Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

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Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken offers a fresh take on the classic grilled chicken by infusing tons of incredible flavor from fresh cilantro, lime juice, brown sugar, and garlic. Serve this dish alongside a salad or grilled vegetables for a mouth-watering meal!

250 CAL 6g CARBS 9g FAT 32g PROTEIN 3

If you’re looking for a new grilled chicken recipe to add to your repertoire, then this is the one to try out. This Cilantro Lime Chicken is super simple to whip up and loaded with mouth-watering flavors from the easy cilantro, lime, and garlic marinade. And the best part? You can save the leftover sauce and use it as a salad dressing, on burgers, and even on tacos. Trust me, you won’t want to let a single drop go to waste.

While I absolutely love the smoky flavors you get from cooking this cilantro chicken recipe on the grill, you can cook it in the oven or on the stove if you don’t feel like firing up the grill. Not a fan of cilantro? Swap it out for parsley or basil—you’ll still love this easy grilled chicken! Don't miss all our delicious grilling recipes.

You can pair this dish with any of your favorite summer side dishes like grilled veggie skewers, whole wheat pasta, potato salad, rice, or a tasty salad. No matter how you choose to serve this grilled chicken, I guarantee you’re going to fall head over heels with this crave-worthy dish.

Grilled chicken breast with cilantro lime sauce served in a bowl with fresh cilantro.

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken Ingredients

To make this recipe, you’ll need the following key ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts: I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you can easily swap them out for chicken thighs or drumsticks instead. If using drumsticks, they will need more time to cook.
  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro (stems and leaves) adds a tremendous amount of fresh, herbaceous flavor to the marinade we coat the chicken with. If you don’t like the taste of cilantro, try using fresh parsley or basil for a different flavor profile.
  • Lime juice: Deliciously bright and bold, fresh lime juice adds a tangy flavor that brightens up the dish while providing acidity that helps to break down and tenderize the meat.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil in a marinade is always a good idea. Not only does it prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill, but it’s also a vehicle for all the other flavors. Avocado oil would work well as an alternative to olive oil.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic adds a delicious flavor to the marinade.
  • Brown sugar: This is optional, but I love adding a little brown sugar. It adds a layer of depth to the marinade and helps to caramelize the grilled chicken. Honey or maple syrup would work as well.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

I may not be a total grill master, but I’ve definitely picked up my fair share of tips and tricks along the way. Here are some of my favorites to help you get the best-tasting grilled cilantro lime chicken:

  • If you have the time, I highly recommend marinating the chicken for 8-24 hours for maximum flavor and juiciness.
  • If you’re running short on time, consider butterflying your chicken to give the marinade more surface area to work with. You could also try injecting the marinade if you’re feeling fancy or just lightly poke your chicken with a fork to help the marinade seep in.
  • To avoid dry, overcooked meat, use an instant-read meat thermometer. We want the center of the meat to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit for best results.
  • Play around with your marinade by incorporating your favorite spices and herbs. If you want to turn up the heat a little, add in some cayenne pepper or chili powder. Want more smoke? Add a dash of smoked paprika or cumin.
  • Transform your grilled chicken into delicious kebabs by cutting them into bite-sized pieces and skewering them with colorful veggies like bell peppers and red onions. It’s an easy way to customize this recipe for a summer BBQ party and turn this chicken into a complete meal.
  • Double up the flavor with this creamy cilantro lime sauce.

Cilantro grilled chicken breast with dark brown grill marks on a bowl with extra lime marinade, cilantro, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper on the side/

Side Dish Ideas for Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

There are so many dishes that pair well with this grilled chicken that it’s hard to decide which ones to share. Most of the time, I find myself serving this dish with easy and healthy sides like Garlic Grilled Broccoli and brown rice or roasted potatoes.

Other great options to serve witht grilled chicken include this Mango Salsa, Baked Sweet Potato Fries, and Mexican Street Corn.

If you have leftover chicken, save it to use for Grilled Chicken Tacos or Chicken Taco Bowls. It's also great for wraps, and salads throughout the week. That flavorful cilantro lime sauce is guaranteed to enhance anything you pair with this dish!

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

Grilled cilantro lime chicken stores like a dream, making it ideal for meal prep and making ahead of time. All you need to do is place the pieces in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. To store your cooked chicken for longer, pop it into the freezer for up to 3 months.

Because this recipe benefits from a longer marinating time, you can easily make it a day in advance and let the marinade soak into the chicken overnight. If you’re getting ready to host guests, this is a great way to take some of the work off your plate on the day of the event and it’ll make the chicken taste even better. It’s a win-win!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this grilled cilantro lime chicken recipe:

If your grilled chicken is dry, then you’ve probably overcooked it. Make sure to let the chicken come to room temperature before grilling and only grill for 4-6 minutes on each side. Using a food thermometer is also a really helpful way of preventing overcooked meat.

Lime juice is highly acidic, so it helps to break down the proteins in chicken which tenderizes the meat. This helps to ensure that the chicken is as juicy and tender as possible, which is why you want to marinate the chicken for at least an hour before grilling it.

To make this grilled chicken paleo-friendly, just leave out the brown sugar. Then, serve the dish with your favorite side salad or some grilled veggies and cauliflower rice. Just like that, you’ve got the ultimate paleo-friendly dinner!

Cilantro lime sauce being poured on grilled chicken in a white bowl.
The Recipe
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Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

250 CAL 6g CARBS 9g FAT 32g PROTEIN 3
PREP TIME: 1 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 1 Hours, 15 Min
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  • 1.33 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar (leave out for low carb/Paleo/Whole30)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

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Cut the chicken into thick strips or cutlets. Add the cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, water, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cumin, and red pepper flakes to a food processor or blender. Pulse until combined. Set half the sauce aside and marinate the chicken in the remaining sauce for at least one hour.

Lime juice being added to a food processor.

Set half the sauce aside and marinate the chicken in the remaining sauce for at least one hour.

Chicken breast marinating in cilantro and lime sauce in a white dish.

When ready to grill, remove the chicken from marinade letting excess drip off. Grill for 4-6 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through. Drizzle remaining sauce on the chicken and serve.

Cilantro lime marinated chicken being cooked on a grill pan.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 250
Calories from Fat 74
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 74mg
Sodium 647mg
Total Carbohydrate 6g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 4g
Protein 32g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
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May 10, 2022 - 19:49
Add a Rating:
Absolutely delicious!
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pamela gorman
August 14, 2016 - 15:09
Add a Rating:
My family devoured this! I substituted Splenda for the brown sugar and used skinless chicken breast (cut into thick strips). Even our "I don't like cilantro - or anything green, really" teen LOVED this (I omitted my mention of the cilantro in the marinade/sauce and made sure to liquefy it good in my Nutribullet so no tell-tale leaves could be observed). Biggest compliment was being asked if they could take some of the leftovers home. When does that happen?! LOL.
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Hillary P
May 10, 2022 - 19:51
My daughter (who doesn't necessarily like green foods lol) also loved this! She asks for it every now and then. Happy to have an easy, healthy option to offer! Thanks for creating this recipe!
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