Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Thighs


Tender, juicy chicken thighs are marinated in chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, cilantro, and lime juice, grilled to perfection and topped with an optional honey-lime drizzle. Delicious! 


I think I’ve mentioned before how I’ve recently made the switch to team grilled chicken chicken thighs. I don’t know why it took me so long but now that I’ve discovered how tender, juicy, and meaty this cut of chicken can be, I want to try it all the ways. This cilantro lime chicken does not disappoint. Tonight I’m going to try it on tacos with all the toppings — can’t wait! 

Here’s How You Make It 


  • Boneless Chicken Thighs — You’ll be hard-pressed to find bone-in chicken thighs, and anyway boneless just cooks so much easier and is easy to cut right off the grill. 
  • Olive oil —  I use extra virgin olive oil but you can use whatever kind of high-quality olive oil you have. 
  • Chili powder — Any brand chili powder is fine in this grilled chicken thighs marinade. 
  • Cumin — The same goes for cumin, I use a store-brand cumin or whatever’s on sale honestly. 
  • Garlic — You can use jarred, minced garlic, mince your own garlic, or use garlic powder on these grilled chicken thighs. 
  • Salt — I like fine grain kosher salt but you can use any fine salt that you have. 
  • Cilantro — Fresh cilantro on this grilled boneless chicken thigh recipe is key! 
  • Limes — Same goes for that fresh squeeze of lime, but you can use bottled lime juice if that’s what you have on hand. 
  • Water — Tap water is fine here. Nothing fancy needed. 

Step By Step Instructions 

  1. First, place the chicken thighs in a bowl.
  2. Next, get out a glass or plastic jar with a lid and combine the olive oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, cilantro, lime juice, and water. Add the lid, tighten it, shake the marinade vigorously, and pour over the chicken thighs, tossing them to coat.
  3. Cover the cilantro lime chicken, pop it in the fridge, and allow it to chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  4. Using tongs, transfer the chicken thighs to a preheated grill (throwing away any excess marinade). Grill the chicken marinated in cilantro lime chicken marinade over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes per side (turning down the heat if the chicken starts to brown too quickly).
  5. Take the chicken off the grill and serve it with additional cilantro and lime wedges. Enjoy!

Why This Recipe Works

Chicken thighs — Chicken thighs are tender and juicy and especially tasty when marinated in this cilantro lime sauce. They just really work well in this recipe for grilled, boneless chicken thighs.

Marinade — Marinades don’t have to be complicated, as evidenced by this simple, easy cilantro lime chicken marinade. All it takes is oil, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and a couple hours in the fridge. That cilantro lime taste will really shine through on the grilled chicken thighs!

Simple ingredients — You probably have most of the ingredients you need in your fridge or pantry right now. The only thing you might have to get is fresh cilantro, which is at just about every grocery store in the produce aisle. 

Family friendly My kids love, love, love this chicken thighs recipe. They don’t even question that the chicken isn’t the boneless, skinless chicken breasts they are used to. All they know is that it’s chicken and it’s delicious! 


How Long to Grill Chicken Thighs? 

Cooking chicken thighs can be tricky. They’re not as thick as chicken breasts, but they are very meaty. So how long should you grill chicken thighs? Read on to find out. 

Generally speaking, you should grill chicken thighs for 7-8 minutes (turning once in that time) for boneless thighs. If you have bone-in chicken thighs, those will take a little longer about 10-15 minutes (turning once in that time). 

When in doubt, use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. When it reads 165 degrees, you’re good to go. 

Are Chicken Thighs Healthy? 

The short answer is yes! Chicken thighs are just as healthy as the breasts and other cuts of meat. They are dark meat and dark meat contains healthy monounsaturated fats which are good for your heart. 

The skin is unhealthy though on any cut of chicken so if you’re worried about eating the healthiest cuts of chicken, skip the skin and you should be good no matter what you choose. 


What to Serve with Grilled Chicken Thighs 

Want to round out this chicken thighs recipe? I’ve got you covered with these great ideas to make this a full meal: 

  • Cut these grilled chicken thighs and add them to a corn or flour tortilla with all your favorite toppings. 
  • Add a side of yummy Mexican rice
  • Try serving this dish with this grilled corn salad
  • Better yet, slice up these chicken thighs and put them right on top of the corn salad for a one-dish meal. 
  • Looking for other salads to add this chicken too? These recipes will do the trick: chicken corn salad, chicken avocado salad, or Mexican street corn pasta salad
  • Use this chicken with other favorite fillings for some quesadillas. 
  • Add this chicken over some cauliflower rice for a delicious low-carb meal. 
  • For another low-carb idea, make lettuce wraps with these marinated chicken thighs and top with your favorite toppings (I prefer the taco toppings, of course.)

Is It Better to Bake Chicken Thighs at 350 or 400?

If you like a golden brown exterior on your chicken thighs, then it’s better to bake them at a higher temperature. Bake skin-on chicken thighs at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. 

For skinless chicken thighs, cook at about 350 for 30-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cuts of meat. 

Should You Soak Chicken Thighs Before Cooking?

When people ask me if they should “soak” chicken before cooking it makes me think of soaking meat in water, which I think would be strange. But if I think about it more as a soaking in a marinade or brine then that makes sense. 

If you want to impart more flavor into your grilled chicken breasts, then definitely use the marinade in this recipe or another marinade or brine. Once you put it on the chicken, add the chicken in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of hours before grilling. This will ensure your chicken thighs are nice and moist and flavorful. 


Expert Tips 

  • Want to make a yummy honey lime drizzle to spoon over your grilled boneless chicken thighs? Here’s how: Simply combine ¼ cup of honey with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and the juice of one lime. Mix till thoroughly combined then spoon or drizzle over the top of the cilantro lime chicken. So. Good! 
  • These marinated chicken thighs will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Or, eat this chicken cold right out of the fridge — so delicious either way! 
  • These chicken thighs will freeze for up to 5 months in an airtight container. 
  • The marinade can be made ahead of time. Add to the chicken thighs a couple hours before you’re ready to grill.

More Recipes You’ll Love

For more amazing chicken recipes, try my popular posts for Greek Lemon Chicken and Rice Gyros, Best Baked Chicken Thighs, and Baked Chicken Meatballs

If you make these marinated grilled chicken thighs, please come back and let me know what you think by leaving a comment and rating the recipe! And be sure to snap a photo and email it or tag me on social media, I love connecting with you and seeing your CDLC creations!