This grilled chicken recipe is loaded with flavor from the simple, fresh cilantro lime marinade and smoky char of the grill. It results in moist, juicy chicken that's perfect for an easy dinner all summer long!
Why This Recipe Works
This bold and flavorful cilantro lime sauce is one of my favorite simple marinades for grilled chicken. It's bright and fresh from the combination of lime and cilantro and balanced with a bit savory from the garlic and earthy cumin.
You can make this cilantro lime chicken in the oven or a skillet on the stove, but I love it for grilling in the summer. The smoky char from cooking it on the grill adds a great amount of flavor to this dish. It's perfect for an easy summer meal with tons of flavor!
For another delicious grilled chicken option check out my Greek chicken souvlaki recipe!
For this cilantro lime chicken recipe I used chicken leg quarters because they are perfect for grilling. The extra bit of fat makes them much more forgiving on the grill than chicken breasts
. But breasts will work too if you prefer. This flavorful lime and cilantro marinade is a great way to add flavor to bland chicken breasts. If using chicken breasts I recommend pounding them out to a thin, even thickness or using chicken cutlets for easier grilling.
I also highly recommend using fresh limes for this dish so you can use the zest. It adds a tremendous amount of flavor you'll miss out on if using bottled lime juice.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Marinade
- Zest then juice your limes into a medium mixing bowl. then add the chopped cilantro, minced garlic, olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir the mixture to combine.
- Place your chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over top. Seal the bag and toss to coat the chicken.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 4 hours. I don't recommend marinating for longer due to the lime juice. The acid can make the chicken tough when marinated for too long.
How to Grill Chicken Leg Quarters
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before cooking. Thoroughly clean the grates and lightly coat with vegetable oil to help avoid sticking. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, around 400°F.
- Place the chicken on the grill over direct heat and cook for 25-30 minutes, flipping every 7-8 minutes. Be careful to avoid burning the skin. Cook until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170°F.
- Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley and lime wedges.
Pro Tip: If your grill is flaring up and the chicken skin is getting too crispy, move the chicken off of direct heat to finish cooking. Using indirect heat will help avoid flare ups from the fat as it renders.
To do this, move the chicken to one side of your grill with the burners off. Set the burners on the other side of your grill to high and close the lid. Finish cooking until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170°F.
What to Serve with Cilantro Lime Chicken
This grilled cilantro lime chicken has classic Mexican and Southwestern flavors, so we like to pair it with sides like my Mexican street corn salad or Instant Pot Spanish rice.
And of course you'll need a tasty margarita to wash it all down. Check out my blood orange margarita recipe for details!
Recipe Tips and FAQs
Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
For crips skin, reheat leftovers in a 325°F oven for around 8-10 minutes, until warmed through. You can also reheat in the microwave, but the skin will be soggy.
Yes! This cilantro lime marinated chicken is perfect for freezing. Prepare the marinade and place in a plastic freezer bag with your chicken. Toss to coat, then freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and cook as directed.
Absolutely, you can make this recipe in the oven as well by marinating as directed, then baking the chicken leg quarters in a 375°F oven for around 40 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 170°F.
You can also make this dish in a skillet on your stovetop using boneless skinless thighs.
This cilantro and lime marinade is a great way to add flavor to otherwise bland grilled chicken breasts. I recommend using boneless-skinless chicken breasts and pounding them out to an even thickness with a kitchen mallet before marinating. Then grill for 6-7 minutes per side until cooked through.
More easy Mexican recipes to try
- Enchiladas with Green Sauce
- Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- Easy Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2-3 limes, zested and juiced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4-5 chicken leg quarters
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over top. Seal the bag, then toss the chicken to coat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 4 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and preheat your grill to medium-high heat (around 400°F).
- Grill the chicken for around 25-30 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 170°F. Be careful to not burn the skin. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5-10 minutes, then garnish with chopped parsley and lime wedges before serving.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.
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