Crispy cilantro lime chicken thighs in the best tangy and garlicky marinade. Made in the air fryer, oven or grilled for a crispy skin and juicy chicken. The easiest and most flavorful dinner cooked in 20 minutes!
Why You'll Love this Recipe
Unless cilantro tastes like soap to you, you're going to love this recipe. Most of the time is spent marinating so the delicious seasonings can get into the chicken.
The combination of seasonings makes the chicken super flavorful. We have garlic (because there can never be enough garlic), cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, and lime.
The cumin and chili powder gives the chicken a fragrant and smoky taste, and the lime provides a hint of tanginess while bringing out the flavors of the rest of the marinade.
We're also adding lime zest for an extra flavor punch.
The brown sugar balances out the marinade with a hint of sweetness and helps the chicken caramelize to golden perfection.
I love using boneless chicken thighs with the skin on for optimal flavor. Remember, fat is flavor!
Boneless thighs will help the marinade penetrate the meat more. Plus, it's easier to eat and it cooks faster!
Feel free to use boneless skinless thighs or chicken breast. For chicken breasts, adjust the cooking time accordingly.
If cilantro is not your thing, try parsley!
How to Make Crispy Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs
Prep all the ingredients and mix well in a bowl or Ziploc bag. The key to this recipe is to use fresh ingredients and marinate it for a long time!
My three favorite ways to cook these are in the air fryer, oven, or grill.
The air fryer doesn't require any preheating like the oven does and I like that the air fryer tray allows the excess chicken fat to drain through. I love pouring the juices from the bottom of the air fryer into a bowl and then skimming off the fat for some extra sauce to drizzle on top!
Place the chicken in the air fryer skin side down and cook at 400°F for 15 minutes. Flip halfway through cooking. If desired, air fry for a couple more minutes until the skin is golden brown and crispy to your liking.
The oven and broil method is a great way to make these if you don't want to breakout the grill.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake the chicken skin side up for 20 minutes. Then, broil on high for 3-5 minutes until the skin is crispy.
The key to crispy skin when cooking on a grill is to pat the skin dry with a paper towel. Preheat the grill to medium heat and cook skin side down for 6-8 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
You can also make this on a grill pan on the stove and then finish it off in the broiler to crisp up the skin.
I love the char and additional smokiness grilling gives the chicken and of course the beautiful grill marks!
Chicken is fully cooked when it reaches 165°F.
Tips to Make this Dish Perfectly
- Use fresh ingredients. Bottled lime juice does not compare to fresh lime, plus we want the extra flavor from the lime zest. 1 tsp of garlic powder can be substituted for garlic cloves.
- Marinate the chicken overnight or up to 2 days in advance. The longer the better! Flip the chicken once or twice while marinating for even coverage.
- When zesting the lime, make sure to only zest the green part off the skin. The pith, white layer, is bitter.
- Let the chicken sit on the counter for 30 minutes before cooking to ensure even cooking.
- Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes after cooking so the juices can redistribute.
- Drizzle extra sauce over the chicken. If you're air frying or oven roasting, pour the extra marinade at the bottom of the pan into a bowl and remove the fat. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken.
Make Ahead & Freeze
I love this recipe because it's made with ingredients I usually have on hand and it's so easy to make when I don't know what to make for dinner.
This is a quick and easy recipe to meal prep for the week or make ahead of a large gathering.
You can also freeze the chicken and marinade in a Ziploc bag for future meals!
How to serve cilantro lime chicken?
Add chopped chicken to a rice bowl with black beans, avocado, salsa and corn or wrap it in a burrito. The chicken would also be amazing on top of any salad.
How long can I store cilantro lime chicken?
Store cooked chicken in the fridge for up to four days.
How to reheat cilantro lime chicken?
Microwave for 2-3 minutes until just heated. Don't overheat or you will dry the chicken out.
Crispy Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs
- 4 chicken thighs boneless, skin on or off
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- zest of one lime
- In a mixing bowl or Ziploc bag, add all the ingredients and mix well. Marinate in the fridge for one hour or overnight.
- Air Fryer: Place the chicken in the air fryer skin side down and cook at 400°F for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken over to skin side up halfway through cooking. If needed, air fry for an additional 3-5 minutes until desired crispiness.
- Oven: Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake the chicken skin side up for 20 minutes in a baking dish. Broil on high until the skin is golden brown and slightly charred about 3-5 minutes. Watch closely so it doesn't burn.
- Grill: Preheat the grill to about 375°F. Pat the chicken skin dry with a paper towel. Grill skin side down for 6-8 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes or until cooked through.
- Chicken is cooked when it reaches 165°F. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro. Happy nomming!
- Bring the chicken out from the fridge and let is sit on the counter for 30 minutes before cooking. This allows for even cooking.
- Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving so the juices redistribute.