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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

While I enjoy baking desserts the most (chocolate chip cookies > dinner), dinner is an everyday adventure. And if you’re like me, you’re constantly searching for quick and easy dinner recipes. Well, you’ve come to the right place today! This is my 1 pan creamy cilantro lime chicken, a consistent crowd-favorite!

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 process is the same as my lemon thyme chicken and creamy garlic chicken, so if you’ve made either of those before you know how easy it is! 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!

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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

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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: cilantro lime chicken

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Try using 1 tin of cream of mushroom soup for the sauce and adding your seasonings and thinning it a bit with the broth

  2. I’m a lactose free person so no cream. I’ll use full lactose free milk instead unless you have a suggestion.

    1. Hi Carolyn, you might also try coconut oil and coconut cream. Let us know how it goes!

    2. Have you tried Oatmilk? It’s creamy and I use it regularly..

    3. I adapted this to my Whole30 diet – one of the best recipes!!!
      – Sub avocado oil for the olive oil
      – sub coconut cream for the heavy cream (you will never go back!!)
      -sub ghee for the butter (you will only need about half)
      FANTASTIC!

      1. Coconut cream?! I’ve made this recipe for years and never thought about substituting that. I will have to give it a try!

  3. Question please, I love lime and chicken but not a cilantro fan. Any suggestions for a substitution?

    1. Other readers have substituted with basil, parsley, or another favorite herb. You might enjoy this lemon thyme chicken instead. Let us know what you try!

  4. I’m a little confused as to when the skillet is in the oven and when it’s on the stove top. I’m assuming the 2 times it has chicken in it, these are the oven times?? Thank you!

    1. Hi Susan, the chicken is in the skillet on the stove in step 3, the sauce is made in the skillet on the stove in step 4, and then the chicken is added back to the skilled and baked in the oven in step 5. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

  5. I see red onion in the photo. So, it’s a red onion that the recipe calls for?

    1. We make this dish with yellow, white, or red– any will do just fine.

  6. We loved this recipe! It was easy to make and tasted so good. We had it with roasted potatoes and corn and the sauce was delicious on everything!

  7. Can I use a rotisserie chicken? Could you serve it with noodles or rice?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Denise! You could make the sauce and pour it over rotisserie chicken and rice/noodles – we haven’t tried it that way. Let us know how it goes!

  8. My husband is on a restricted sodium diet, out of necessity. Do you know the sodium count for one serving. It looks delicious, and I would love to try it.

    1. Hi Susan, we don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076

  9. Hi Sally
    If I reduce the sauce to 1/4 cup
    Will there be enough sauce ?
    In the photo it looks like more than a 1/4 of a cup

    Looks delicious and I am anxious to try it

    1. Hi Sheila, it is enough, but feel free to make more if you think it won’t be enough for you!

  10. Hi! I’ve made this recipe some years ago but my family and I we have been craving it lately. Last time I made it I don’t think I’ve put it back in the oven since my skillets can’t go inside an oven (due the the pan’s handle that’s bakelite). I have been meaning to purchase a skillet that can go in the oven but I’m unsure of the size to be able to make this recipe or others for a family of four. Could you recommend a size? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Romina! Any larger sized skillet will work — we usually use an 11-12 inch skillet in our skillet recipes to ensure there is enough room for the chicken to fit.

  11. Yum, yum, yum! The only thing I’ll do differently next time is make more finger-licking sauce!!!!

  12. Loved this recipe! Quick and Easy to prepare so great for a weeknight meal. After I browned the chicken breasts I set them on a plate and covered with foil. Then in the same pan, I tossed in gnocchi and continued to brown those. Once browned I placed them with the plated chicken breasts and continued on with the recipe instruction. I did go easy on the lime juice to start but added it all in once I tasted the sauce. So delicious!!!!!

  13. Making this for company dinner, tonight. 1. Can i make it up Of course bring to room temperature before baking it in the oven and do that step after my guests arrive. 2. Or complete the recipe in the afternoon, bring back to room temperature and re-heat?

    Love your recipe’s, comment and your responses.

    1. Hi Kathryn, your best bet is the second option — to make the dish completely and then reheat when your guests arrive. Hope it’s a hit!

  14. This was so delicious! I made it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs and I added a can of chopped green chiles for some extra flavor. Served with rice to soak up the sauce. I’ll definitely make this again.