Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs Recipe

5 from 7 votes
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This cilantro lime chicken is sweet, salty, and citrusy and resembles a simple teriyaki glaze that adds worlds of delicious flavor. My cilantro lime chicken comes together in four simple steps and only takes about 25 minutes to pull together! It’s delicious with veggies or served over cilantro lime rice.

Golden cilantro lime chicken covered in a sticky glaze and fresh cilantro in a cast iron skillet.

If you’ve enjoyed my cilantro lime salmon in foil or blackened salmon with cilantro lime butter, you will love this savory citrusy combo with chicken!

Why This Recipe Works

This recipe is prepared by pan-searing chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet until golden and nicely charred. The hot pan is then deglazed with a honey-based sauce, thickening and caramelizing into a sweet, tangy, and sticky sauce.

The cilantro lime marinade consists of honey, cilantro, fresh lime juice, garlic, ground cumin, and chili flakes. The honey will help form a sweet sticky glaze as the sauce simmers and reduces.

If you’re looking for more delicious chicken thigh recipes, try my simple roasted chicken thighs, grilled honey sriracha chicken thighs, and honey garlic chicken thighs!

Ingredients

Raw, uncooked cilantro lime chicken ingredients laid out on a wooden cutting board.
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: boneless, skinless thighs are healthier than bone-in thighs and easier to pan-sear. Chicken thighs are more tender and flavorful compared to chicken breasts.
  • Lime: fresh lime adds loads of citrus flavor. Use a citrus squeezer to juice the limes, otherwise, it’s very difficult to extract all of the juices you will need.
  • Honey: honey adds sweetness and helps to thicken the sauce. Use brown sugar as a substitute but do not omit it entirely.
  • Cilantro: fresh cilantro is critical to adding that signature cilantro taste to the dish, however, if you don’t like cilantro, you can substitute it for parsley.
  • Soy sauce: you can use a low-sodium sauce for a milder flavor or a darker soy sauce for a richer flavor.
  • Garlic: always opt for fresh garlic. I use a microplane to pulverize the garlic into a paste that easily mixes into the sauce.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: chili flakes are optional but add subtle spice and flavor.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Cook Chicken Thighs

Step 1.

Combine lime juice, honey, cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. whisk until combined. Set aside.

Fresh cilantro lime marinade ingredients mixed in a small white bowl.

Step 2.

Season chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper. Be sure to unroll them so they lie completely flat. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Once warm, add the chicken and sear for about 6-8 minutes (image 2a). Flip and sear for an additional 6-8 minutes (image 2b). Ensure chicken measures at least 165°F at the thickest part.

Uncooked, seasoned boneless chicken thighs pan searing in a cast iron skillet.
Browned, pan seared chicken thighs cooking in a cast iron skillet.

Quick Tip

Chicken thighs come packaged rolled, making them appear plump and round. unfold the chicken thighs so they lie as flat as possible in the skillet. They will cook quicker and more evenly.

Step 3.

Remove the chicken and place on a plate. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cilantro lime sauce, and deglaze the pan (image 3a). Simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Use a spoon to scrape the pan and keep the sauce moving. Once the bubbles increase in size and thicken, the sauce is ready (image 3b).

Uncooked cilantro lime marinade starting to simmer in a cast iron skillet.
Bubbling cilantro lime marinade in a cast iron skillet.

Step 4.

Return the chicken to the pan and toss in the sauce. Garnish with additional fresh chopped cilantro and serve over cilantro lime rice.

Golden cilantro lime chicken covered in a caramelized glaze in a cast iron skillet.

Quick Tip

Ensure the thickest part of the chicken measures 165°F with a digital thermometer. Chicken thighs can be cooked well past 165°F and remain juicy and tender.

Golden cilantro lime chicken covered in a sticky glaze and fresh cilantro in a cast iron skillet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Grill this Recipe?

Yes. If you decide to grill the chicken, prepare the sauce separately in a small saucepan to simmer and thicken. Drizzle over the chicken after it’s been removed from the grill.

Can I use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs?

Bone-in chicken thighs are best reserved for roasting in the oven. Because they contain bone, they’re thicker and not as functional for pan-searing.

Can I Use Chicken Breast?

Yes, I prefer chicken thighs because of their tenderness and flavor however chicken breast or tenders also work.

More Chicken Recipes

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this recipe, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
5 from 7 votes

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs Recipe

Servings: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Boneless cilantro lime chicken thighs seared in a cast iron skillet and then sauteed in a honey-based cilantro and lime marinade.

Ingredients 

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil, for searing

Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, (1.5-2 limes)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Combine lime juice, honey, cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. whisk until combined. Set aside.
  • Season chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper. Be sure to unroll them so they lie completely flat. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Once warm, add the chicken and sear for about 6-8 minutes. Flip and sear for an additional 6-8 minutes. Ensure chicken measures at least 165°F at the thickest part.
  • Remove the chicken and place on a plate. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cilantro lime sauce, and deglaze the pan. Simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Use a spoon to scrape the pan and keep the sauce moving. Once the bubbles increase in size and thicken, the sauce is ready.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and toss in the sauce. Garnish with additional fresh chopped cilantro and serve over cilantro lime rice.

Notes

Chicken thighs come packaged rolled, making them appear plump and round. unfold the chicken thighs so they lie as flat as possible in the skillet. They will cook quicker and more evenly.
Ensure the thickest part of the chicken measures 165°F with a digital thermometer. Chicken thighs can be cooked well past 165°F and remain juicy and tender.

Nutrition

Serving: 1chicken thighCalories: 281kcalCarbohydrates: 18.8gProtein: 32.4gFat: 8.2gSaturated Fat: 2.2gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 586mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 17.6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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26 Comments

  1. I haven’t tasted the final result yet but I’m definitely excited! The citrus lime marinade is so good I can literally drink it!!!

    1. I just tasted the final result and it didn’t disappoint! I highly recommend this recipe and it’s so easy for a weeknight!!!

  2. This recipe is amazing. It’s for keeps. Very flavorful and easy to make. I added thin slices of jalapeno to add mor kick and its delicious. I was scared of burning the honey but it caramelized perfectly. Thank you for sharing! 5 star!

  3. Used your excellent directions to pan sear my first ever chicken dish.
    As someone who is a complete novice your clear simple style is very appreciated!