Grilled Chili Lime Chicken is made for summer. Quick and easy to prep, and even easier to eat, this perfectly tender chicken is a real taste explosion with just the right combination of sweet and spice.
Y’all are going to love this chili lime chicken! There is zero reason to settle for boring grilled chicken breasts when you can slather them in this zingy marinade. It’s just the right amount of heat with a side of sweet, and the chicken comes out perfectly every time.
Pair it with our Tomato Corn Salad or Southwestern Quinoa Salad for a meal that’s light, fresh and seriously freaking delicious. If you’re looking for a paleo option (yep, the marinade is totally paleo!), you can’t go wrong with a side of Cilantro Lime or Mexican Cauliflower Rice.
How to make chili lime chicken
Goodbye boring grilled chicken. Whip up this simple chili lime marinade and transform those lean chicken breasts into a juicy, tender, flavor bomb. Lime juice, chili powder, and honey create a delicious crust, while minced jalapeños add subtle heat and lots of flavor. Marinate the chicken at least 30 minutes, but ideally 2 hours.
Make the chili lime chicken marinade:
- Lime juice (fresh squeezed will yield the best flavor)
- Olive oil (or avocado oil)
- Diced jalapeños (include seeds in the marinade for spicier chicken)
- Chili powder (scale up or down, depending on your preference for heat)
- Minced garlic
- Kosher Salt
- Combine the lime juice, honey, and olive oil in a glass measuring cup; whisk until the honey is completely mixed in. Add the jalapeños, chili powder, garlic, and salt, then give the marinade another good stir.
- Prepare the chicken breasts. Place a chicken breast between two sheets of parchment paper; use a rolling pin to pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness of about 1″. This will help the chicken grill evenly.
- Arrange the chicken in a casserole dish, pour the marinade over the chicken, and use your hands to massage it in.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but ideally 2 hours.
- Grill the chicken 5-6 minutes per side on a preheated grill set to high. Be sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F using an instant read thermometer.
- Allow the chicken to rest for about 5 minutes – this allows the juices to settle and keeps the chicken moist. Slice against the grain, then top with cilantro and thinly sliced jalapeños.
Is this chicken spicy?
The grilled chicken is definitely more “spiced” than spicy. I have a lower tolerance for heat than my husband, but he found the balance just right with the jalapeno slices on top. To add more heat, use 2 teaspoons chili powder and include jalapeno seeds in the marinade.
Can I use chicken thighs?
Yes! Both boneless skinless chicken thighs and chicken breast work equally well in this marinade. Chicken thighs can stand a longer marinade, and grill slightly more quickly, 4-5 minutes per side, since they’re thinner. Don’t forget to check that the internal temperature has reached 165°F before removing from the grill.
How long to marinate chicken?
Boneless skinless chicken should ideally be marinated for at least 2 hours. Because this marinade contains acid, in the form of lime juice, it can actually start to toughen the chicken if you leave it for too long, so don’t exceed more than 8 hours or so (prep it first thing in the morning for dinner if time permits).
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Be sure to pound the chicken before adding the marinade. Pounding helps to tenderize the meat and ensure the chicken cooks evenly throughout.
- For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed lime juice rather than the bottled juice. It’s is so much more vibrant and zingy.
- Thoroughly preheat the grill so the chicken starts to cook as soon as it hits the grates.
- Always check for temperature using an instant read thermometer. Chicken should be cooked until the internal temperature registers 165°F.
- Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute.
More grilled chicken recipes
- Grilled Chicken with Avocado Salsa
- Balsamic Chicken Thighs
- Grilled Lemon Thyme Chicken Skewers
- Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos
- Caprese Chicken
Did you make this chili lime chicken recipe? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below
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Chili Lime ChickenPrint Recipe Rate This Recipe
- 9x13 Casserole Dish
- 1½ lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, 4 medium (6-oz) chicken breasts
- ¼ c lime juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1-2 jalapeños, minced
- 2 tsp lime zest
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- chopped cilantro, to taste
- thinly sliced jalapeños, to taste
- Prepare the chicken. Place one chicken breast onto a sheet of parchment paper, then fold the paper over the chicken. Use a rolling pin to pound the chicken breast to an even thickness of just under 1”. Set aside and repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. Arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer in a casserole dish.
- Combine the lime juice, olive oil, and honey in a mixing cup or bowl; whisk until the honey is dissolved. Add the jalapeños, lime zest, garlic, chili powder, and salt and whisk once more. Pour the marinade over the chicken breasts; use your (clean) hands to massage the marinade into the chicken, then cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Transfer the chicken to the fridge; marinate at least 30 minutes, ideally for 2 hours, and up to 8 hours.
- Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Place the chicken on the grill; cook 5-6 minutes and baste with several times with the remaining marinade. Flip the chicken, cease basting, and grill 5-6 minutes more, or until an instant read thermometer registers 165°F.
- Remove the chicken from the grill to a cutting board and rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain and garnish with chopped cilantro and thinly sliced jalapeno.
- Add jalapeno seeds to the marinade for more heat.
- Thoroughly preheat the grill so the chicken starts to cook as soon as it hits the grate; often chicken will stick to a grill that hasn't been properly preheated.
- Chicken thighs can be substituted; reduce cooking time to 4-5 minutes per side.