FIESTA LIME CHICKEN IS EASY, HEALTHY, BRIGHT and BURSTING WITH FLAVOR!
This Fiesta Lime Chicken is bathed in aromatic Mexican spices spiked with olive oil, lime juice and lime zest for a vibrant, tangy, chicken recipe worthy of a fiesta! Depending on your time, you can cook the chicken after just 30 minutes or marinate for longer – then it’s just a quick cook and you get to enjoy an effortless dinner! The Fiesta Lime Chicken is complimented by bright, creamy, crunchy Avocado Salsa to create the perfect balance of flavor and texture in each bite. In addition to serving this Fiesta Lime chicken with avocado salsa, I’ve also included TONS of ideas from tacos, to burritos, to quesadillas, and on and on.
FIESTA LIME CHICKEN RECIPE
Tangy, robust Fiesta Lime Chicken + Avocado Salsa is summer on a plate. It’s the winning combo to beat the heat and delectable all-year-round. This pairing is easy, wonderfully simple and healthy yet deeply satisfying, fresh, light and bright with layer upon layer of flavor.
The Fiesta Lime Chicken uses pantry friendly ingredients so you can make it at a moment’s notice AKA the perfect last minute or weeknight dinner! It is made with a quick wet rub of chipotle chili powder for a smoky heat, mixed with chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic and onion powder. The spices are mixed with olive oil and lime juice then slathered all over your chicken to drink up the rainbow of spices.
After you coat your chicken, simply let it rest while you prepare the rest of your meal. You will be AMAZED at the juicy, tender punch of flavor delivered after just 30 minutes!
While your chicken is resting, you can make the addicting Avocado Salsa. It’s essentially a half recipe of my Avocado Corn Salsa recipe because it makes everything better – I can seriously eat it by the bowlful – and I do 😉.
The Avocado Salsa is chunky salsa meets guacamole made with creamy avocados, sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, spicy jalapenos, zesty cilantro, punchy onion, and seasoned with fresh garlic, cumin, lime and salt resulting in a bright, fresh, array of textures and flavor.
This Fiesta Lime Chicken is fabulous all on its own but then comes exponentially more delicious with the addition of the vibrant Avocado Salsa. It’s a match made in heaven, delivered on your plate.
Every bite is a chili lime juicy fiesta packed with fresh ingredients that are hearty, crunchy, creamy, refreshing and healthy. It’s one of the most rewarding nutritious combos of summer that you can indulge in guilt free and will keep you satisfied for hours.
INGREDIENTS for FIESTA LIME CHICKEN
This Fiesta Lime chicken gets its fantastic flavor from a chili lime wet rub. It is incredibly versatile and works well with any cuts: breast, thighs, legs, and even wings. I find a wet rub concentrates the flavors for even more robust, fiestalicious chicken in just 30 minutes!
- Chicken: I use chicken breasts to keep this Fiesta Lime Chicken as lean as possible but you are welcome to use chicken thighs as well. I also love the taste of chicken thighs as they are inherently juicier and harder to overcook. If you use chicken thighs, be aware they take less time to cook.
- Limes: you’ll need fresh lime juice and zest of one lime.
- Olive oil: you’ll need two tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil.
- Seasonings: chili powder, chipotle chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper combine to create a dynamic robust, earthy blend to balance the tangy lime.
- Brown sugar: you’ll need just one teaspoon to balance the lime juice and earthy seasonings.
HOW TO MAKE FIESTA LIME CHICKEN
STEP 1: Pound chicken to an even thickness
- Pounding the chicken to an even thickness ensures it cooks evenly. If you don’t pound your chicken it will be thick on one side and thin on the other; the thin side will become overcooked and dry by the time the thick side is cooked.
- Pounding the chicken also breaks down the fibers and tenderizes the chicken.
- Place chicken in between two pieces of plastic wrap or I like to place my chicken in a large freezer size bag.
- If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use the side of a can to pound the chicken.
STEP 2: Marinate chicken
- The best chicken always starts with some sort of marinade or wet rub. It not only tenderizes the chicken but infuses it with tons of flavor – no more boring chicken!
- And bonus, by “marinating” the chicken, all the work to create a flavorful bite is already done for you when it’s time to eat – all you have to do is cook the Fiesta Lime Chicken and devour!
- The wet rub is super simple to make: combine olive oil, lime juice, lime zest and seasonings.
- Rub wet rub all over chicken. You can do this with a brush, or I just dip the chicken in the bowl with the wet rub and massage it evenly all over the chicken.
- Marinate chicken at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
STEP 3: Cook chicken
You can cook the Fiesta Lime Chicken on the stove or the grill so you can make this explosion of fresh flavor year-round. In both cases, you will want to let the chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes so it cooks evenly.
TO COOK CHICKEN ON THE STOVETOP
- Heat an indoor grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned (or blackened if you prefer) on one side.
- Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Garnish with extra fresh lime juice if desired.
TO COOK CHICKEN ON THE GRILL
- Grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.
- 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 from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR FIESTA LIME CHICKEN
Fiesta Lime Chicken is super easy to make but here are a few tips and tricks to ensure the BEST chicken every time:
- Use even chicken breasts. Pounding chicken to an even thickness is paramount to evenly cooked, juicy chicken and it also helps the marinade penetrate throughout.
- Half chicken breasts. If your chicken breasts are extra thick then cut through the equator to create fillets.
- Grease grill or pan. If using a grill pan, use paper towels or a brush to coat it in oil; if using a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil before adding chicken. For the grill, generously grease the CLEAN grill with a high smoking oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil or peanut oil. I just use a wad of paper towels to grease the grill. NEVER use spray oils once the grill is on.
- Don’t marinate chicken longer than 8 hours. Due to the lime juice in the wet rub, you don’t want to marinate the chicken longer than 8 hours or it can become either tough or mushy. I have found this chicken to be super flavorful even with a 30-minute marinating time.
- Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking. You always want to let any protein sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking (and larger cuts even longer). The logic is that room temperature chicken will cook faster if started at a higher temperature which means the outside is less likely to overcook and less time for moisture to be released while cooking. It also cooks more evenly and you aren’t left with an overcooked exterior and cold interior.
- Clean grill. You should clean your grill grates before and after grilling with a wire grill brush to remove any residue. This will help prevent the chicken from sticking.
- Heat grill. Heat up the grill with the lid closed cranked to the maximum temperature so it can achieve temperature more quickly; plan on 10-15 minutes. Once the grill is hot, you can adjust the temperature. Don’t add the chicken until the grill reaches temperature or it won’t sear as nicely.
- Don’t overcook fiesta lime chicken. Chicken breasts are a lean cut of meat so take special care not to overcook or they will dry out. If the Fiesta Lime Chicken starts to char too much before it is done, you can turn the heat down or move to indirect heat.
- Use a meat thermometer. The only way to ensure the correct temperature of your chicken so it’s perfectly juicy and not overcooked or undercooked (without slicing it and losing valuable juices) is to use a meat thermometer. Thermometers are a small investment and come in handy ALL the time and eliminate all of the guess-work. Cook chicken just to 165 degrees F.
- Let chicken rest. Always let chicken rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices that have be pushed to the outside of the chicken while cooking to be redistributed evenly throughout the chicken.
- Customize heat. You can customize the heat of the Fiesta Lime Chicken by adding more or less chipotle powder. You can customize the heat of the Avocado Corn Salsa by adding additional seeds if you want it spicier.
- Grill corn. If you want to add a complex, smoky flavor to your Avocado Salsa, you can char your corn like I do in my corn salsa recipe by: 1) brushing corn with olive oil and grilling for 2-3 minutes on each side with the lid closed between rotating or 2) cut the kernels off of the cob and cook with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron skillet until charred, 5-7 minutes.
- Use ripe yet firm avocados. You want the avocados on the firmer side of ripe so they are flavorful but don’t turn to mush when you toss them with the salsa ingredients.
- Wait to add avocados. You can assemble the avocado salsa ahead of time but don’t add the avocados until ready to serve.
- Gently fold in avocados. You want to give everything a good stir before you add the avocados so you don’t have to stir very much once you add the avocados. Add avocados and stir just until combined, handling them as little as possible will keep them from breaking apart.
- Adjust salsa to taste. Keeping in mind the Fiesta Lime Chicken has a lot of flavor, when tasting the salsa. Add additional lime juice for tangier, salt for more flavor, jalapeno for spicier (and more flavor).
WHat SHOULD I SERVE WITH FIESTA LIME CHICKEN?
Fiesta Lime Chicken doesn’t need much to make it an entire meal; just some rice and fruit will do the trick. Here are some of our favorite pairings:
- Grains: a favorite of ours is Fiesta Lime Chicken with cilantro lime rice. It is also wonderful with Mexican rice, avocado rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice topped with Avocado Salsa
- Salads: a big green salad, wedge salad, southwest salad, corn salad, southwest orzo salad, or strawberry broccoli salad, cucumber salad
- Veggies: grilled corn on the cob, baked asparagus, roasted broccoli, roasted potatoes, roasted cauliflower
- Fruit: pina colada fruit salad, fruit salad with honey lime vinaigrette, grape salad, summer fruit salad or caramelized grilled pineapple
- Carbs: sweet cornbread (ALWAYS a favorite), Mexican French fries, avocado pasta, cheesy pull apart bread
WHat else CAn I MAKE WITH FIESTA LIME CHICKEN?
Fiesta Lime Chicken is fabulous in its simplicity or it is magical in its versatility. You can make SO many Mexican favorites with this chicken and avocado salsa. Here’s just a few:
- Fiesta Lime Chicken Tacos: Layer tortillas with cheese and melt in the microwave or oven. Top with black or pinto beans, Fiesta Lime Chicken, Avocado Salsa and desired toppings such as sour cream, cotija cheese and hot sauce.
- Fiesta Lime Chicken Salad: Add lettuce, black beans, Fiesta Lime Chicken, tomatoes, corn, peppers (or Avocado Salsa), cheese (pepper Jack, Mexican Cheese blend or cotija), pepitas or sunflower seeds to large bowl. Serve with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
- Fiesta Lime Chicken Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with plain rice, cilantro lime rice or Mexican Rice, black or pinto beans, cheese, Fiesta Lime Chicken, sour cream, guacamole and lettuce. Serve with additional sour cream and either avocado salsa, pico de gallo or homemade salsa.
- Fiesta Lime Chicken Burrito Bowls: Layer cilantro lime rice with cheese, black beans or pinto beans, Fiesta Lime Chicken, chopped lettuce, and your favorite toppings including crushed tortilla chips and either sour cream/Greek yogurt or I highly recommend either Avocado Crema, Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
- Fiesta Lime Chicken Enchiladas: Fill tortillas with layers of cheese and chicken and a generous amount of sour cream. Roll up and place in a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with red or green enchilada sauce and cheese and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Serve with Avocado Salsa.
- Fiesta Lime Chicken Quesadillas: Layer a burrito size tortilla with Mexican cheese and Fiesta Lime Chicken and grill until golden, cheesy perfection. Top with Avocado Salsa and serve with your favs of sour cream, chopped lettuce, hot sauce, etc.
- Fiesta Lime Chicken Nachos: Pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with cheese and beans and bake. Top with chicken, avocado salsa and toppings such as jalapenos, sour cream, hot sauce etc.
- Fiesta Lime Chicken Fajitas: To the same skillet you cooked your chicken in (don’t wipe out), heat one tablespoon olive oil. Heat over medium high heat then add thinly sliced onions and saute 2 minutes. Add sliced bell peppers and sauté until crisp tender, another 2 minutes. Pile sliced chicken, peppers/onions in a tortilla and top with avocado salsa, sour cream, lime juice and cilantro.
fiesta lime chicken applebee’s
While this Fiesta Lime Chicken with Avocado Corn Salsa is fresh perfection, you can also use the chicken recipe to create AppleBee’s Fiesta Lime Chicken when you’re in the mood for some cheesy glory.
To make fiesta lime chicken applebee’s:
- Prepare Chicken according to directions.
- Top each chicken breast with a tablespoon or so of Cilantro Lime Ranch followed by a slice of cheese the last few minutes of cooking.
- Serve on a bed of crispy strips with Mexican rice and top with pico de gallo.
How long does Fiesta Lime chicken last?
- Fiesta Lime Chicken: (without Avocado Salsa) will last up to four days in the refrigerator. I love keeping this cooked chicken on hand to serve as the aforementioned applications or cold in salads, sandwiches, wraps etc.
- Avocado Salsa: I recommend serving your Avocado Salsa right away and not assembling in advance because the avocados will gradually turn brown. If you need to store leftovers, then store in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the salsa. This will help decrease the speed at which the avocados brown due to oxidation. When properly stored in the refrigerator, Avocado Salsa will last for 1 to 2 days.
What Can I prep Ahead?
While the Fiesta Lime chicken is marinating, you can prep the Avocado Salsa without the avocados. Combine everything BUT the avocados in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, simply chop your avocados and gently stir in.
CAN I FREEZE FIESTA LIME CHICKEN?
You can freeze the fiesta lime chicken in the wet rub marinade or once cooked but you will not want to freeze the salsa as it will become mushy.
- Uncooked chicken: evenly coat raw chicken in wet rub, transfer to a plastic bag, squeeze out excess air, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking.
- Cooked chicken: after you have cooked the chicken, let it cool completely then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. You can also defrost in the microwave but take care to defrost slowly so your chicken doesn’t get rubbery.
HOW TO REHEAT CHICKEN
- It is best to slice your chicken before reheating so it cooks evenly and so it requires less time to reheat – this will help prevent it from drying out.
- Spread chicken evenly on a microwave safe plate so the pieces aren’t overlapping.
- Cover the chicken with a damp paper towel to again keep the chicken from drying out.
- Microwave at 30 second intervals until warmed through.
- Slice or chop chicken.
- Heat one tablespoon oil or butter in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. The fat will help the chicken stay tender; you may substitute with water.
- Once hot, add chicken and cook undisturbed for a couple minutes, then begin to cook and stir until warmed through.
- Take care not to overcook or it can become dry.
LOOKING FOR MORE CHICKEN MARINADE RECIPES?
- Chipotle Chicken
- Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Chili Lime Chicken
- Greek Chicken
- Salsa Verde Chicken
- Lemongrass Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken
- Lemon Basil Chicken
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