by Olena

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 21 votes

This Cilantro Lime Chicken can be grilled, baked or fried so you can enjoy it year round. The best part about our cilantro lime chicken recipe – marinate from 30 mins to 48 hours. So much flavor either way!

Our other summer-y favorite chicken recipes are these coconut lime grilled chicken thighschili lime chicken and chimichurri chicken.

sliced cilantro lime chicken on a platter

This cilantro lime chicken is tangy, full of cilantro flavor, garlicky and a bit of a heat kick. And yet so simple to make! My friend used to make Rachael Ray’s cilantro lime chicken recipe and that’s how I got introduced to it. To clarify, this is my cilantro lime chicken recipe made to my Ukrainian taste.

It is such an easy and healthy chicken recipe to have for a weeknight dinner or entertain with on the weekend. Add Greek yogurt guacamole and some organic tortilla chips, Mexican kale salad, Instant Pot corn on the cob, margaritas and beers and you have a healthy Mexican fiesta!

Don’t worry, I will not ask you to marinate the chicken for a long time. You will be eating juicy and flavorful baked, grilled or pan fried cilantro chicken today. It is amazing! You will see for yourself.

Need more quick chicken recipes? This easy grilled chicken breast, Greek chicken thighs and Cajun chicken breast are waiting for you.

cilantro lime chicken on a platter garnished with lime

Ingredients You Will Need

Cilantro lime chicken ingredients are simple whole foods. You probably have them on hand right now.

  • Chicken
  • Limes
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Oil
  • Cumin, cayenne, black pepper and salt.
limes, cilantro, garlic, cumin, oil, spices and chicken breasts

What Is Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade?

To make cilantro lime chicken marinade:

  • In a food processor or blender add rinsed cilantro with stems and not chopped. I’m obsessed with my small chopper. It is so easy to pull out, wash and store. It is perfect to make easy chicken marinades. 
  • Then add freshly squeezed lime juice. I like to use this tool because it gets all of the juice. It is also a perfect opportunity to use up old limes.
  • Then blend until cilantro marinade is combined.

Tip: You can finely chop cilantro, grate garlic and whisk cilantro chicken marinade by hand. In case you do not have a blender or a food processor. Healthy food can be prepared without fancy gadgets.

cilantro lime chicken marinade prepared in a food processor

How Long to Marinate?

To marinate cilantro chicken:

  • I like to stab it randomly with a fork. On a bad day, a very satisfying procedure. Small cuts allow cilantro lime marinade to penetrate chicken deeper, especially if you are marinating for a short amount of time.
  • Pour marinade on top. Using same fork, toss around the bowl to coat. And I try to use plastic bags as little as possible because they are not recyclable. But I wash them with soap anyways. But anyways, a glass bowl is the best.
  • Cover and marinate for as little as 30 mins to 48 hours. The longer chicken marinates, the bigger the flavor. But honestly, both 30 mins and 24 hour marinated cilantro lime chicken recipe had such amazing flavors.

Tip: To save on plastic, I use homemade beeswax wraps. You can also buy wraps on Amazon but homemade are cheaper, obviously.

how to make cilantro lime chicken step by step

Can I Use Chicken Thighs?

Yes. Both boneless and skinless cilantro lime chicken breast or thighs can be cooked. Thighs are dark meat and more fatty and juicy. But because our marinade contains acid from lime juice, lots of flavor and we use proper cooking technique, chicken breasts will be just as juicy.

I would say whatever is cheaper at Costco.:)

How to Make Baked Cilantro Lime Chicken

No matter how you choose to cook chicken, discard the marinade.

  • Rub the bottom of large baking dish with oil and lay marinated chicken breasts in a single layer.
  • Bake uncovered in 450 degrees F preheated oven for: 25 minutes for chicken breasts under 2 inches thick or 35 minutes for chicken breasts over 2 inches thick.
  • Or until internal read thermometer registers 150 degrees F internal temperature. You do not need to wait for 165 degrees F as meat will get there during resting. This way you will avoid dry chicken.

Tip: For very large and thick chicken breasts slice them in half lengthwise starting where “the bump” is. It reduces cooking time.

How to Pan Fry Cilantro Chicken

Pan frying cilantro lime chicken is the method I prefer unless it’s summer. My mom always cooked chicken this way, and it’s fast and brings fond memories.

  • Cook cilantro lime chicken thighs or breasts in preheated on medium heat skillet for 5-6 minutes covered. Covering chicken will allow it to get cooked through in the thickest part without burning. However, keep in mind that pieces of cilantro will burn a bit and that’s fine.
  • Flip and cook uncovered for another 5-6 minutes. Or until the thickest part juices run clear when poked with a knife or fork.
pan frying cilantro lime chicken

How to Make Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Preheat grill on medium-high (450-500 degrees F) and rub with oiled paper towel. Place chicken on the grill, close the lid and grill for 8-10 minutes turning once. Do not overcook.

Always rest your meat after cooking. But don’t cover it with homemade beeswax wraps. Heat melts the wax. Lesson learnt.

What Goes Well with Cilantro Chicken Recipe?

How to Store and Freeze

Refrigerate cilantro lime chicken for up to 5 days in an airtight container. To keep chicken moist, slice right before serving.

Freeze cooked chicken for up to 3 months, again in an airtight container. I love glass containers because there are numerous studies on how chemicals contained in plastics are in our bloodstream. Plus so much better for the planet.

I think it is best to cut, slice or shred your chicken before freezing it. It will thaw faster and you can add it to your meal right away. Frozen and thawed chicken is great to be added to casseroles.

More Easy Chicken Breast Recipes

Enjoy this cilantro lime chicken! And I hope you come back and let me know how you liked it in comments below. I love hearing from you! And… have you ever tried cilantro salmon soup?!

baked, grilled or pan fried cilantro lime chicken garnished with cilantro and limes
Cilantro Lime Chicken

Cilantro Lime Chicken {Only 30 Min Marinating}

This Cilantro Lime Chicken can be grilled, baked or fried so you can enjoy it year round. The best part about our cilantro lime chicken recipe – marinate from 30 mins to 48 hours. So much flavor either way!
5 from 21 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 chicken breasts
Calories: 233kcal
Author: Olena Osipov


  • 2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs boneless & skinless
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 4 limes juice of
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Ground black pepper to taste


  • In a food processor or blender, add cilantro (whole and with stems), lime juice, garlic, olive oil, cumin, salt, cayenne and black pepper. Process until marinade forms, pausing and scraping the walls.
    Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • Add chicken in a medium bowl and poke with a fork randomly. This will allow marinade to penetrate the meat. Pour marinade on top and toss with a fork to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 mins – 48 hours. The longer you marinate, deeper the flavor, but even after 30 mins cilantro chicken tastes awesome.
    Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • To pan fry (pictured): Preheat large ceramic non-stick skillet on medium heat and swirl a bit of avocado oil to coat. Add as many chicken breasts as fit, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes or until the thickest part juices run clear when poked with a knife or fork. Discard marinade.
    Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • To grill: Preheat grill on medium-high (450-500 degrees F) and rub with oiled paper towel. Place chicken on the grill, close the lid and grill for 8-10 minutes turning once. Do not overcook. Discard marinade.
  • To bake: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Rub bottom of large baking dish with oil and lay chicken breasts in a single layer. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes (thinner) to 35 minutes (2″+) or until 150 degrees F internal temperature. Discard marinade.
  • For all methods: Make sure you let chicken rest. Remove from heat and cover dish with tin foil, silicone lid or paper towel. Let rest for 5 minutes. This step helps juices to settle back into the meat.

Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.


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    For very large and thick chicken breasts slice them in half lengthwise starting where “the bump” is. It reduces cooking time.
    Because of the nature of marinade, if you pan fry chicken, cilantro will burn a bit on the bottom. And that’s fine. It creates a nice crust. Yum.
    If you do not have blender or food processor, you can finely chop cilantro, grate garlic and whisk marinade by hand.


    Calories: 233kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 372mg | Potassium: 629mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 118IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
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    Recipes and images are a copyright of It is against the law to republish recipes anywhere including social media, print and all world wide web. Nutritional info is provided for informational purposes only and to the best knowledge.

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    olena osipov in the studio

    Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

    My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

    43 comments on “Cilantro Lime Chicken

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    1. Love this recipe! I always overcook chicken. The first time I made it with your Instantpot directions, it was perfect!!! I cant find the directions for the instant pot time> Could you let me know.

    2. Hi you mention to discard the marinade for baking, but should it be baked with all the marinade in the pan or discarded before cooking?

    3. 5 stars
      this is the BEST recipe ! I am making it tonight for the second time in 2 weeks, along with your Black bean Mango salad . Thank you ~

    4. 5 stars
      made the Cilantro Lime Chicken along with Black Bean Mango Corn salad. Amazing ! This recipe knocked it out of the park ! Definitely a family favourite…

    5. 5 stars
      This chicken is DELICIOUS!!!! Juicy and flavorful. I made it last Sunday and had it again on Taco Tuesday AND Taco Thursday. This is now on my weekly menu. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    6. 5 stars
      I made this recipe as a last second thing, I just needed something fast. I was only able to let it marinate for an hour but it was SO FLAVORFUL! I’m excited to try it when i can let it marinatw overnight. Quick, easy, and so good, it became an instant go-to recipe.

    7. 5 stars
      OMG so good. I struggle to find a chicken marinade my husband likes since he’s not a huge fan of most citrus but this is AMAZING! we did boneless skinless chicken thighs and I marinated for about 7 hours. We grilled it instead of baked it and I only did 1 Tbs of oil. I served it with mexi rice and the combo was perfection. This is most definitely going on my rotating dinner list

    8. 5 stars
      Excellent !
      My 17 year old daughter who loves to cook and experiment with new and healthy recipes made this; and the whole family enjoyed it.
      It was simple and yummy❤️
      Love your recipes !!!

    9. 5 stars
      i made this recipe for my dinner, i marinated it at noon, and in the evening i grilled it in my pan, served it with green bean, carrots and mushrooms. it tasted soooo refreshing from the lime and it smells so yummy. my daughters loved it, and definitely I’ll make it again next time. ?????

    10. 5 stars
      You have a great site, my favorite for recipes! And I love your tips like avoiding plastics. And washing and reusing baggies, I’ve done that too! The tip here for cooking chicken to 150 and letting it rest is the kind of info I really find helpful though. I’ve always stood over the grill poking my chicken until it got to 165 and then wondered why it was always dry??? Experienced chef tips like these are how I can tell you personally actually prepare these recipes yourself and that sets you apart. Thank you!

    11. 5 stars
      This recipe is so simple and flavourful. Absolutely love it. Even my son, who isn’t much of a citrus fan…..2 thumbs up!
      Yum yum ??

    12. 5 stars
      Made this cilantro-lime marinade using chicken thighs, excellent and sp juicy.
      My go-to until I try the Greek marinade, thanks!

    13. 5 stars
      Thanks again Olena! My son had complained that he’s sick of chicken thighs (his former favorite). This recipe put them back in his good books. We love cilantro in our family so I was happy to try this one out. It was really simple and I actually ended up marinating this for 48 hours because as most families have happen, our schedules changed and that dinner was delayed to the next evening. I didn’t have the heart to take the few leftovers for lunch the next day…left them for my son. 🙂

    14. New to your website and love it! I wish it had the caloric content though. I am watching my weight and looking for all sorts of healthy chicken recipes and your website is fantastic. so excited to try this one

      1. Hi Sally and welcome. Nutritional info is located inside the recipe card for each recipe. Please give it a second to load. Enjoy and please don’t be shy to leave me a comment with a star review once you make any recipe. Have a great week!

        1. Hello, I am looking for nutritional information for this recipe too. I opened/selected to Print the recipe and waited a few min, but don’t see nutritional info/didn’t load. Love your site, have found several recipes to try as I am diabetic and need to lose weight. Thank you!

            1. Hi Olena, I’m on a Mac/Chrome, I haven’t tried on my iPhone or iPad yet. I refresh the page, sometimes the nutritional info loads and sometimes it doesn’t, bizarre.
              But I’m actually making this recipe tonight for dinner for me and my hubby, so can’t wait to taste it! I made your chicken and zucchini (I just cut up the zucchini vs. zucchini spaghetti) recipe last night, it was so delicious! Molto Grazie!

            2. Sigh…isn’t technology great when it works?! I will keep digging into this issue as a few other people have the same difficulties. On another hand, so so happy to read this! Thanks for your positive feedback, Marina!

    15. 5 stars
      I made this for dinner for two expecting leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Never lasted long enough for lunch. It was DELICIOUS!! No changes to to your recipe – it was perfect as is! Yummmmmmm

    16. 5 stars
      Perfect recipe! I’ve made it four times this summer already and it’s always a hit. So thankful I found your site, I just keep making all your recipes and the family loves them. All of them are spot on and delicious!

    17. 5 stars
      We marinaded for 24 hours and grilled chicken breasts for Father’s Day. Best chicken we’ve ever grilled. We made street tacos with it. Definitely a make again and again recipe!

    18. 5 stars
      Made your cilantro lime chicken for Mother’s Day and it was fantastic! Thank you for this recipes. More chicken breast recipes please.

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