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This easy recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken is full of flavor and so easy for busy weeknights. Make a simple marinade with cilantro, lime, garlic, and spices, then cook it in a skillet or on the grill. Serve with my favorite Cilantro Lime Rice, grilled veggies, or tortillas for a fast and tasty dinner.

This easy recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken is full of flavor and so easy for busy weeknights. Make a simple marinade with cilantro, lime, garlic, and spices, then cook it in a skillet or on the grill. Serve with my favorite Cilantro Lime Rice, grilled veggies, or tortillas for a fast and tasty dinner.

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Why do you marinate chicken?

Chicken, a very blank canvas when it comes to protein, actually tastes better and has a better texture if you marinate it before cooking. Marinating results in a more flavorful, juicier piece of meat.

How do you mix a marinade?

The best way is in a plastic freezer storage bag. Simply add all the ingredients for your marinade, the chicken, seal tightly, and squish it all together with your hands. Once you are done, all you have to do is throw the bag away, making clean up a breeze.

This easy recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken is full of flavor and so easy for busy weeknights. Make a simple marinade with cilantro, lime, garlic, and spices, then cook it in a skillet or on the grill. Serve with my favorite Cilantro Lime Rice, grilled veggies, or tortillas for a fast and tasty dinner.

Can you marinate chicken too long?

Yes. If you let the chicken sit in the marinade for too long, the acid will actually start to break down the chicken and it can become mushy.

This acidic reaction is usually what makes chicken tender, but too much of a good thing can give us undesirable results. A good rule of thumb is to stick with a time frame between 30 minutes-2 hours.

How do you make a marinade?

This marinade follows the rule of 1 part oil to 2 parts acid/vinegar. To get the most flavorful marinade possible, keep an eye on the amount of oil and if using citrus juice for the acid component, as in our case today, use the zest!

Lime zest packs a ton of flavor and essential oils. Plus, it adds beautiful specks of green to your marinade.

This easy recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken is full of flavor and so easy for busy weeknights. Make a simple marinade with cilantro, lime, garlic, and spices, then cook it in a skillet or on the grill. Serve with my favorite Cilantro Lime Rice, grilled veggies, or tortillas for a fast and tasty dinner.

Do you use the leaves or stems of cilantro?

You can use both: Cilantro stems pack just as much flavor as the tender leaves. It’s a little trick I learned in Mexico. Basically, they cut off the bottom of the stems (the part with no leaves) and finely chop all remaining leaves and stems together. Practically zero waste and so much more flavor!

This easy recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken is full of flavor and so easy for busy weeknights. Make a simple marinade with cilantro, lime, garlic, and spices, then cook it in a skillet or on the grill. Serve with my favorite Cilantro Lime Rice, grilled veggies, or tortillas for a fast and tasty dinner.

What sides can I serve with Cilantro Lime Chicken?

To be honest, just about any vegetable or starch will work perfectly. But to keep the cilantro-lime theme going, make Cilantro Lime Rice, pico de Gallo, or guacamole. A simple weeknight dinner turned into a fiesta – enjoy!

A bowl of cilantro lime rice.

Slices of cilantro lime chicken on a wooden cutting board.

Cilantro Lime Chicken

This easy recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken is full of flavor and so easy for busy weeknights. Make a simple marinade with cilantro, lime, garlic, and spices, then cook it in a skillet or on the grill. Serve with my favorite Cilantro Lime Rice, grilled veggies, or tortillas for a fast and tasty dinner.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Marinating time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 4 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Calories 379

Ingredients 

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest (from 2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from the same 2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin ground
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • In a zipper-top plastic bag or shallow dish, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.

To make chicken in a skillet:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet (reserving marinade) and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. 
  • In a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Add chicken to skillet, skin-side down, then add reserved marinade. 
  • Cook until skin is golden brown and crispy, about 6 minutes. Flip chicken and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until chicken is cooked through, 12-15 minutes more. Chicken must reach 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer when inserted in the largest piece.
  • Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before serving.

To make chicken on the grill:

  • Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Coat grate with oil. Grill the chicken, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees on a thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove from grill and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 379kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 19gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 89mgPotassium: 266mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 167IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. This sounds absolutely delicious – the flavours are incredible, I am sure. Look forward to trying soon!