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Lime Marinated Grilled Chicken Recipe

This lime marinated grilled chicken is so incredibly simple to make – and it’s a family favorite. Some links in this article are affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

It’s officially summer. It’s also gotten really hot in Chicago – today being the exception, of course – which means that I’m sort of done using the stove or oven for the summer.

I do a lot of chicken grilling, and I use a lot of citrus marinades (ok, a lot of marinades in general). This is definitely my daughter’s favorite chicken marinade!

Sliced grilled chicken on a red plate with rice.

This is a super easy and fast throw together recipe (as in I did it in eight minutes between conference calls last Thursday), and there are no leftovers once it’s cooked!

If you happen to have leftovers, try them chopped in tacos or made into fajitas. I love change of pace leftovers.

What kind of chicken should I use?

I usually use boneless skinless chicken breasts for this, and they’re perfect. You should also choose to use chicken thighs or chicken tenderloins.

I prefer boneless, but if you use bone in chicken, make sure you add extra cook time. The safest way to grill chicken is to use a meat thermometer you can insert and monitor digitally.

If you use boneless chicken thighs or chicken tenderloins, know that they cook faster than chicken breasts. Definitely watch the time and temperature.

Why use fresh lime juice?

Bottled lime juice has its purpose. It’s great in a pinch or when you realize you don’t have enough lime juice or your limes are too old.

However, fresh lime juice always tastes better. If you can squeeze your own limes for the juice, you’ll notice a difference.

If you want even more tangy lime flavor, use the lime zest, as well. Just make sure not to include the white pith, as that’s incredibly bitter.

What oil should I use in a chicken marinade?

The oil generally isn’t intended to impart flavor, so don’t use an expensive oil. I generally use the canola oil I have always in my pantry.

That said, olive oil or grapeseed oil or avocado oil work well, too. Just avoid things like walnut oil.

Why do I pound chicken breasts?

The chicken breasts I had were fairly even thickness. I’m lucky, so I don’t need to do this.

However, if you have chicken breasts that are much meatier at one end than the other, you want to gently pound them to get them to a relatively even thickness so you don’t have one end raw and the other burned.

To do this, place your boneless chicken breast between parchment paper or plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet or a rolling pin to gently pound the chicken from the center towards the edges.

You don’t want to pound it hard and shred the chicken. The motion is more of a light pound and press gently to the edge.

The goal here is to get your chicken to a little less than an inch thick throughout.

What should I serve with lime marinated chicken?

This citrus grilled chicken goes well with all the flavors of summer. I often serve it over rice, but there is so much more, too.

I make a tomato and avocado green salad that complements it perfectly. It has an avocado and citrus dressing that works well with the citrus in the marinade.

In addition, try grilled baby bok choy or corn on the cob as a vegetable. 

Lime marinated grilled chicken on a red plate with rice.

Can I freeze the chicken and marinade to grill later?

You can freeze the chicken in the marinade, but make sure that you freeze it immediately rather than letting it marinate and then freezing it.

If you marinate it first, the citrus will start to break down the chicken, and that’s suboptimal.

To cook it, let it thaw overnight in your fridge and grill it that day.

How long should I marinate chicken?

You want to let the citrus and garlic flavor from the marinade absorb into the chicken, so don’t marinate it for a half hour and expect to have a ton of flavor.

Ideally, you want to marinate this chicken for two to four hours. Longer than that, and it will start to “cook” the meat and break it down.

Can I bake this chicken instead?

You absolutely can do a baked lime chicken. If you start to marinate your chicken then realize the weather is about to turn, you have an alternative.

Or if you don’t want to grill in cold weather but love this flavor. For whatever the reason, you can bake it in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, then bake your chicken on a pan for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick they are.

I love placing mine on a wire baking rack that fits inside my baking sheet. When they have more exposure to air like on a grill, I like that taste and texture better. 

 How to Make Grilled Lime Marinated Chicken

Mince the garlic cloves, then juice your limes. I generally need 3-4 limes to get 1/2 cup, depending on the juiciness of them.

Add all the ingredients except the chicken into a container and whisk thoroughly – or use your blender to whip it together, in which case you just need to peel your garlic and not mince it.

Add your boneless chicken breasts, and let them marinate for 2-4 hours. Shake the well sealed container or flip the bag a couple times to ensure all the chicken enjoys the citrus marinade. 

I sometimes slice them and make chicken breast halves to help it cook more quickly.

Preheat your grill to medium heat. Use tongs to shake off any excess marinade, then place on your hot grill.

Cook for 5-7 minutes per side, turning only once. Cook your boneless chicken breasts over direct heat.

Flipping chicken on the grill with tongs.

The chicken should release easily from the grill. If it wants to stick, let it cook another minute before you flip it.

Don’t overcook it! Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before you cut into it so you get to enjoy juicy chicken.

What’s your favorite chicken marinade?

Sliced grilled chicken on a red plate with rice.

Lime Marinated Grilled Chicken

This incredibly simple marinade takes just a few minutes to create, but it makes for a delicious and juicy chicken on the grill that everyone loves.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: main dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Marinating Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 22 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 327kcal
Author: Michelle


  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 chicken breasts


  • Mince garlic, and juice limes. Add all ingredients except the chicken to a container and whisk thoroughly.
    1/2 cup lime juice, 3 cloves garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1/3 cup oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Add your boneless chicken breasts and seal, then shake to coat. Marinate in fridge for 2-4 hours.
    6 chicken breasts
  • Preheat your grill to medium heat.
  • Use tongs to shake off any excess marinade, then place on your hot grill.
  • Cook over direct heat for 5-7 minutes per side, turning only once.
  • Let the chicken rest 5 minutes, then serve.



  • Use lime zest if you want a more tangy lime flavor.
  • For more tips and tricks, be sure to read the full article above.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 327kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 442mg | Sugar: 3g

This site uses an online source to provide nutrition estimates as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

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  1. Michelle says:

    Pat – Awwww thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying them.

    Kori – Yeah… sunny is sorta key to the grilling. We've been (and are scheduled to be) wet here, too. Bleh.

    Kelly – But it's so easy 🙂 You can do this!

    Alexis – I think you exaggerate slightly, but … I'll take it.

    Debbie – What a fun carnival title. I'll have to go look it up 🙂

    Denise – It is. Which, of course, explains the lack of pictures. Oops.

    Lisa – And it would go so well with the rice you had, too. Gotta love the citrus in the summer.

  2. Lisa@BlessedwithGrace says:

    Sounds like a great summer chicken recipe. Thanks for the recipe and linking to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

  3. Together We Save says:

    Sounds very yummy!!

  4. Debbie says:

    Come join me for the inaugural edition of What's On the Menu Wednesday. I'd love for you to link up with Mister Linky. Thanks. Love this idea…will definitely try it.

  5. Alexis AKA MOM says:

    You always have the best ideas!

  6. septembermom says:

    Now if only I could get you to come over and cook this for me….LOL.

  7. Kori says:

    That does sound really good; we have begun grilling more, too, no that it is finally at least not raining, if not sunny; i will have to try this one over the weekend and see how the kids like it. Sounds like it would be good in a Cesaer salad, too.

  8. Pat says:

    This is another recipe of yours I've saved! Thanks for all your great recipes!

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