Skillet Chicken with Cilantro Lime Sauce

This cilantro lime chicken simmers in a creamy flavor packed sauce and comes together in only 1 pan!

chicken breasts in a skillet with cilantro lime sauce

Tell me about your 4th of July! What did you do? Did you make any of my recipes? Fire up the grill? Watch fireworks and catch some rays? The weather was miserable, humid, and rainy on Saturday here in Philly so a lot of my celebrating was indoors. Which didn’t stop us from the best party of all time.

Seeing how many of you love my recent glazed salmon recipe inspires me to share more of my dinner favorites like this cilantro lime chicken. While I enjoy baking desserts the most (cookies > dinner), dinner is an everyday adventure. And if you’re like me, you’re constantly searching for quick and easy meals. Well, you’ve come to the right place today.

overhead image of chicken with creamy cilantro lime sauce on a white plate

Today I’m going to show you that one skillet is all it takes to transform chicken into something you and your fam will love. This chicken is cooked on the stove and finished off in the oven with a flavorful southwestern-inspired cilantro lime pan sauce:

  • creamy
  • buttery
  • slightly caramelized onions
  • cilantro
  • a little spice
  • zesty lime

This meal reminds me of my days waitressing at Chilis! Good times. It also has me craving margaritas on the rocks, a mountain of chips and guacamole, and key lime pie for dessert. (In favor of trying to keep meals healthy and my shorts fitting, I settled for water and a side of asparagus.)

2 images of asparagus and chicken with creamy cilantro lime sauce in a skillet

How to Make Cilantro Lime Chicken

The first thing to do is grab skinless boneless chicken breasts. You can use bone-in chicken thighs instead if that’s easier. Cook the chicken in the skillet until both sides are browned and crisp– the chicken will cook again in the oven so if the centers aren’t cooked all the way through just yet, it’s ok. Remove the chicken for the time being.

Now, using the same skillet, make the pan sauce with the smorgasbord of tasty things mentioned above.

ingredients for creamy cilantro lime sauce on a wood cutting board

For the sauce’s liquids, you’ll use chicken broth and cream. Now, you’ll only need a little cream (3 Tablespoons for the whole recipe– that’s it!). Just the right amount to add richness to the sauce. You can use whole milk instead if that’s easier. Boil the pan sauce until it has reduced and thickened.

The sauce is easily the best part of this dish. And that makes sense because without it this would just be cooked chicken. So yeah. You’ll be spooning licking up the sauce from your plate. How ladylike of us all. Whatever. It’s really good sauce.

Next step? Add the chicken back to the skillet and bake everything in the oven until the chicken is cooked through. Add extra cilantro (flavor! flavor!), another squeeze of lime, and that’s IT. Serve with veggies and smother them with the extra sauce. Have a batch of dinner rolls to soak up any extra, too! ♥ ♥

About 40 minutes start to finish. We both LOVED this meal. And here’s a new video for you to see the recipe start to finish!

More Favorite Dinner Recipes

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chicken with creamy cilantro lime sauce in a skillet

Skillet Chicken with Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American


This cilantro lime chicken simmers in a creamy flavor packed sauce and comes together in only 1 pan!


  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I recommend reduced sodium)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice (I use closer to 1.5 Tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes*
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream*
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • optional: lime wedges and more cilantro for garnish, steamed asparagus for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. If the chicken breasts are uneven in thickness, pound them down so they’re all even. This way all the breasts will cook through simultaneously. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 6-7 minutes, turning once. You want the chicken nice and browned on the outside. (It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through yet.) Set chicken on a plate and cover tightly with foil until step 5.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and add the broth, lime juice, onion, cilantro, and red pepper. Return to heat. Cook and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to around 1/4 cup. (During this time you can steam some veggies to have on the side, like asparagus.) Reduce heat to medium-low, then add the cream and butter. Stir until butter has melted.
  5. Add chicken to the sauce and place the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake uncovered until the chicken is completely cooked through, about 5-10 minutes.
  6. Serve chicken with sauce spooned on top and any of the listed optional garnishes. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat to your liking.


  1. Red Pepper Flakes: Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your liking. This amount made the chicken mildly spicy. The cream in the sauce mellows out the spice.
  2. Heavy Cream: You can use whole milk instead, but for the thickest, richest sauce I highly recommend heavy cream. If using whole milk, make sure it is at room temperature to help prevent curdling.
  3. Nutrition Information: Using SparkRecipes calculator, this gluten free chicken dish comes out to about 300 calories, 14g fat, 2g carbs, and 33g protein per serving. That includes all the extra sauce too! If your chicken breasts are smaller than 6 ounces each (about what mine were), these numbers will be lower.

Keywords: skillet chicken, cilantro lime

chicken with creamy cilantro lime sauce on a white plate with asparagus


  1. The flavors are great!!! I over cooked mine – following the cooking time. But, that is the case when you pound out chicken, it cooks faster. Just a little tweaking needed on my part. Will make again.

  2. Cynthia Neuhaus says:

    This is fantastic—I’d give it 6 stars if I could! I will make double sauce next time!

  3. Sharmila Chakraverty says:

    Hi Sally,
    Can I use lemons instead of lime? I have a ton of those.

    1. Sure, I don’t see why not! You might also like this one:

  4. This recipe is perfect!!! I cooked everything on the stovetop and it came out great!! My husband said he could eat 5 servings!! Lol! I’m obsessed with your sweet recipes but now I’ll have to try all your savory ones too! You the best, Sally!

  5. My family LOVES this recipe. It is absolutely delicious!

  6. I made this recipe as is and loved it, but then it inspired me to make my own variation. I make a little extra of the sauce, I chop up the chicken and add it in, skip the oven part, and toss in some cooked spaghetti or linguini to make it yummy pasta dish 🙂

    1. What is the purpose for preheating the oven?

      1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Cherish, preheating the oven ensures that it is at the correct temperature when we’re ready to add the chicken to the oven in Step 5. Hope this helps!

  7. This is awesome! I think that next time I’ll double everything but the chicken to have more of that amazing sauce.

  8. Ive made this several times now! I substitute the like for lemon and add a little extra (limes are very hard to find in Pakistan) and i make extra sauce to serve it with pasta or rice. (I up the red chilli levels since we like our food spicy here) Its such a hit amongst my friends and family!

  9. I have a histamine allergy and was able to sub the cream for coconut cream, having this allergy has made having different flavorful foods hard but not this! This is melt in your mouth goodness. I am so pleased! Thank you for an amazing recipe!

  10. LOVED THIS RECIPE! I added some more lime and spice just per my taste and it was so good. Super creamy, unique tasting, refreshing, and just fab. My husband loved it. The asparagus on the side paired perfectly.

  11. I have been making this recipe for several years. You are right, the sauce is what makes it so good. I always triple the sauce and serve this with bow tie pasta. My family loves this.

  12. Denise Staten says:

    Fantastic Sauce! We pour this over rice but honestly we quadruple the sauce (only 2x the onion). It’s that good

  13. Family favorite! We triple the sauce and make extra chicken because it is soooo good, my teens go crazy for this. Sometimes there are fights over the last piece!

  14. This is 1000% mine and my boyfriend’s favorite dinner. I make it a few times a month and it never gets old. I can’t describe the flavor, this sauce is like crack. I always double the sauce recipe so we have extra to pour all over our rice and vegetable. 10/10!

  15. Great recipe and yes to doubling the sauce! I also added garlic : )

  16. I love this recipe. The flavors are delicious and it’s easy. I always make cilantro lime rice to go with it since they use several of the same ingredients.

  17. Barbara J Kalter says:

    I want to make this for dinner tonight! It sounds so delicious, BUT I don’t have fresh cilantro, only dried (the cilantro spice jar. I’m wondering if I can use this instead and if so, how much would I use? PLEASE let me know! Thanks!

    1. Hi Barbara, I haven’t tested this recipe with dried cilantro. You might find this article interesting:
      You might also enjoy my Skillet Chicken with Garlic Sauce for a different option.

  18. This recipe goes really well with your garlic focaccia (which I have made an uncountable number of times)! When I first made it, the sauce wasn’t as brown as I thought it would be, but when I made it again I made sure to caramelize the onions first and it worked out really well.

  19. Amazing!!! This will definitely be in my recipe rotation! Thank you for this recipe Sally!

  20. My liquid doesn’t boil down anywhere near that quickly, for some reason, and my cilantro can’t handle being put into the boiling mixture or else it just withers to a dark nothing. Otherwise I love this.

  21. Mine came out too lemony – buttery. Is that the intention or did i misuse the quantities?

  22. Hi Sally,
    I’m always looking for new ways to cook chicken and this sounds fantastic. One question though. We can’t eat spicy foods and I was wondering if adding some smoked paprika, cumin or turmeric would enhance the sauce in lieu of the red pepper flakes. Your baking recipes have become regulars in my kitchen and you have really turned me into a better baker. Thanks for helping me enhance my savory repertoire as well!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shelly, we haven’t tried that combination of spices here, but if you do, let us know how it turns out for you. You could also simply reduce the red pepper flakes — as written, the 1/2 teaspoon only made the chicken mildly spicy, as the cream in the sauce mellows it out a bit. Let us know what you try!

  23. Lynda Allen says:

    Made this for dinner tonight. Absolutely delicious! Thanks to the other commenters I knew to double the sauce and I’m happy I did! SOOO good! Thanks Sally!

  24. This is delicious! The sauce is heavenly!

  25. I made this for my family last week and everyone LOVED it! Thank you for the simple and delicious recipe.

  26. Marci Gonzalez says:

    Thank you for this recipe. My family has been obsessed for months we have it at least once a week and I recommend it to everyone. I do make some changes though. I triple sometimes quadruple the sauce recipe. Add twice the amount of lime, and instead of cream I use cream cheese(takes a bit to melt but so worth it). Serve over cilantro lime rice or mashed potato’s and it’s soooo good!

  27. This is one of my go to recipes!! I always double or triple the sauce so that we can put a little on our veggies or rice! Way better than restaurant food!!! Flavors are amazing. So good!!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally