This easy cilantro lime chicken marinade makes juicy, flavorful chicken every time. It’s perfect for grilling or baking up in your oven.
Is there anything better than the combination of cilantro and lime!? This cilantro lime chicken marinade adds tons of flavor to chicken. This chicken is the ultimate and easy protein for your next meal.
I love grilling season! This grilled cilantro lime chicken if perfect for those nights you want to just throw something easy on the grill! And if you're a fan of grilling, be sure to check out some other great grilling recipes!
Ingredients Needed for Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Chicken breasts – you’ll need about 2lbs of chicken. I use chicken breasts, but you could absolutely use chicken thighs as well.
- Olive oil – this is the base of your marinade. Learn more about olive oil HERE to make sure you are getting the purest, healthiest olive oil!
- Fresh lime juice & lime zest – fresh lime juice helps to keep the chicken juicy and the juice and zest are the perfect citrus match for the cilantro.
- Fresh cilantro – yes, you’ll need cilantro for this cilantro lime chicken; it’s the perfect herb to go with the lime and garlic!
- Garlic, salt, and cumin – the combination of these spices adds the right touch of flavor to this grilled cilantro lime chicken.
Organic vs. Conventional Chicken
I highly recommend organic chicken if that’s an option for you.
With organic chicken, you are guaranteed that the chickens were not administered antibiotics and that they were fed organic feed. What about hormones, you might be wondering? You don’t need to worry about hormones in poultry; it is against USDA regulations to give hormones to poultry (unlike cows).
However, the USDA organic certification does not guarantee the perfect, natural living conditions for chickens. Under USDA organic certification, chickens must be cage-free and have access to the outdoors, but “access” can be loosely interpreted.
While organic is much better than conventional by means of living conditions (and health standards), looking for additional certifications, like “Certified Humane Raised and Handled”, “Global Animal Partnership” or “Animal Welfare Approved” ensures quality treatment of the chickens. HERE is a handy chart that will give you more specifics into animal welfare standards if you’re curious.
How to Make This Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Start by mixing up your marinade. Add olive oil, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin to a small mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
- Place chicken breasts in a bowl or small baking dish A Ziploc bag would work too, I just try to avoid using plastic as much as possible. Or get a couple of these Stasher bags - they are my favorite eco-friendly replacement for plastic bags.
- Pour marinade over chicken and try to coat all pieces of chicken fully with the marinade.
- Cover and place in fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, but up to 24 hours. I typically try to let the chicken marinade for a few hours.
- When ready, preheat the grill to about 400-425 degrees. Grill chicken for roughly 6-8 minutes on each side. Total cooking time will depend on how thick your chicken breasts are. Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F.
- If you are baking the chicken, preheat oven to 400 and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Baking time will vary pending how thick the chicken breasts are.
Tip: Let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes prior to cooking. It will help the chicken to cook more evenly and help to trap in the juices.
This recipe is so simple there aren’t a ton of substitutions that I recommend for the cilantro lime chicken marinade, or that are really needed. But a couple are listed below just in case.
Chicken – you can sub chicken thighs for the chicken breasts if you’d like. Chicken thighs take longer to cook than chicken breasts, so use a meat thermometer to ensure you cook the thighs to 165 degrees F. The total cooking time will depend on how big the thighs are.
Olive oil – this is used as the base of the marinade, but you can also use avocado oil. I don't recommend any other oils; these are the cleanest oils you can use for a marinade.
Cumin – if you don’t have cumin, you can omit it all together, or you could even try some different spices like chili powder. I would use up to ½ tsp. chili powder pending how much spice you like. And if you want both, use ½ tsp. cumin and ½ tsp. chili powder.
Garlic – if you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use ½ tsp. garlic powder in place of the fresh garlic.
What to Serve with this Cilantro Chicken
- Hands down, homemade guacamole is the perfect complement to this chicken!
- I’m a sucker for a good salad, and this cucumber radish salad or kale and Brussels sprouts salad would be perfect.
- Or if you’re grilling, you could try this grilled vegetable pasta salad.
- Or any of these more classic sides: air fryer roasted sweet potatoes, crispy smashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, creamy coleslaw.
Any leftover grilled cilantro chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
If you make this grilled cilantro lime chicken, please let me know what you think! Leave a comment and a star rating below and/or share a photo on Instagram and mention @CleanPlateMama.
Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
- 2 lbs. chicken breasts
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped (about 2 tsp.)
- 2 limes juiced + the zest of 1 lime
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- Place chicken breasts in a mixing bowl, baking dish, or plastic bag. You'll need something that can be covered/closed so the chicken can sit in the marinade.
- Next, create the marinade. In a small mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, lime zest, cumin, salt & pepper. Mix until combined. Pour marinade over chicken and ensure all chicken gets coated with marinade.
- Cover chicken and place in refrigerator. Let chicken marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes, but you can marinade overnight as well.
- When ready, preheat grill to 400-425 degrees F. Take chicken out of fridge and allow to sit at room temp while grill is preheating (this helps the chicken to cook more evenly and create even juicier chicken).
- Grill chicken on each side for roughly 6-8 minutes, or until internal temperature at the thickest part reaches 165 degrees F. Total cooking time will vary pending how large your chicken breasts are.
- If my chicken breasts are on the larger side I usually cut them in half. They will cook faster this way, and I find they retain their juices better.
- You can sub chicken thighs for the chicken breasts if you’d like. Chicken thighs take longer to cook than chicken breasts, so use a meat thermometer to ensure you cook the thighs to 165 F. The total cooking time will depend on how large the thighs are.
- You can easily bake this chicken too. Preheat oven to 400 F and bake until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. This will take roughly 20-25 minutes, depending on how large your chicken breasts are.