Cilantro Lime Chicken


Cilantro lime chicken is an easy dish that is bursting with flavor and perfect for a family dinner, summer BBQ or meal prep for the week ahead. The combination of fresh cilantro and zesty lime juice creates a marinade that infuses the chicken with an incredible tangy and aromatic flavor.

Cilantro lime chicken is a delicious and easy-to-make dish that’s perfect for any occasion but I enjoy it most cooked on the grill and served over a side of grilled vegetables.

A platter with juicy chicken with cilantro sprinkled on top and limes arounds.

This is a simple and easy recipe that combines fresh and zesty ingredients to create a flavorful chicken marinade to coat chicken thighs, breasts or chicken legs. You only need at least 30 minutes of marinating to infuse flavor; however, 2 hours is ideal.

Whether you’re a fan of Mexican cuisine or simply looking to try something new, cilantro lime chicken is a tasty meal that will sure to become a favorite in your household. And if you have leftovers, just toss the diced chicken in tacos, wraps or a salad.

How to make cilantro lime chicken

  1. Make cilantro lime marinade – whisk together avocado oil, lime juice, chopped cilantro, minced garlic and seasonings.
  2. Marinade chicken – pour marinade over chicken and let marinade for at least 30 minutes (ideally 2 hours).
  3. Cook chicken either by grilling, roasting in the oven or air fryer.

A bowl with raw chicken marinating in a cilantro lime mixture with garlic and limes nearby.

Key ingredients & substitutions

  • Cilantro lime marinade – An easy chicken marinade that only takes 30 minutes to infuse zesty flavor. Every good marinade has a fat, acid and flavor component. This marinade uses avocado oil as a fat and lime juice for acidity. For flavor, cilantro, garlic and smoked paprika are added (as well as salt & pepper). Regular paprika could be substituted for smoked paprika and garlic powder could be used in place of minced garlic. 
  • Chicken – In this grilled chicken recipe, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs; however, any cut of chicken can be used. Chicken thighs, chicken breasts, wings, legs or even chicken tenderloins. Can use bone-in chicken or boneless cuts of chicken.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe Video

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Cilantro Lime Chicken Ingredients

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, breasts or legs
  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • ¼ cup lime juice (fresh or bottled)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Cilantro Lime Chicken Directions

  • Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • Juicy grilled chicken on a white plate and limes around.

    Methods to cook cilantro lime chicken

    Cilantro lime chicken can be cooked via multiple cooking methods. Depending on the time of year, you may prefer one method over the other. During the Summer, grilled chicken is welcomed; however, during the winter months, roasted cilantro lime chicken provides comfort.


    Ideal for summer cookouts or barbeques, grilling cilantro lime chicken adds a char-broiled flavor that is delicious along with the zesty lime. Serve with lime wedges and along with a fresh summer salad.

    Air fryer

    To make air fryer cilantro lime chicken, air fry the chicken in a single layer at 380 degrees for 5 minutes on each side.


    The stovetop method for cooking this marinated chicken is easy. Add a few tablespoons of oil to a skillet heated over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook for 4-6 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness, bone-in and cut of chicken). After flipping, pour the leftover marinade into the skillet and let chicken braise until cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Oven Roasted

    To make oven roasted cilantro lime chicken, add chicken to a baking dish or foil lined sheet pan in a single layer. Pour over marinade. Bake chicken (uncovered) at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

    A plate of grilled chicken thighs with lime as a garnish and two plates in the background with forks.

    Fresh vs bottled lime juice

    Fresh lime juice is always going to be better with whatever you are cooking or baking. Freshly squeezed lime juice not only has more flavor compared to bottled but it doesn’t contain preservatives or hasn’t undergone oxidation so the flavor isn’t bitter like bottle lime juice can be.

    That being said, I have used bottled lime juice in this recipe and it still turns out delicious!

    Storage information & meal prep instructions

    Meal prep

    The cilantro lime marinade can be made up ahead of time and stored for a few days. You can also add the chicken to the marinade and let marinade for up to 2 days.

    Store in refrigerator

    Cooked chicken can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. To reheat, air fry at 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes.

    Freezer meal

    This easy dish can be prepared as a freezer meal. Add chicken and marinade to a freezer safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 1-2 months. To prepare, thaw the night before in the refrigerator.

    Cilantro Lime Chicken: FAQS

    How long should you marinade chicken in lime juice?

    Ideally, you should marinade chicken for 2 hours to impart delicious tangy flavor from the lime juice. Don't marinade longer than 2 days as the acidity from the lime juice can start to break down the chicken and make it too mushy after cooking.

    Do you rinse the marinade off before cooking?

    It's not necessary to rinse this cilantro lime chicken marinade off before cooking. If grilling, just grab a piece of chicken and throw it on the grill, leaving the marinade behind. If cooking in a skillet or the oven, add the marinade to the skillet or casserole dish along with the chicken.

    Can the marinade be made up ahead of time?

    Yes, you can make the chicken marinade ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before marinating the chicken.

    Nutritional information & Macros

    Nutrition Information

    Cilantro Lime Chicken

    Servings: 6

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 259
    Fat 18.7g
    Protein 24.1g
    Total Carbs 0.6g
    Net Carbs 0.4g

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