With chicken thighs or breasts marinated in a blend of lime, cilantro, and spices, this Cilantro Lime marinade is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Whether you’re firing up the grill, heating up the oven, or using an air fryer, we’ve got you covered with simple instructions for each cooking method.

We love that this main dish is not only Whole30 but naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and egg-free. Perfect for an allergen-friendly meal!

Cilantro Lime Marinade Ingredients

Whole30 Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade Ingredients
Recipe & photos by Autumn Michaelis

To create this flavorful but simple marinade, gather 1-1.5 pounds of chicken thighs or breasts, half a cup of either olive or avocado oil, a cup of loosely packed cilantro, four cloves of garlic, a teaspoon each of salt and cumin, half a teaspoon of pepper, and the zest and juice of two small limes. These ingredients come together to form a vibrant combination of flavors that pulls together in just five minutes.

We start by combining all the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor. Then, we add the marinade to chicken breasts or thighs and marinate for at least 30 minutes. You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours for an even more intense flavor infusion.

Tips and Tricks:

Don’t have a food processor or blender? Instead, finely chop your cilantro and garlic before whisking all the marinade ingredients together. 

You can use bone-in chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breasts with this marinade. For chicken breasts, we recommend using pounding them into thinner, uniform pieces. Or, you can cut them in half horizontally for quicker and more even cooking. You can also pierce each chicken breast with a fork a few times to help the marinade infuse the chicken even more.

Whole30 Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade
Recipe & photos by Autumn Michaelis


If you are meal prepping, you can throw it into the freezer to pull out on a busy week. Marinated chicken can go straight into the freezer after combining the chicken with the marinade. We use reusable zip-top bags or glass containers with a lid, but a ziplock bag works just as well! (No need to marinate it before freezing, as it will marinate in the freezer and as it thaws.)

Note that frozen chicken must be fully thawed before cooking, so pull it out the night before to ensure it’s ready for prep time. (Chicken should not be left to marinate for over 24 hours, as raw chicken will begin to break down and become mushy.)

This flavorful recipe pairs wonderfully with our Cilantro Salsa Slaw and Watermelon Mojito Salad for a complete delicious dinner spread!

Whole30 Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

Whole30 Cilantro Lime Chicken
Recipe & photos by Autumn Michaelis
Whole30 Cilantro Lime Chicken

Whole30 Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Marinade Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course dinner, lunch, seasonings

Ingredients
  

  • 1-1.5 lbs chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1/2 cup olive or avocado oil
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 4 cloves garlic (about 2 tsp minced)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 limes, juice and zest

Instructions
 

  • COMBINE all ingredients except chicken into a blender or food processor. Blend until well combined.
  • ADD chicken and combined marinade into a zip top reusable bag or glass container. Seal or cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.
  • TO GRILL – Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Brush the grill with oil so the chicken won’t stick. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side until chicken has sear marks and is cooked through, with an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from the grill and cover with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes to let juices redistribute before cutting.
  • OVEN BAKE – Preheat your oven to 425 °F.. Pour the marinade and chicken into a 9×9 pan. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Cook until lightly browned and is no longer pink inside, or has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
  • AIR FRY – Add the chicken to your air fryer basket and air fry at 400 °F. for 9-10 minutes, flipping halfway if the chicken overlaps. Cook until lightly browned and is no longer pink inside or has reached an internal temperature of 165 °F. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
  • TO FREEZE – Marinated chicken can go straight into the freezer after combining the chicken with the marinade in either a sealed reusable zip-top bag or a glass container with a lid. No need to marinate it before freezing, as it will marinate in the freezer. The frozen chicken in marinade does need to be thawed fully before cooking, so be sure to pull it out the night before you want to cook.
Keyword chicken, grilling, marinade
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Autumn Michaelis

Recipe Creator | Whole Food for 7

Autumn Michaelis is an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, with a B.S. in Exercise Science from BYU. Though exercise was her first love in the health world, nutrition has become her passion. She created the blog Wholefoodfor7, sharing easy and budget-friendly Whole30, Paleo, and gluten-free + dairy-free recipes for families. In August 2022, Autumn released the newest Whole30 Endorsed cookbook, Whole Food for Your Family. She is mom to 5 boys (yes 5!) and when not in the kitchen can be found adventuring, hiking, and tearing up the dance floor.