Tequila Lime Chicken is a flavorful and zesty dish that features marinated chicken breasts infused with a blend of tequila, lime juice, and spices.

I love to marinate the chicken overnight so I can prepare it in advance, but this recipe is just as good if you only have an hour or two to marinate. Serve with a side Cilantro Lime Rice or Black Beans and Rice.

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Why We Love This Recipe

The tequila and lime juice work together to tenderize the chicken and give it a tangy, citrusy flavor, while the spices add depth and complexity to the dish.

The chicken is typically grilled or broiled and can be served as a main course with rice, beans, or grilled vegetables, or sliced and used as a filling for tacos, burritos, or quesadillas.

This Tequila Lime Chicken is:

  • Margarita Inspired – Hard not to love a chicken recipe that is inspired by the fun summer cocktail!
  • Easy Marinade – Just mix up a handful of simple ingredients then marinate the chicken breasts.
  • Quick Grilling – Pounding the chicken thin means they cook fast!

Ingredients For Tequila Lime Chicken

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – You can also use chicken thighs but the cook time will vary.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Lime Juice and Zest – Roll the lime on the counter for 20 seconds before slicing; it will bring out all of the natural juice.
  • Silver Tequila – This recipe will taste great even if you decide to omit the tequila.
  • Garlic – You can also use minced garlic if you don’t have a garlic press.
  • Brown Sugar – Regular white sugar can be swapped in.
  • Spices – Cumin, Seasoned Salt (or regular salt), Ground Black Pepper.

How To Make Tequila Lime Chicken

Get a detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.

Prep Chicken – For even cooking, you want to trim off any excess fat from the chicken and then either slice them into cutlets or pound them so they are thin and even in size.

Chicken breasts sitting in a marinade in a bowl.

Mix Marinade – In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, tequila, garlic, brown sugar, cumin, salt and pepper. 

Marinate Chicken – Place the chicken pieces in a shallow dish or a resealable bag and pour the marinade over. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight. 

Grilled chicken in a grill pan.

Grill Chicken – Preheat the grill or grill pan to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees F). Grill chicken for about 5 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reads 160℉ degrees. Remove the chicken from heat and let it rest so the temperature reaches 165℉.

Recipe FAQs

How long can chicken marinate in lime?

For most lime marinade recipes, the chicken can be ready to cook in as little as an hour, but even better if left overnight. The max time that chicken should marinate in a lime-based marinade is 48 hours.

What does lime juice do in a chicken marinade?

In a marinade, lime juice not only adds flavor to chicken but it also helps tenderize the meat by breaking down the proteins for a more tender bite. It also helps to balance the flavors.

How do you keep grilled chicken juicy?

Marinate, don’t overcook it, and let it rest. The acid (lime juice) will help to break down the proteins, tenderizing the meat. The olive oil in the marinade keeps it juicy. Then once you put it on the grill, make sure to watch the temp and pull the meat off when it reaches 160℉. Then let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing so the juices stay with the meat instead of running all over your cutting board.

Helpful Tips

  • Make It Spicy – If you want to spice things up, add a pinch of cayenne, red pepper flakes, or diced jalapenos.
  • Discard Marinade After Use – For proper food safety, discarding the excess marinade after it has touched the raw chicken is very important.
  • Resting – Allow the chicken to rest before slicing. This will allow the chicken to reach that 165 temperature and seal in juices.
  • Marinate For At Least An Hour – The marinade not only adds more flavor, but it also helps tenderize the meat. 
  • Storing Leftovers – Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and used within 4 days.

Grilled chicken breast on a plate with rice and tomatoes and lime slices.

More Grilled Chicken Recipes


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  • Prepare chicken breasts by trimming off extra fat and either slicing into cutlets or tenderizing until they are thin and even in size. Set aside.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, tequila, garlic, brown sugar, cumin, salt and pepper until fully mixed.

  • Place chicken in a shallow dish or bowl and pour marinade over.

  • Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or overnight.

  • Preheat the grill or grill pan to medium high heat (about 400 degrees).

  • Place chicken on a preheated grill and cook for 5 minutes.

  • Turn chicken over and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 160°F. Remove from heat and allow chicken to reach 165°F.

  • Rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

This recipe uses 4 chicken breasts but can be increased to 6. The 4 will serve 4-6 people, depending on size and appetite.

Calories: 439kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 24gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 717mgPotassium: 484mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 57IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

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