Cilantro Lime Chicken


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Cilantro lime chicken is packed with bold flavors and makes for a quick and easy weeknight dinner! Just a handful of ingredients – lime, cilantro, garlic, cumin, chili powder and honey – turn humble chicken thighs (or breasts) into an amazingly delicious and easy main course.

Six cooked chicken thighs with cilantro lime flavors in a fry pan.

It’s no secret that I love the vibrant flavors of Mexican food. At least every other week, I’ll whip up a batch of my carnitas tacos  or chicken fajitas for a quick and satisfying dinner, or enjoy huevos rancheros on a Sunday for brunch.

But when it comes to the best garlicky cilantro lime flavor, with a hint of sticky sweetness it’s hard to beat these chicken thighs. They’re quickly seared in a pan for that golden and perfectly crispy skin, then finished in the oven for the juiciest chicken you’ve ever tasted.

I often make a double batch of this recipe and use the leftovers in tacos, salads, or wraps. The chicken will give a bright punch of flavor to anything you add it to.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Ingredients

This cilantro lime chicken recipe uses a handful of flavor-packed ingredients and takes just minutes to prepare and finish. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken: This recipe works really well with chicken thighs or breasts. Chicken thighs are much more forgiving when cooked and stay nice and juicy after browning on the stove and baking in the oven. Bone-in, skin on thighs lock in the juiciness and the crispy, flavorful skin adds tons of flavor.  You can definitely use boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I find that bone-in chicken just tastes better.
  • Fresh Lime. No bottled lime juice can match the bright flavor of freshly squeezed lime juice. I also use the zest in this recipe to boost the lime flavor.
  • Cilantro. Freshly chopped cilantro leaves brings a fresh herbal note to the chicken and looks beautiful as a garnish on the finished dish.
  • Garlic: I adore the intensity of fresh garlic in almost any chicken dish and use lots of it! You can always add fewer cloves or substitute 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder per clove if you don’t have fresh on hand.
  • Cumin. The earthy taste of ground cumin gives this chicken dish a ton of authentic Mexican flavor.
  • Honey. The sweetness of the honey helps to balance the sourness of the lime and sharpness of fresh garlic in the marinade. You can use a tablespoon of maple syrup instead of the honey.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below

Ingredients to make cilantro lime chicken on a counter.

How to Make Cilantro Lime Chicken

This recipe has two main steps – marinate the chicken and cook when you’re ready to eat. Here’s what you do:

  1. Make the marinade. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl, or blend them in a food processor.
  2. Marinate the chicken. Place your chicken thighs in a glass dish or bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate the chicken for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Preheat your oven to 425F. Remove the marinated chicken from your refrigerator and let it sit on the counter until your oven is ready.
  4. Brown the chicken. Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet and brown the chicken thighs skin-side down until golden.
  5. Bake the chicken. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the chicken thighs for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Raw chicken thighs in a mixing bowl with cilantro lime marinade.

A Few Cooking Tips

Marinate as Long as Possible. The longer the chicken sits in the marinade, the more flavor the chicken soaks up. If you can, turn the chicken a couple of times so the marinade evenly covers the chicken while it sits in the fridge.

Use an Ovenproof Skillet. You’ll start the chicken in a hot skillet, skin-side down, to turn the chicken skin golden brown and then finish cooking it in the oven. Use a cast iron or stainless steel skillet that can take the heat of the oven. If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, you can skip the stovetop step and bake the chicken on a rack set over a sheet pan in the oven.

Don’t Overcook the Chicken Thighs. Most people overcook chicken because they remove it from the oven at 165F. But chicken continues to cook once it’s removed from the oven. So remove the chicken at 160F and after 5 minutes of resting you’ll see that the internal temperature is now 165F. Resting also allows the juices to redistribute inside the chicken.

Close up photo of cilantro lime chicken thigh in a pan.

Ways to Serve the Chicken

I love how this chicken can be enjoyed so many different ways:

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

To store: You can store any leftover chicken in the refrigerator in a covered container for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to two months.

To reheat: Microwave the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes. If you want to crisp up the skin, run the chicken under a broiler for a couple of minutes. Just watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Cooked cilantro lime chicken in a pan, garnished with fresh lime slices and cilantro leaves.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe Video

While this recipe is easy to make, it always helps to watch a quick video. Give it a watch below!

More Easy Weeknight Chicken Dishes

Looking for more simple and flavor-packed chicken recipes? Give these a try! Oh, and don’t forget to give these chicken marinade recipes a go for the best meal prep ever.

A pan full of cooked cilantro lime chicken, garnished with slices of lime and cilantro leaves.

Cilantro Lime Chicken

4.92 from 71 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Marinate: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Cilantro lime chicken thighs are incredibly juicy and bursting with bright, Latin flavors. This is an easy weeknight meal the entire family will love. Watch the video above to see how I make it!



  • 6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped


  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together two tablespoons of olive oil, lime juice and zest, cumin, chili powder, minced garlic, honey, salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro. You can also pulse in a food processor until it's combined.
  • Combine the marinade and chicken thighs in a bowl or shallow dish. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge.
    Marinating the chicken in a mixing bowl with the cilantro lime marinade.
  • When the chicken is done marinating, take it out of the fridge and let it sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature.
  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Heat the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken for 5-6 minutes with the skin side down, until they're golden brown.
  • Then flip the chicken and sear the other side for 2-3 minutes. The chicken will not be fully cooked at this point.
    Chicken thighs cooked on the skin side, now cooking on the bottom side in a pan.
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the chicken thighs for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven, let it rest for 5 minutes, and garnish with extra lime slices and cilantro leaves before serving.
    Fully cooked cilantro lime chicken in a pan with slices of lime and cilantro.

Lisa’s Tips

  • I always recommend using an oven thermometer since most ovens vary as much as 50 degrees in temperature.
  • Experiment with different chili powders in this recipe (and always feel free to add a little more!). Grocery stores are now carrying different varieties of chili powder like guajillo or chipotle.
  • My favorite oven-safe pan is this Staub 12″ fry pan.


Calories: 331kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 479mg | Potassium: 266mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 194IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: baked chicken thighs, chicken thigh recipes
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Thank you for the delicious recipe! Can you please tell me if the calories are per 100 grams or per 1 serving?

    1. Hi Shel – I’m glad you love this cilantro lime chicken! Looks like you’ll need to make a second batch next time.

  2. Seriously delicious. I substituted boneless skinless chicken thighs, which still worked completely fine. Thank you!5 stars

  3. I made this 10/26/23. Really good and a nice change from my typical chicken recipes. The cilantro gave it a good “south of the border” flavor without overpowering the others. I used fresh cilantro and dried the rest. Not sure that dried will preserve the unique flavor of fresh.

    The lime (don’t forget the zest!) added just enough zip to make it interesting.

    Love the recipe. Thanks for sharing it.5 stars

  4. My husband and I loved this dish! I made it with chicken marylands and thus needed to bake the chicken a little longer. Delicious! I served it with your cilantro and lime cauliflower rice and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Will be adding this to our ‘favorites’ menu. Thank you so much for your delicious recipes!

  5. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts and just baked them. They are delicious! The marinade is so flavorful.5 stars

  6. Absolutely delicious! I used boneless and skinless chicken thighs, reduced the cooking time by 10 minutes and it was perfect. This recipe makes perfect leftovers.5 stars

  7. Love the flavors. I’m keeping marinade recipe,
    but think for me, stovetop frying creates so much
    mess and clean-up. Next time I will cook the marinated
    chicken in oven. Saves time snd still get the nice crisp on
    the skin. Otherwise would be a 5-star for me.4 stars

  8. I tried multiple different recipes of this dish and this turned out to be the best so far! Sooooo good. 5 stars

  9. We did this recipe with 2 thighs and 2 legs and measured everything. It looked wonderful and came out of the oven looking exactly like the photo on the recipe. However, even though we marinated the well thawed chicken for four hours, the chicken really didn’t take on any of the flavors of the spices, probably because the recipe only called for a half teaspoon of cumin and a half teaspoon of chili powder along with a 1/4 cup of cilantro and the juice and zest of two limes. This recipe came out tasting like pretty much any baked chicken with none of the spice flavors making the show. It was edible, and who doesn’t like baked chicken, but for the effort we were disappointed. I’ll try it again with maybe triple the cumin and chili powder and double the honey. Something to give the dish some flavor. Fail!3 stars

  10. OMG this recipe is FANTASTIC could not stop talking about it and this website. Everything is so delicious! We ate this chicken with the corn salad, AMAZING! A newbie here to clean eating and lactose intolerant, I’m more satisfied with the delicious and fresh tasting food, I feel like I’m eating in a gourmet restaurant. I have lost 10 pounds in 3 weeks and I have loved every bit of it, I have zero cravings for junk and sugary foods. I’m glad I found this page, keep up the great work!5 stars

  11. This recipe is gold!! I make this for my husband and myself almost weekly. It’s perfect, even when you don’t have time for the oven and make it only on the stovetop, it  is perfect every time. I couple it with the cilantro lime rice and it’s a staple meal in our house! Flavorful and satisfying AND clean, as are all of Lisa’s recipes I’ve tried! Oh, and it’s amazing for meal prep, i just double the recipe, put the thighs in the marinade and separate them into 2 stasher bags, then stick one in the fridge and one in the freezer for later. Do this and you’re future self will thank your past self on busy night when you need a quick healthy dinner!5 stars

  12. This recipe is so flavorful and so easy to make, you can’t mess up this recipe.  This recipe is just as good without the cilantro which I forgot to get and did the recipe anyway.  5 stars

  13. I’ve been making this recipe on and off for two years and just love so much. My family loves it too and that’s always a plus. It’s so full of lovely flavors and goes amazing with the cilantro lime rice. If you want to really make it all about the like and cilantro, try her cabbage, bacon and lime salad. Yum yum yum! Although this is a perfect summer recipe, I often make it in the winter to deter the winter blues. 5 stars

    1. The perfect combination with the cilantro lime bacon slaw! Thanks for sharing the idea and leaving a review as well Sara :)

  14. I have to admit I fear chicken thighs, but have had some luck with overcooking them until all of the fat melts away. Because every recipe of yours that I’ve tried has been 5 stars, I bravely attempted this one. I’m so glad I did!! It was easy, and so flavorful! I used skinless thighs (baby steps) and cooked them according to your skin-on instructions. There was very little fat left and they looked as delicious as they tasted. I served them with your Cauliflower Fried Rice recipe. Thank you, Lisa!5 stars

  15. This recipe really did pack a punch of wonderful flavor. I used leg and thigh quarters since I had then. I will use the thighs next time. We paired this with the Mexican rice ( so good) and a side salad.5 stars

  16. I’ve made this five or six times, now. Tonight my wife asked for “that thing with the chicken and green stuff” and I knew exactly what she meant. It’s the kind of thing that you enjoy eating on the night, but are also thinking about the leftovers all the time until lunch the next day.5 stars

  17. Very high praise from my two very “tell it like it is” guys. As my son was going back for seconds he said it is really good. My husband gave his Groot response, pretty good. The way he said it lets me know he really likes it as well. It all in the tone. :) I only had boneless skinless thighs and it was really good. I am definitely going to try bone-in with skin thighs next time. I’m sure that will take it to the next level. 5 stars

  18. So good and so easy! I can never find chicken thighs with skin, so made with skinless thighs and marinated for 1-hour. I can’t  wait to have the leftovers tomorrow. Definitely going into the regular rotation. 5 stars

    1. Not sure where you live, but in Southern California, Stater Bros. Grocery is known for having the best meat dept. and they always have thighs with skin.

  19. I made this with boneless skinless chicken breast. I made it in the skillet. OH MY GOSH hands down best chicken I’ve ever had. And I paired it with the Mexican rice and a side of frozen corn! Thank you for the delicious recipes :)

    1. You can, however the cooking time will be much less if you’re just pan searing the chicken, which will be about 5-7 minutes on each side.

    1. You can use the same marinade, but the cooking time will be different, depending on if you’re pan searing or baking in the oven.

  20. I would love to make this recipe but I only have boneless thighs. Is there a difference in cooking time on the stove and oven?5 stars

    1. I’m using my Staub 12″ frying pan! You can find it linked in the recipe notes towards the bottom of the recipe card :)