

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20 Comments

  1. Toni says

    We don’t have a crockpot — is it possible to make the Honey Garlic Chicken in another
    pan? … a spaghetti pot or deep-sided skillet or ??? Stovetop or oven? How long should
    it cook?

    Thank you for all your inspiring recipes, with all the helpful tips and mouth-watering
    photos!

    • Jen says

      Yes Toni, you can absolutely make this in a Dutch oven on the stove. I would simmer gently on low (covered) for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender enough to shred, remove the chicken, simmer the sauce to thicken, add the chicken back and cook an additional 10 minutes or so on low. Hope this helps!

  2. Jami says

    Can you double the recipe?

  3. Aly says

    I’m about to make this for dinner tonight but I’m all out of honey. What do you recommend I use instead?

    • Jen says

      You can use granulated sugar. Enjoy!

      • Aly says

        I ended up using 1/3 cup of brown sugar and it turned out scrumptious! Thank you.

        • Jen says

          So happy to hear that, thanks Aly!

  4. Denise says

    Every one of your recipes I have made have been saved to my favorites. I used the thighs for this recipe and the only ingredient I did not have was the sweet chili sauce but I did have some leftover pineapple salsa from another one of your other recipes so I threw that in as a sub. I grilled some red, yellow, orange peppers and vidalia onions on the grill and cut them into large pieces and tossed them in at very end with the chopped scallions and served it all on some rice.
    Again a favorite! Thank you for your excellent 5* recipes!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for making my day Denise! I’m honored all of my recipes have been winners and that you also loved this Honey Garlic Chicken! Your addition of pineapple salsa and grilled bell peppers and onions sounds amazing!

  5. debbie zambardi says

    can this recipe be adapted to using another method of cooking. The sauce sounds delicious but hubby does not like “wet” things cooked in a crock pot. I’m thinking bbq the chicken and using the sauce as a baste towards the end, or somehow adapting it to be cooked in the oven and leave the pieces whole instead of shredding it.

    • Jen says

      Hi Debbie, yes you can absolutely adapt this recipe. You can use part of the sauce as a marinade combined with olive oil and the rest for basting grilled chicken like you suggested. Enjoy!

  6. Charlotte Reiher says

    super good! your blog is my go-to for figuring out what to do for dinner. every recipe has been amazing and really flavourful! thank yoU!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Charlotte, I’m so honored to be your trusted go-to!

  7. Gabby says

    Used an instant pot to cook for 13 minutes on manual/high pressure, added the corn starch at the end and thickened the sauce using the sautée function. Worked great.

    • Jen says

      Awesome, thank you so much for sharing Gabby!

  8. Rachel says

    Another home run!!!! Absolutely delicious!!! Served over brown rice and steamed broccoli topped with some scallions. Definitely a keeper!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Rachel, I’m so pleased you loved it!

  9. Alexa says

    Just turned on the crockpot and I can’t wait until it’s done. The sauce was delicious. I also thinly sliced a small sweet onion on the mandolin and added it to the crockpot as well as adding a touch more garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes to give it another depth of spice. I will be adding fresh squeezed lime juice after I shred the chicken. This will definitely be served with soba noodles with snap peas for one meal and I plan on making some Asian inspired tacos topped with fresh cilantro (and more lime of course!) for another meal.

    • Jen says

      Mmmmm, I like your thinking! Your entire meal sounds fantastic!