July 15, 2020

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

These Cilantro lime chicken thighs are perfectly juicy, just a little crispy, and full of flavor. Not only is this recipe delicious, it is incredibly easy to make and will take you no time to whip up. Meal prep these chicken thighs in advance for an easy lunch or make them for a quick weeknight dinner.

Flavorful and Juicy Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

You can never have too many chicken marinades, am I right? I’m not sure about you, but chicken is one of the most frequently cooked and eaten sources of protein in my house. While I also try to eat a wide variety of meat and seafood each week, if I am really in a pinch, and just cannot seem to figure out what to make for dinner that night, I always have a pack of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the freezer that I can cook.

We all know that chicken without the right seasoning can be boring which is why you need this cilantro lime chicken recipe in your life. The chicken is marinated in a delicious marinade made with fresh garlic, lime juice, chopped cilantro, and spices. Once the chicken is marinated, it is perfectly cooked until a little crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

This recipe is a great one to have in your pack pocket and the marinade would also work well on shrimp or pork. It is naturally gluten free, easy to make, and Whole30 compliant.

Reader Favorite Chicken Recipes

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade Ingredients

Cilantro lime marinade in glass bowl with silver spoon

Olive Oil: The base of this marinade is olive oil. Choose a great tasting olive oil that you love.

Cilantro: Lots of freshly chopped cilantro is included in the marinade as well as sprinkled on top of the chicken after it is cooked.

Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice adds such brightness to the marinade and works well with the flavor of the cilantro.

Fresh Garlic: Freshly minced garlic is always best and adds so much flavor to the marinade.

Red Pepper Flakes: Feel free to leave these out if you do not like a little heat.

Salt, Pepper, and Spices: Any good chicken marinade must have salt and pepper. This marinade also includes cumin and paprika.

Tools You’ll Need to Make This Recipe

How to Make the Best Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

cilantro lime marinade with chopped cilantro on top in a glass bowl

Step One: Add all of the ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.

Step Two: Next, add the chicken thighs to a large bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and use kitchen tongs to toss the chicken until it is well coated in the marinade. If you are running short on time, let the chicken marinate for up to fifteen minutes at room temperature. If you have a bit more time, cover the bowl and let the chicken thighs marinate for up to two hours in the fridge.

chicken marinading in glass bowl with cilantro lime marinade

Step Three: Once your chicken is done marinating, it’s time to cook. The great thing about chicken thighs is that they are hard to overcook, unlike chicken breast. They are a great option if you are still perfecting your chicken cooking skills. You can cook these chicken thighs in a skillet on the stove top or on a grill, whichever you prefer.

To make these on the stove top, heat your skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add a teaspoon of oil to the pan. There is already a good amount of oil on the chicken from the marinade, so you won’t need to add a lot of extra oil to the pan. Next add the chicken thighs and cook for five to six minutes per side or until no longer pink and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Step Four: Once the chicken is finished cooking, transfer it to a serving dish. Finish off the chicken with and extra squeeze of fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.

Tips and Tricks for Perfectly Cooked Chicken Thighs

  • Make sure your chicken thighs are completely submerged in the marinade to ensure that they have a chance to soak up all of that juicy marinade.
  • Do not be afraid of a hot pan. When you add your chicken to the skillet, it should audibly sizzle. Making sure you have a hot pan will ensure that the chicken develops a delicious and slightly crispy outer crust.
  • Leave those chicken thighs alone! When you first add the chicken to the pan, you may feel tempted to move it around but don’t. Once you add the chicken to your hot skillet, leave it alone and allow it to cook, without moving it, for a full five minutes without moving it before flipping.
  • Avoid overcrowding the pan when cooking the chicken. You do not want the chicken thighs to be touching or crowded together in the pan when cooking. This helps the chicken to develop that delicious brown crust. If your pan cannot accommodate all of the chicken thighs at one time without being crowded, cook the chicken in batches.

Can I Use Chicken Breast Instead of Thighs?

Yes! While I love the juicy-ness of chicken thighs works so well in this recipe, if you prefer, you can use chicken breast instead. If using chicken breast, be sure to adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts. They will be fully cooked when they are no longer pink and their internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

What to Serve with the Chicken

cilantro lime chicken thighs on white plate with lime slices and fresh cilantro


Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free
  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Add all of the ingredients, except the chicken thighs, to a small mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.
  2.  Next, add the chicken thighs to a large mixing bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and use kitchen tongs to toss the chicken until it is well coated in the marinade. Let the chicken marinate for 15 minutes uncovered or for up to 2 hours, covered, in the fridge.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add a teaspoon of oil to the pan.  Next add the chicken thighs and cook for five to six minutes per side or until no longer pink and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  4. Once the chicken is finished cooking, transfer it to a serving dish. Squeeze extra fresh lime juice and sprinkle chopped cilantro over the chicken before serving. Enjoy!



Prep time includes 15 minute marinade time

Keywords: chicken thighs, cilantro lime chicken thighs, cilantro lime chicken, cilantro lime marinade


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  1. There isn’t a recipe that I don’t love on this website!!! Ashlea has a true talent to make the most delicious tasting recipes that are always so flavorful. My family always loves what I make from ATHT! So grateful I found her page years ago! This is one of our staples! Thank you Ashlea!!

  2. i made this recipe twice in a row, because i didnt get any leftovers from the first batch. THATS HOW AMAZING THIS IS. Thank you for creating this beautiful recipe.

  3. Hii I’m going to make this for dinner tonight! But I want to bake them. Do you think everything will still retain the same?

    • Hi, Amy! you can definitely bake these. I’d recommend broiling them for 1-2 minutes at the end if you’d like them to be a little crisp!

  4. Made these a couple days ago, and they were AMAZING. Would recommend 100%. Absolutely DELICIOUS. Thank-you for sharing! 😊

  5. This is quite flavorful. Thank you for the recipe. I loved that if you only had 15 min to marinade it was still flavorful. Next time I’l plan ahead. Easy and delich.

  6. I made this recipe tonight and cooked my chicken thighs in the air fryer. They were so flavourful and moist, one of the best chicken marinades I’ve ever tried. I will definitely use this recipe again. One note, I used only about 1lb of chicken thighs, so I cut the oil in half but kept the other measurements as is and it worked just fine. There was also quite a bit of leftover marinade in the bowl, so I think the grams of fat per serving in the nutrition breakdown is potentially an overestimate.

  7. The first time I made this recipe, I literally threw out my precious chicken for tacos recipe. These are so delicious and versatile. I use the chicken for burrito bowls, taco night, salads, everything. This recipe is going in my favorites! Thanks Ashlea!

  8. Cannot recommend this recipe enough! The marinade is so easy to make and the finished project is incredibly delicious!!

  9. Highly recommend this marinade! Made it tonight and served to my family in tacos with a side of Mexican street corn. I’m GF so had mine on top of a salad with romaine and lacinato kale, also topped with the street corn situation. Got thumbs up from both kids, which is a miracle in itself. So nice to have another recipe for our rotations since we love chicken thighs!

  10. Incredible! I let the chicken marinade 24 hours and then we threw them on the grill with some veggies. The flavor was perfect. I will make this all summer!

  11. Delicious recipe but I suggest seasoning your chicken lightly with seasoned salt , black pepper and sea salt for more flavor .

    • Hi, Amber!The marinade includes plenty of slat and pepper and takes care of all the flavor so there’s no need to add additional salt. Of course, you’re welcome, to add a bit more seasoning when you make the recipe to suite your individual tastebuds. So glad you loved the recipe!

  12. We loveeeee this recipe, especially once grilling season rolls around. I have made them inside using my cast iron skillet, just be prepared for the smoke! Easy and great for meal prepping since you can easily double the recipe.

  13. We love this recipe, such great flavor and so many ways to use this chicken. Thank you for an amazing recipe!

  14. I’ve made this recipe more than once. My boyfriend asked for healthy food and I found this delicious chicken thigh recipe. My boyfriend will ask, if I’m making this because he loves it! I’m going to cook potatoes parmesan herb with this tonight.

  15. These are soooo good! So easy to make for a weeknight dinner, and so flavorful. They were a bit salty for our taste so next time I’ll cut down on the salt a bit, but otherwise they were fantastic and will definitely be going into my rotation.

  16. These are so good! I make them all the time. Follow directions exactly then cook in my cast iron pan. I make large batches, they are so versatile that you can then use them in a number of ways. Cut up for tacos/quesadillas, eat as is with veggies, make rice bowls, etc.

  17. I opted to make this baked at 400F for 30mins (or until internal was 165F) on a baking sheet with parchment paper because I didn’t want to grill or make a mess with splattered oil on the stove. SO YUMMY and easy clean up!

    I served with Mexican corn and salad.

  18. Great recipe that comes together as easy and tasteful as it looks!! Definitely a new addition to my weekly rotation

  19. Made this for my husband and nephew. Used thighs and drumsticks. It was very flavorful but I tried doing it in the oven and overcooked it a little. Any suggestions on the ovenother than grilling or skillet? Could it possibly be browned in the skillet quickly and then finished in a crockpot wth a little of the marinade. Have a problem with my back and standing a long time is not easy…thus the oven. Delicious healthy tecipe. Thank you, Gail

  20. This recipe is so delicious! I had the chicken thighs on top of linguine pasta and it didn’t disappoint at all. I used a grill pan due to not having a grill, and the skin on the chicken thighs were so crispy! The marinade is so simple, can’t wait to add this to my weekly dinner meals rotation.

  21. This recipe is incredible! The chicken is so juicy and flavorful. I ended up doing half chicken thighs and half chicken tenderloins. I also grilled them for about 4-5 mins a side and it was perfection. Thanks for an awesome recipe! This will be a go-to in my house!!!

  22. This recipe is AMAZING!! I made it for the first time last week using chicken breasts because that’s all I had on hand, and I ended up marinading them overnight due to time constraints. I was blown away by the flavor!! I have another recipe for cilantro lime chicken that I’ve made in the past but I really loved the spicy little kick that comes from the red pepper flakes, cumin and paprika in this recipe. I will definitely be making these again and for sure will try with chicken thighs next time!

  23. Great chicken recipe and it’s EASY! The chicken was flavorful and moist. The marinade was so quick to prepare. Definitely going to make again.

  24. Made this tonight with roasted cauliflower and black beans; absolutely delicious! Definitely making this a staple in our dinners!

  25. Made this for the first time tonight and bbq’ed it, it was delicious! I added it to my burrito bowl and will absolutely be making it again!!

  26. So good! I’d been wanting to try these for a while and finally got around to it. So glad I did bc these are seriously delicious. Even tossed them on top of some plain spaghetti squash and they were delicious.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Melinda! Serving them alongside spaghetti squash sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

  27. I have to say! These were impressive!! Delicious, I know I will make again and again. Time to look up some more of your fabulous recipes!


    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Linda! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

    • I’m so glad you liked the recipe, Judy! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  28. House full of foodies gave this all the thumbs up! I do t think I can make my chicken thighs any other way. We doubled up this recipe and ate it in a salad and and as an entree with a side of cauliflower rice. So good!! We are big fans. ❤️

    • I’m so glad everyone loved this recipe, Leslie! Using the extras for salads and serving it along with cauliflower rice sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

  29. So flavorful and easy! My husband tasted it and said “wow!” This will definitely be in the recipe rotation. Thanks!

    • Happy to hear that, Amanda! So glad to hear this has become a favorite for y’all! Thanks for sharing!

  30. I made this for dinner and my family died. I’ve been making food blogger’s recipes for the last three years and this just may be the best one yet! The flavor was UNREAL!!!

    • Yay! Happy to hear that, Beth! I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  31. We have made this recipe so many times and it is always a family favorite of both adults and kids! We usually use chicken breasts or a mix of thighs/breasts and after marinating for a few hours throw the chicken on the grill. Perfection!

    • So happy it’s become a staple for y’all, Abby! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  32. Well, I guess I never have to go to Chipotle again. This recipe is incredible. The chicken turned out so flavorful and tender and it reheats beautifully. This will definitely become a staple in my repertoire.

  33. This was terrific. We both loved it. And it was so simple to put together with ingredients I had on hand.

    • I’m so glad you all loved it, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  34. These were so delicious. I wish I doubled the recipe. There were no leftovers! My family wants this in the rotation on a regular basis. Thank you for a great easy weeknight meal.

    • You’re so welcome, LaShelle! I’m so glad this has become a regular favorite for you and your family! Thanks for sharing!

    • So glad this has become a regular favorite for you, Aby! Thank you for sharing!

  35. This was the best cilantro lime recipe I’ve ever tried! It turned out amazing and the taste was so flavorful and light. I paired it with the corn avocado salsa recipe and some sauteed bell peppers into a salad bowl and it was delicious. Thank you for this fantastic recipe!

  36. WOW. This was delicious and so simple. Marinade would be amazing on so many things. A keeper for sure.

    • I’m so glad you liked the recipe, Bethany! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  37. My boyfriend is picky when it comes to chicken. He said “this is so good, I could eat this every night”. I ended up baking them then then broiling them. They turned out great.

  38. I’m embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I cooked chicken thighs. I have NO idea what I’ve been waiting for, but thank you for this recipe and for pushing me to chicken thighs, I’m pretty sure my life changed when I took the first bite of this. INCREDIBLE flavor, they actually reminded me of one of my favorite Mexican places that is no longer around. My favorite thing about your recipes is none of them are hard and they ALL pack in a ton of flavor. Keep it up, grateful for you and your recipes!

  39. I’ve made this recipe countless times, and I never get sick of it! So tasty. So easy. And it pairs super well with veggies or rice. Delish!

  40. One of my absolute favorite chicken marinades! The chicken is packed with flavor and very versatile. I’ve used it on anything from salads to rice bowls and it turns out amazing every time!

  41. This was one of my favorite recipes I’ve made. I wish I made more chicken because the marinade is amazing!

  42. One of my new favorite go to reciepes! My husband likes to keep limes on hand so when we play the “what do you want for dinner” game, I can make this in a pinch! It’s great over rice, in salads, with veggies, with refried beans… It’s just great! Thank you for sharing!!

  43. My dad absolutely adored this recipe. He said it was the best chicken he’s ever had. Very tasty recipe 🙂

  44. We just made this tonight, and already my husband is making up happy songs about how tasty dinner was! That, my friends, makes this a resounding success. This was super easy to prepare and cook with minimal cleanup. The marinade makes the thighs SO delicious. I can definitely see this going into our regular weeknight rotation.

  45. These chicken thighs are amazing! I’ve made this recipe twice now. It’s super easy & incredibly flavorful. My 7-yr-old ate 3 chicken thighs!!!! She says this is her favorite meat!

  46. Okay, this is delicious. I’ve tried it two ways, one in its original form and one with all the marinade ingredients blended, which was a fun alternative. The point is that this recipe is amazing. So simple and yummy. And we will definitely be “repeat customers”.

  47. We loved this recipe and it’s definitely going to be a new go-to! I marinaded for two hours then cooked in my cast iron grill pan and the chicken thighs were so flavorful and moist. I can’t wait to try on the grill next spring! Mine didn’t look quite as pretty as Ashlea’s but they were delicious nonetheless.

  48. Really exceptional!! Beyond delicious, really easy, beautiful dish. Great for company or delicious on your dinner table! Thank you!!

  49. Another winner – I loved how easy this was to throw together and turned out really flavorful. We grilled the chicken – half after about 1.5 hours marinating, and half after about 25 hours marinating. The longer marinate was more flavorful so don’t be afraid to leave them in there for longer.

  50. Delicious recipe! Chicken was so tender and these ingredients are ones I usually have around. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out great.

  51. Good morning 🥰 I can’t wait to try this recipe it looks delicious 😋. I’m so glad that I found you on Pinterest.
    Thanks for sharing such delicious and healthy recipes.
    Have a bless day, also I’m from Mooresville, North Carolina! 😁

  52. I made this for dinner and the whole family loved it. It will definitely be a regular in our dinner rotation. Very easy to prep and cook. Wonderful flavor!

  53. This recipe was so easy to make! My husband doesn’t like cooking but decided to make this recipe for dinner and realized how easy and quick cooking dinner can be!

  54. These were incredible! Not super complicated to make, quick cook time and AMAZING flavor. Will make this recipe again soon!

  55. I’ve made this recipe a few times – both with the 15min marinating time and a couple of hours – and it’s been fantastic every time! Served it with homemade peach pico and it was delicious.

  56. I make this every weekend to use for the week in my lunches. I like to marinate it for 4 hours to really get that good lime flavor. It’s so easy and fast and delicious! The kids even like it! I highly recommend.

  57. This recipe was delicious and full of flavor!!! We will definitely have this again soon! Thank you!

  58. I ate this everyday for 6 days straight because it was THAT good. I have not always been the most health conscience person (my nickname is Snacks), but I feel great that this site has healthy recipes that taste good AND is health conscience. Awesome recipe that pairs well with quite a few sides!

  59. Yet another winner from ATHT! I had planned to make your beef burrito bowls but groceries were picked up midday and by then I wasn’t feeling prepping the crockpot! I have plans for next week. So I was searching for something a bit quicker that could be served similarly and this was exactly what I was after. I used bone-in skin on chicken thighs and it worked just as well. I don’t use chicken thighs very often but I need to start – need to perfect my cooking time etc. Anyway, this was delicious and I used the left overs to make a chicken burrito bowl the following day. I love your site, and your recipes and just went on a commenting spree because seriously it’s so well deserved. Keep it up. Will let you know how the beef burrito bowls go (might also switch to the sweet potato boats..gah so many to try!)

  60. This is such an awesome way to make chicken thighs!! Incredibly flavorful and my family ate ’em all up!!! Served with Avocado Corn Salsa – YUMMMMM!!!!

  61. This is SO flavorful and I love it! The marinade comes together quickly and doesn’t require hours in the fridge. This will definitely be in my regular menu rotation. Thank you!

  62. Delicious, fast and easy! Everyone liked it. Served it with coconut rice and the Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing from this website. Delicious combo!

  63. Made this tonight. So freakin’ good! also made the avocado corn salad as a side. tastes like summer.

  64. This marinade!! So good! We decided to grill the thighs since that’s our summertime go-to. Another winner to add to the dinner rotation!

  65. This marinade is the best!! We grilled ours and they were absolutely delicious. 10/10 highly recommend!

  66. So quick, easy and most importantly delicious! Definitely adding this as a go-to dinner staple!! We had the avo-corn salad and rice as a side. My husband said it was one of his favorite meals!!

  67. Amazing! Super clean, easy, quick and MASSIVE flavor. During this time of COVID I’m working on grad school applications while my husband brings home the bacon – from his office in the house. I’m caring for US <3 Providing super clean nutritious meals – you're an angel. Thank you! I made this for lunch today with a side of rice and big salad. I'm becoming the home cook I always wanted to be. (thanks covid? – well, yeah, thanks) xo

  68. So delicious and flavorful, and smelled amazing!I used chicken breasts since that’s all we had, but they still turned out great. I served with baked sweet potatoes and veggies this time, but I think this would be awesome in tacos or taco bowls. Definitely a recipe to add into our rotation!

  69. DELICIOUS!!! This chicken was so good. Chopped up the chicken for Taco Tuesday along with avocado, pickled onions, and radish. *chef’s kiss*

  70. We made this on Sunday afternoon and it was amazing! I have always been scared of cooking chicken thighs, but Ashlea convinced me to branch out with this recipe. It was super simple and I get the chicken marinate for a few hours before cooking just because that is what my schedule allowed. These cooked up in no time and WERE SO DANG GOOD! Full of flavor with a little spice. These will make it into the weekly rotation for sure. Thanks Ashlea!!!

  71. Loved them. The chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside and tender inside and the flavor was out of this world! My husband was so sad there weren’t seconds😊making these again soon!

  72. Tried this marinade last night, all the flavors I love! Definitely will be using this recipe again.

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