Honey Lime Chicken Thighs

Sweet and tangy Honey Lime Chicken Thighs on your table in 30 minutes!

This Honey Lime Chicken is an exquisitely delicious, pantry friendly, 30-minute, one skillet winner for your weeknight dinner rotation! The quick cooking chicken thighs are seasoned with a paprika, chili spice rub, seared in a sizzling skillet then bathed in a sweet, spicy, tart, garlicky, sauce spiked with honey, lime and sriracha. The chicken caramelizes while soaking up the addictive sauce that magically reduces into a sticky glaze. Serve your Honey Lime Chicken with rice or on a bed of mashed potatoes or in wraps, tacos, burritos, grain bowls, etc. for a mouthwatering easy dinner win. This boneless skinless chicken thighs recipe is also excellent for meal prep, make ahead lunch/dinners and leftovers – you will love having this chicken on hand!

One skillet chicken dinners are a weeknight dinner lifesaver – you can never have too many!  Some of our back-pocket favorites include: Creamy Mushroom ChickenCreamy Tuscan Chicken, Summer Tuscan ChickenChicken Florentine Lemon Pepper Chicken and Asparagus, Chicken PiccataPeanut Butter Chicken and Coconut Chicken

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how to make honey lime chicken video

top view of honey lime chicken thighs in a skillet garnished with limes and chilies

boneless CHICKEN thighs RECIPE

You will fall in love with the flavor and EASE of this Honey Lime Chicken Thighs recipe with its intoxicating sticky tart sauce, bold spice rub and succulent chicken.  It’s your answer to “what should I make for dinner?” any time you need an easy, 30-minute, pantry friendly, one skillet recipe that just happens to taste divine

Why this chicken thighs recipe works:

Chicken thighs are one of those astonishingly easy proteins to cook that always emerge scrumptiously juicy and tender.  You don’t need to slice them, pound them, bread them or marinate to make them tender and there’s some wiggle room in the cooking temp.

This Honey Lime Chicken recipe uses pantry friendly ingredients so you can make it any night of the week.  What makes this recipe special is that the sauce is made with only six pantry ingredients in perfect proportions: honey, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, sriracha, Dijon and seasonings  Just keep some frozen chicken thighs handy and you can make this easy chicken recipe at a moment’s notice!

This chicken thighs recipe is the answer to no more boring chicken! This recipe is fabulously flavorful with an adept balance of sweet, savory, tangy and spicy and is sure to win over even the pickiest palate. As the sauce reduces and caramelizes in the skillet, it seeps in to the chicken, enveloping it in a liquid gold glaze. The chicken is sweet and nutty from the caramelized honey, tart with a citrus tang from fresh lime juice, infused with salty umami from the soy, punchy from the garlic with a kick of heat from the sriracha, all punctuated up by the rainbow of spices. 

This easy chicken thighs recipe takes less than 15 minutes to cook!  You’ll be blown away at the explosion of juicy, succulent flavor created in such a short amount of time.  To make, you’ll season the chicken in a paprika, chili powder spice rub to create a complex crust, sear the chicken, then bathe the chicken in the honey lime sauce and watch while it reduces and caramelizes into a sticky sensation. 

There’s only one pan to clean!  Best of all, this boneless chicken thighs recipe cooks in one skillet which means it’s not only extra flavorful with gorgeous caramelization, but cleanup is a breeze, making it perfect for weeknight dinners, or anytime you don’t feel like doing dishes! 

Chicken thighs reheat beautifully for make-ahead lunches or dinners throughout the week.  Unlike chicken breasts, chicken thighs are very forgiving and will reheat juicy and tender.  They also freeze beautifully.

One of my favorite aspects of this recipe is the endless serving possibilities!  It’s delicious with a side of rice, potatoes or veggies or serve the chicken thighs as wraps, bowls, tacos, quesadillas, salads, etc.! 

honey lime chicken made with thighs in a skillet with sticky sauce

honey lime CHICKEN INGREDIENTS

This recipe is easy to make with a few pantry friendly ingredients. You will need:

  • Chicken: I recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs because of their quick cooking time and their scrumptious dark meat translates into juicier, more tender, richer tasting chicken.  Chicken thighs are also hard to overcook and stay tender for days even when reheated. You may substitute with other cuts of chicken if you wish; options detailed below.
  • Honey: Is the key to our sweet, tangy and sticky glaze. Everyday mild clover honey will do the trick. I don’t recommend any other sugar because honey is a liquid sweetener that caramelizes beautifully to create the perfect consistency of the glaze.
  • Lime juice: Cuts through the sweetness of the honey and saltiness of the soy to brighten the glaze with a tart citrus tang. Fresh lime juice is best, but you may substitute bottled.
  • Soy sauce:  Balances the sweet honey and fresh lime juice with its salty umami.  I recommend using reduced sodium soy sauce or the sauce may be too salty. 
  • Garlic: Adds a punch of garlicky goodness to the glaze; use more or less as desired, but keep in mind garlic powder is also in the spice rub.
  • Sriracha: The sweet and tangy glaze needs a kick of heat to complement the flavors.  I use Sriracha but you can use your favorite chili sauce that does not have a tangy vinegar flavoring like Tabasco. In the US, sriracha is often associated with a specific hot sauce made by Huy Fong Foods with the rooster on the bottle, thus earning the name “rooster sauce.”  However, there are many generic brands available.  Sriracha is so wildly popular that you can purchase it at any grocery store or on amazon.  
  • Dijon mustardAdds a hint of complex tanginess to the sauce. In a pinch, yellow mustard will work too, but you’ll lose some of the depth of flavor if you skip the Dijon. 
  • Seasonings: The chicken thighs are rubbed with chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, salt and pepper create a symphony of flavor to balance the sweet heat.

Can I use other chicken pieces for this recipe?

Yes, you may use chicken breasts, chicken tenders or chicken cutlets in this Honey Lime Chicken recipe.  Take care to pound your chicken to an even thickness.  If your chicken breasts are larger, slice them through the equator to create thin fillets. 

You may need to adjust the cooking time to ensure your chicken is cooked all the way through. I highly suggest using an instant read thermometer because chicken breasts and light cuts of chicken are less forgiving than chicken thighs and can turn dry and rubbery if overcooked. For perfectly juicy chicken, use an instant read thermometer and cook chicken breasts, thighs and tenders to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

HOW TO MAKE HONEY lime CHICKEN

This Honey Lime Chicken delivers a dynamic punch of flavor with minimal effort!  Here’s how to make it:

Step 1 – Season the chicken:  Whisk together all of the Spice Rub seasonings in a small bowl.  Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels to ensure the seasonings stick, then evenly season both sides of the chicken, gently pressing in the spices.  

showing how to make honey lime chicken by seasoning chicken with a spice rub

Step 2Make the sauce:  Whisk together the Honey Lime Sauce ingredients together in medium bowl; set aside.  

showing how to make honey lime chicken by whisking the sauce together in a glass bowl

Step 3Sear the chicken.  Add the chicken thighs in a single layer to sizzling oil in a nonstick skillet.  Sear until golden brown on each side.

showing how to make honey lime chicken by searing the chicken thighs in a nonstick skillet

Step 4Add the sauce:  Add the Honey Lime Sauce to the chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce reduces and caramelizes a bit. 

showing how to make honey lime chicken thighs recipe by simmering chicken in honey lime sauce

HOW TO COOK HONEY lime CHICKEN IN THE OVEN  

  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Add chicken thighs to the baking sheet so they aren’t touching and fold the foil up around the chicken to prevent the sauce from running everywhere.
  • Pour the honey lime sauce over the chicken.
  • Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes depending on size, or until internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY CHICKEN THIGHS ARE DONE?

Your Honey Lime Chicken Thighs are done when the chicken registers 175 degrees R on an instant read thermometer.  Note that this temperature is higher than the 165 degrees F required for chicken breasts because dark chicken meat contains higher amounts of connective tissue.  Cooking dark meat to only 165 F will yield chewy, rubbery meat, but cooking it to 175 F, will yield tender, juicy meat as the collagen melts and turns to gelatin.

I highly recommend investing in a meat thermometer otherwise there is no accurate way to check and see when your chicken is cooked without slicing it open and loosing valuable juices.

TIPS FOR MAKING HONEY lime CHICKEN

This Honey Lime Chicken recipe is pretty straightforward, but here are some tips and tricks to guarantee success:

  • Use a large nonstick skillet.  You will need to use a large non-stick skillet to cook this chicken thighs recipe otherwise the honey lime sauce will stick and burn as it caramelizes.
  • Use chicken thighs.  For the juiciest, most flavorful chicken, use chicken thighs. If you choose chicken breasts, use fillets or chicken tenderloins and take care not to overcook.
  • Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking.  Always let any protein sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking (and larger cuts even longer). The chicken will cook more evenly and you aren’t left with a charred exterior and cold interior. 
  • Sriracha:  Please don’t substitute with a vinegary hot sauce or your chicken will be too tangy.
  • Scrape up golden bits. After you sear the chicken there will be golden bits on the bottom of the pan – these are flavor gold!  Make sure to scrape up the bits while you cook the sauce and flip the chicken.
  • Turn heat down if needed. You may need to lower the temperature if your sauce is caramelizing too quickly before your chicken is done. This shouldn’t be a problem with chicken thighs, but could be with thicker cuts of chicken.
  • Thicken sauce if needed. If you’d like a thicker sauce and your chicken thighs are already cooked through, then remove the chicken to a plate and continue to simmer the sauce in the skillet without the chicken.
  • Thin sauce, if needed.  The sauce is meant to reduce into a sticky, caramelized glaze.  Still, if it becomes thicker than you like, stir in some water one tablespoon at a time. 
  • Don’t overcook chicken. Always use a meat thermometer so you don’t undercook or overcook your chicken. This is my favorite instant read meat thermometer by far.
  • Get creative!  Serve this chicken plain or in grain bowls, salads, tacos, sandwiches, etc. More ideas to follow!
up close of honey lime chicken made with thighs in a skillet with sticky sauce

RECIPE VARIATIONS TO TRY

  • Adjust the Honey Lime Sauce:  This is YOUR chicken thighs recipe so don’t be afraid to adjust it to your personal preferences. Make it sweeter by adding more honey, tangier by adding more lime juice, spicier by adding more sriracha or more garlicky by adding more garlic.
  • Customize the heat: You can customize the heat of the Honey Lime Chicken by adding more or less sriracha to the sauce.  If you aren’t sure how much to add, start with less then add more to taste.  You can always spice up individual servings with additional chili sauce or red pepper flakes.
  • Use your favorite chicken rub:  I love the spice rub used in this recipe, but you can try experimenting with different combos or a store-bought spice blend such as Cajun or Fajita seasoning.
  • Swap the citrus: Mix up the flavor profile by swapping lime juice for lemon juice in equal proportions.  You can also play around with pineapple or orange juice but these will likely need to be combined with lemon/lime juice or vinegar because they aren’t as tangy. 
  • Swap the honey: Try using pure maple honey instead.  
  • Use a different protein: The Honey Lime Sauce pairs well with other proteins such as salmon, shrimp or pork chops!
  • Double the sauce:  You may want extra sauce to drizzle over potatoes or rice, just be aware that it won’t reduce down by the time the chicken is done, so remove the chicken and continue to reduce the sauce.

What can you serve with Honey Lime Chicken Thighs?

We love these cooked chicken thighs with a neutral side such as rice or potatoes to sop up the exquisite sauce and sweet pineapple, mangos or pineapple salsa, mango salsa, or pineapple mango salsa to compliment the spicy, tartness. Add some crusty bread, Hawaiian sweet rolls or cornbread and dinner is served! Here are some more tasty ideas:

showing how to serve honey lime chicken with a top view of chicken in a grain bowl with vegetables, black beans and avocados

ways TO SERVE this chicken thighs recipe

This Honey Lime Chicken recipe is fabulous in its simplicity or magical in its versatility and can be served countless ways. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Wraps: The filling possibilities are endless from the veggies to the toppings to the sauce!  Stuff your wraps with Honey Lime Chicken and anything from arugula, pickled red onions, pickled beets, edamame, avocados, cucumbers, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, radishes, corn, cabbage, bell peppers, etc. and top with any of your favorite dressings or sauce such as Tomatillo Avocado Ranch, hummussalsa, guacamole, etc.  
  • Lettuce wraps: Go low carb and load bib lettuce leaves with chicken and veggies and top with avocado crema. 
  • Grain Bowls:  Add your favorite grains to a bowl and pile with sliced or chopped chicken thighs and your favorite veggies. The veggies can be roasted/cooked or raw (or a combo!) such as roasted sweet potatoes with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts etc. Finish off with some pickled red onions, Cotija cheese, sliced almonds and fresh mangos or pineapple.
  • Taco Salad:  Pile Honey Lime Chicken Thighs over a bed of chopped Romaine lettuce. Add bell peppers, cucumbers, chopped mangos, pepitas, olives, etc. and top with crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips.  Serve with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
  • Sandwiches: Layer your favorite bread with chicken and any of your favorite toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, guacamole, bacon and/or pineapple.
  • Tacos:  Add Honey Lime Chicken to a charred tortilla along with black or pinto beans, and desired toppings such as lettuce, cilantro, guacamole, cotija cheese, and sour cream. I particularly love the sweet, tangy chicken with mango salsa, pineapple salsa or corn salsa.
  • Tostadas: Layer a tostada with refried beans or avocado mash, top with chicken, lettuce or slaw, cilantro, avocados, sour cream, cotija cheese or queso fresco etc. 
  • Burrito Bowls: Layer cilantro lime rice with cheese, black beans or pinto beans, chicken, chopped lettuce, and your favorite toppings including crushed tortilla chips and either sour cream/Greek yogurt or I highly recommend either Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
  • Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with plain rice, cilantro lime rice or Mexican Rice, black or pinto beans, cheese, chicken, sour cream, guacamole, and lettuce.  Serve with additional sour cream and either avocado corn salsapico de gallo or homemade salsa. Fold and toast in a skillet until golden on all sides.
  • Quesadillas: Sandwich chicken thighs, Monterrey Jack Cheese, black beans and cilantro in between two flour tortillas and toast in a skillet to golden, cheesy perfection. Serve with pineapple salsa or mango salsa, pico de gallo, avocado cremaor sour cream. 
  • Nachos:  Pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with cheese and beans and bake.  Top with chopped chicken thighs, avocado corn salsa and toppings such as jalapenos, sour cream, salsa verde, hot sauce etc.

WHAT CAN I PREP IN ADVANCE?

This sweet and spicy chicken thighs recipe comes together so quickly that there’s really no need to prep anything in advance. However, if you’re looking to save a few minutes later on you can prep the following:

  • Trim chicken: Use kitchen shears to trim off any excess fat.  Store chicken in a freezer bag or airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Spice rub: Measure out the spices and store in a plastic bag or airtight container.
  • Sauce: Whisk together the sauce and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Let it come to room temperature and give it a stir before using.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

  • To store:  Transfer the chicken things in the glaze to an airtight container.  Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • To freeze: Let the chicken cool completely then transfer to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for 2 to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Microwave:  Transfer chicken to a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 30 seconds then at 15 second intervals as needed.
  • Skillet:  Reheat in a nonstick skillet just until warmed through, flipping the chicken occasionally.  
  • Oven: Transfer chicken to a baking sheet, cover with foil and reheat at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, or just until warmed through.
showing how to serve honey lime chicken by adding thighs to a bowl with rice, pineapple, avocados and cilantro

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Spicy Honey Lime Chicken Thighs

This Honey Lime Chicken is an exquisitely delicious, pantry friendly, 30-minute, one skillet winner for your weeknight dinner rotation! The quick cooking chicken thighs are seasoned with a paprika, chili spice rub, seared in a sizzling skillet then bathed in a sweet, spicy, tart, garlicky, sauce spiked with honey, lime and sriracha. The chicken caramelizes while soaking up the addictive sauce that magically reduces into a sticky glaze. Serve your Honey Lime Chicken with rice or on a bed of mashed potatoes or in wraps, tacos, burritos, grain bowls, etc. for a mouthwatering easy dinner win.
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins

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Ingredients

Chicken and Spice Rub

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (see notes for breasts)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp EACH chili powder, paprika, salt
  • ½ tsp EACH ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Honey Lime Sauce

Instructions

  • Whisk together all of the Spice Rub seasonings in a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels then evenly season both sides of the chicken.
  • Whisk together all of the Honey Lime Sauce ingredients in medium bowl; set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large NON-STICK skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs in a single layer and sear until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Whisk the Honey Lime Sauce again to recombine then add to the chicken. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until the chicken is cooked through (thighs reach 175F, chicken breasts 165F on an instant read thermometer) turning the chicken and stirring the sauce occasionally, about 5 minutes. If the chicken is done and you would like a thicker/more caramelized sauce, remove the chicken to a plate and continue to simmer the sauce.
  • Garnish the chicken with fresh cilantro if desired. Serve with freshly squeezed limes if you would like it tangier/less sweet and additional Sriracha or red pepper flakes for spicier. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or in tacos, bowls, wraps, salads, etc.

Video

Notes

  • Chicken:  You may use chicken breasts, chicken tenders or chicken cutlets. Take care to pound your chicken to an even thickness.  If your chicken breasts are larger, slice them through the equator to create thin fillets. You may need to adjust the cooking time to ensure your chicken is cooked all the way through. 
  • Don’t overcook chicken: Always use a meat thermometer so you don’t undercook or overcook your chicken. 

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

  • To store:  Transfer the chicken things in the glaze to an airtight container.  Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • To freeze: Let the chicken cool completely then transfer to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for 2 to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Microwave:  Transfer chicken to a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 30 seconds then at 15 second intervals as needed.
  • Skillet:  Reheat in a nonstick skillet just until warmed through, flipping the chicken occasionally.  
  • Oven: Transfer chicken to a baking sheet, cover with foil and reheat at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, or just until warmed through.

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2 Comments

  1. Bethany says

    We really liked these! I did cut the honey down to 1/4 cup because I didn’t want the dish to be TOO sweet. Very easy, quick weeknight dinner; just throw some rice in the rice cooker!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Bethany, I’m so pleased it was a quick, easy dinner hit!

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