Skip to Content

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

A quick marinade of lime, garlic, bright cilantro, and a touch of honey transforms boneless, skinless chicken thighs into just the juicy, tender surge of sunshine that your dinner routine needs.


Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

Juicily flavorful, and a cinch to make, we’re majorly in love with these stovetop-cooked, cilantro-lime chicken thighs. A quick marinade of lime juice and zest, chopped garlic, bright cilantro, and a touch of honey transforms boneless, skinless chicken thighs into the juicy, tender surge of sunshine that your dinner routine needs.

Tangy, sweet, herby and just a teeny bit spicy, the key to this delicious chicken is its magical cilantro-lime marinade. Obviously we love it on chicken thighs, but this marinade is one that you’ll want to memorize and use on so many things. Try rubbing on a whole chicken for a savory-citrusy roasted bird, or slather it on a meaty white fish like halibut before throwing it on the grill. There is no wrong way to use this marinade, other than sparingly.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs, raw in marinade in a glass bowl
Cilantro Lime Chicken Thigh marinade close up on a spoon

How to Cook Chicken Thighs in a Pan

While you could cook these lovelies just about any way you’d like to—in the summer they’d be great grilled over charcoal—we love the little bit of crisp crust that chicken thighs get when they’re simply and quickly cooked in a pan on top of the stove. Break out that cast iron skillet and get cooking! Here’s how:

  1. Use a large skillet. Ideally, you’ll be using a skillet that can comfortably fit all of your chicken thighs, so you’ll want to use the largest one you have, whether that’s a non-stick or a cast iron.
  2. Let your skillet heat up before you add the chicken. Give the pan time to warm up a bit, so that when the cilantro-lime marinated chicken hits the pan you hear a nice sizzle.
  3. Add the chicken! No oil needed—the chicken will be coated in a nice slick of oil from its time in the marinade, so you can just add it directly to a dry pan. Don’t crowd the chicken thighs—try not to have them touch each other in the pan. If they don’t all fit comfortably, no biggie! Just work in batches.
  4. Done! When the chicken thighs reach an internal temperature of 165°F, you’re done! Pull that chicken out of the pan, and get ready to tuck in.
Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs cooked in a pan

Are Chicken Thighs Bad for You?

Skinless, boneless chicken thighs are actually, arguably, better for you than chicken breasts! For a long time, they got a bad rap because they’ve got a marginally-higher fat content than chicken breasts. But, thanks to that bit of extra fat, they are way more flavorful (even without the skin) and are also higher in iron. We’re calling for chicken thighs in this recipe because they’re so juicy, they marinate quickly and reheat beautifully.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs in a cast iron pan with linen and spoon
Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs on a plate with limes

How to Serve Our Cilantro-Lime Chicken Breasts:

Garlicky, herby, limey chicken thighs are good on just about anything you can think of—their versatility is one of the many things we love about them. Keep things simple and serve these cilantro-lime chicken thighs with just a big salad, or mix it up a little. Here are a few of our favorite ways to serve them:

  • Take this chicken fajita bowlto the next level by swapping these chicken thighs for the chicken breast. YUM.
  • In these cheery, rainbow-colored chicken street tacos with mango slaw.
  • Make a big, cilantro-lime chicken-topped salad with lots of creamy avocado and a lime vinaigrette.
  • Our simple mole chicken enchiladas call for a store-bought rotisserie chicken, but would be SO crazy, over-the-top delicious if you used cilantro-lime chicken thighs instead.
  • Make nachos! Shred the chicken up and spread it on top of a sheet pan covered with tortilla chips. Sprinkle with loads of cheese and pop it into the oven just until the cheese has melted.
Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs in a pan with linen and spoon

If you make this dish, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories and tag @themodernproper and #themodernproper if you do. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the post and be sure to tell your friends where you discovered the recipe!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 370


  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 lbs chicken thighs, boneless, skinless


  1. In a large bowl mix the olive oil, garlic, honey, zest and juice of limes, cilantro, chili powder and salt pepper.
  2. Add the chicken to the marinade, stir to coat well. Marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours covered in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat a large cast iron pan, non-stick frying pan or a griddle over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the chicken thighs in a single layer, so they are not touching.
  5. Cook for 6 minutes on each side until the chicken thighs are cooked through, with an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. and no longer pink in the center.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories370
  • Protein39 g
  • Carbohydrates7 g
  • Total Fat20 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol190 mg
  • sodium761 mg
  • Total Sugars3 g

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Siretta

    Can I marinate all night

    Sure! Hope you enjoy SIretta!

  • Holly Koskinen

    On medium high heat they burned at 6 min. Guess I’ll just have to rotate 3min a side twice next time.

    Oh no sorry to hear that Holly! Your stove might run a tad hot. You could try turning it down a bit too and see if that works better.

  • Maria Miranda

    how much is one serving?

    3 lbs of chicken thighs is about 12 thighs. So one serving would be 2 thighs. Hope you enjoy Maria!

  • brianna

    hey! this recipe sounds great. however, i'm not at all into spicy foods. will eliminating the chili powder ruin the recipe?

    It would be as flavorful. You could try subbing it for a mild taco seasoning. We have a homemade taco seasoning on the blog that you could try.

  • Gaby dlg

    Can I marinate the chicken overnight?

    Absolutely, gaby!

  • Alejandra Fuentes

    Wow! Great marinade. I did tweak it a bit. I added about double the recommended amount of chilli powder, a sprinkle of cummin powder and a sprinkle of onion powder.
    I paired this with a cilantro white rice, and a corn salad (black beans, corn, cilantro, red onions, cucumbers with an avacado/lime vinegrette)! This was yummmmm! You can also grill this and serve it with cilantro rice, refried beans, sliced cucumbers and a tomatillo chille salsa.

    Thanks Alejandra, we are so glad you loved this recipe!

  • Jenna

    This helped me SO much with dinner last night! Thank you! It was delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t have real lime on hand; but it still tasted so good with just the juice. (Just an fyi in case you, like me, are flying in by the seat of your pants trying to figure out dinner for chicken thighs). I can’t wait to make it again (& again) with the proper ingredients. I did leave out the chili because I wasn’t sure if it would be too spicy for the babe. But again, it was so good. I got such a lovely char in the cast iron too and learned a tastier way to cook this cut. Such a beautiful website with delish recipes and a great ethos! So happy I found my way here!

    Thanks so much Jenna, yea re happy you found your way here too! So glad you loved this recipe!

  • Vanessa Lobdell

    Made this tonight and it was the most delicious chicken! One of the best marinades! This is going on rotation! We had it tonight with beans and fajita veggies and chipotle Banza rice. This would be great in tacos or fajitas. It will be my new fajita marinade for sure! Don’t think…make this now!

    Thanks Vanessa, so happy you loved it!

  • CharlestonSCBill

    I've been cooking, most of my life. Admittedly, I'm a northern boy with Irish roots. My wife is a "Girls Raised in the South" (GRITS girl). Our appreciation for food is, many times, at opposite ends of the spectrum. Pasta vs. rice, git-er-done vs low and slow. When we discuss meal planning, I'm often challenged with finding deliciously, satisfying recipes, that are out of my comfort zone. This is that recipe for this week. Basically, followed the recipe with these changes. Used a vacuum marinator which reduced the marinade time to 10 minutes, used bone-in skinless chicken thighs, and after the thighs had a good sear they were finished in a 350F oven for 15 minutes. Results were delicious. Recipe has been added to the current rotation.

    So happy to hear it's added to rotation and that you both loved it! Thank you so much for letting us know you enjoyed it!

  • LF

    This recipe is wonderful! I’ve made it several times. The leftovers are wonderful, we use them for tacos the next day.

    Thanks you so much! We are so glad you love this recipe and have made it so many times. Great idea using left overs for tacos, delicious!