Take your chicken dinner from ordinary to extraordinary with this quick & oh-so-easy 5-ingredient cilantro lime chicken marinade for grilling or baking. Fresh lime juice and cilantro, zesty garlic, and avocado oil are quickly blended into a marinade that produces juicy, flavorful chicken breasts or thighs every time. This time-saving recipe is the secret to easy meals that are jam-packed with flavor!

Overhead image of white oval platter with two forks, sliced chicken breasts with green sauce, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro. Platter is surrounded by bowls of fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and green sauce.

5 star review

“Love this! Huge hit with whole fam.”

– Ellie

Visual Guide: How to Make Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

Jump to Recipe Instructions

Robyn’s Testing Notes

I absolutely love a quick and easy marinade to elevate any meal because it requires hardly any effort, is easy to clean up, and totally transforms a simple protein like chicken.

I’ve created marinades for all different flavor cravings like curry, buffalo, and taco, and now I have this delicious cilantro lime marinade for chicken that I’m loving.

I have to admit, I am a huge fan of the cilantro lime flavor combination – I already have a slow cooker cilantro lime chicken and cilantro lime sauce, so, of course, I had to create a cilantro lime chicken marinade.

And on top of it being delicious, the best part about this recipe is that all the marinade ingredients are whizzed up in the blender (or food processor), making it so easy to throw together on time-crunched nights.

Simply throw all the marinade ingredients into the blender, pour half the marinade into a 1-gallon zip top bag with the chicken, let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, and then grill or bake. It’s that easy!

Overhead image of white oval platter with grilled chicken breasts with green sauce and fresh cilantro. Platter is surrounded by bowls of fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and green sauce.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

Avocado Oil: I used avocado oil in this recipe to keep the lime and cilantro as the key flavors, but any neutral-flavored oil works such as canola or vegetable oil.

Fresh Lime Juice: Since lime is the star ingredient, I highly recommend using freshly squeezed lime juice. I haven’t tested the recipe with bottled lime juice, so I can’t say how well it works.

Cilantro: I know cilantro isn’t everyone’s favorite, so if that’s you, you could try swapping flat leaf parsley for the cilantro, but of course, it would be a different flavor profile. Or I recommend making my lemon chicken marinade for another citrusy marinade.

Garlic: Fresh garlic is preferred since there are so few ingredients, and because we use a blender you don’t even need to chop it. Feel free to adjust the garlic flavor to your liking by increasing or decreasing the amount.

Sugar: A bit of sugar in a marinade helps the flavors penetrate the meat more and aids in browning, however, you can leave it out if you wish.

Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs work great in this recipe.

Overhead shot of a blender with green sauce.

How to Make Ahead

This cilantro lime chicken is the perfect meal prep protein!

I do not recommend marinating chicken overnight or longer than 60 minutes as the acidity from the lime breaks down the protein, leaving it with a mushy texture.

However, you can freeze the marinade and uncooked chicken together for a super easy meal. 

Simply place the marinade, chicken, and water in a 1-gallon freezer bag and stick in the freezer. When you’re ready to use, defrost the chicken and cook it immediately.

Once cooked, the chicken will keep well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, in a sealed container.

Simple Serving Suggestions

Perfectly grilled cilantro lime chicken is the ideal complement to any meal because it’s so versatile!

For a simple weeknight meal, pair with one of these quick and easy BBQ side dishes for grilled chicken!

Or use as a filling for tacos, taco bowls, or taco salads, and top with this 5-minute cilantro lime sauce for even more flavor.

Close-up overhead image of white oval platter with two forks, sliced chicken breasts with green sauce, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro. Platter is surrounded by bowls of fresh cilantro, lime wedges, oil, and green sauce.

This Recipe Is… 

Side view of of white oval platter with two forks, sliced chicken breasts with green sauce, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro.
5 stars (4 ratings)

5-Ingredient Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

Take your chicken dinner from ordinary to extraordinary with this quick & oh-so-easy cilantro lime chicken marinade for grilling or baking. Fresh lime juice and cilantro, zesty garlic, and avocado oil are quickly blended into a marinade that produces juicy, flavorful chicken breasts or thighs every time.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup avocado oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups packed cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts (or thighs)

Instructions 

Marinade Instructions

  • Add the oil, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, salt, and sugar to a blender or food processor. Blend on low until just combined.
  • Pour half of the marinade along with 2 tablespoons of water into a 1-gallon zip-top bag or baking dish. Set the remaining marinade aside to use as a drizzle once the chicken has been cooked.
  • Add the chicken and toss to coat, then press as much air out of the bag (if using) as possible, or cover with plastic wrap (if using a baking dish). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 60 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes.

Grilling Instructions

  • When ready to grill, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high. Allow to preheat for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shake off any excess, and discard any remaining marinade from the bag or dish.
  • Grill, with the cover down, until chicken thighs register 170F or chicken breasts register 165F, flipping halfway.
  • Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain into ½ inch slices, and serve drizzled with reserved marinade.

Baking Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F. Add the chicken and marinade to a small baking dish. If you have a large baking dish or rimmed sheet pan, omit the marinade as it will spread and possibly burn. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until or until chicken thighs register 170F or chicken breasts register 165F.
  • Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain into ½ inch slices and serve, drizzled with reserved marinade.

Notes

Yields ⅔ cup. For more ingredients & modifications, see the blog post above.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 (of 8), Calories: 196kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 570mg, Potassium: 454mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 308IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition disclaimer
Did you make this recipe?If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

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