Does the perfect taco exist? Trick question! All tacos are perfect. But these easy Grilled Chicken Tacos are truly a cut-against-the-grain-above. A bold and tangy cilantro lime marinade brings tons of flavor and juiciness to grilled chicken thighs. Wrap ’em in a warm tortilla and serve with your favorite toppings for non-stop chef’s kisses.
Though this most glorious of recipes was designed to feed a family of four – and easily multiplies to feed a group of more – I want to take a moment to give a special shout out to everyone who might be making solo tacos.
While some people may struggle with cooking for one, tacos are actually one of life’s greatest glass-half-full opportunities. You see, in this house, tacos don’t exist past one meal. (Leftovers? What are those?) But for you, solo diner, this grilled chicken taco recipe means 2-3 magical meals.
Simple, fast, flavorful, and totally versatile, cilantro lime grilled chicken thighs will hold up beautifully for a few rounds of tacos. Need variety? Switch up your vessel – fresh corn tortillas, flour if you prefer; lettuce cups or cheese wraps if you’re keto; or just do a taco bowl! Need even more variety? Switch up your toppings:
- Shredded red cabbage or crisp romaine
- Avocado, guacamole, or heck, both!
- Diced red onion or pickled red onion
- More fresh cilantro
- Queso fresco, cotija, or shredded monterey jack
- Fresh pico de gallo, sliced radishes, or grilled corn
- Sour cream or cilantro lime crema
Bottom line, not all of us are fortunate enough to have Taco Tuesday-through-Thursday without extra cooking or furtive trips to a nameless fast food joint, so count your blessings… and enjoy!
Cilantro Lime Marinade
Think of this as a bonus gift. You don’t have to reserve this marinade just for tacos – marinate whole chicken breasts or thighs and serve with Mexican Cauliflower Rice or over Instant Pot Pinto Beans to change things up. Feel free to adjust heat to taste!
- Lime Juice: fresh squeezed is best!
- Olive Oil: or avocado oil
- Cilantro: fresh, roughly chopped
- Kosher Salt
- Ground Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes
Watch: Grilled Chicken Taco Recipe Video
How To Make Grilled Chicken Tacos
Just because it’s Taco Tuesday, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fire up the grill! Grilled Chicken Tacos marry citrus and smoke for a flavor that pairs perfectly with loads of your favorite toppings. The cilantro lime marinade is a breeze to whip up and chicken is ready to serve in under 20 minutes!
- Marinate: combine lime juice, oil, garlic, and seasonings; marinate chicken 2-8 hours.
- Grill: heat grill to 400°F. Grill 5-6 minutes on each side or until internal temp is 165°F.
- Rest: remove from grill and tent with foil for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Slice: cut chicken against the grain and portion into tortillas. Garnish and serve immediately.
Tips for Making This Recipe Perfectly
- Marinate! You can marinate as little as 30 minutes, but the flavor really improves after a few hours. Prep in the morning to be ready by dinnertime.
- Always check the internal temperature for chicken using an instant read thermometer. They should reach 165°F before pulling them off the grill.
- Rest. This allows the juices to settle, resulting in more tender chicken.
- Slice against the grain. Bitten into tough chicken? YUCK! Slice against the grain of the fibers running through the chicken for tender bites every time.
Can I Use Chicken Breast?
Boneless and skinless is the way to go for obvious reasons, but the choice of chicken thigh or chicken breast is really yours. I personally prefer chicken thighs because they’re a bit fattier (more flavor! and more crispy bits!), more uniform in size (they cook evenly), and when cooking for a crowd, they’re slightly more economical.
You can absolutely use chicken breast, but I suggest the following modifications for best results: (1) pound out the chicken breasts to make them a uniform thickness throughout; (2) double the salt to give them some extra brine, and therefore extra juiciness.
Tacos for Days
- Skirt Steak Tacos
- Ground Beef Tacos with Homemade Seasoning
- Keto Ground Beef Tacos
- Instant Pot Whole 30 Chicken Tacos
- Spicy Potato Tacos
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga Tacos
Did you make these Easy Grilled Chicken Tacos? I’d love to know how the recipe turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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Cilantro Lime Chicken and Marinade
- 2 limes, juiced (about ¼ cup), plus additional slices for serving
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, up to 1 tsp total for additional heat
- ½ c chopped cilantro, plus additional for serving
- ⅓ c olive oil
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thigh
Toppings for Grilled Chicken Tacos
- ½ c shredded red cabbage
- 2 avocados, sliced
- ½ c queso fresco
- ½ red onion, diced
- 12 corn torillas
- Place the lime juice, smashed garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, cilantro, and olive oil into a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the chicken and toss with tongs to coat. Cover tightly and marinate at least 30 minutes, but preferably 2 hours and up to 8.
- Light a charcoal or gas grill to high heat, or light a grill pan under a high flame. Allow the grill to heat to at least 400°F Using tongs, remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and place on the grill. Grill 5-6 minutes per side, flipping once, or until the temperature registers 165°F using an instant read thermometer.
- Remove the chicken from the grill, place on a cutting board or platter, loosely tent with foil, and rest 5 minutes.
- Slice the chicken, then sprinkle with additional lime juice to taste and additional chopped fresh cilantro. Portion into corn tortillas and serve with various suggested toppings. Leftover chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.