Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

GrillSouthwesternLow CarbPaleo

Skinless boneless chicken breasts marinated with lime and cilantro and grilled.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Hello summer and cooking chicken on a grill! I don’t know about you, but sometimes I struggle with grilling chicken breasts.

The meat can very easily end up charred and dry on the outside or ends, while still raw on the inside. What we’ve done here helps result in juicy chicken breasts, with nice grill marks to boot.

First we pound the boneless, skinless breasts to an even thickness, which will help the meat cook more evenly, so you don’t have the extremes of raw and dry.

Then we marinate the chicken in an acidic marinade made with lime juice. It’s almost like using buttermilk, but lime flavored. The acid helps tenderize the meat for grilling.

Since the chicken breasts have been formed into rather thin cutlets, we take them directly from the refrigerator to the grill. That way, they don’t overcook in the time it takes to get nice grill marks on them.

Cilantro lime chicken is a classic Southwestern favorite. Not everyone likes cilantro though, so if that’s you, change it up a bit and try adding grated fresh ginger to the marinade instead. Or maybe some minced garlic and chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe

  • Prep time: 35 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

The lime is the predominant flavor in this chicken recipe. We've paired it with cilantro. You could also try it with minced ginger, some garlic, or even mint.

We pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness and then chill them before grilling. Chilled, even-thickness chicken breasts will be less likely to overcook in the time it takes to get grill marks.


  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil for the marinade plus more for grilling
  • Grated zest from 2 limes
  • Juice from 2 limes, about 1/4 cup
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Lime wedges, fresh sprigs of cilantro, and slices of avocado to serve


1 Pound chicken breasts to even thickness: Place the chicken breasts between two piece of plastic wrap or wax paper and pound to an even thickness with a meat mallet or rolling pin.

2 Marinate the chicken: Mix the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, sugar, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and massage the marinade into the chicken. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 hours or overnight.

3 Grill: Preheat the grill for medium high heat. Remove the chicken breasts from the refrigerator. Remove them from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken breasts with some olive oil. Soak a paper towel in a little more oil and use tongs to wipe the grill grates. When the grill is hot, place the chicken breasts on the grill. Grill for a few minutes on each side, until cooked through.

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Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Showing 4 of 32 Comments / Reviews

  • Jonah Perez

    I was hoping for nutrition facts on this recipe

  • Ann

    This looks delicious and is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Unfortunately, I don’t have a grill. Do you think this would work better broiled or baked?

  • Amber

    Would this marinade work for salmon? Or could you suggest something similar?

  • Susan Shortill

    This is one of the best recipes I’ve ever used…I used some tequila, as one reviewer suggested, and I cut the breast lenth-wise into strips; I marinated it overnight, and threaded the chicken onto skewers ribbon-fashion. It was tender, cooked quickly on the grill, and absolutely disappeared. This one is now a permanent part of my collection–HIGHLY recommended

  • Cynthia

    I made this last night, and it was very tasty. After mixing the marinade, I reserved two tablespoons before adding the chicken (which I had butterflied to make it thinner). I mixed the reserved marinade with some plain yogurt and mayo, and served it as a dipping sauce for the chicken. It did help to reinforce the flavours, and will work well drizzled over leftover chicken in wraps tonight. Thank you for a great recipe to put into my summer grilling season.

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