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


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. Can I replace the olive with vegetable oil, the lime juice with lemon and the cilantro with parsley? But other then that the recipe looks great and super easy!! Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Alexis, the recipe would have an entirely different flavor, but go by your tastebuds!

    2. Made this last night and it is fabulous!!

  2. Averie @ Averie Cooks says:

    So gorgeous and love how fast and easy it is! I have a lime and cilantro chicken recipe next week…thankfully it looks nothing like yours, whew 🙂 Pinned!

  3. Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) says:

    love that there’s some cream and butter, but that it’s still not outrageous. sounds like a yummy treat after a long weekday (:

  4. Jessica @ Citrus Blossom Bliss says:

    I love the crispy sear and juicy middle you get from cooking chicken over the stovetop first and then finishing it off in the oven. And that sauce sounds so delicious and fresh! I’ll definitely be whipping this up later in the week for dinner 🙂

  5. Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg says:

    Chicken is mainly the only type of meat we eat in my house. I’m always looking for new ways to dress it up and make it flavorful. This dish looks fantastic, Sally!

  6. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness says:

    My 4th was embarrassing.  My husband worked all day/night so I sat alone, recipe tested and ate nothing grilled.  But, c’est la vie!
    BUT this chicken? I NEED IT. I want to cilantro ALL the things in life, so this sounds right up my ally! Pinned!

  7. Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday says:

    I love the fresh flavor combo of cilantro and lime, and this is my favorite way to prepare chicken breasts to them perfectly tender! Absolutely giving this a try – thanks for the recipe!

  8. Yaaayyy!  I just got some chicken out of the freezer last night.  This is what’s going to happen to it this evening!  There’s even some cilantro ready in my herb garden.  🙂  Thank you, Sally!

  9. Hi! This looks fantastic! I hate to be an annoying “can I sub this for this” but do you think it would work with shrimp? Obviously the cooking time would be different but it seems like these flavors lend themselves nicely to some shrimp…which I have at the ready. 🙂

    1. Absolutely! The shrimp will take less time and there won’t be a need to cook in the oven.

  10. Heather - Butter & Burlap says:

    ZOMG I’m in desperate, dire need for more quick and easy weeknight dinners!  Sometimes it feels like I don’t even have 30 minutes to cook!  Great recipe, Sally!

  11. Leah @ Grain Changer says:

    I’m ALWAYS in search of quick, healthy dinners (who isn’t?!) so this is going straight to the top of my must-make list. Thanks Sally!!! 🙂 And this recipe is PERFECT for us, since my husband comes from a “sauce family” — meaning no meat can be eaten without a copious amount of accompanying sauce. Can’t wait to try this!!

  12. For the 4th I made your goat cheese, honey, and fruit crostinis with strawberries, balsamic, and basil. They were so easy to make and sooo good! Everyone was very impressed, thanks for the simple and delicious recipe! 

  13. Austria Azaceta says:

    Hi Sally,
    This chicken looks great!! And since we eat a lot of chicken in my house (& fish) we’ll definitely be giving this recipe a try very soon!  For the 4th of July i made the goat cheese & honey crostinis, which i am now obsessed with, and the mini key lime tarts.  Those tarts were SO delicious & very easy to make as well.  I’ve said it before & i’ll say it again, absolutely LOVE your blog & recipes!! Thanks so much!!  Can’t wait to get your new book & start whipping up some candy!

    1. so glad you tried the crostini! I made them too!

  14. Lime, check. Cilantro, check. Butter, check. Red onion, check. Cream, check. Red pepper, check. Asparagus, check. Hello Luv-ah!!  Oh, and there’s chicken. Such an afterthought for me but it looks amazing!  I’m all about the sides and the sauce. You nailed it Sally!!  And I totally agree, this screams for some margaritas. We laid really low over the weekend, played board games, and ate a ton!  I made your salted caramel apple pie which my peeps said hands down was the best pie ever, of all time!  I made it again yesterday. We grilled chicken (wish I had this recipe!), and made a great tomato pie. 

    1. Your past few days sound DELISH! Let me know if you try this out Chelle!

  15. Anything with lime and cilantro is a winner!

  16. Stephanie R says:

    I took your chewy chocolate chunk cookies and the cake batter cookies from the cover of your cookbook to a party on the 4th and they were a huge hit!! I didn’t even get to bring any home. I love all of your sweet recipes (obviously) but I’m also really excited to try more of your savory recipes, including this one. Thanks Sally! 

  17. For the 4th my boyfriend and I went on our first trip together. We went with 3 other couples and went scalloping and fishing – both firsts for me! I made the red, white, and blue tie dye cupcakes and they were a huge hit!! I can’t wait to make this dinner!

  18. Yay another dinner recipe!! This looks wonderful and will be on my dinner rotation this week. I made your tie dye cupcakes for 4th of July and they were a HUGE hit! Good thing we had friends over or else I would have eaten the whole dozen (kidding well maybe not 😉 

  19. For the 4th I made your tie-dye cake with chocolate instead of vanilla frosting. It was amazing!!!

    This recipe looks so good! I must try it next time it’s my turn to cook dinner. 

  20. I made your mini key lime pies for the 4th.  They were absolutely delicious!!  And a perfect portion size after all the burgers and salads.  This recipe is definitely going into the regular dessert rotation. 🙂

  21. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) says:

    I’m a sucker for ANYTHING with lots and lots of cilantro! This looks great. 

  22. For the 4th, I was up on the Finger Lakes with my boything and his parents. For dinner (on the 3rd–we grilled on the 4th), I made a salad, and your cheesy sausage quiche (with the recipe doubled) with your mini key lime pies for dessert! They were a huge hit!

    Also, please keep posting meal recipes! I’m trying to branch out from just being “girl who bakes” to “girl who bakes AND cooks!”

    1. I’m dying to visit the Finger Lakes! It’s on my bucket list.

      1. It’s the best! When you get up there, make sure you go wine tasting (there are so many wineries up there!). Also, visit the Chocolate Pizza Company in Marcellus. Trust me.

  23. Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek says:

    Thank you!
    We eat a LOT of chicken (really rather tired of it) and so I really appreciate new FLAVORFUL chicken recipes (especially ones with sauce)

  24. Sally! This looks delish.  At first glance I was expecting a cream/mustard sauce (still delicious) but this is so summery and great!  Love your quick easy savory dishes.

    The 4th was great – down the cape for the weekend which was nice except the one day we traveled out to this beach bar, oh well that’s weather for ya.

    Chilis?!? SO great – how old were you? I never waitressed but did retail so I saw my fair share of customer service challenges.

    1. I worked there during college and part time after, so 19-23ish! Overall, the customers were great, but we did have a few… interesting… guests. Ha! I loved it there though. Never got sick of the food.

  25. “Tell me about your 4th of July!”

    Well my boyfriend of 4 years broke up with me seemingly out of the blue!

    But that’s ok, your blog is a constant pick-me-up.

  26. Ok first off how did you know I pulled chicken out for dinner, also knowing that I wanted a new chicken recipe. Sally are you reading my mind? If so thanks so much for a new chicken recipe. 

    1. Muhahaha (evil mind-reading laugh)

  27. Hi! this recipe sounds lovely! I have a question though, is there anything I can use instead of the butter? I really don’t like using it in my regular meals. Thanks!

    1. Lizzy, you can leave it out, but you will lose a lot of flavor as a result.

      1. Oh, okay. I’ll try it with the butter then.  Thanks for replying!

      2. Sally I plan to make this but will use ghee instead if butter.  Not sure about the cream as I don’t eat dairy.  Could I use almond milk?

      3. Coconut milk is a great option. I’ve never tried almond milk though.

  28. Amy @ Accidental Happy Baker says:

    Oh my gosh, I spent the last 2 months remodeling and painting my whole upstairs. I have missed reading your blog posts so much. I spent the 4th of July painting woodwork, blah. Except for a half an hour outside doing fireworks with the kids where I managed to get 28 mosquito bites. Double blah (on mosquito bites, not on spending time with my kids.) This chicken looks and sounds so delicious. Give me a lime and cilantro and I’m a happy girl. 

    1. The mosquitos must love how sweet we are. Because they ALWAYS find me. Hope the upstairs is looking good!

  29. Did you have an ice cream bar or a dessert bar? Anything covered in sprinkles is an automatic win! My mom and I wanted to get sundaes for dinner the other day and my dad didn’t understand the concept. He didn’t want to get ice cream for dinner. WHO IS HE?!?!

    1. Um, I have no idea who your dad is or what he’s talking about.

  30. Hi, Sally! I’ve been following your blog for a while now–I absolutely love your recipes! My boyfriend is severely lactose-intolerant 🙁 and I would love to make this recipe for him but obviously the heavy cream is out. Any suggestions for substitutions (even if you haven’t tried them out) ? Maybe I’ll hit up some vegan blogs and try to find something! XOXO

    1. How about a thick dairy sub like coconut milk?

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