Cilantro Lime Chicken

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Cilantro-Lime Chicken is easy to make and packed with flavor! While the chicken can stand on its own, I’ve included accompanying recipes for  cilantro-lime rice and a delicious mango avocado salsa. This transforms this dish into a tasty and healthy meal that is sure to be a hit.

If you don’t like mango salsa, pair Cilantro-Lime Chicken alongside a Panzanella Salad, Cucumber Salad, or a Corn Salsa.

Bowl of Cilantro-Lime Chicken with mango avocado salsa, served over cilantro-lime rice.

The marinade for this Cilantro-Lime Chicken is everything a good marinade should be: it’s easy to whip together, has so much flavor, and doesn’t contain any “crazy” ingredients. This recipe also pairs really well with my mango salsa--I always make it as a side when I make this dish. I’d recommend giving it a shot!

How to make Cilantro-Lime Chicken

  • Whisk together the marinade: Remove about 1/2 cup of the marinade (we’ll use it later).
  • Prep the chicken: You want to pound chicken breasts to an even thickness so they’ll cook evenly later on. This is best accomplished by a meat mallet.
  • Marinate: Place the chicken in the marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Cook: Grill, bake, or saute the chicken until it reaches 165 degrees F. (Take the guesswork out by using a digital meat thermometer.)
  • Baste: As you cook the chicken, brush it occasionally with the reserved marinade mix. 

Mango salsa to top Cilantro-Lime Chicken and rice.

Recipe Tips

  • Make sure to slice the chicken in half, or pound it to an even thickness before marinating. This allows the chicken to soak up more flavor from the marinade (improves taste), and the even thickness will allow it to cook evenly.
  • If grilling, generously oil your grill grates. I do this by rolling up a few paper towels, drenching them in oil (I use canola), and using tongs, rub the drenched paper towels along the grill grates. Doing this will contribute to a beautiful sear, and ensure the chicken doesn’t stick to the grates.
  • If grilling, fully preheat your grill. I know it’s hard to wait, but adding meat to a fully preheated grill will sear the surface of the meat–and that gives you a juicier chicken. It also allows the chicken to get a great char.
  • As the chicken is cooking, brush the reserved marinade on the chicken. Doing this will further enhance the flavor.
  • Once it’s finished, let the cooked chicken rest, tented with foil, for 5-10 minutes before cutting in!

QUICK TIP

Mangoes have a large pit inside and that makes it tricky to slice them. Here’s a helpful visual guide: how to cut a mango.

Up-close image of the mango avocado salsa.

Make it a meal

One of the things I love about this recipe is how easily it pairs with other sides. Below are a few of my favorites to serve with this meal:

  • Mango-avocado salsa: The salsa has an outstanding texture that pairs perfectly with Cilantro-Lime Chicken.  The sweetness of the mango and the orange juice perfectly balance the tang of all the cilantro and lime from the chicken marinade. Check out the mango salsa recipe or find it in the recipe card below as well.
  • Cilantro-Lime Chicken and Rice: Serve Cilantro-Lime Chicken over cilantro-lime quinoa or rice for an amazing meal. I’ve included my favorite recipe for cilantro lime rice (or quinoa) in the recipe notes section.
  • Cilantro-Lime Chicken Taco Salad: To convert this recipe into a salad, finely chop some romaine lettuce, add the (cooled) chopped chicken, your favorite veggies (such as cherry tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, cucumber, etc.), and the dressing from this quinoa black bean salad.

Up-close image of grilled Cilantro-Lime Chicken.

Alternate cooking methods

Cooking times will vary, depending on several factors, so I always recommend using a thermometer to test your chicken as it cooks. Aim to hit exactly 165 degrees F. (Undercooked = unsafe; Overcooked = dry chicken)

  • Baked Cilantro-Lime Chicken: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for approximately 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through. Remove from the oven, and loosely cover the sheet pan with foil.  Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • Sautéed Cilantro-Lime Chicken: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken breast(s) and cook for 4-6 minutes per side until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. As you sauté the chicken, brush it generously with the reserved marinade. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, loosely cover with foil, and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken sides

 

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Cilantro Lime Chicken

4.95 from 18 votes
Cilantro-Lime Chicken is easy to make and packed with flavor! While the chicken can stand on its own, I've included accompanying recipes for cilantro-lime rice and a delicious mango avocado salsa. This transforms the chicken into a tasty and healthy meal that is sure to be a hit.
Print Recipe

Cilantro Lime Chicken

4.95 from 18 votes
Cilantro-Lime Chicken is easy to make and packed with flavor! While the chicken can stand on its own, I've included accompanying recipes for cilantro-lime rice and a delicious mango avocado salsa. This transforms the chicken into a tasty and healthy meal that is sure to be a hit.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword cilantro lime chicken
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinate 2 hours
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 430kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (can also use thighs)
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice, divided
  • 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lime zest, divided
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon cumin, divided
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, divided

Mango Avocado Salsa

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno, optional
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Optional: cilantro-lime rice or quinoa (see recipe notes)

Instructions

  • MARINADE: Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl: 3/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, honey, 1 teaspoon each cumin, soy sauce, garlic, and 1/4 cup cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Reserve about 1/2 cup of marinade, and pour the rest into a large resealable bag.
  • Trim the chicken of fat. Pound the breasts to even thickness or slice in half to get evenly sized breasts and place in the bag with the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, making sure to flip the bag halfway through. I recommend marinating for 2-8 hours.
  • COOK CHICKEN: The instructions below are to grill the chicken. To see other methods of cooking chicken, read the portion of the post that is right above this recipe card. Lightly oil the grill grate or grill ridges on a grill pan or add 1 tablespoon oil to a skillet and then place the marinated chicken on the grill. Discard leftover marinade.
  • Grill for 10-12 minutes or until chicken juices run clear and internal temperature is at 165 degrees F. Flip the chicken halfway and brush it generously with the reserved 1/2 cup marinade.
  • MANGO SALSA: Take the remaining 1 tablespoon orange juice, remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice, remaining lime zest, and remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and toss together.
  • (OPTIONAL: When grilling the chicken, also grill the mango. Brush with oil and grill on one side for about 4-5 minutes at medium-high heat.)
  • Chop the mango and avocado into bite-sized pieces. Add to the salsa along with the finely chopped red onion, red pepper, and jalapeño. Season the salsa to taste with pepper, salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin and stir to mix.
  • ASSEMBLY: Serve grilled chicken over a bed of cilantro-lime rice or quinoa (if desired -- see recipe notes) and add spoonfuls of the salsa on top. Enjoy immediately!

Video

Recipe Notes

Cilantro Lime Rice/Quinoa:
  • 1 cup quinoa or rice and 2 cups chicken stock, chicken broth, or water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large lime (2 tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon zest)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring 2 cups of stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the butter and rice (or quinoa) and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice (or quinoa) is cooked through and tender. Stir in the lime juice, lime zest, cilantro, and salt + pepper to taste.
Nutrition information includes mango salsa but rice or quinoa.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6servings | Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 557mg | Potassium: 792mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 851IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg

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The ultimate BEST EVER cilantro lime chicken with an incredible mango salsa! via chelseasmessyapron.com #cilantro #lime #chicken #grilled #easy #quick #familyfriend #kidfriendly #mango #avocado #salsa #healthy
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68 Comments

  1. This looks so good! I have an amazing chilli & lime salad dressing that I get here in the UK which would complement it brilliantly I think.

  2. 5 stars
    Just WOW! I made this tonight and oh wow I’m definitely making this again! I didn’t have honey so I substituted brown sugar. This is a winner for sure.
    I’ll be checking out more of your recipes.

    1. Yay! Love hearing that 🙂 So happy you enjoyed this dinner and hope you love whatever you try next 🙂

  3. I wound up making this in a pan instead of grilling, I cut the chicken into small pieces. Cooked them first, pulled and then put all the marinade in the pan with 2tblspns of butter to thicken, then added the chicken back in. IT WAS STILL DELICIOUS! Great recipe. Thank you.

  4. I’m so excited to make this tonight!! Is it ok to make the salsa ahead of time? or is it best to whip it up fresh right before cooking?

  5. 5 stars
    This was so delicious! I found your recipe through Pinterest and I’m so glad I did. This is a perfect summer meal that my family loved! I’m so excited to try more of your recipes! Thanks again 🙂

  6. Does it do well for meal prep? Does the mango avacado salsa keep decently in the fridge for a couple of days?

  7. This was an absolute winner at our house! Great flavor! We used the oven this time but can wait to use the grill to add extra flavor!!!

  8. Is there a salsa i can make that doesn’t include mango? I’m not a huge fan but i’d like something that pairs well with the chicken marinade! thanks a bunch

  9. 5 stars
    This is our favorite go to meal! Dinners can be so tough when it comes to my 2 year old and 3 year old.. But when I put this on their plate I know I won’t hear any complaining! Thank you for making my life that much easier!

  10. 5 stars
    Seriously, the best meal EVER. I love to cook and my kids rate meals daily. This was the top of their all-time favourites. AWESOME!!!!

  11. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for my family, and they loved it! It was so easy to prepare. Thank you for a delicious recipe. I will be making this again. I added Mexican street corn for a side. Even the kids had seconds.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Angela! I’m so happy you and your family loved this cilantro lime chicken so much! I definitely need to start pairing it with Mexican street corn as a side! 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    One of the best dishes I’ve ever put together! The salsa is phenomenal and would even be good as a snack 🙂 thanks so much for the recipe!

    1. I am so happy to hear you loved this Cilantro Lime Chicken so much! Thanks so much for your comment Jamila! 🙂

  13. I found this on Pinterest a while back and I’m so glad I did – this seriously is so yummy, it’s one of our favorite meals! We don’t have a grill (apartment life) so I use my cast iron grill pan and it works perfect! I always double this recipe so we can have leftovers. 🙂

  14. I’d like to include this recipe in my diet. Do you have the nutrition analysis of the recipe? I need to know the macros in order to include this recipe – fats, proteins, sugars and carbs – all per serving size. Thank you for your help!

  15. Any chance you could include the nutrition analysis for the recipe? I need to know the the number of grams for the fat, carbohydrates, sugars and proteins for macros in a carb-cycling diet. Thank you!

    1. Hey Lisa! Slowly working through all my posts to get this added, I’ll add this to the list to get through today 🙂

  16. This looks delicious and I will have to try it sometime!! Love grilled chicken and your marinade sounds good.

  17. 5 stars
    Oh my freaking goodness! This is probably one of the best meals I have made in a long time. My family devoured it! Had it with cilantro lime rice and black beans with the avocado mango salsa. Definitely a keeper.

  18. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! So fresh and colorful. The chicken had a wonderful caramelized texture and flavor from the grill. 10/10 the whole family loved it! Will definitely be making again. Thanks for the recipe 😊

  19. Making this for dinner tonight. I’m confused about what to do with the 1/2 cup of marinade that needs to be reserved. TIA!

    1. Hope you love it! Brush it on the chicken as you grill and/or drizzle some on the cooked, finished chicken 🙂 Enjoy

          1. 4 stars
            I’ve made this recipe several times now and it’s always great my husband always asks me to make it! However mine never comes out caramelized like the photo and I can’t help but wonder why.

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