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. Janette@culinaryginger says

    Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary! I’m loving all the different spices used, this sounds like delicious chicken.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Janette! And thank you for answering all my questions in the beginning and all your constant support! I am so grateful for your blogging friendship :)!

  2. Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says

    This chicken – and the rub! – looks amazing. And such a versatile thing to have on hand to top salads, toss in to pasta, etc. Yum!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Marissa! Yes, so versatile, I love this chicken! Hope you love it too 🙂

  3. Holly says

    I had some chicken breasts defrosted and not a clue what to do with it…UNTIL this gem of a recipe showed up in my inbox. I actually put it together in the morning, so it pretty much marinated all day. I didn’t have Chipotle Chili powder, but I used some Ancho chili powder and raw honey in place of brown sugar, everything else was as is. It was delicious! I served it with Mexican rice, corn, guacamole and homemade salsa. My family loved it! Thank you for all of your recipes, they get me out of the dinner time rut.

    • Jen says

      Hi Holly, so sorry for the delay in my response. I am SO happy to hear that your whole family loved this recipe – that is the ultimate compliment! Your whole dinner sounds delicious! and you are SO welcome for my recipes, I love hearing that they help get you out of the dinner rut. yay! I hope you continue to find more to love here!

  4. Hannah Miller says

    I have made this 4 times in two weeks! I don’t have all the spices but it’s still awesome! I cook it on the grill at about 350 for 10 minutes each side. I’ve also been marinading the chicken overnight. Served with some grilled peppers and zucchini, WINNER!

    • Jen says

      That is awesome Hannah, I am so happy you love it that much – yay! I am actually making grilled chili lime chicken tacos this week based on this recipe – sound like you are a step ahead of me 🙂 Thanks for making my day!

  5. Susan says

    I follow you on Pintrest because of the phenomenal variety of pins. Your recipes look amazing online and I have noted quite a few to try. I have an app titled “Out of Milk.” It is a grocery list, pantry list organizer, and recipe file all in one. I can click on some recipes in Pintrest to add to Out of Milk, and it gives me an option to automatically add the ingredients of the recipe to m grocery list as I pin it.

    I guess some bloggers set up their accounts in Out of Milk for this convenience. Do you have any plans to use Out of Milk for your recipes?

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Susan! I don’t have plans to use Out of Milk at this time but I will check it out and let you know. Thanks!

  6. Elizabeth says

    This is the first time that I have EVER commented on a recipe, and I find new ones to try a few times a week. This was so delicious and I will be making it many times this summer (I love grilling in the summer). It all tasted so refreshing and we really loved the flavors together. Even the chicken alone was great and I will be using that chili lime rub a lot! Thanks so much for this great recipe 🙂

    • Elizabeth says

      Oops meant to post that comment on the chili lime chicken tacos with grilled pineapple salsa, one of my favorite meals now!

      • Jen says

        I am SO glad you took the time to comment Elizabeth and SO glad you loved the chili lime tacos and the rub so much – wahoo! I love grilling too so I will keep grilling recipes coming 🙂 Hope you find more recipes to love here and happy grilling!

  7. Christine says

    Quick question: Does the olive oil go into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients or is it used in the pan to cook the chicken?

    • Jen says

      Sorry I didn’t see your comment until now – yes you add the olive oil the marinade. Hope that helps! enjoy!

  8. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have been using it religiously over the past few months and fallen so in love with it that I made a large batch to keep in my fridge for meal prepping. This chicken tastes great in everything I have put it in, and the marinade is great on pork as well.

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Sarah, Thank YOU for your wonderful comment! I am so happy to hear you love it enough to keep it stocked in your fridge – YAY! And it sounds delicious on pork – I am going to have to try that! Thanks again Sarah!

  9. Peachy says

    I usually only eat dark meat chicken because I find the white meat dryer and not as flavorful. But I usually have some boneless, skinless breasts in the freezer for casserole dishes. So I decided to try this. I made it exactly per the recipe except chipotle chili powder … I substituted ancho chili powder (because that’s what I have on hand). I marinated mine overnight and then cooked as directed.

    It was DELILCIOUS! So moist inside and loads of flavor. Plus it was so easy and quick. I can see purchasing much more white meat chicken in my future!

    Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Jen says

      Awesome Peachy, I am so happy you found this flavorful, moist, quick and easy – what an awesome review- thank you so much!!!

  10. Lora says

    Just made this tonight…it’s fantastic! I can’t think of anything I’ve tried from your site that we haven’t loved. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Lora, THANK YOU for making my day! I am so thrilled you loved this recipe and have loved my other recipes as well. I hope the trend continues 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  11. Beverley Press says

    Hi Jen , I’m just a huge fan of your blog and I don’t always get time to comment or stop by. So let me start by saying thank you and how much I love your recipes. This Chicken recipe is a real hit with me and my husband. Have a great weekend xoxo

    • Jen says

      Hi Beverly, thank you so much for taking time to comment, I really appreciate your kind words! I am so happy this chicken is a hit at your house – thank you and thank you for following my blog! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Traci Rush says

    Hey Jen!

    I love this chili lime chicken rub. Is this a recipe that can be used in the crock pot? My time in the evenings can be limited and I was thinking that if this simmered on low in a crock pot, it would be ready to eat when I got home. I could prep the chicken and let it soak in the marinade all night, then put in the crock pot in the morning.

    Have you tried this recipe in a crock pot yet? Or have any thoughts on this?

    Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Traci, I am so happy you love this chili lime chicken rub -thank you! I haven’t tried this in the crockpot but I bet it would be delicious! I would do it as you described and make sure you add about 2 tablespoons chicken broth just so the chicken doesn’t get dry. Let me know how it goes!

  13. madison stennett says

    will this work with chicken thighs?

    • Jen says

      Yes, it will be delicious!

  14. Tessa says

    I have made this chicken a few times now and I LOVE it! I eat it with big slices of avocado and a little sour cream on top. I’ve been exploring your website all night, and I have a few of your recipes I’ll be trying this week. Thanks so much for this great simple recipe!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Tessa! I’m so happy this has become a favorite of yours and it sounds like perfection the way you serve it with avocado and sour cream – yum! I hope you find many new favorites here!

  15. BellaWarner says

    This looks amazing. I’m going to make this tomorrow. I’m going to now look at your other recipes. Thanks & keep up the great work.

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I hope you love this chicken and have fun trying my other recipes!

  16. Lainie says

    Hi Jen,
    Wondering what kind/brand of pan you use to cook your chicken?
    This chicken looks so good!

    • Jen says

      Hi Lainie! I reall like the AllClad nonstick skillet 🙂

  17. desiree says

    Hi Jen,
    This is such a delicious recipe! There are usually leftovers when I make chicken for my family…”the sort of bland kind” my daughter pointed out to me tonight. 🙂 This one however, was gone in a flash and they were asking for more! So, so, so happy I’ve found your site. I’m using your recipes weekly! My problem is narrowing it down to which ones. They’re all so yummy looking!


    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Desiree and thank you so so much for your comment! I’m thrilled the chicken was such a hit and not the “bland kind!” I’m thrilled you are loving my recipes and using them weekly now! It definitely can be hard to narrow down – a few of my favs off the top of my head (but SO Many more not listed): Thai Red Curry, Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs, Beef and Broccoli, Cajun Honey Mustard Chicken, Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa, Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs, Greek Beef Kabobs, Brazilian Steak Kabobs, Pineapple Ginger Chicken, Million Dollar Penne, Honey Buffalo Meatballs…and on and on…but maybe that’s a place to start 🙂

  18. Amanda says

    Whoa I made this today (using boneless thighs because that’s all I had) and grilled it and it was the best grilled chicken I’ve ever made! I stuffed it in tortillas with guac and pickled onions and it just phenomenal. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Jen says

      Yesssss! Thank you Amanda, I love hearing this was the best grilled chicken you ever made! Thanks for making my day!

  19. Natalie says

    Good Lord oh, did I just die and go to heaven? This was the best chicken recipe I have made in a very very long time it might possibly top all of them. I followed the recipe to a T and use a grill pan, it was delectable. Thank you for posting such marvelous recipes.

    • Jen says

      I love your comment Natalie, thank you! I’m thrilled you love this chili lime chicken so much and honored it’s the “best chicken” you’ve made in some time!

  20. Natalie Frame says

    Made the chili lime chicken, salad & dressing! So good! You always have excellent recipes that are company worthy! Thank you? MWAAAAH!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Natalie! I love hearing you’re enjoying them, thanks so much!

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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?

  27. Rae says

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