This Cilantro Lime Chicken can be grilled, baked or fried so you can enjoy it year round. The best part – marinate from 30 mins to 48 hours. So much flavor either way!
Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe
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 madde 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 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 lime chicken today. It is amazing! You will see for yourself.
Ingredients You Will Need
Cilantro lime chicken ingredients are simple whole foods. You probably have them on hand right now.
- Cumin, cayenne, black pepper and salt.
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. And it does amazing job.
- 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 marinade is combined.
Tip: You can finely chop cilantro, grate garlic and whisk marinade by hand. In case you do not have a blender or a food processor. Healthy food can be prepared without fancy gadgets.
How Long to Marinate Chicken?
To marinate chicken in cilantro lime sauce:
- I like to stab it randomly with a fork. On a bad day, a very satisfying procedure. Small cuts allow 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 chicken had such amazing flavors.
Can I Use Chicken Thighs?
Yes. Both boneless and skinless chicken breast or thighs work to make cilantro lime chicken. 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 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 Lime 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.
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 Lime Chicken?
- Use sliced chicken to make chicken burrito bowl, low carb enchiladas and tacos.
- Make a healthy cobb salad or use in grilled chicken salad.
- Serve with quinoa or brown rice and a side of roasted asparagus, baked butternut squash or grilled vegetables.
- For a low carb version, make my cauliflower mashed potatoes or cilantro lime cauliflower rice.
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
- Chili lime chicken – flavorful Mexican chicken breast.
- Greek chicken – juicy and delish with lemon, garlic and oregano.
- Grilled chicken breast – no long marinating, as always.
- Instant Pot chicken breast – cook from fresh or frozen.
- Honey garlic chicken – your next backpocket 30 minute dinner.
- Browse all healthy chicken 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!
Cilantro Lime Chicken
Pan fried, baked or grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken with as little as 1 hour marinating. For easy dinner, get togethers, meal prep, tacos and salads.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 chicken breasts 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stove, Oven or Grill
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.