Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs are a simple, flavorful, and healthy recipe. In this Mexican-inspired meal, juicy chicken thighs are seasoned with lime, cilantro, and savory spices before being grilled to perfection. Serve it with a side of rice, corn on the cob, and a margarita!Jump to Recipe
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Simple: This recipe requires less than 10 ingredients, but it is packed with flavor! Plus, the marinade takes all of 5 minutes to throw together.
- Great for grilling: If you own a barbecue, these grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs are perfect for backyard barbecues during summer months!
- Juicy: Chicken thighs are one of my favorite cuts to work with because they are so tender and juicy! They soak up the marinade incredibly well too.
- Quick: Have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes or less! Grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs are a great option for busy weeknights.
Juicy grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs
Chicken recipes, like Greek chicken thighs or oven-roasted chicken thighs, are always a favorite in my household because they’re inexpensive to prepare, high in protein, and loved by both kids and adults.
I use a combination of cilantro and lime in this dish, which provides a bright and refreshing element. Paired with a smoky, charred flavor from the grill (indoor or outdoor), this simple recipe has depth and complexity.
The real benefit of grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs is how versatile they are! You can just as easily serve them for a casual dinner or a special occasion. Using the marinating and grilling technique, the chicken turns out tender and moist on the inside with a crispy, charred skin. Enjoy your chicken thighs as-is, or pair them alongside rice, vegetables, and salad.
Ingredients & substitutions
- Olive oil: Helps the marinade stick to the chicken thighs, keeping them moist and preventing them from burning. You can use olive oil, avocado oil, or even sunflower oil.
- Lime: Use both fresh-squeezed lime juice and zest for the most vibrant citrusy flavor. Just remember to wash the lime thoroughly before zesting it.
- Honey: Sweetens the marinade and creates a perfectly sticky glaze. If you don’t eat honey, try agave nectar for the next best option.
- Garlic: Adds a punchy, savory, and zesty element to balance the citrus and honey. You really shouldn’t replace fresh garlic with garlic powder for this recipe.
- Cumin: Provides just the right amount of rich, earthy, and warm notes. Feel free to experiment with additional spices like coriander, paprika, cayenne, or Mexican oregano.
- Salt: To enhance the other ingredients and bring out the flavor of the chicken thighs.
- Cilantro: Make sure to use fresh cilantro for bursts of herbaceous, peppery, and lemony elements throughout the marinade. If you don’t like the taste of cilantro, try parsley!
- Chicken thighs: I use boneless and skinless chicken thighs. If you don’t mind, you can use bone-in chicken thighs for more flavor.
How to make grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs
- Mix the marinade: In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, honey, minced garlic, cumin, salt and cilantro.
- Marinate the chicken: Cut the thighs in half, and trim the fat. Using a fork, prick the chicken all over, which helps it to marinate faster. Add the chicken thighs in and let them marinate for 15 minutes. You can also leave them for a few hours up to overnight.
- Cook the chicken: Heat a grill, cast-iron griddle pan, or cast-iron pan to medium-high. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes per side. Using a meat thermometer, check the internal temperature until it reads 165 degrees F. Serve the chicken while hot!
Serve your grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs with additional lime wedges on the side, cilantro leaves on top, and some dishes like these:
- Instant Pot quinoa rice
- Mexican street corn salad
- Crispy chicken tacos
- Chicken tortilla soup
- Cilantro pineapple margarita
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can use chicken breasts for this recipe. I recommend using chicken thighs since they provide a better flavor and don’t dry out as easily, but chicken breasts will work as well. You will need to adjust the cooking time, depending on the thickness of the breasts.
Yes, you can make grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs in the oven. Marinade it as listed in the recipe, then add it to a greased baking sheet. Roast it in the oven at 425 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
Storage & reheating
If you have leftover grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs, follow these storage and reheating instructions:
- Fridge: Let the cooked chicken thighs cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezer: Transfer the cooled chicken thighs to a freezer-safe container or bag. Once chicken thighs are cooked and frozen, they are best consumed within 4 months.
- Reheating: Let the thighs thaw overnight in the fridge, then add them to a skillet with enough broth or water to cover the bottom. Heat them with a lid on over medium until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- Prep ahead: To save time on the day of cooking, you can freeze the uncooked chicken and the marinade in a freezer-safe bag. It should last up to 2 months if stored properly. When you’re ready for grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs, let them thaw overnight in the fridge before cooking as usual.
- Chicken breast: Swap out the thighs for chicken breasts (or any other cut you prefer) for another take on this recipe.
- Citrus: Instead of lime, you can use lemon or orange to change up the citrus element.
- Creamy: For a rich, creamy, and cool flavor, add Greek yogurt to the marinade.
- Spicy: If you’re a spice lover, chop up some jalapeño and add it to the marinade.
- Meat thermometer: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is cooked perfectly. The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.
- Marinate: Marinate the thighs for at least 15 minutes, but preferably longer if you have the time.
- Preheat the grill: Preheat your grill before cooking the chicken thighs so you can achieve a nice char and prevent the chicken from sticking.
- Rest before serving: Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into it. This will allow the juices to redistribute and keep the chicken extra juicy.
Looking for more chicken recipes?
If you enjoyed these grilled cilantro lime chicken thighs, be sure to check out some more of my favorites like these:
- Spatchcock Oven Roasted Chicken
- Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Kabobs
- Chicken Piccata
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs with Honey Soy Glaze
If you try this Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs recipe, let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs
- In a large bowl whisk together olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, honey, minced garlic, cumin, salt, and cilantro.
- Cut the thighs in half, and trim the fat. Using a fork, prick the chicken all over, this helps it to marinate faster. Add chicken and let marinate for 15 minutes or up to overnight.
- Heat a grill, cast iron griddle pan, or cast iron pan to medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes per side. Using a meat thermometer check the internal temperature so it reads 165 degrees F.
- Serve with lime wedges, your favorite sides and top with cilantro leaves and enjoy.