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This cilantro lime chicken is easy to make and packed with flavor! While the cilantro lime chicken can stand on its own, I’ve included accompanying recipes for a cilantro lime rice base and a delicious mango avocado salsa. This transforms this cilantro lime chicken into a tasty and healthy meal that is sure to be a hit.
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 cilantro lime chicken also pairs really well with my mango salsa which I always make as a side when I make this dish. I’d recommend giving it a shot!
How to make cilantro lime chicken
- Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients: remove about 1/2 cup of the marinade (we’ll use it later).
- Prep 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 marinade and chill in the fridge 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, brushing it occasionally with the reserved marinade mix.
- Make sure to slice the chicken in half, or pound them into 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 them 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 which will give 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!
Make it a meal
One of the things I love about this recipe is how easily it pairs to 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 the cilantro lime chicken. The sweetness of the mango and the orange juice perfectly balances 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 this 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 (cooled) chopped cilantro lime chicken, your favorite veggies (such as cherry tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, cucumber, etc.) and the dressing from this quinoa black bean salad.
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 Fahrenheit. (Undercooked = unsafe; Overcooked = dry chicken)
- Baked Cilantro Lime Chicken:Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway. Remove from the oven, and loosely cover 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 chicken breast 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, and loosely cover with foil. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes.
Cilantro Lime Chicken sides
- Fruit Salad (Rave Reviews!)
- Mandarin Orange Salad (BEST Dressing!)
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts (Reader Favorite!)
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Incredible Seasoning Blend!)
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
Helpful Visual Guide: check out how to cut a mango
This cilantro lime chicken is easy to make and packed with flavor! While the cilantro lime chicken can stand on its own, I've included accompanying recipes for a cilantro lime rice base and a delicious mango avocado salsa. This transforms this cilantro lime chicken into a tasty and healthy meal that is sure to be a hit.
- 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (can also use thighs)
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice, separated
- 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon olive oil, separated
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, separated
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lime zest, separated
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon cumin, separated
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, separated
- 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)
MARINADE: Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients: 3/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, honey, 1 teaspoon cumin, soy sauce, garlic, and 1/4 cup cilantro in a medium-sized bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Remove 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. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes making sure to flip the bag halfway through the time it is in the fridge. 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 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 small bite-sized pieces. Add to the salsa along with the finely chopped red onion, red pepper, and jalapeno. Season the salsa to taste with pepper, salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Toss together.
ASSEMBLY: Serve grilled chicken over a bed of cilantro lime rice or quinoa (if desired -- see recipe notes) and add spoonfuls of the salsa to top. Enjoy immediately!
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.
More delicious chicken recipes
- Grilled Chicken Marinade
- Chicken Tacos (Reader Favorite!)
- Bruschetta Chicken
- Chicken Tortilla Soup (20 Minutes!)