Cilantro Lime Chicken~This zesty chicken is tender, moist and juicy and loaded with yummy fresh flavors. It’s wonderful served as a main dish or sliced on top of salads, or chopped as a taco filling.
Summer is here and that means it is time to grill.
Gosh, I love grilling. I love the process of prepping and heating the grill, I love being able to cook outside, and I love, love the smell of grilling meat.
Burgers and hot dogs are, of course, the grilling standard.
But I’ve always been a huge fan of grilled chicken.
I wanted to post this recipe because it’s one of my favorite grilled chicken recipes and I think a lot of us forget just how easy, fresh and delicious grilled chicken can be to prepare.
But give this recipe for cilantro lime chicken a try, and you’ll wonder why you aren’t grilling chicken every night. I’m not saying you will throw out your burgers and hot dogs; I’m just saying you might not need them anymore.
The star of this awesome recipe is the marinade.
This zesty cilantro lime chicken marinade is quick to prep and incredibly flavorful.
Marinating the chicken in cilantro, lime, and garlic yields a really full, robust flavor that’s only enhanced by a good, smoky charcoal grill. (You can use a gas grill with the recipe no problem, I just prefer charcoal in general. Or try using the oven for a delicious baked cilantro lime chicken. You can also use a GRILL PAN-to cook the chicken indoors.)
Once you’ve grilled up this juicy chicken recipe, you’ll understand why I prefer grilled chicken to plain ol’ burgers.
The cilantro lime marinade is a Southwest classic—and tastes like it. However, it’s not incredibly spicy.
Though my recipe doesn’t call for it, feel free to add some crushed red pepper flakes to up the spice a little. Be careful, though. A little red pepper goes a long way.
As with many Southwestern recipes, this grilled cilantro lime chicken is Mexican-inspired.
It’s easy to put together and doesn’t have an overly complicated recipe list.
Basically, it’s just lime, garlic, honey, and (of course) cilantro. But these simple ingredients combine to produce HUGE flavor.
The honey makes the chicken a little sweet and also balances the acidity of the fresh lime juice. Using cilantro and lime for this recipe is especially awesome because they add so much flavor, but don’t add a ton of extra calories.
Another reason I adore this recipe, is it makes a delicious chicken that’s flavors are versatile to use in other dishes.
It makes fabulous chicken tacos.
I just marinate and grill the chicken as normal, then chop it into chunks, and serve it on a warmed corn tortillas with my favorite salsa and other taco garnishes. This recipe is perfect for Taco Tuesday night at home, and is a huge improvement over the standard ground meat tacos mixed with a taco flavor spice envelope.
Another favorite variation is cilantro lime chicken kabobs. Cut the chicken into kabob-sized pieces and skewer them alongside your favorite kabob ingredients—cherry tomatoes, peppers, pineapple, and the like, then marinate the chicken as normal.
The delicious marinade will soak into your vegetables/fruits, and the chicken will take on some of their flavors as well.
Often, when I’m making this Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken, I make a few more pieces of extra chicken to use throughout the week in salads and sandwiches.
My recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can choose to leave the skin on if you like, but it will give the chicken a different texture. It will be crisper. I choose skinless chicken breasts because I prefer their lower fat content and I, personally, find it easier to cook on the grill. Now, I know a lot of people swear by grilling the chicken with the skin on to protect it from drying out during the grilling process. I agree that that technique does indeed help out a lot. But for me it comes down to the issue picking my battles. Over the grill, as the fat from the skin melt, it causes flare ups. For me, managing the flare ups is a bigger pain in the neck!
You can also substitute chicken thighs for the chicken breast if you prefer dark meat.
As any regular grill-master knows, grilled chicken is a hard thing to keep moist. It tends to char and dry out on the edges before it’s even cooked through. That’s why it’s critical to preheat the grill. Don’t put the chicken on until the grill is heated up.
If you choose to cut your chicken breasts into thinner slices (which I sometimes do if I’m planning to use them for kabobs or tacos), transfer them directly from the fridge to the grill. Don’t leave them sitting out on the counter. This will make sure the chicken doesn’t overcook before it can develop a nice, grilled texture.
With a little extra marinade for your cilantro lime chicken, crockpots can be your friend. Whisk up the marinade (something like a double or 2.5x recipe) in the crockpot itself, and add about 3 pounds of chicken. Cook until the chicken is very tender. This isn’t my preferred method though, because the chicken doesn’t get to absorb any of that great grill flavor.
Choosing a good side for this dish depends on how you’re serving it. If you choose to serve cilantro lime chicken tacos, consider a lime corn dish or even just plain old tortilla chips as a side.
If the chicken is “going solo” as the entrée, I really recommend some roasted or grilled potatoes. ( Tip: try cooking the potatoes in the same marinade as the chicken for a really unique potato dish that will mesh well with the chicken.) You can also serve cilantro lime rice with either variation of the dish.
When you make the marinade, remember to reserve 1/4 cup to pour over the chicken after it’s been cooked.
This is a “day ahead” recipe. Letting the chicken marinate overnight really ensures that the delicious flavor will be fully soaked into the chicken. In a pinch, the time can be reduced to 8 or even 6 hours. However, the chicken won’t be quite as flavorful. I really recommend using the whole 24 hours.
The beauty of this marinade is that it can be stored in a Ziploc bag and frozen for another use. Once raw chicken has been in the marinade, you won’t want to use it again-through it out! I like to make big batches of the marinade and set some aside to freeze and keep around. It gives me the option for a cilantro lime chicken freezer meal.
Source: Gonna Want Seconds
- Yield: Serves 6-8
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 16-18 minutes
Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts-Trimmed of Any Fat - 6-8
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1/2 Cup
- Fresh Lime Juice - 1/3 Cup
- Fresh Lime Zest - 2 Tablespoon
- Garlic, Minced - 6 Cloves
- Honey - 1 Tablespoon
- Cilantro Leaves, Chopped - 1 Cup
- Salt - 1 Teaspoon
- Black Pepper - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Ground Cumin - 1 Teaspoon
- Ground Coriander - 3/4 Teaspoon
- Place chicken breasts in a 1 gallon ziplock bag.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade and store in the refrigerator. Pour the rest of the marinade over chicken and seal the bag. Place the bag on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate 24 hours.
- Remove chicken breast from marinade (discard marinade), shaking off any extra, and cook on a preheated grill, about 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your chicken and the temperature of your grill, or until cooked through.