The BEST Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe!
Attention all cilantro lovers – this cilantro lime chicken recipe is for you! Made with fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro and a few spices, this cilantro lime chicken marinade comes together in just minutes. The perfect healthy, flavorful weeknight dinner idea!
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Simple, delicious Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade!
Move over, plain ‘ole chicken breasts, this Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken is incredibly flavorful and delicious. Grilling up this cilantro lime chicken recipe is the perfect dinner idea for a busy weeknight. Throw together the 5-minute marinade at the beginning of the day, and once you’re read for dinner, it grills up in minutes. This grilled chicken recipe is healthy, flavorful and easy to make!
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Here’s how to make this simple, healthy and delicious Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe:
The ingredients you’ll need for this Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade:
If you’re putting together a grocery list, make sure you have these ingredients handy before you start making your marinade. In addition to 2 lbs. of chicken, you’ll need the following:
- Fresh cilantro
- Limes – at least 2 for the juice and zest. Grab a few more if you would like lime wedges for serving.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
For exact recipe amounts and full instructions, be sure to reference the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Rinse and Chop the Cilantro
A few tips about cilantro:
- Make sure you rinse it well before chopping. Cilantro, while wonderfully fragrant and flavorful, is often sold rather dirty and sandy. Make sure you rinse it well before placing it on your cutting board.
- Chop the leaves, leave off the stems. Like you’ll see in the photo above, I try to remove as many stems as possible. Stems, while edible, are often slightly bitter, and don’t add much to your flavor palate.
- Use a large, sharp knife to mince the cilantro. Smaller paring knives won’t get the job done, as the blades are much too small for mincing herbs like cilantro. Go for a larger chef’s knife or Santoku knife, like I have here. My favorite knife is this Wusthof Classic 5-Inch Hollow Edge Santoku Knife which is fantastic for chopping herbs.
Step 2: Mix the Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade
In a mixing bowl, add the fresh chopped cilantro, olive oil, fresh lime juice (try to avoid bottled lime juice at all costs!), lime zest and spices. Whisk together until well combined.
Place your chicken in a resealable plastic bag or shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Make sure the chicken is well coated, and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
FAQ about Marinating Chicken:
How long should you marinate chicken?
Marinate chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 12 hours. Thinner cuts of chicken, like boneless thighs and breasts need less time, versus bone-in cuts or whole chickens. The longer you marinate chicken, the more flavorful the meat will be.
Does lime juice tenderize chicken?
Yes, the acidity of lime juice will tenderize chicken. Any acid, like citrus juice, vinegar or soy sauce, will act as a tenderizer and begin to break down the proteins of the meat.
Should you poke holes in chicken breasts to marinate?
No, poking holes in chicken to marinate is not necessary. The acidity in the marinade acts as a tenderizer and naturally adds flavor to the meat.
Do you rinse marinade off chicken before cooking?
No, I don’t recommend rinsing marinade off chicken before cooking or grilling. The marinade adds extra flavor and rinsing it off will do more harm than good.
Do you love cooking with boneless, skinless chicken breasts? Check out some of my other recipes using chicken breasts:
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
- Crock Pot Mexican Shredded Chicken
- Baked Italian Chicken
- Sheet Pan Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
- Healthy Cashew Chicken Recipe
- Sheet Pan Chicken and Potatoes
Step 3: Grill the Cilantro Lime Chicken
Once the chicken has had a chance to sit in the marinade, for 30 minutes to 12 hours, it is ready to be grilled.
I have an outdoor gas grill, and with thinner cuts like these breasts and thighs, it takes approximately 4-6 minutes per side to cook on medium heat.
How do I know if my grilled chicken is done cooking?
You can test for chicken doneness two ways. First, cut into the chicken on the thickest side, if the meat is white and the juices run clear, the chicken is done. If still pink the the center, it needs more time to cook.
Second, use a digital instant read meat thermometer – the internal temperature for chicken should reach 165 degrees. I absolutely love my ThermaPen Mk4 Instant Read Digital Meat Thermometer.
What if I don’t have an outdoor grill?
No problem – you can still make this cilantro lime chicken recipe on an indoor cast iron grill pan or a cast-iron skillet. Both pans will render a fantastic sear and flavorful chicken.
I have a Lodge Reversible Cast Iron Grill Pan/Griddle that is a mainstay in my kitchen, not only for indoor grilling, but the griddle is my go-to for making pancakes!
I served up this delicious grilled cilantro lime chicken with my super-easy Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad. It’s healthy, wonderfully flavorful and with it’s cilantro lime dressing, goes perfectly with this chicken!
Here’s a few other side-dish ideas that would go great with my Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe:
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Italian Tortellini Salad
- Parmesan Ranch Steak Fries
- Garlic & Herb Roasted Potatoes
- Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad
- Easy Greek Tortellini Salad Recipe
- Check out my tutorial on How to Make Green Beans Three Ways at Food.com
If you loved this delicious Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken, check out my other grilled chicken recipes:
- Italian Grilled Chicken
- Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken
- Best BBQ Chicken Recipe
- Brown Sugar Balsamic Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Caprese Chicken
- Spicy Verde Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Skewers with Plums
Here’s the recipe for the Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade:
- 2 lb. chicken (breasts, thighs, legs, quarters or whole chicken)
- 1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, good quality
- 1/4 c. fresh squeezed lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
- 1 Tbsp. lime zest (zest of 1 lime)
- 2 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- In a medium bowl, add the cilantro, EVOO, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Whisk together to combine.
- To a resealable plastic bag or shallow baking dish, add the chicken. Pour the marinade over the top of the chicken, and cover well. Refrigerate the marinated chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes or maximum of 12 hours.
- Preheat your outdoor gas grill or indoor grill pan over medium heat. Lightly oil grill grates to prevent chicken from sticking. Grill the chicken for approximately 4-6 minutes per side (for boneless chicken breasts and thighs), or 8-10 minutes per side for bone-in cuts. Test for doneness using an instant read digital thermometer, with internal temperature reaching 165 degrees.
- Enjoy chicken right away. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 8 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 312Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 418mgCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 19g