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Lime Chicken Recipe

Welcome to your new favorite weeknight warrior: Grilled Lime Chicken! 

Bursting with zesty lime and infused with a medley of fresh garlic, honey, and smoked paprika, this dish promises to transport your taste buds straight to culinary bliss. 

A glistening platter of lime chicken with golden brown grill marks and cilantro leaves.

Quick enough for a weekday yet impressive enough for company, this recipe will guide you through the simple steps to achieve perfectly grilled, succulent chicken with a citrusy twist.

Get ready to fire up the grill and let’s create a meal that will be requested time and again!

Marinade Process & Cooking Guide

The recipe is made in two parts: the marinade which can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, and the grilling step. The marinade creates a family-friendly tender chicken that pops with citrus flavor. 

As a chef, this is an easy recipe, that I make often because it works with lots of different proteins– so it’s suitable for whatever you have in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s also fresh and inexpensive, healthy and relatively low-carb. 

You can enjoy it with my optional avocado salsa, or make batches of grilled lime chicken to throw on salads, in burritos, or serve with cilantro lime rice for a chipotle copycat bowl. 

How to Make The Grilled Lime Chicken Marinade

Throw all of the fresh ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Add in the chicken (we’re using chicken breast but this works with any cut of chicken, and even pork and shrimp).

Chicken breasts sitting in lime marinade in a bowl.
This easy cilantro lime chicken recipe gets more delicious when given a long soak in the marinade.

You can marinade for up to 2 days. Try marinating it the night before the day you intend to grill, for a bigger flavor experience.

How To Grill The Lime Chicken (Secrets of Great Grilled Chicken)

I’ve written a chef’s guide on grilling chicken over charcoal right here if you’d like a refresher.

Otherwise, this garlic lime chicken is so versatile you can grill it on any set-up. I primarily use a charcoal grill, but we also have a pellet smoker and gas grill that cooks this chicken beautifully.

You can use a flat-top griddle and get juicy chicken as well. During the cold months, you can also use a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat to develop a crispy skin on the hot skillet. 

Any way you choose, you will cook about 5-6 minutes per side, but here is the most important trickAlways prioritize getting at least one side golden brown.

Grilled lime chicken coated with glaze and fresh limes.

The best flavor comes from golden brown grill marks or a nicely seared golden brown chicken breast. It’s the golden brown that gives the chicken its flavor. 

Some beginner cooks try to get that golden brown on both sides and overcook the chicken.

When you are learning to grill, prioritize one side of great grill marks (or if you are cooking in a large skillet one well-seared side), and then flip the chicken.

Pull it off the heat immediately after the chicken hits the temperature-safe zone of 165° degrees F. This ensures juicy, perfectly cooked chicken. Chewy chicken comes from overcooking. 

FAQ/Questions:


What will I need to complete this recipe? 

Grocery Ingredients: 

Grab a shopping cart and wander the aisles. Here’s what you’ll need to make this great recipe. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for precise measurements.

  • Lime zest 
  • Fresh lime juice 
  • Garlic – Garlic powder will work as well. You’ll need 2 teaspoons for the chicken and/or about 1 teaspoon for the optional avocado salsa (I do recommend fresh garlic for the salsa, though).  
  • Salt 
  • Black Pepper 
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Smoked paprika – Looking for a little more heat? Go ahead and use cayenne pepper or chili powder instead.  
  • Honey 
  • Red pepper flakes – If you want a milder chicken dish, leave out the red pepper flakes.  
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – Boneless chicken thighs or pork chops would also be amazing. Just note that you may need to adjust the grilling time.  
  • Lime wedges 

If you want to make the optional avocado salsa you’ll also need:

  • Avocados 
  • Red onion – You can use any onion color you’d like.  
  • Roma tomatoes – Feel free to use a different kind of tomato. Halved cherry tomatoes would be pretty.  
  • Cilantro
the lime chicken topped with an avocado salsa, both healthy recipes
An easy way to doll up this lime chicken is with this easy avocado salsa, with only 4 ingredients.

You will need the following kitchen supplies:  

Take a quick look through your kitchen and make sure you have all of the tools and gadgets you need to turn this flavorful chicken recipe into a delicious reality. Here’s an inventory list for you.  

  • Grill (or grill pan) 
  • Measuring cups and spoons  
  • Mixing bowl 
  • Whisk 
  • Meat thermometer (optional but recommended) 
  • Charcoal or wood for your choice of grill

What Substitutions Work In This Easy Lime Chicken Recipe?

  • You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts (boneless thighs may cook faster)
  • The honey lime marinade works great with pork chops or shrimp
  • You can grill over an open flame such as a charcoal grill or gas grill, use a pellet smoker, or even use an indoor grill pan
  • You may swap out the cilantro for parsley or leave it out altogether if you aren’t a cilantro lover
  • You can use bone-in chicken thighs if you like dark meat or something more substantial to hold onto–cilantro lime chicken thighs are a great substitution for parties when we typically serve finger foods like chicken wings
a close up of glistening lime chicken in a skillet, one of the cooking method we discuss

What Should I Serve With Grilled Lime Chicken?

We love fresh sides with this dish as it’s light, simple and healthy. Some of our favorites include…

Storage Instructions For Lime Chicken

  • To store. Allow the chicken to cool and seal it in an airtight container. Seal the salsa in a separate airtight container. You can store both in your refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can store the chicken in the freezer for up to 3 months. The salsa will not freeze well without losing its texture and becoming watery, so I recommend making it fresh.  
  • To reheat. Thaw the chicken covered in your refrigerator and then arrange it in a single layer in a baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes or until the chicken is heated throughout. You can also microwave a chicken breast in 30-second intervals until warm. Serve the leftovers with fresh avocado salsa.  

Is Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Best Served Warm or Cold?

This bright, flavorful grilled chicken is best served warm with room-temperature (or chilled) avocado salsa. To learn how to reheat chicken that has gone cold, refer to the section above titled “Storage Instructions”. 

We do love this recipe served chilled with our black bean and corn salad with mexican vinaigrette, made out of simple ingredients that are easy to whip up for a meal prep lunch for work or school. 

golden brown chicken marinaded in lime and garlic marinade, topped with avocado salsa and presented on a black platter
The marinade creates a wonderful natural glaze on the chicken that works as a delicious sauce.

How Else Can I Cook The Chicken?

No grill or grill pan? No problem? Here are a couple of other ways you can cook these beautifully marinated chicken breasts.  

  • Oven. Arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer in a baking dish and bake at 375°F for 20-30 minutes or until the largest piece reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.  
  • Air fryer. Preheat an air fryer to 375°F and arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer in the basket. Air fry at 375°F for 15 minutes or until the largest piece reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. 
  • Crockpot. Place the marinaded chicken in the basin of a slow cooker, pour the marinade over it, and cook on low for 4 hours (or on high for 2 hours). Make sure the internal temperature of the largest piece of chicken reaches 165°F.  

Can I make this ahead of time and freeze it?

Totally! Whip up the marinade and mix it with the chicken in a large freezer bag. Seal the bag and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to enjoy, allow the chicken to thaw in the fridge before grilling it just as you normally would.  

Unfortunately, the avocado salsa in this recipe does not freeze/thaw well. So, your best bet is to make it fresh.  

Can I use Frozen Ingredients?

You can! Just make sure to thaw everything thoroughly and then pat it dry (a paper towel will do the trick) before using.  

Grilled Lime Chicken On A Platter
Yield: 3-4 Chicken Breasts

Grilled Lime Chicken Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Knock your socks off lime chicken made with an easy garlic lime marinade! Perfect for grilled chicken, burrito bowls, meal prep, and more.

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (3-4 breasts)
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges (for garnish)

For the Avocado Salsa (Optional Add-On)

  • 2 diced avocados
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 2 diced Roma tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Instructions

  • Marinade the chicken. In a large bowl whisk together the lime zest and juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cilantro, smoked paprika, honey, and red pepper flakes. Add the chicken to the bowl and coat it in the marinade. Cover the bowl and chill for an hour.  (This marinade can also be prepped ahead of time.)
  • Prep the grill. Heat the grill to medium heat and grease the grate with olive oil.  
  • Grill the chicken. Throw the chicken on the grill and grill for 4-5 minutes on either side or until the internal temperature of the largest piece of chicken reaches 165°F.  Prioritize one side getting nice grill marks and golden brown for max flavor.
  • Rest. Remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. 
  • Make the salsa. While the chicken is grilling and resting, make the salsa. To a large mixing bowl, add the avocado, onion, tomato, salt, pepper, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice. Toss gently until well combined.   
  • Serve. Serve the chicken warm topped with avocado salsa, chopped fresh cilantro, and lime wedges.  

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 606Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 193mgSodium: 973mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 9gSugar: 12gProtein: 74g

This nutritional information is provided as a courtesy as an estimate only. Consult with a dietician for precise estimates. This website makes no claims that the nutritional values listed are accurate.

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