Cilantro Lime Chicken is an easy to make and delicious Mexican chicken recipe. Chicken thighs are marinated then seared until charred and crispy. Cooking some cauliflower rice in the same skillet creates a healthy and easy one-pan dinner!

A closeup of a spoon lifting a piece of cilantro lime chicken out of a cast iron pan.

Juicy chicken thighs all tangy and cilantro-y with deliciously charred bits of goodness made in your favorite cast iron pan. Then served stovetop to tabletop. Cause keeping life simple is the name of the game.

Annnd since we're keeping things simple, we've made this cilantro lime chicken an all in one situation. That's right, this is a one-pan dinner recipe. Win!

5 reasons to make cilantro lime chicken tonight

  1. It's a guaranteed hit. Even my handsome man (who doesn't love chicken thighs and can't stand cauliflower rice) told me three times that this is “really good.” It's kind of a big deal.
  2. Making a Mexican chicken recipe is a great excuse to drink a margarita with dinner.
  3. The one pan dinner situation means clean up is a breeze.
  4. The cilantro lime chicken marinade does double duty as the sauce for the cauliflower rice. Deliciously simple.
  5. It's a flavor-packed healthy dinner recipe. Our favorite!
The marinade for the cilantro lime chicken in a glass bowl.

Ingredients in cilantro lime chicken marinade

Lime and cilantro chicken is ALL about the marinade. And this one is SO GOOD. ← Yes, totally worth yelling it out in all-caps.

Besides the obvious lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro, you'll need:

  • Some oil. I like avocado oil but any neutral-flavored oil will work.
  • Garlic. Because garlic makes everything taste better.
  • Chili powder. This is what really sets this recipe apart as it gives a little more depth to the marinade.
  • Chili flakes. Technically optional but only if you're really sensitive to heat.
  • Salt. Because salt is life.
  • Honey. Adding honey to the marinade means the chicken will char nicely when you pan sear it. It also helps to balance the bitterness from the lime zest.

If you're going sugar-free and decide to opt out of adding honey to the marinade, make sure you skip the lime zest. It will be too bitter if you don't.

Chicken thighs in a glass bowl marinating in the cilantro lime chicken marinade.

How to make this cilantro lime chicken recipe

This is a really easy recipe to make!

  1. Start by whisking the marinade in a large bowl. Then add the chicken and toss so that it is well coated. Set the bowl aside while you rice your cauliflower and mince your onion. Or better yet, use this time to make a margarita!
  2. To finish the chicken, simply remove it from the marinade and sear it for about 5 minutes on each side. So simple!
  3. To make the Mexican cauliflower rice, saute an onion then add the chicken marinade and let it boil for a few minutes. Then add the cauliflower and a little water and let it steam until it's soft.

That's it! Just a few simple steps and dinner is made!

Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?

Yes! Chicken breasts work nicely in this recipe, too. You'll want to use 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cook them for about 7-8 minutes per side in the pan.

As chicken breasts are larger and take longer to cook than thighs, you'll need to watch that the honey in the marinade doesn't burn. If your pan is looking too dark, turn the heat down a little.

And if you love chicken breasts, make sure to check out my recipe for Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts. They're the best!

What to serve with cilantro chicken

This cilantro lime chicken recipe could easily be a complete meal because of the cauliflower rice. My favorite thing to serve with this chicken is a simple tomato salad. I quarter cherry tomatoes and toss them with a little minced white onion, salt, pepper, and olive oil. It goes really well with the flavors of this dish!

A few other sides:

A dinner plate of lime and cilantro chicken with Mexican cauliflower rice and a cherry tomato salad.

Favorite Mexican chicken recipes

I LOVE love love Mexican food. The flavors are so rich and delicious and every recipe feels like comfort food. Some of my favorites are Mexican chicken recipes like these:

A cast iron pan with this cilantro lime chicken recipe.

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A closeup of a spoon lifting a piece of cilantro lime chicken out of a cast iron pan.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe

Cilantro Lime Chicken is an easy to make and delicious Mexican chicken recipe. Chicken thighs are marinated then seared until crispy. Cooking some cauliflower rice in the same skillet creates a healthy and easy one-pan dinner!

If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!

4.97 stars (32 ratings)
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Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

  • ½ cup cilantro, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil, or another neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey, omit for Whole30. See notes.
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Zest and juice from 2 limes, about ⅓ cup
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon chili flakes, if you like it a little spicy

Cilantro Lime Chicken and Cauliflower Rice

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 12 ounces riced cauliflower, from 1 large head of cauliflower


  • Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside ¼ cup of the marinade. Add the chicken thighs to the remaining marinade and set aside for 15 minutes (or up to 2 hours in your fridge.)
    ½ cup cilantro, 3 tablespoons avocado oil, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 4 cloves garlic, Zest and juice from 2 limes, Optional: ½ teaspoon chili flakes, 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • Heat a large cast iron or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the bowl (SAVE the marinade!) and place it in the hot pan. Cook for 5 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove it from the pan.
  • Add the onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any of the stuck on bits. Add the chicken marinade and bring it to a boil and continue to boil it for 2 minutes.
    1 large onion
  • Add the cauliflower rice and ¼ cup of water to the pan and stir well. Let the cauliflower cook until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken back into the pan and let it warm through.
    12 ounces riced cauliflower
  • Serve the cilantro lime chicken topped with a spoonful of the reserved marinade.


If you omit the honey, also omit the lime zest or it will be too bitter. Also, know that the chicken will not char as well as it does with the honey. The flavor is still great!
I like to serve this with a tomato salad. Simply toss quartered cherry tomatoes with a little white onion, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
If you'd rather have regular rice, simply make a pot of rice then use the cooked rice instead of the cauliflower rice.
Serving: 1 serving = ¼ of the recipe, Calories: 430kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 46g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 215mg, Sodium: 844mg, Potassium: 950mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 793IU, Vitamin C: 51mg, Calcium: 65mg, Iron: 3mg
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Cilantro lime chicken with the title on the picture.