These quick and easy Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs are incredibly flavorful and make dinner time a breeze. During the short 15-minute marinating time you can prep all your sides and dinner is on the table in just half an hour. You will want to file this under favorite family dinner recipes.
Chicken thighs are hands down my favorite chicken cut. They are way more forgiving than chicken breast. They don’t dry out as quickly, they are great for pan-frying and baking, they work in low heat, in high heat, in all the heats. AND they taste amazing with just about any kind of sauce. Cilantro and lime on chicken thighs are especially delicious!
You can marinate these for just a quick 15 minutes on the counter or 2 hours in the fridge for a stronger deeper flavor or to make dinner time even faster. Whatever works better for your schedule.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken Thighs — I recommend skinless boneless chicken thighs. The marinate contains garlic and cilantro and both burn fairly quickly and easily with long pan-frying times. Bone-in/skin-on thighs take up to 3 times as long to cook as boneless skinless. Chicken breasts work too but I recommend cutting thick breasts in half horizontally to make them nice and thin.
- Cilantro — cilantro and lime make for the most delicious marinate and gravy but if you’re not a big fan of cilantro this recipe will work with basil instead. I don’t recommend replacing with parsley.
- Lime — lemon works of course but lime does taste much much better in combination with cilantro.
- Garlic — an absolute must! Yum!
- Sea Salt & Pepper — season with sea salt and pepper to taste. The exact amount will depend on how seasoned your chicken broth is. You can always add more salt and pepper at the end.
- Avocado oil — any other flavorless soil with a high smoke point works, too.
- Chicken broth — without chicken broth you will ned up with very little gravy which is the best part of the recipe. You could also use water or any other type of broth but chicken broth is your best option.
How To Make Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs
- Marinate Chicken Thighs — prepare the marinade by finely chopping cilantro, then crushing garlic and adding both to a shallow bowl. Add lime juice and avocado oil as well as sea salt and pepper then mix well together and then add chicken thighs and turn around in the marinade making sure they are well covered. I recommend a shallow bowl over a deep one so the marinade stays stuck on the chicken and doesn’t just sink to the bottom of the bowl.
- Sear Chicken Thighs — preheat a large pan over medium LOW heat and once hot add the chicken in two batches. Air needs to circulate between each thigh in the pan or else the steam gets trapped and the thighs don’t sear well. Work in two batches and add only the chicken not all the marinade still in the bowl. Use tongs to lift thighs out of the shallow bowl and add to the pan. Sear for 4-5 minutes on one side and 3-4 minutes on the other until golden brown. Then remove and set aside on a plate.
- Deglaze — deglaze the bottom of the pan with chicken broth. Once all chicken is seared and removed from the pan simply pour your chicken broth into the shallow bowl that still has quite some marinade left in it and then pour both the leftover marinade and chicken broth into the hot pan. Use a wooden or silicone spatula to lift off all the burnt bits and pieces of the pan and mix well into the broth. This will be your delicious gravy. Stir for just about 1-2 minutes.
- Assemble — add the chicken back into the pan and turn around to cover well in the gravy. Then let simmer for another minute or two. Remove from the heat and sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro on top. Serve over any type of rice and with some sort of vegetable on the side. My favorite are Instant Pot Coconut Rice and simply boiled green beans or boiled broccoli.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lime somewhat “cooks” chicken but not enough to be safe to eat. It’s best to marinate for no longer than 15 minutes on the counter or 2 hours in the fridge. If you can’t cook it then put it in a freezer safe container and freeze instead of storing in the fridge any longer.
Yes! You can prepare the marinade in a freezer bag and add the raw chicken right into it and then freeze. To defrost simply place in the refrigerator overnight then cook immediately.
Cooked chicken stored in an airtight container lasts in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs
- 1 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 Tbsp avocado oil
- sea salt
- 2 limes
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 3 slices lime - for garnish
- Finely chop cilantro and set 1/3 aside for garnish at the end and add 2/3 to a shallow bowl. Then add crushed garlic, avocado oil, sea salt, pepper, and lime juice to the bowl as well and mix well.
- Add chicken thighs to the marinade and turn around in it to cover well then let marinade on the kitchen counter for 15 minutes or cover and place in the fridge for up to 2 hours.
- In the meantime, prepare your sides such as coconut rice and green beans.
- Preheat a large pan over medium-low heat and once hot add the marinated chicken thighs to the pan to sear. Work in two batches in order not to crowd the pan. Sear for about 3-4 minutes on one side, then 3-4 minutes on the other and set aside.
- Add the chicken broth to the remaining marinade into the shallow bowl then pour all the liquid into the pan to deglaze. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to scrape off all the burnt bits and pieces and mix into the sauce.
- Once the sauce has thickened a little return the chicken thighs to the pan and finish cooking for a just a few minutes until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165F.
- Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle fresh cilantro over the chicken and garnish with a few slices of lime and serve.