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 70 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. I made this last night and really learned something about that carryover heat. I’ve always been afraid of pink, undercooked thighs (especially bone-in) but went with your recommended 160. For insurance, I used a leave-in meat probe that notified me when they hit the target heat. I pulled and tented them for five minutes, and they were the juiciest thighs I’ve ever had, let alone made. The only downside was the difficult clean-up of the pan, as the honey really caramelized. I had to soak the pan overnight, and even then needed Comet and steel wool. Would sugar have a higher burn point?

    Thanks!5 stars

    1. Glad your chicken thighs turned out perfectly David! For this recipe, it’s best to use honey instead of ground sugar.

  2. This recipe was delicious. I used chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs and my family loved it!5 stars

  3. Could this be done by browning the chicken in one pan and then transferring it? I don’t have an oven safe pan & it’s not in the budget.

  4. I used this recipe but made them on the grill and the flavor pretty much got burned off. Will need to try again in the oven and marinade for longer I think.

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that happened. I haven’t tried this on the grill yet, but thinking you will need to marinate this for much longer.

  5. DELICIOUS!! Added the roasted sweet potatoes and a side salad for a great meal! Thank you for the excellent recipe!5 stars

  6. This dish was a winner. So much flavor! This is a main course I would make for company and be confident in what I was serving.  Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  7. A+++! My family loves this recipe and have made it three times with raving reviews. Kids prefer chicken breasts so we pan cook it using thin sliced breasts. Not as juicy as thighs but they actually look forward to leftovers. Thanks Lisa! 5 stars

  8. Another amazing recipe! Followed it, but adjusted levels of spice to my liking and it is truly amazing. Planning on making it again later this week. Every recipe I try from Lisa is exactly how it says, this took me exactly 1 hour, I timed it with some baked potatoes. I got the perfect browning like she did in the video, wasn’t too dry/overcooked. Simply perfect! 5 stars

  9. This recipe looked very intriguing as a new healthy option to get my family out of our food rut. Based on the estimated prep , marinade and cook times I thought it would work on a weeknight. We are a busy family – My husband and I work fulltime and we have two college students at home so easy, healthy meals are always a win. BUT – you must have a personal sous chef if your prep took only five minutes. The marinade took forever. I did double the recipe, but even if I cut my lime zesting, garlic peeling and pressing and cilantro pinching and chopping in half, I still would have spent like 45 minutes just getting to the point where I could coat the chicken and put it in the fridge. Warning to anyone who wants to make this quickly – prepare the marinade ahead of time.

    As for the chicken itself, the family found it to be just “ok.” The late hour that we ate the dinner probably contributed to the “meh” reaction because if dinner is going to be after 8:00 p.m. it better be worth it. I thought the quantity of lime juice made it taste a little too vinegary. If I opt to do it again, I will definitely cut that back and amp up the chili spices to make it more flavorful. I also agree that it needs to be in the marinade longer, but I would think overnight would have been too much – making it taste like it was pickled.3 stars

    1. I don’t see how the marinade took you forever, it’s only a few ingredients. I guess you are very slow in the kitchen5 stars

  10. Love this chicken recipe! It’s so flavourful and vibrant! I’ve tried so many of your recipes already including baking recipes and mayo, they all turn out amazing! I’m very impressed and so relieved because i know that your website is a reliable source for great recipes that always turn out. Other healthy eating websites have hit or miss recipes especially since I’m Indian and i love my spice and flavour.5 stars

    1. Hi Tracey- The directions mention to take it out at 160F as it will continue to cook after. That way, you won’t overcook your chicken.

  11. Hi Lisa, I appreciate your cooking- I hate the kitchen, but since I run into your style of cooking on YouTube- I’m loving it. so Thank you and keep up the good works

    1. Yes, you can do that as well. Just be careful that the skin doesn’t burn too much. If you have a lid, I’d recommend using that.

  12. The Cilantro Lime Chicken is delicious!! I marinated overnight and the flavour was amazing. It’s certainly a winner! Thank you Lisa:)5 stars

  13. I made this for my husband’s family once because I really wanted to impress and I did not disappoint. They loved it !! Definitely gonna make it again 👏🏻☺️5 stars

    1. Hi Andrea – I’m happy you loved this recipe! It’s always a go-to for me as well, when guests come over. :)

  14. An easy , ingredient accessible and delicious recipe. I’ve done this with both thighs and breasts and they always come out juicy. The honey caramelizes perfectly and the citrus is always great with chicken.5 stars

    1. Yes! You can make this with chicken breast as well. Except, the cooking time will be a bit different as breasts tend to cook faster.

  15. I made this last night for supper, and it turned out soooo delicious!  Chicken was moist and full of flavour.  Will definitely be making again!5 stars

  16. Was amazing! I used chicken breasts and marinated for 12 hours. The flavours were unreal! 10 out of 10 would recommend this recipe.5 stars

  17. LOVE LOVE LOVE This is such a good recipe!! For something that doesn’t take that long to make and with few ingredients, these chicken thighs had a punch of flavour and were so juicy! Will definitely make it again. Love the Latin flavours and how quick and simple it is to make. Highly recommend!5 stars

  18. Hi,
    If I make without the honey, will it not taste the same? I am doing Whole 30 and really wanted to make this. I love cilantro and lime.

    1. Hi Courtney – the honey gives it that sticky sweetness, but you could certainly leave that off. Just a slight flavor difference.

  19. This was so delicious! My laziness got the better of me and so I just baked my chicken in the oven, but the taste was great still! Thanks so much!5 stars

  20. Once again Lisa- amazing recipe! Made it for dinner and it was delicious, this is my new favourite :)
    Thank so much for the recipe!5 stars

  21. Lisa, thank you for this recipe. Divine. Mouth watering🤤 it’s our favorite chicken recipe in our house now👍 5 stars

  22. Took longer than what you estimated, but the dish was DELICIOUS. Tasted great, even without the cumin (which I discovered I didn’t have while making the dish). Very flavorful and not dry, even though I think I overcooked it. Great tips – wish I had read those first! LOVE your videos and recipes. Not only are your topics interesting and informative, but you have such a calmness about you, as well as the calm, cleaning surroundings, that it’s comforting to watch your videos. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!5 stars

  23. I tried this recipe this evening and it was amazing! It had just the right amount of tang and sweetness. I’ve tried a few of your chicken recipes and this one was my favorite. Thanks so much for this awesome dish! 5 stars

  24. Marinated last night and cooked this morning for lunches today and tomorrow. What a simple yet amazing recipe. This will definitely go into my protein rotation!5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa! I’m a grad student and I made this today and oh my god 😭😭😭😭 soooo good. I planned to plate it nicely and eat it in my room, but ended up crouching over the kitchen counter and gobbling it up 😂😂 LOVE IT! THANK YOU SO MUCH ❤️❤️ just a small doubt while logging it in to my fitness Pal, the 331 kcal is for 100 grams? 😃5 stars

      1. So glad you loved this chicken recipe! As for the nutritional information, it should be correct. Remember there is some honey in here and chicken thighs tend to have a slightly higher amount of calories compared to chicken breasts.

  25. This recipe is delicious! I only had boneless skinless thighs and just baked them instead of panfrying first and it was still delicious. Definitely will make this again. 5 stars

  26. Hi. I tried the cilantro chicken recipe yesterday and turned out real good and my family loved it.  It was super simple.  Thanks.  Nandini Sen. 5 stars

  27. I made this tonight with chicken breasts, as that is what my family prefers. I watched the temp and pulled at 160. It is juicy and packed with flavor!5 stars

  28. I couldn’t wait to try this recipe, so I made it tonight, and I was not disappointed! The flavors worked so well together and both my husband and I loved it! I’m going to make this for guests some time and wow them!5 stars

  29. Really good. I made it tonight along with the cilantro lime rice on a bed of romaine. I threw in the remainder of the marinade into the pan when I stuck in the oven. Delicious. Thank you so much. Love your recipes!5 stars

  30. The thighs look so juicy… cilantro and lime are an amazing combination. I’m making these now, and I’ll definitely add a little more chilli powder! Hummm5 stars

  31. Love all the flavors in this dish. Such a great easy dinner option for busy weeknights. The whole family will love this.5 stars

  32. As luck would have it, I already had chicken tenders marinating in your taco seasoning with grape seed oil to grill. It was easy to add honey, fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro to the party!  Came out so good!5 stars

      1. Hi Neetha- I don’t have the instapot version available, but in order to get that crispy seared skin, you’ll need to sear it in a pan :)