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Cilantro Lime Chicken is an easy to make and delicious Mexican chicken recipe. Chicken thighs are marinated then seared until charred and crispy.
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
- 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.
- Making a Mexican chicken recipe is a great excuse to drink a margarita with dinner.
- The one pan dinner situation means clean up is a breeze.
- The cilantro lime chicken marinade does double duty as the sauce for the rice. Deliciously simple.
- It's a flavor-packed healthy dinner recipe. Our favorite!
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.
How to make this cilantro lime chicken recipe
This is a really easy recipe to make!
- 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!
- To finish the chicken, simply remove it from the marinade and sear it for about 5 minutes on each side. So simple!
- 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:
- Sauteed Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan
- Avocado Cucumber Salad
- Chunky Grilled Guacamole
- Sweet and Spicy Yam Wedges
- Lightened Up Mexican Corn Dip
- Summer Tomato and Grilled Corn Salad ← This one goes really well!
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:
- The BEST Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Grilled Jerk Chicken Tacos
- Green Chicken Enchiladas with Arroz Verde
- Crockpot Chicken Taco Lettuce Boats
- Grilled Mezcal Chicken Fajitas
- Cheesy Fajita Stuffed Chicken
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EASY CHICKEN RECIPES
- Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts
- Margarita Chicken with Tequila and Agave
- Saucy Peanut Chicken with Broccoli and Peppers
- Baked Sesame Ginger Chicken
- Coconut Lime Chicken
Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade
- ½ cup cilantro (finely minced)
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 tablespoon EACH: chili powder, avocado oil, and honey
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
- Optional: ½ teaspoon chili flakes (if you like it a little spicy)
- 8 boneless chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Lime wedges and cilantro (for serving)
- In a large bowl, combine the cilantro, lime juice, chili powder, avocado oil, honey, salt, garlic, and if using the chili flakes. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl.½ cup cilantro, ¼ cup lime juice, 1 tablespoon EACH: chili powder, avocado oil, and honey, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 4 cloves garlic, Optional: ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- Set aside ¼ cup of the marinade for serving. Add the chicken thighs to the remaining marinade, mix well, and set aside for 30 minutes (or up to 8 hours in your fridge.)8 boneless chicken thighs
- Heat the cooking oil in a large cast iron or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it into the hot pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes per side, or until the chicken is well browned and cooked through.2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Serve the cilantro lime chicken topped with a spoonful of the reserved marinade, lime wedges, and extra fresh cilantro on top.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.