July 15, 2020

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

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.

Cilantro lime chicken thighs on a white plate with sliced limes, topped with cilantro, and a fork on the side of the plate

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
  • Diet: Gluten Free
  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • 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. 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.

  2. 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! 😁

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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!)

  11. 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!!!!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

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

  15. 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!

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

  17. 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!!

  18. 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

  19. 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!

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

  21. 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!!!

  22. 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!

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

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