Mexican Lime Chicken Thighs are zesty and fresh. With a quick and easy cilantro lime chicken marinade, this recipe is one of the most flavor packed chicken recipes you will come across. Cilantro lime chicken thighs require minimal effort yet also tick the maximum taste and texture boxes too!
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Budget friendly: this is a reasonably cost effective recipe that won't set you back too far. You can also look for the chicken thighs when they are on special, purchase them and freeze them. Then grab them out one morning when you want an easy dinner.
- Simple ingredients: everything you need to make this recipe is an all year round ingredient. So you will be able to easily get your hands on what you need at your local grocery store.
- Quick to cook: for those busy night's when you have the kid's sporting commitments and everything coming at you during the day, knowing that dinner is not going to take much time can be a game changer. This easy chicken dinner recipe is the home run 😉👌.
- Family friendly: this is a dish that the whole family can enjoy together. I intentionally hold back on the quantity of the hot spices as to not create a 'too hot' or 'too spicy' dish.
- Taste sensation: even though this is not a recipe that takes hours to whip up, the citrus, herbs and spices give us a real yum for our money 🤣👌. You will all enjoy how much the chicken bursts with (literal juicy) flavors! 🥰
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Olive oil: we use a little bit of olive oil in the skillet to cook the chicken and to make sure it doesn't stick.
- Salt and pepper: we use cooking salt and a little black pepper as part of the seasoning for the chicken.
- Chilli powder: is the 1st of the 'Mexican spices' that goes into making the marinade. We use a little bit less of this than some of the other spices as we don't want the chicken to be 'too hot'.
- Garlic powder: so easy to use. We simply grab it from the pantry and measure the required amount 😉👍.
- Onion powder: as above, this ingredient saves us peeling, chopping and crying! It can dry out if you have it in the pantry but don't use it very often so check this before you head to the shops.
- Dried cilantro (also known as dried coriander): this works with the Mexican theme and provides great flavor in the recipe.
- Paprika: a vibrantly coloured spice that can be mild in flavor. You need to look for 'ground paprika'.
- Cumin: I find a little of this dried spice goes a long well and can overwhelm easily. For that reason, we use a smaller amount of this than the other spices.
- Limes: a beautiful ingredient to cook with. We get maximum value out of this lovely citrus by using both the zest and the juice of them.
- Olive oil: as well as using the oil to cook the chicken, we also use a small amount of olive oil in the chicken marinade.
- Cilantro: excellent to use in Mexican style cooking. We want to trim the leaves from the stems and then use kitchen scissors to chop the leaves. Aussies, yup I am talking about coriander.
- Chicken thighs: we want to use skinless, boneless chicken thighs for the recipe. You will be able to purchase them from the deli or the meat section.
Tasty Tip: I like to provide you with a number of substitutions and variations giving you an array of options when making my recipes. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section (further below) before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe which are coming next 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by zesting and juicing the limes.
- Zest the limes (Photo 1)
- Juice the limes (Photo 2)
- Gather the marinade ingredients (Photo 3)
- Add them to a bowl and stir to combine (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Mexican Lime Chicken
We start the recipe by using a microplane zest to zest the limes. Once that is done use a knife and chopping board to cut them in half and juice each half.
Next, gather the remaining ingredients to make the marinade.
Then add the chopped cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chilli powder, cumin, salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Next use kitchen tongs to place each one of the chicken thighs into the combined marinade. Then toss and stir so that each chicken thigh gets thoroughly coated in the marinade.
The next step is to pull a layer of cling film over the bowl and place the chicken into the fridge to marinade.
- Marinade the chicken (Photo 5)
We can let the chicken marinate from as little as 15 minutes.
Once it is done, remove the bowl from the fridge and discard the plastic wrap.
🍋 Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs
Then plate a large skillet onto the stove, pour the olive oil in and turn the heat to high.
Allow the oil to heat for a couple of minutes before using the tongs to place the chicken thighs into the pan.
- Cook chicken (Photo 6)
Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes on the 1st side and then flip to the other side and cook this side for 4-5 minutes.
Once done you can use the tongs to lift the chicken out and place it onto a paper towel lined chopping board whilst you get ready to serve it (always the best part of the process, right 😁).
🍽 Serving Suggestions
If we want to keep it easy all we need is some rice, leftover coriander and lime wedges. It is a simple combination that works.
Stepping it up one simple notch sees us pairing the dish with a homemade sauce and the one you see in the photos throughout the post is the Cilantro Lime Yogurt Sauce. It fits the theme very well.
You can also have a read of all of the homemade sauces on the blog, if you want to choose your favorite to make.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
The next day leftovers taste just as good if not better than same day you cooked them!
Store leftovers in a sealed, airtight container in the fridge. They can be kept for 2-3 days and need to be reheated before being consumed.
How to Freeze
You have a couple of freezer options for this recipe. The first is for convenience, you can purchase raw chicken thighs and freeze them. Then defrost and allow to thaw when you want to make the recipe.
Or you can make the marinade, add it and the raw chicken thighs to a ziplock plastic bag, push the air out, seal and lay flat in the freezer for 3 months. These are then best thawed before being cooked as per the recipe instructions. (An easy prep idea for night's that you know you will be super busy without time to start from scratch!)
For leftover marinated chicken thighs you can either freeze these in a sealed, airtight container or you can chop them up and repurpose them in a salad, sandwich, wrap or pizza topping.
How to Reheat
The microwave is the quickest and easiest method to reheat leftovers.
Simply pop them on a plate or container with cling wrap or lid and reheat on high for 2-3 minutes until warmed through.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- If you are pushed for time you can use a store bought packet of either taco seasoning, burrito seasoning or fajita seasoning.
- If you want to reduce the heat even further for little ones, you can half or omit the chilli powder and cumin used in the recipe.
- You can use this marinade to cook chicken breasts as well if you wish too. They will take longer to cook as they are thicker with a denser meat than the chicken breast. (Allow up to 10 minutes extra time).
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- Use kitchen tongs when handling the chicken thighs. This will let you be 'hands off'.
- No matter how hard I try, I always come close to loosing a nail or finger when I am zesting citrus fruit. However, the better quality the zester is the more zest you will get. So be a little gently when doing this step of the recipe 😉. I wouldn't want you too loose a finger too🤣!!
- If you are flat out and have 0 time. Skip marinating the chicken in the fridge. The texture and flavor of the marinade is enough that you will still have a plate of deliciousness to serve the gang.
- Once the chicken has cooked, use the tongs to lift it up and out of the skillet. Place it onto a paper towel lined chopped board and let it rest for 2-3 minutes being serving. (This allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat 😁👌.
- For an easy meal prep idea, you can make the chicken and once in the marinade, transfer it to a large zip lock plastic bag. Push the air out of it then seal and it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
What goes with cilantro lime chicken?
Rice, lime wedges, cilantro and a sauce is an excellent way to serve cilantro lime chicken. Jasmine rice, basmati or coconut rice are all good choices.
Is it safe to marinate chicken in lime juice?
Yes. Lime juice is an excellent ingredient to marinade chicken in. It is also safe to do so.
How long is too long to marinate chicken in lime?
The maximum time that I recommend you marinate the chicken for is 24 hours. Longer than this is unnecessary and risks spoiling the chicken.
😍 More Easy Chicken Dinner Recipes
Make it 'Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner' every night of the week with a variety of quick and easy recipes up your sleeve.
- Chicken Ribs (Baked then Grilled)
- Chicken and Chorizo Paella
- Chicken Noodle Stir Fry
- Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs
- Chili Lime Chicken Wings
- Honey Soy Chicken Stir Fry
- Chicken Spaghetti Bolognese
- Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Chicken Yaki Udon
It's time for getting our citrus on my friend. You can also find all of my dinner recipes in the one spot!
Mexican Lime Chicken
- ½ bunch coriander roughly chopped with kitchen scissors. Note 1
- ½ cup/125ml olive oil
- ½ cup lime zest Note 2
- ½ cup lime juice Note 3
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 6 chicken thighs Note 1
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Marinade: add the olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chilli powder, cumin, salt and pepper to a large bowl and use a mini whisk to stir and combine.
- Chicken thighs: use kitchen tongs to place each of the chicken thighs into the bowl and then stir and toss so that they are each covered in the marinade.
- Marinate: pull a layer of cling film over the bowl and place the chicken in the fridge to marinate.
- Cook chicken: place a large skillet onto the stove and turn the heat to high. Once the oil is hot, use kitchen tongs to transfer each chicken thigh into the skillet. Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes and then use the tongs to flip the thighs to the other side and cook them for a further 4-5 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the skillet and rest for 2-3 minutes on a paper towel lined chopped board.
- Portion and serve: serve the chicken with rice and garnish with cilantro, lime wedges and black pepper. Provide the Cilantro Lime Yogurt Sauce on the side (optional).
- Note 1 - Coriander (cilantro): we only use half of a bunch of cilantro for the marinade. You might however, like to use the other half for serving. Roughly chop the half that you are using for the marinade using kitchen scissors. Discard the stems, so it is only the leaves going into the mix.
- Note 2 - Lime zest: this is the zest of 4 limes. Use a microplane zester and watch your nails and fingers as they can get in the way!
- Note 3 - Lime juice: this is the juice of the 4 limes that we zested. Juice the limes after you have zested them with a small juicer.
Recipe published in July 2020. Updated in August 2023 with new photos and minor recipe alterations. If you want the original recipe give me a shout 😉👍.