Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

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.

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


  • 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.

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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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  • 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.

  • Janine

    Made this tonight and put in whole wheat tortilla with avocado, shredded Monterey Jack, salsa, black beans and cilantro. I marinated the chicken over night and it was delicious. It could have been eaten on its own. I will be making this again in a salad and a main dish. I did enjoy it in my burrito too

  • Jessica

    This was great! My only criticism is that the cilantro taste was hardly noticeable. Next time, I will add more or at least make sure that enough from the marinade stays on the chicken when I cook it. This chicken was totally delicious though, and smelled amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  • Karen

    I’ve made this a couple of times. So good!
    I slice it over a mixed green salad with feta and
    Avocado and simply lime juice and olive oil and a small sprinkle of lemon pepper. YUM!
    I like Wendy’s idea for the tortilla wraps as well…I’d add a lime, cilantro and garlic aioli to punch up the lime flavour.

  • Wendy

    Made this last night for dinner. Only had 1 lb of chicken breasts, but kept everything else the same! It was absolutely delicious and tasted so fresh. We chopped up the chicken and served it in homemade corn tortillas topped with pico de gallo, sour cream and monterey jack! SO good!!
    This recipes going into our favorites cookbook :)

  • Jeff

    This was absolutely wonderful Elise! I just had to post about my experience making it and take some really awful pictures! :) But I totally linked back to you because you deserve all the kudos for this one! Thanks again and keep the good stuff coming! Cheers!


    • Elise

      Hi Jeff, I’m so glad you liked it! I love your photos too.

  • Valerie

    I’m going to make this. I wonder how it would be wrapped in some bacon. :-) I think I’ll cook up a little bacon or pancetta and crumble it up and serve it over the top. Thanks for the recipe!

  • JenG

    This looks and sounds great! I’m having the BF over for dinner and am wondering what sides would be recommended? Thanks! I LOVE your site!

  • PeterM

    Tried it as is … it was amazing, made it again and this time i added 2 tbsp of tequila, made it more juicy and tender, you should give it a try with the tequila.

  • Jayne

    I really love this flavour combo. So bright and summery.

  • Eric

    I’m always up for an easy to make marinade – quick question… My wife does not like cilantro at all and opts-out whenever possible – what could serve as a proxy in this recipe? Parsley? Basil? Thanks in advance and love the blog – have passed it along to many family and friends and have referenced it for recipe ideas more times that I can count!

    • Elise

      You could try using basil, or maybe some fresh grated ginger.

    • Jenn

      Mint is a decent substitute for cilantro as well.

  • Tammela

    I love cilantro+lime (and those avocado wedges on the side)! A little ginger would be a great addition.

  • Dawn

    Couple things –

    1) This looks like an delicious recipe! Anything chicken, cilantro and AVOCADO ^_^ I’m in! :D

    2) Your plate is gorgeous!!! I have to ask – do you remember where you go them or what brand they are? I’d love to find a set for myself.

    On all accounts – thank you for sharing! :) ;)

    • Elise

      Thanks Dawn! It’s an antique plate from the mid 1800’s. Google “mulberry flow” and you’ll find other examples. You can find them on eBay and Etsy.

  • Evelyn

    I pan-fried these instead of grilling them, otherwise following the recipe exactly, and they were very good!

  • Evan

    Made this last night, minus the sugar, plus a little fresh grated garlic. Grilled some peppers and onions along side the chicken and had some awesome fajitas. Thanks for the recipie!

  • Buzzy Seattle

    I’ll take the lime and cilantro and a bit of garlic, ginger and ghee, mix it all up
    And call it Grilled chicken with an Asian flare. Thanks for the ideas…

  • Joyce

    Okay, I’m new to this site. I assume we can leave a review of the recipes, so that’s what I’m doing. I just made this for dinner, and it is very moist and very tasty. Not difficult or time consuming to make and it’s healthy! It doesn’t get any better than that. I tried to stick to the recipe as closely as possible. I always like to make the recipe as written first, then tweak it next time if I choose. The recipe called for 2 lb of chicken to serve 4-6. There were only 2 of us, but I used the entire 2 1/2 lb that I had on hand anyway, thinking leftovers might be good in a salad for lunch tomorrow. There are no leftovers. And we had rice and grilled vegetables, too. The man of the house really liked it. I guess 2 lb would be enough for guests if I served appetizers, salad and bread, too, but I don’t think so. Definitely not for six. I try to avoid refined sugar and salt, so I did use a little more than a 1/2 tsp of honey instead, and light salt that I probably could have skipped. I also marinated for 45 minutes, and I don’t think I’d go any longer that or there may be texture issues. This is definitely an add to the top ten list.

  • Caroline

    I do this same thing all the time except I add chipotle chilli pepper and serve it in a spinach salad with mango, queso fresco, and avocado. Sometimes I make a lime & cilantro vinaigrette. Delicious!!!

  • lesle

    perfect and summer-y!

  • Jb

    Add a swing a tequila to the marinade and I’m in!