Juiciest baked cilantro lime chicken recipe with bold Mediterranean seasoning and the BEST garlicky lime sauce! Make it in the oven or Crockpot. Serve baked cilantro lime chicken over rice or your favorite grain to make use of the delicious sauce!
Baked cilantro lime chicken
Of the many chicken recipes I've shared with you here, this cilantro lime chicken is one that is regularly requested by my family.
Fresh cilantro and lime juice are the perfect duo that many associate with Mexican cuisine. But they are also gloriously used in Mediterranean cooking – often combined with garlic and a host of warm spices.
In this one-pan cilantro lime chicken recipe, the chicken thighs take on a simple and delicious seasoning that includes warm spices like paprika, nutmeg, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. And white wine, lime juice, chicken broth, and cilantro form a show-stopping sauce in which the chicken cooks until fall-apart-tender! You’ll want to put the delicious sauce to use; pour it over some rice, bulgur, or your favorite grain.
Ingredients for cilantro lime chicken thighs
This baked chicken thighs recipe comes together with simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Chicken thighs - For succulent, flavor-packed results, use bone in, skin on chicken thighs.
- Seasoning - Seasoned salt, paprika (sweet Spanish or spicy paprika, whichever better suits your taste), black pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg.
- Extra virgin olive oil - You’ll need a couple of tablespoons of quality EVOO to brown the chicken for more flavor and better presentation.
- White wine - To deglaze the skillet after browning the chicken and to start off our garlic sauce with lime and cilantro. Don’t cook with alcohol? Just use more chicken broth (perhaps with a splash of white vinegar for a little acidity). The flavor will be different, but still delicious.
- Chicken broth - A generous 2 cups of quality low-sodium chicken broth are just what you need to make this chicken dinner super saucy.
- Fresh lime juice - The star of the sauce, lime juice brightens and lifts the other flavors in this baked chicken recipe.
- Garlic - You need 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped. No need to mince them too finely or neatly.
- Fresh cilantro - An entire bunch (stems removed) goes into the skillet. You’ll also need more for garnish.
How do you make cilantro lime chicken?
This chicken recipe is as simple as season, brown, and bake. Here’s how you make chicken with lime and cilantro (printer-friendly recipe below):
- Season the chicken. Mix the spices together (1 tablespoon garlic powder; 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon each sweet paprika and black pepper, and ½ teaspoon nutmeg). After patting the chicken dry, season it chicken all over, and be sure to lift the skins up and apply the spice mixture underneath.
- Brown the chicken. Heat up a bit of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron skillet (be sure the skillet has a lid, as you will use it later). Brown the chicken well on both sides. This is another opportunity to create great flavor!
- Make the sauce. Remove the chicken from the skillet for now and set it aside. Lower the heat. Add 1 cup dry white wine and cook to reduce, and then pour in 2 cups chicken broth. Add in the juice of 2 limes and 6 cloves roughly chopped garlic.
- Cook the chicken thighs with the sauce. Add the chicken back into the skillet and nestle it into the sauce. Add the fresh cilantro (we're using 1 bunch of cilantro here). Bring this party to a high simmer for 5 minutes, then cover the skillet and transfer it to the oven. Bake at 375 degrees F on the center rack for about 45 minutes. The chicken should be well cooked through and pretty much falling apart!
Slow cooker option
If you're wondering whether you can make cilantro lime chicken in a slow cooker, the answer is YES! Here's what you do:
- Season and brown in the skillet as directed in the recipe.
- Make the sauce (per the recipe as well).
- Transfer the sauce to the bottom of a large slow cooker or Crockpot.
- Add the chicken to the Crockpot and nestle it into the sauce. Add the cilantro.
- Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or High for 2 to 3 hours. (Internal temperature should register 165 degrees F).
I personally prefer baked cilantro lime chicken, but the slow cooker option is wonderful as well, especially when you need a hands-off alternative.
Can I use chicken breasts to make this recipe?
While bone-in skin-on chicken thighs are my usual choice for maximum juiciness, you can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts. Be sure to pound them with a meat mallet until the breast is an even thickness to ensure the entire breast cooks at the same speed.
Because breasts cook faster than thighs, you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. If baked in a 425 degrees F heated oven, chicken breasts are cooked in about 18 to 20 minutes, depending on their size and thickness. My Italian baked chicken breast recipe is a good guide to help you estimate how much time you need.
Can I use boneless chicken thighs instead?
Yes, if you like, you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs. As with chicken breasts, boneless chicken thighs will cook faster than bone-in (around 30 minutes at 425 degrees F). See my baharat baked chicken thighs recipe for more tips on how long to bake boneless chicken thighs.
Regardless of what cut of chicken you use, it will need to cook through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when measured with a meat thermometer.
What to serve with cilantro lime chicken
If you’re a potato person, you can’t go wrong with Greek potatoes. And if you’re looking for something green that goes well with baked chicken thighs, try baked zucchini, roasted cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts.
Leftovers and storage
If you have any leftover cilantro lime chicken, allow it to cool completely before transferring to a tight-lid container. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.
More chicken thighs recipes
Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, mix the spices. Pat the chicken thighs dry, and season each thigh on both sides with the spice mix. Be sure to season underneath the skin as well. Let the chicken thighs sit in room temperature for about 15 minutes.
- Brown the chicken. When ready, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet (with a lid). Brown the chicken thighs deeply on both sides in the heated oil. Remove from skillet and set aside briefly. Brown the chicken thighs deeply on both sides in the heated oil. Remove from skillet and set aside briefly.
- Lower the heat and deglaze the skillet with the white wine. Let cook to reduce and then add the broth. Bring the liquid to a simmer then add the lime juice and garlic.
- Now. return the chicken to the skillet and toss in the cilantro. Bring to a high-simmer for about 5 minutes or so.
- Cover the skillet with the lid and transfer to the heated oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with more cilantro, if you like.
- Slow Cooker/Crockpot Instructions: Once you've browned the chicken and prepared the sauce, transfer the sauce to the bottom of a large slow cooker or crockpot. Nestle the chicken into the sauce and add the fresh cilantro. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or high for 2 to 3 hours (internal temperature should register 165 degrees F).
- What to serve along: You have s many options for what to serve with these baked chicken thighs! Here are some ideas. Rice, Greek potatoes, baked zucchini, roasted cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts all go really well. For salad options, try black bean and corn salad, lemon parmesan lettuce salad, or roasted asparagus salad.
- How to store leftovers: Allow leftovers to cool completely and then transfer to an airtight container. These chicken thighs will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop in a skillet over medium heat.
- Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including spices and extra virgin olive oil used in this recipe.
*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2015 and has recently been updated with new information and media of readers' benefit.