Grilled Lime Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

Grilled chicken recipe, with chicken marinated in lime juice, grilled, and served with a cilantro infused black bean sauce

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4.


Grilled Chicken Ingredients:

  • Juice of 4-5 limes
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup+ (more to taste) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red onion, halved then sliced into 1/4” strips

Black Bean Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 quart filtered water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced and crushed - I use a garlic press)
  • Stems from one bunch of cilantro, chopped into 1/4” bits (approx. 1/2 cup)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1 Combine the lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, oregano, salt and pepper in a glass bowl and mix well. Trim the chicken breasts, then add to the marinade. Cover lightly and marinate, turning the chicken occasionally, for 2 hours at room temp (or overnight in the fridge).

2 Prepare Black Bean Sauce while chicken is marinating. Place beans in a large sauce-pan or soup pan, and add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours. Add additional water if needed. Remove bay leaves, then transfer the bean mixture to a food processor. Process well, adding water if needed to make desired consistency. (I haven't needed to add any, and I like the sauce moderately thick).

3 Preheat oven to 350° F, and prepare grill (gas or hot coals). Place the red onion slices in the bottom of a shallow, oven-proof dish, then cover with chicken breasts and marinade. Cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil, then bake for 15-20 minutes (only until the chicken is opaque). Remove the chicken breasts to a platter and set aside. Continue to cook the onions in the marinade (covered) for 10 minutes. Save the marinade for grilling.

4 Place the chicken breasts on the grill over very hot coals or gas flame, and grill until they are thoroughly cooked but still moist (approximately 2 minutes on each side). Drizzle with remaining marinade while cooking. Remove to platter when grilled.

Serve the grilled chicken with the red onions, drizzle with the black bean sauce. Garnish with sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes or fresh cilantro - or serve with a leafy green side salad - as desired.

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  1. SAS

    Hi, Elise! I’m so glad y’all liked the recipe! Sorry to hear about blowing out the electricity. I hope this doesn’t mean you’ll give up on grilling!

    As a PS, 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!

  2. Alanna

    So if you’re in the market for another, my MN father just got a new electric grill from the REA, $120 I think he said … chicken looks nummy stoveside though!

  3. Kari

    Does marinading in Lime juice cook the chicken? I have had this happen in the past, if you marinade to long it will cook it.

    Also, do you have to pre cook in oven? The whole purpose of grilling in AZ is to NOT use the oven!

  4. Elise

    Hi Alanna – thanks for the tip on the grill!

    Hi Kari – lime juice will “cook” the chicken, but not kill any of the bacteria (e.g. salmonella), so you still need to cook it with heat. If you don’t want to heat up your kitchen, I’m sure you can cook chicken entirely on the grill. Unlikely that it will be as tender though. With this recipe you are essentially poaching the chicken first in the marinade in the oven.

  5. 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

  6. kalyn

    Elise, I love my gas grill from Sears. I use it at least 4 times a week in the summer, and quite a bit in the fall and spring too. The thing that makes it so great is there are three separate burners which are oval shaped, so you can have one section of the grill on high and another on low. I often do that when I’m cooking something like chicken on one end and grilling some veggies in a grill pan on the other end. Interestingly enough, Rand bought the very same grill in California at Sears, and neither of us really shops at Sears that much. (Family ESP I guess.) Anyway, I highly recommend it. Now I’m going to post this and save the recipe to my cookbook!

  7. Richard Sheehan

    The dish sounds great. One thing, I would make sure to cook the onions more, as being under uncooked chicken for only 15-20min in a glass baking dish may not prevent cross contamination.

  8. Rebekah

    Made this last night – AWESOME! I added the grilled onions to the black bean sauce before processing and it really kicked up the flavor. I also threw in some green onions. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  9. Sandra

    THIS is a yummy dish! My husband gobbled it up. I used my blender for the sauce and it worked just fine….and I used canned black bean…just simmered them for 20 minutes with bay leaves.


  10. 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.

  11. pamelita

    We made this for dinner tonight and loved it! The chicken was super flavorful — really delicious! (We cooked it on a grill pan.) The only thing that was a problem was the amount of water in the BB sauce — ours was practically soup! Did any of you have this problem too? We wound up skimming off the water and boiling the sauce down a LOT to reduce it to a thick consistency. Is one quart really the right amount of water to use? Maybe my simmer was just too low or something … Either way, we will *definitely* make this yummy dish again! Thanks for sharing :)

  12. jane

    I heard black -beans are very good for lowering cholesteral? Is this correct? Your chicken recipies sound wonderful and cant wait to try them with the black bean sauce.Thanks so much and I will let you know how mine turns out.

  13. fizzo

    I made this last night and loved the results. For the chicken, I skipped the baking and stuck the meat right on the grill. The meat still came out moist and perfect after about 17 mins on the flame. I also cut out cilantro because someone I know just can’t stand it. :) To kick up the black bean sauce I added a little hot chili. I agree with an earlier comment that you really don’t need that much water with one can of beans. Guac and salsa worked well on top! I tossed the sauteed red onions with some steamed green beans and served it all with the barefoot contessa corn salad. All in all a fabulous dish. Thanks!

  14. Sarah

    Made this last night and loved it! I cut back on the water since I used canned beans for the sauce. I also cooked the chicken on the grill the entire time after marinating overnight and omitted the red onion step since someone in my home doesn’t THINK he likes them. It was delicious with a side of lime and cilantro flavored rice that I mixed up! I’ve had great luck with all recipes from your site and really enjoy visiting. Thanks!

  15. sharon ghansah agyekum

    I am a resturant operator, and I do grill my chicken all the time but do not get it softer. Please can you give me any proceedure that i need to do to make my chicken softer when grilled in a gas oven.
    My customers do like the gilled chicken. I do remove the skin from it and spiced it over night before I put it on a baking sheet and into the oven.

    Hi Sharon – I don’t quite get how you “grill” chicken inside of an oven. You can broil, bake, or roast in an oven, but grilling is done on an outside grill or a stovetop. In any case, it sounds like the chicken could benefit from marinating overnight in buttermilk. That will help make it more tender. ~Elise

  16. Vicki

    Hi Elise -
    I just made this tonight, and it’s fabulous! My black bean sauce was really soupy, so I just reduced it until it was the consistency I wanted. Baking the chicken first is such a great idea for keeping it tender.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  17. 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?

  18. 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?

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. Stacy

    I did not pre cook it in the oven. I grilled on my charcoal grill. This was spectacular! A new favorite! Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I will make it again and again!

  23. Karen T

    Hubby made this tonight. It was wonderful! May I add another comment about foodborne pathogens: the recipe states to set the onions aside after baking. Since the chicken is not fully cooked after the baking step, the onions may be contamined with foodborne pathogens from the undercooked chicken. They should be further cooked either by grilling or sauteing. Consumer Reports tested chicken and found that 85% was contaminated with campylobacter and 15% was contaminated with salmonella.

    Hi Karen, you are so right! Thanks for the catch. I’ve adjusted the recipe so that you continue to cook the onions in the oven at 350° for ten minutes. That’s enough time and sufficient heat to kill off anything harmful that might be still lurking. ~Elise

  24. Devin

    Awesome dish – made this just as instructed, added a little 3-cheese blend over the top before topping with the black bean marinade and served with Avocado and Salsa.

    Tasted amazing and my brother ate his plate in like 2 minutes!

  25. 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

  26. 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.