cilantro lime marinade and chicken breasts in a sealed freezer bag

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

By Rachel Tiemeyer
July 10, 2020

Cilantro, lime, garlic and more marry together to create this fresh, citrusy Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade.

marinade in a mason jar and marinade and chicken in freezer bag

According to Epicurious (and our readers’ comments over the years), “cilantro’s flavor is described by some as bright and citrusy, and as soapy by others.” If you’re a cilantro lover, this marinade is WHAT YOU WANT.

Ingredients in Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

ingredients for cilantro lime chicken marinade on a table

Everyone has their part to play in this fresh, bold marinade.

  • Cilantro and lime bring the bright, citrusy notes.
  • Garlic brings on the palate-pleasing pungent part (#alliterationbomb).
  • Cumin adds a little smokiness.
  • Red pepper flakes lend a little heat in the background.
  • Salt, well, is good ole salt.
lemon garlic marinade in small mason jar

How to Make and Store the Marinade

You can mix up this marinade and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in a jar to use when ready. Or, you can freeze it in a mason jar, too, but allow at least 1 inch of headspace at the top for expansion.

cilantro lime marinade over chicken breasts in an open freezer bag

When ready to use the marinade, pour it over chicken in a zip-top bag or container with a lid. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours to infuse flavor.

cilantro lime marinade and chicken breasts in a sealed freezer bag

Then, grill, slow cook, pressure cook, or bake your marinated Cilantro Lime Chicken–your choice! We’ve included instructions for how to cook boneless chicken breasts any of these ways in the recipe below. Enjoy your final product on its own or use as a salad topper, taco filling, or burrito bowl ingredient.

Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls - A healthy and filling dinner idea for everyone!


Try some of other other favorite healthy chicken marinades to mix things up:

Download our Free Chicken Marinades Cheat Sheet Printable!

If you want to have these simple marinade combos on hand anytime, download our quick cheat sheet. This handy one-page printable includes all the recipes and 4 options for cooking your marinated chicken breasts. Tape it up inside a cabinet or pantry door, so you can whip up these recipes anytime.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in below are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Here’s our full disclosure.

cilantro lime marinade and chicken breasts in a sealed freezer bag

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

  • Author: Rachel Tiemeyer
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: 45 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Any cooking method
  • Cuisine: American


Cilantro, lime, garlic and more marry together to create this fresh, citrusy Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade.


  • ½ cup oil (recommended: avocado or olive oil) 
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes (about ¼ cup)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes


Make It Now:

  1. Add the oil, lime juice and zest, cilantro, garlic, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes to a gallon-sized freezer bag, seal, and shake. Either seal and refrigerate until ready to use, OR add 1.5-2 pounds chicken to the bag, seal, and squish around to make sure the chicken is covered in marinade. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Cook the chicken however you’d like (grill, slow cook, pressure cook, or bake). See tips below in the Notes.

Freeze For Later: Follow step 1. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw, using one of these safe thawing methods, and follow Step 3. No additional marinating time needed once it is thawed!



How to Know If Chicken Is Done: Chicken is done when it reaches 165°F internal temperature. (A digital meat thermometer is a must to help cook chicken perfectly.)

How to Cook Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts:

  • Bake in Oven: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chicken in a casserole dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, until done.
  • Slow Cooker: Place chicken and marinade in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Really! That’s all it takes to get it done, otherwise you’ll overcook and dry it out.
  • Instant Pot: Place chicken, marinade, and 1/3 cup chicken broth in a 6 quart Instant Pot. (Note: If using an 8 quart, add an additional 1/2 cup of broth.) Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes and use a quick release of the pressure when the cook time is up. (Note: It will take 10-15 minutes to come to pressure before the cook time starts.)
  • Grill: Pound out the chicken to about 3/4 inch thick (or cut it in half lengthwise) to help with fast and even cooking. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and clean the grates well. Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side, maybe longer depending on the thickness, until done.

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