Grilled Lime Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

This recipe for grilled chicken, marinated in lime juice, and served with a cilantro infused black bean sauce is inspired by a recipe from my dear friend and site contributor Steve-Anna. First posted in 2006, I’ve changed it over the years incorporating many of the ideas that commenters have given us after trying the recipe, plus a few ideas of my own. Chicken cutlets are marinated in a lime juice cilantro marinade for a couple hours. They are grilled quickly on a hot grill and served with a simple black bean sauce made with canned black beans, onions, garlic, and oregano. I’m garnishing the chicken with chopped red onions that have soaked in some water and seasoned rice vinegar for a quick pickling effect.

A note on the black beans. You only need a cup and a half of cooked black beans for the sauce in this recipe. In my book, this is not enough to warrant making a whole batch of beans from scratch, which is why we are using canned beans (I recommend Bush’s, S&W, or Goya). But if you want to make beans from scratch, by all means do not let me deter you. Here’s an excellent method in our Black Bean Burrito Bowl recipe.

Updated, first posted in 2006

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Grilled Lime Chicken with Black Bean Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 2 hours
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

If you don't have access to a grill, you can sauté the chicken breasts in a cast iron pan on medium high to high heat until lightly browned on both sides and just cooked through.

Ingredients

Grilled Chicken Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup+ (more to taste) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thin cutlets

Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • Sliced avocados, sour cream, cilantro

Black Bean Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, including stems, loosely packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, or more to taste

Method

place chicken cutlets in lime marinade

1 Combine the lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, oregano, salt and pepper in a glass bowl and mix well. If the chicken breasts are not already thin cutlets, make them so by cutting them in half horizontally. They should be no more than 3/4-inch thick at their thickets point. Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat, then add them to the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

2 Place 1/2 cup chopped red onion in a small bowl and add a couple tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, and enough water to just cover the onions. Chill until dish is ready for garnish.

cook onions until translucent

3 Prepare Black Bean Sauce while chicken is marinating. First, taste the liquid in the canned beans. If it tastes good, use it, if not, drain the can, and rinse the beans. (Depending on the brand of canned beans, the liquid might be good tasting or not.) Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. When hot, add the chopped red onions and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more.

add black beans, water, cilantro, seasonings to the pot bring black beans to a simmer

4 Add the beans to pot, including the can liquid if using (if not, replace with water). Fill up the empty can with water and add that to the pot as well (about 1 3/4 cups of water). Add the bay leaf, chopped cilantro, oregano, black pepper, and salt. Increase the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Simmer uncovered  for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Pulse in a blender several times until somewhat smooth. (Remember to only fill a blender a third of the way if you are blending hot liquids, and hold the top down while you blend.)

place marinated chicken breasts on grill grill chicken until just cooked through

5 Prepare your grill for medium-high, direct heat. Place the chicken breasts on the grill, and grill until they are just cooked through (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side). Remove to platter when grilled.

Serve the grilled chicken with the black bean sauce. Sprinkle with the strained red onions, and garnish with sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes or fresh cilantro.

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33 Comments

  1. Sandra

    Elise, Thanks for the wonderful recipe. My 16 year old daughter made it for the family last night (as a treat for me YAY!) and it was SO DELICIOUS! Definitely a top 10 chicken recipe for our family. We have bean sauce left over so I’m going to grill some Tilapia tonight and use the bean sauce up! Thanks again, Sandra

  2. alamobecky

    The chicken was delicious but I’m not entirely sold on the black bean sauce. Next time I will leave out the cilantro stems (didn’t care for that flavor) but will add the grilled red onion to the blender along with the bean mixture — that sounds yummy.

  3. Andy F.

    I made this two nights ago. FANTASTIC. Thanks!

  4. Amanda

    I made this last night and it was a total hit. I would like to jazz up the black bean sauce though. I used dried black beans that I soaked overnight, so I might have been off a little bit as to how many beans to add, so that may have affected the savor of the beans. Any suggestions as to what else I could add to it? Also, can I cook the black beans in a pressure cooker instead of simmering them for 1.5 hours?

  5. zchamu

    Made this tonight and it was well recieved. I would like to add a bit more kick though. I will add the onions to the black bean sauce next time as well. Have also considered jazzing the sauce up with hot peppers or something – any suggestions?

  6. candace jurado

    I made this recipe last night and it was wonderful! My husband and I could not wait for lunch to roll around so that we could finish them off. I warmed up some white corn tortillas, put a dollop of the bean sauce, cubed the chicken and put it on top. I garnished with fresh shredded cabbage, carrot, red onion and avocado with a side of light sour cream. It was perfect! Yum Yum

  7. kdg

    This was GREAT! I also added the grilled red onions to the bean puree — as well as some cumin. The sauce was delicious but it seemed like it was calling for some cumin, and it tasted even better with it. I served a home made pico de gallo on the side with diced avocados added in. Delicious! Went really well with the sauce as well.

  8. Sarah

    Excellent – very tasty and the marinade made the chicken extremely tender. Would only caution that perhaps with regard to the cooking instructions for the chicken that a few minutes longer on the grill would ensure the chicken is cooked through – entirely depends on the thickness of the meat of course.

  9. Toni

    Is there any herb you suggest using besides cilantro? I absolutely LOATHE the taste of cilantro and cannot cook with it. Would it just mess up the whole dish?

    Just skip it if you don’t like it. ~Elise

  10. Megan

    That was amazing. So flavorful! Accidently added the crushed garlic to the marinade instead of the black bean sauce, but I think it still tasted as intended. Served with avocado. The flavors of the marinade, red onion, onion, avocado and black bean sauce melded perfectly together.. This will be one of my regularly-rotated recipes. Thank you.

  11. SAS

    I used the marinade the other night with salmon and it was fantastic. I didn’t bother cooking it in the oven first, just put it on the grill (and drizzled the remaining marinade over it while it was cooking). I also doubled the “bean sauce” recipe and made black bean soup – it was gone in 2 days. If you thicken it up, the bean sauce makes a great bean dip, too!

  12. Sammi @Sammi Sunshine

    This looks SO good! I often find myself asking what I can do with black beans, a sauce never occurred to me!

  13. Steve-Anna Stephens

    This looks like a great update to one of my favorite recipes! Can’t wait to try it again – and the photo is spectacular!

  14. Susan Walter

    I always cook up dried beans in big batches (500g or 1kg at a time) and freeze what I don’t immediately need. Freezing actually improves them.

    • Sandy S.

      Thank you Susan for reminding me/us of how doable this is! I needed to hear this and will be following suit!

  15. Jessica @Food Luv Bites

    Perfect idea for dinner tonight. I’m going to practice clean eating all week! and will include this next Friday!

  16. KalynsKitchen

    Sounds delicious. So many of my favorite flavors in this one.

  17. Sandy S.

    Is it the beautiful plating?! Is it the excellent photo?! Is it the terrific recipe?! Very hard to say, all ll I know is that I love the look of this dish!! It is so ‘prime time’ and has your unique style all over it Elise!!! I’ve got everything ready to go for later today and we are all really looking forward to it!

  18. Bob Y

    I freaked out a bit tonight eating this delicious chicken preparation on my Arabia dinner plate :). It felt like eating together. Weird and wonderful.

    • Elise

      Aren’t they beautiful plates? I have a whole set, it’s my “fine china”. Happy to “share” a meal with you!

  19. Jennifer Miller

    How awesome it must be to watch recipes to evolve over the years. You’ll have recipes for life.

  20. Sandy S

    We loved this! Every part of it! Will certainly be making it again. We can’t use a grill here, so I did it on the stove top. It came out great! I also made rice with some small button mushrooms that I quartered and left in the marinade while the chicken was cooking. I then threw the mushrooms in with the chicken towards the end. Added the seared mushrooms to the rice when it was done and serve it beside the chicken on the bean sauce. I will be keeping the bean sauce and dilled red onions in mind for other dishes. I would be very hard put to decide which part of this dish I like the most. It works so well together. Will make more chicken next time to hopefully have leftovers for sandwiches and tacos.

    • Elise

      I’m so glad you liked it Sandy! The black bean sauce isn’t the most attractive, but it certainly tastes good.

  21. Jeanie

    Loved this! We used whole chicken breasts and gave them a little more time on the grill. The black bean sauce was so delicious- we scooped up the leftovers with corn chips. A great summer supper- thank you!

  22. Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    This is a winner. I am in love with lime—–. The sauce is divine.

  23. Shannon @ Living Life Cajun Style

    The black bean sauce sounds amazing. We will have to try it soon. I am also a big fan of the pickled onions. It gives food such a fresh taste. Beautiful photo.

  24. Amanda

    Elise,

    I going to make this for our Friday night dinner. Can you suggest a side or two? I was thinking corn on the cob but what about some sort of rice dish? Nothing tooo complicated as we will be camping in a tent but I pre-make a lot of stuff.

    • Elise

      Hi Amanda, I suggest my mother’s Spanish Rice recipe.

      • Amanda A.

        Thank you for your suggestion but I ended up with a completely different side from your recipe collection. Your Mexican Green Bean Salad! Everything is ready to get stuffed into cooler as we speak.

        (your rice dish looks great too, but for some reason I don’t like tomatoes in rice – odd because I will eat almost anything generally)

  25. Michelle

    I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting this to be an out-of-this-world dinner. I just thought, yeah, it’ll be a nice twist on chicken. But it was really phenomenal. My 4y/o son has asked if we could have it every Wednesday night. I served it over brown rice and with some salad greens to make it into a burrito bowl (with salsa and sour cream on the side). Can’t wait to have it for lunch. I will probably make the beans for a ton of other dishes now. Thanks so much!

  26. eugeniakukla

    I was so lazy and did not use the grill for this dish. I did use my Dutch oven. My husband loved this recipe. I can’t wait to try it on the grill!

  27. Noa

    The grilled chicken was OK, but that black bean sauce…wow! And the red onion garnish was awesome too!

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