Cilantro Lime Chicken
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
This flavorful Cilantro Lime Chicken is one of the best chicken thigh recipes! The chicken is seasoned with a delicious marinade and then cooked in a skillet until caramelized and juicy. A quick and easy dinner idea, made with boneless or bone-in chicken thighs.
This cilantro lime chicken has livened up our dinner plates! With a flavor-packed marinade and quick skillet cooking method, this easy chicken recipe is perfect for any day of the week!
The cilantro lime marinade used on these chicken thighs is a new favorite of mine. It’s simple to make with just a few ingredients, and it infuses chicken with the best flavor!
Using chicken thighs in this recipe ensures that the chicken cooks up juicy and tender. I’ve cooked this chicken in a cast iron skillet, which gives it a delicious caramelized crust and makes this recipe one you can make year-round. We’ve also used this marinade on Grilled Chicken Thighs, and it works perfect that way too.
The Best Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade
- Olive Oil: The olive oil helps to transfer the flavors from the other marinade ingredients to the meat.
- Cilantro: Fresh cilantro has a bright flavor that pairs especially well with the lime and garlic in this marinade.
- Lime Zest & Lime Juice: For a big pop of lime flavor, we’re using both the zest and juice of two limes.
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce brings a bit of saltiness and umami flavor to the marinade. I recommend using a low sodium soy sauce so that you can control the amount of salt in the dish.
- Honey: Honey and lime are a delicious pair, and the sweet and savory flavors in this marinade are especially addictive. If you prefer, you can substitute brown sugar for the honey.
- Garlic: Don’t be shy with the fresh garlic here, it makes the flavors pop!
- Salt & Pepper: For seasoning.
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs: I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe because they cook quickly and are easy to slice (if desired) since they have no bone. See my notes below if you wish to use bone-in chicken thighs or chicken breasts.
- Olive Oil: For cooking the chicken.
Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions below.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag or bowl.
- Add the chicken thighs and coat with the marinade.
- Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
- Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet.
- Add the chicken to the hot skillet. Brown chicken on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Transfer the skillet to a 425° F oven and continue cooking the chicken until cooked through to 165° F, about 7-12 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use Bone-In Chicken Thighs?
Yes, bone-in thighs work well in this recipe. Chicken on the bone will take longer to cook in the oven. Cook until the thickest part of the chicken, away from the bone, registers at least 165° F on an instant read thermometer.
Can I use Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts?
Yes! For the most tender chicken and for quicker cooking, first pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. You can place the chicken in a zip-top bag or between two layers of parchment or plastic wrap before pounding to minimize splattering. After the chicken has marinated, follow the recipe steps for browning the chicken in a skillet and then finish cooking in the oven. The cook time for boneless chicken breasts will depend on their size. The chicken is done when it registers 165° F on an instant read thermometer.
Can I Cook the Chicken on the Grill?
Yes, this marinade is perfect for grilling. After marinating the chicken, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Put the chicken on the grill and reduce the heat to medium. Grill boneless thighs for 7-10 minutes per side, and bone-in thighs for 9-15 minutes per side, until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
- If you don’t have an oven safe skillet, you can transfer the chicken and any juices from the skillet to a baking dish after searing the chicken on the stove.
- For extra flavor and juices, reserve a few tablespoons of the marinade before adding the raw chicken. Then brush this reserved marinade on the chicken during the last few minutes of cooking.
- Not a fan of cilantro? While this fresh herb does add lots of flavor to the dish, you can make this lime chicken recipe without the cilantro if you prefer.
- If you want your chicken spicy, add a teaspoon of sriracha, a tablespoon of sweet chili sauce or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste) to the marinade.
What to Serve with Cilantro Lime Chicken
This chicken makes the best chicken tacos! Slice it up and serve it with tortillas, avocado, tomatoes and onion, plus tortilla chips and salsa. Leftover chicken makes a tasty addition to a green salad for lunch or dinner.
More Easy Chicken Thigh Recipes
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
- Baked Chicken Thighs
- Tuscan Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs
- Baked Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Crockpot Chicken and Potatoes
- Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
- Chicken Cacciatore
Cilantro Lime Chicken
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- zest of 2 limes, zest before juicing
- ¼ cup lime juice, from 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey, or brown sugar
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 6 thighs
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, for cooking
- Combine the ¼ cup olive oil, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, soy sauce, honey (or brown sugar), garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl or large zip-top plastic bag. Whisk or squeeze bag to mix. (Optional: reserve a few tablespoons of marinade in a separate container to brush on chicken while cooking.)
- Add the chicken thighs to the bag or bowl and coat chicken with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
- When you are ready to cook the chicken preheat oven to 425° F. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet (such as a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken to the hot skillet. Discard the marinade. Cook on each side until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Then place the skillet in the preheated oven and continue cooking for 7-12 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through to 165° F. The cook time will depend on the size of your chicken thighs.
- Bone-in chicken thighs may also be used. They will take longer to cook in the oven. Cook until the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 165° F.
- To use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, first pound the breasts to an even thickness for faster, more even cooking. Then marinate. Finally, brown both sides of the chicken breasts in an oven-safe skillet and then finish cooking in the oven until the chicken registers 165° F.
- This cilantro lime chicken is also delicious cooked on the grill. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Then put the chicken on the grill and reduce heat to medium. Grill boneless thighs for 7-10 minutes per side, and bone-in thighs for 9-15 minutes per side, until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
- Nutrition information estimate assumes that all marinade is consumed, which it likely won't be.