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!

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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

  • 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: skillet chicken, cilantro lime

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

161 Comments

  1. Sharon Benton says:

    I made this last night and  – so easy and great flavor! I ended up blending the sauce to thicken it. Yum! Thanks for an easy week night recipe!

  2. DELISH!  Everyone loved it and I saved the leftover sauce to add to a simple soup today for lunch!  Thank you for great recipes!

  3. Jackie Butts says:

    Hi Sally! I made this for my husband this evening and in spite of my one change (I forgot to get the Chicken broth and so used vegetable stock instead) It was delish and a big hit. I served it with a Spanish quinoa and brown rice pilaf and french green beans.

    I have to tell you it was so easy to do that I prepared the entire meal with a phone cradled on my shoulder as I had a nice long chat with my sister-in-law. (even when I pounded the chicken she didn’t stop talking :D)
    Thanks for a great recipe that will definitely be repeated.

  4. marianne donahoe says:

    Sally, I made this last night with 2 changes. As I don’t eat dairy, I used ghee instead of butter and substituted almond milk for the cream. I also used thighs instead of breasts. It was ABSOLUETLY delicious! With the leftovers today I am turning into a wonderful salad! Thanks so much!!

  5. This is the BEST THING I EVER ATE….seriously, I admit I am prone to exaggeration but believe me when I say this dish is fabulous. Thanks Sally!

  6. We tried this tonight and it was AMAZING!  So easy and made with ingredients that I typically have on hand.  My husband loved it as well, and we both agreed it would taste great on fish (like mahi mahi).  We also agreed that the recipe is a keeper to be added to our regular dinner rotation AND we could make it to impress dinner guests!  

  7. Austria Azaceta says:

    Hi Sally,
    Just wanted to let you know that i made this chicken for dinner last night & it was SO delicious!!  My husband & I really enjoyed it.  I ended up using parsley instead of cilantro because I thought I had cilantro in my herb box but turns out the parsley took over….. Next time will most definitely make sure I have cilantro though….. 🙂

  8. I made this sauce for tofu the other night (subbing vegetable broth for the chicken broth) and it was amazing! My boyfriend and I both loved it and I’ll be making it again soon.

    Also if anyone else wants to try this I cut the tofu into cubes then pan fried it. Then made the sauce in the pan while leaving the tofu in it to give it more flavor.

  9. This chicken is sooo good. I double the sauce! Thanks Sally! You can do no wrong!

  10. Sheila Krause says:

    Sally, Sally, Sally…this recipe is so amazing that my husband begs for it every night! I even bought a (much needed) cast iron skillet so that I could cook it all in one pot! It’s so good, that we even fight over the leftovers, which are even more delicious since the chicken soaks up all of the sauce overnight. 

  11. Chantal Myers says:

    I made this tonight with mahi mahi and it was delicious! I didn’t cook it as long as chicken of course and I didn’t have cream so I used canned coconut milk instead….it worked great. I look forward to trying it with chicken next time. Thank you for a great recipe! 

  12. If I don’t have an oven proof skillet, can I transfer to a baking dish and pour sauce on top?

    1. Yep, that works.

  13. Delicious!! I rarely make chicken at home as I don’t trust my “doneness” skills – but this was easy and excellent. Made both boneless thighs (for hubby) and breasts for me. Thank you – I did double the sauce recipe – I love sauce.

  14. This is super yummy!!! My family loves cilantro so when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it! I actually boiled the chicken to use the water as broth (I just don’t like pre-packaged broth) and since my chicken was frozen, this worked out great! Once it was boiled, I browned the chicken on the pot just for a couple of minutes to get the enough flavor in the pot for the sauce. I didn’t bake it. Once the sauce was the consistency I wanted it, I added the chicken back to the skillet and let it cook on the stove for 5 more minutes and it was perfect! very juicy and quicker 🙂 Thanks for this great recipe!

  15. My curdled as soon as I added the cream. So disappointing since it was smelling so good! I didn’t have time to re-do the sauce. What went wrong?

  16. I made this the other night for dinner and it was easy and very tasty.  My daughter loved it.  I served it over some whole wheat egg noodles.  Thanks for the delicious, unique and easy recipe to add to our regular meals.

  17. Brittany Fisher says:

    I made this tonight for my husband and it was amazing! The only thing I did differently was rub the chicken with Mrs. Dash fiesta lime seasoning, along with the salt and pepper before cooking. I also added minced garlic to the pan while the oil was heating up. I doubled the sauce and I’m so glad I did. My husband won’t stop talking about how good it was and that he could eat it all week. I’ll definitely be keeping this recipe! Thanks for sharing!! 

  18. Hi is there a lighter substitute for cream ? 🙂

    1. I used Greek yogurt and it still can out amazing.

  19. Made this for dinner tonight but subbed the heavy cream with Greek yogurt and it was delicious!!! Everyone loved this dish so much they wanted seconds. Thank you!

  20. Made tonight with 2% milk instead of cream…GREAT flavor. Can only imagine if you used cream how rich it would be. Delicious!! I also doubled the cilantro…what can I say, I love cilantro! Delish!

  21. I’d love to make this tonight. Just not clear on one thing – do I bake the chicken in the sauce or just add it on top later? Thanks!

    1. Hi Cassandra– the chicken is returned to the skillet (with the sauce) and baked.

  22. My daughter is a very picky eater and I wasn’t sure that she was going to like it, she LOVED it! It is the most requested dinner from her….I’ve made it 3 times lol. Thanks! Can’t wait to try your other recipes! 

  23. This was super tasty!!  My whole family loved it.  Next time I’ll double the sauce.  It was so good I could have guzzled it!

  24. Thank you so much for this! My entire family loved it! Will be making this again! Fun and easy to make, with a delectable outcome! 

  25. This is a delicious recipe, but I haven’t been able to make the recipe without the cream curdling.  It still tastes awesome, but I would like to get the sauce to look like yours does in the picture.  

  26. My husband is not a big chicken person, but he loved this, and so did I!  The sauce was wonderful!  Just the right touch of heat.  I served it over orzo.  Couldn’t be better!  Thank you!  I will be making this again.

  27. I made this last night, had all the ingredients on hand, I grilled the chicken and made the sauce on the side as it was grilling, I got to use that gravy boat one more time this season. I added a little jalapeno to it. It reminded me of Chili’s so much as we were eating it. Thanks for helping jazz up my Monday night chicken.

  28. I made this last night and it was absolutely amazing!!! I wasn’t sure it was going to have enough flavor at first but it did! I also doubled up on the sauce and added freshly chopped mushrooms and it made it even better. Next time I’m doubling up on the mushrooms and putting it over brown rice! 

  29. Seriously the best chicken dish ever!!! Thank you for sharing! 

  30. This was sooooo good! Thank you! 

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