Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken is tender, juicy, fresh, and flavorful. The thighs cook on the grill in about 15 minutes and are great in tacos, bowls, or on their own served with your choice of sides.
Summer means it’s time to start cooking outside, and these Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs are the perfect reason to light up the grill. The cilantro and lime marinade makes them incredibly tender and juicy, and they get a beautiful, smoky char from the grill.
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Why We Love This Recipe
- Fresh and Zesty – You can’t beat the combo of cilantro and lime flavors!
- Versatile – Use the thighs in tacos, bowls, salads, and more!
- Juicy and Tender – Cilantro lime chicken thighs grill so well without drying out.
Ingredients For Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs – You can swap in breasts, but the grill time will vary.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Limes – For the zest and juice. Give the fruit a quick roll on the counter with the palm of your hand to get the juices flowing.
- Fresh Cilantro – If you have an aversion to cilantro, you can swap in parsley. But as someone who is not a fan, you really don’t taste a strong cilantro flavor. You just taste deliciousness.
- Garlic – Fresh cloves are best, but you can use the minced in a jar.
- Honey – Contrasting the savory, herby flavor with a little sweetness.
- Spices – Cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Feel free to add some cayenne pepper for a little heat.
How To Grill Cilantro Lime Chicken
Be sure to check the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions.
- Mix Marinade – Start by mixing up the cilantro lime marinade in a large bowl, whisking together the olive oil, lime zest and juice, cilantro, garlic, honey, and spices.
- Marinate Chicken – Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and add to a marinade in a resealable plastic bag for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. If marinating for longer than 30 minutes, be sure to pop the bag in the fridge.
- Preheat Grill – When you’re ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium heat (350-450℉).
- Grill Chicken – Add the thighs to the preheated grill and grill with the lid closed, about 6-8 minutes per side or until fully cooked to at least 165℉. The thighs are ready to flip when they release easily from the grill.
- Serve and Enjoy – Serve with cilantro garnish and lime wedges on the side.
Lime juice not only adds so much zesty flavor to thicken, but it also makes the meat more tender.
Yes, you can marinate chicken in lime juice for too long. It’s best to not let raw chicken sit in a lime juice-based marinade for more than two hours as it can give the chicken a bad texture due to the acid starting to ‘cook’ the chicken.
Keep with the theme and serve these with a side of Cilantro Lime Rice or Black Beans and Rice. Or top your favorite salad, chop them up and stuff in tacos or serve on a bun topped with arugula and fresh herbs. There are so many options for serving – here are some of my favorites:
- Tacos – Fill flour tortillas with the chicken, shredded lettuce or slaw, beans, and other taco favorites.
- Bowls – Make your own burrito bowls with rice, beans, avocado or guacamole, and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.
- Salads – Serve the chicken with chopped romaine lettuce or mixed greens, beans, corn, and a lime vinaigrette. Or add to a Fresh Tomato and Corn Salad.
- Wraps – The chicken is also great in wraps with lettuce, pickled onions, avocado, and shredded cheese.
- Chicken Breasts – You can swap the thighs for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I recommend you pound them to an even thickness (about ¾ inch thick) so they cook without drying out. And keep in mind they will take less time to cook.
- Spicy – If you want a kick, you can add a big pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to the marinade.
- Cook in the Oven – You can cook the thighs in the oven, on a greased baking sheet, at 425℉ for about 20 minutes, or until fully cooked.
- Cook in the Air Fryer – Air Fryer Chicken Thighs take about 15 minutes at 375℉.
Storage – Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reheating – Leftovers can be reheated in the oven at 350℉ until warmed. If you don’t want the thighs to dry out, you can cover the pan with foil and add a little water or chicken broth to the pan for steam to rehydrate.
Marinate Time – If you need to marinate the chicken for longer than 2 hours then you should leave out the lime juice and add it to the marinade an hour before grilling. Leaving the chicken in the lime juice for too long will cause the acid to begin to “cook” the chicken.
Chicken Sticking to Grill – If the thighs are stuck to the grill, that means they aren’t ready to flip! Chicken is ready to flip with nice grill marks when it releases easily from the grill – this takes about 6-8 minutes per side.
More Chicken Thigh Recipes
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- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 limes zested and juiced
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Cilantro for garnish and lime wedges for serving
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice and zest, cilantro, minced garlic, honey, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then add to the marinade. Marinade for at least 30 minutes but no more than 2 hours.
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat (350-450 degrees F). You can also use a grill pan on the stove.
Grill chicken with the lid closed, for 6-8 minutes per side or until fully cooked to at least 165 degrees F. Serve with cilantro garnish and lime wedges on the side.
- Marinating – If you need to marinade longer than 2 hours, leave out the lime juice and add it to the marinade an hour before grilling. Leaving the chicken in the lime juice too long and the acid will begin to “cook” the chicken.
- Chicken – Any cut of chicken will work with this marinade, but the time will need to be adjusted.
- Storage – Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Reheating – Leftovers can be reheated in the oven at 350℉ until warmed. If you don’t want the thighs to dry out, you can cover the pan with foil and add a little water or chicken broth to the pan for steam to rehydrate.
Calories: 282kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 33gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 566mgPotassium: 640mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 331IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg