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Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

June 7, 2024

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

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cilantro lime chicken thighs on a serving platter garnished with cilantro and lime wedges
Photography by Gayle McLeod

A Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade For Many Tasty Meals

Garlicky, herby, lime chicken thighs are good on just about anything you can think of—their versatility is one of the many things we love about them. Serve these cilantro-lime chicken thighs with an Asian Chopped Salad and Cilantro Lime Rice, or plain White Rice, or use them in any meal you want to add extra flavor to (more on that below).

chicken thighs, cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, honey, olive oil & spices in prep bowls

Ingredients You’ll Need For Cilantro Lime Marinade For Chicken

  • Garlic – It always starts with garlic! Mince six cloves for this marinade.

  • Honey – A little touch of sweetness, just one tablespoon, to balance out the tartness of the lime.

  • Lime Zest + Lime Juice – You’ll need two fresh limes, or squeeze more and make yourself a Spicy Margarita while you’re cooking!

  • Fresh Cilantro – Mince a handful of cilantro leaves. We recommend pulling the leaves from the stems first as a textural preference.

  • Chili Powder – We call for two tablespoons of chili powder, and if you’re not a fan of spice you can halve this amount.

olive oil, garlic, honey, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, chili powder, salt, and pepper. in a glass bowl
marinade made with olive oil, garlic, honey, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a glass bowl
chicken marinating in olive oil, garlic, honey, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl
cilantro lime chicken being cooked in a cast iron skillet

How To Cook Chicken Thighs In A Pan

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, and in the summer they’re great grilled over charcoal. 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 on an instant-read thermometer, you’re done! Using tongs, pull that chicken out of the pan, and get ready to tuck in.

cilantro lime chicken thighs being cooked in a cast iron skillet
cilantro lime chicken thighs being cooked in a cast iron skillet

How to Serve Our Cilantro-Lime Chicken

  • Try rubbing the marinade 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.

  • Take this Chicken Fajita Bowl to the next level by swapping these chicken thighs for the chicken breast.

  • 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 this Thai Salad Dressing.

  • Our Simple Mole Chicken Enchiladas call for a store-bought rotisserie chicken, but would be so delicious if you used cilantro-lime chicken thighs instead.

  • Make Salsa Verde Chicken 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 on a serving platter garnished with cilantro and lime wedges

More Bright + Flavorful Chicken Recipes From The Modern Proper

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Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

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

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice, from 2 limes
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, honey, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, chili powder, salt, and pepper.

  2. Add the chicken to the marinade, and turn to coat well. Let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes or refrigerated covered for up to 2 hours.

  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the chicken thighs in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes per side.

  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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.

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  • Michelle

    Can I do this with bone in skin on thighs?

    Sure! They will take longer to cook so just be aware of that.

  • Meg

    Can this meal be frozen and reheated at a later time?

    sure!

  • dev

    This looks so good! Any sides or veggie sides that you recommend?

    White or brown rice with perfectly roasted broccoli. Or you can use it in tacos or or fajita burritos bowls. Hope you enjoy!

  • Ana

    Can you roast these in the oven instead of cooking in a skillet?

    Sure! Hope you enjoy Ana!

  • Pam

    Tasty, but the marinade made my frying pan charred and black and that got onto the next pieces of chicken I tried to cook...none of the pieces got cooked all the way through with this method so I had to throw some into a small baking dish and the rest onto a parchment covered baking sheet and I had to place them in the oven to get them cooked all the way through. Well, the marinade got underneath the parchment and left a messy black charred residue on it that won't budge even with a good soaking. One big mess and created extra work and clean-up for me. What am I doing wrong? My frying pan is nonstick. Seems to me there is no way to avoid this because the marinade contains honey and lime juice and it just burns right off the bat.

    Sorry to hear this was your experience Pam! It sounds like maybe your pan was too hot. Try at a lower temperature and you can oil the skillet if needed before putting the chicken in it to avoid sticking. As for the oven oil your pan to avoid sticking.

  • Amanda

    Delish! I ran out of fresh cilantro and used 2 tablespoons dried cilantro instead. I thought this might ruin the recipe, but it was still so good. Even my kids liked it. I'll be adding this to my meal rotation for sure.

    YAY! So happy the family enjoyed it, thanks Amanda!

  • Kelly

    I made this last night...I didn't have thighs, so I used sliced chicken breast. Served it with coconut rice and steamed broccoli. Amazing!!!!

    Thanks Kelly, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Wendy

    First recipe review I have ever written. Delish! Followed this recipe exactly as written except, I BBQ'd the thighs. Made cilantro-lime rice and we had nothing left. Moved into the rotation.

    We feel so honored you'd take the time to leave a review, thank you Wendy! We are so happy you loved it!

  • Amanda

    My husband is pickyyyy and he rated this in his top 3. You ladies never disappoint. Absolutely delicious!!

    WOW! We are so honored, so glad you guys loved it Thank you!

  • Maggie

    This was delicious! The marinade smelled so good that I made another half batch while the chicken was in the fridge and mixed it with some cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions for a really yummy salsa to go with the chicken!

    So glad you loved it Maggie! Love that you tossed extra marinade with veggies YUM!