Chili Lime Chicken Recipe

Chili Lime Chicken (Grill OR Stovetop) brings the flavor party to everything with just a 30 MINUTE wet rub marinade! Readers agree, this chili chicken is a “WINNER!,” “Wow. Delicious!!” and “the best chicken recipe I have made.” I use this juicy, mouthwatering chicken more than any other recipe (great for meal prepping!) piled in salads, tacos, burritos and more!

How to Make Chili Lime Chicken Video

showing how  to make Chili Lime Chicken by cutting the chicken on a wood cutting board


You are going to love this Lime Chicken recipe

  • READER FAVORITE: As one reader said, “did I just die and go to heaven?”
  • JUICY AND FLAVORFUL. The symphony of spices combined with the lime juice and lime zest creates mouthwatering fireworks while tenderizing the chicken.
  • READY IN 30 MINUTES. You will be amazed at the flavor the chicken drinks up in such a short amount of time.
  • MAKE AHEAD FRIENDLY. The chicken can also be marinated for up to 8 hours, so all you have to do is cook when you get home.
  • FANTASTIC FOR MEAL PREP. Cook up a large batch and keep it in your fridge for instant meals all week.
showing how  to make Chili Lime Chicken by cooking in a grill  pan
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Lime Chicken Marinade ingredients

Let’s take a close look at what you’ll need to make this lime chicken (measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.  The olive oil adds moisture and the oil-soluble flavors evenly distribute the marinade throughout the chicken so it’s permeated with flavor.
  • Lime juice and lime zest:  Please use fresh limes for this recipe because you also need the zest.  Their fresh tanginess is the perfect complement to the smoky, earthy blend of seasonings.  You can also squeeze fresh lime juice over chicken after it’s cooked. You can freeze extra lime juice by the 1 tablespoon ice cubes so it’s always handy.  
  • Brown sugar:  Just a drizzle cuts through the sourness of the lime and the earthiness of the chili powder. You may substitute with honey if needed.
  • Seasonings: Aromatic fiesta spices of chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic and onion powder are mixed with olive oil and lime juice to tenderize the chicken so its oh so juicy and flavorful. 
showing how to make Southwest Chicken Salad by drizzling dressing over the salad

 Chili Chicken variations

  • Add cilantro: Add chopped fresh cilantro to the marinade for a burst of herbal freshness that complements the citrusy notes of lime.
  • Use fresh chipotle chili pepper: Swap the ground for fresh for a smoky and spicy kick.
  • Use honey: Swap the brown sugar for honey, or add additional honey for a sweeter flavor profile. To keep it sweet and tangy, add additional honey and lime zest.
  • Use fresh garlic: Infuse the marinade with minced or crushed garlic for a robust and savory undertone instead of garlic powder.
  • Use orange juice: Include orange juice or zest or swap the lime for orange.
  • Add jalapenos: Introduce finely chopped jalapeños instead of the ground chipotle pepper.

How to Make Chili Lime Chicken

Let’s take a closer look at how to make chili lime chicken with step-by-step photos (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1: Make the wet rub. The wet chili lime rub is what makes this Chili Lime Chicken.  It is wonderfully delicious but super simple.  is a simple mixture of olive oil and all my favorite Mexican flair spices: chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper all brightened by fresh lime juice and lime zest.  To make, combine these ingredients in a bowl which takes all but a couple minutes…
showing how  to make Chili Lime Chicken by whisking chili powder,  chipotle powder, garlic powder,  onion powder, brown sugar, lime juice and lime zest in a white bowl
  • Step 2: Tenderize chicken. Pound the chicken to an even thickness using a meat mallet or side of a can.
  • Step 3: Add marinade. Then slather your pounded and tenderized thin chicken with the rub to drink up the rainbow of chili lime spices.  
  • Step 4: Marinate chicken. At this point, if you are pressed for time, you can cook your chicken right away, or if you have 30 minutes, let your chicken rest while you prepare the rest of your meal to further tenderize the chicken and allow the flavors to develop OR for an even greater explosion of flavor, marinate the chicken with the rub for up to 8 hours.   A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
showing how  to make Chili Lime Chicken by slathering 3 chicken breasts on parchment paper  with the wet rub on pa
  • Step 5: Cook chicken. Add your chicken to your hot skillet for a few minutes on one side, flip, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden deliciousness is achieved. You can also use a grill pan or outdoor grill for extra smoky deliciousness.
top view of showing  how to cook chili lime chicken  with three chicken breasts with grill marks on an indoor griill pan
  • Step 6: Let rest. Finally, let your Chili Lime Chicken rest for 5 minutes to reabsorb all of its juices before slicing.
top view of showing  how to make  chili lime chicken by thinly slicing on  a white plate  and squeezing with lime wedges

How to serve Chili Lime Chicken

Chili Lime Chicken goes with virtually anything and instantly transforms ordinary into extraordinary! Mexican Rice or Cilantro Lime Rice, Southwest Salad, Avocado Pasta, etc.

showing how to use chili lime chicken by adding to mango salad

Juicy fiestalicious Chili Lime Chicken.  An effortless party of flavors awaits!

Chili Lime seasoning FAQs

What is Chipotle Chili Pepper?

The only seasoning you might not be familiar with is chipotle chili pepper.  It is a seasoning is made of dried, smoked jalapeño peppers crushed into a powder.  It boasts smoky moderate heat with fruity undertones as opposed to pure heat like cayenne pepper.  It is easy to find at your grocery store under any of the following names: “chipotle chili pepper,” “ground chipotle chile,” or “chipotle powder.” 

Do you put lime on chicken before or after cooking?

You can do both! Adding lime to a marinade serves as a flavor powerhouse, infusing the meat with a burst of citrusy brightness. The acidity of lime also plays a crucial role in tenderizing the meat, resulting in a more succulent and juicy chicken. Adding a fresh squeeze of lime to chicken after it’s cooked enhances the overall flavors with refreshing, tangy notes.

What does lime do to chicken?

Lime adds a tangy and bright citrus flavor to chicken while also acting as a natural tenderizer due to its acidity. It’s perfect in this recipe to balance the earthy, robust seasonings.

What happens if you marinate chicken in lime juice for too long?

Marinating chicken in lime juice for too long can lead to over-tenderization, causing the meat to become mushy and unpleasant in texture. Do not marinate chicken longer than 8 hours, or less for thinner pieces.






©Carlsbad Cravings by

Dry Lime Marinade for Chicken

Chili Lime Chicken is wonderfully moist, tender and exploding with flavor from an EASY rub – perfect for salad, burritos, pasta, tacos etc. You will love having this on hand!
Servings: 4
Total Time: 15 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

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  • 1 pound chicken breasts pounded to ½ inch thickness

Chili Lime Rub


Marinate Chicken

  • In a small bowl, whisk chicken rub ingredients together. Rub evenly all over chicken breasts in a shallow dish.
  • Time permitting, allow chicken to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate up to 8 hours then bring to room temperature for before cooking.*


  • If chicken has been refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
  • Heat a large non-stick 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.


  • If chicken has been refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
  • Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F, clean and grease.
  • Grill chicken undisturbed for 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.



Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!
*Chicken is still delicious even if cooked immediately but is more flavorful the longer the rub marinates.

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Reader Interactions

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  1. Gayathri Palanisamy says

    Hi!!! I simply love this recipe! It’s so gd! I grill the meat in my ninja foodi and comes out so moist and yummy!!! This is my go to recipe now! One qn. Can we use this rub for wings? Thanks in advance!!!!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for the glowing review Gayathri, I’m so pleased it’s a favorite! Yes, you can absolutely use this rub on wings – yum!

  2. Sherry says

    Looking over your recipe does this mean use 1 teaspoon to 4 1/2 teaspoons of the chipotle chili pepper?
    1-4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper (optional for more heat)
    What happens if you don’t use the chipotle chili pepper? Will it still taste good?

    • Jen says

      Oh my goodness, after years no one has ever pointed that out, thank you Sherry! It is supposed to be 1/4-1/2 – just fixed! It will definitely be tasty without the chipotle pepper, just won’t have that same kick of heat. If you don’t love heat, then omit it, if you like heat but don’t have chipotle pepper, then add just a pinch of cayenne pepper (it’s much spicier than chipotle). Hope that helps!

  3. Lisa Traverse says

    Wow. Delicious!! So happy I found your site. Thank you! New staple for our rotation.

    • Jen says

      Welcome Lisa! I’m so pleased this recipe is a new favorite!

  4. Lesley says

    Do you think this can be shredded and used in tamales?

    • Jen says

      Yes! You might have better luck shredding it though if you sear it on each side then add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (plus more as needed) and cover and reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, then flip chicken over and continue to cook 5-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked though and tender enough to shred. Add additional chicken broth or water if the liquid absorbs before the chicken is cooked through.

  5. Mability says

    Wow. I see why this marinade is your busband’s favorite! I made the marinade using most of the directions on the recipe. I can’t eat fresh garlic so I used garlic infused EVOO.
    It tasted so good I ended up cutting the chicken up into slightly smaller pieces just so I could get the marinade in all the nooks and crannies.

    I ended up making another batch to put on the Greek Salad I made as an accopaniment. With lemon rice and Pita, this made a perfect Greek dinner for all. I love this marinade, can’t wait to try Chile LIme and some of the others. Your flavors are always spot on and I like being able to use mostly dried spices in most of your recipes. THANK-YOU!

    • Jen says

      Yay! Thank you so much, Mability! I am so happy you love this marinade so much! Thanks for the glowing review!

  6. Jillian says

    We loved this minus one tweak that I think might be a mistake? Ours came out incredibly salty, almost inedible. I wonder if it was suppose to read 1/4 tsp salt instead of 3/4 tsp??

    • Jen says

      I am glad you loved it! A 3/4 teaspoon of salt should not make the dish overly salty, perhaps you used tablespoons?

  7. Rae says

    What do you pour on cooked chicken in your recipe video?

  8. Brenda says

    Delicious! Made to go along with the Mexican pasta salad from this site. Made as written, cooked on the stove .

    • Jen says

      I am so glad you enjoyed it!

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