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. I topped mine with avocado tomato salsa and it was delicious! Made it with grilled corn and Spanish rice, which went excellent with the sauce from the chicken. Thx for sharing ❤

  2. Gloria McDonald says:

    Absolutely delicious. Thank goodness.

    Thank you so very much I enjoyed every bite.

  3. Fantastic! I used a heavy whipping cream for a thicker sauce and a tad more lime juice to keep the flavor. I also only used a dash of red pepper flakes so the kids could enjoy it without too much spice! No leftovers tonight!

  4. Not ‘quick’, but GREAT! I think it took us longer (20min in oven) to cook the breasts because ours were pretty big. We used coconut milk for our ‘cream’ as and ghee for ‘butter’ as we’re on the Whole30 cleanse right now. Doubled the sauce recipe and used it to go over some roasted potatoes and broccoli. Our out of town guest loved it – and was SUPER surprised when we said it’s Whole30. Don’t be shy with the lime, I used 2 limes for the doubled sauce recipe; I’m usually not a ‘creamy’ dish fan but the added acid really made it bright and lovely against the creaminess.

  5. My husband and I love this dish. We like the added heat of the red pepper flakes and serve it over white rice. Sally, keep the dinner recipes coming!

  6. I made this tonight and the whole family, including 5 picky kids) loved it.  I used coconut milk because I didn’t have any heavy cream.  

  7. What a great recipe! I just made this for my family and friends and they loved it!! Thank you for sharing! I actually used a little white wine in the sauce and it was really good! 🙂

  8. I made this tonight and my family loved it! They are a bunch of picky eaters and I’m not a big fan of cilantro normally, but this was a hit! Thank you so much for this and many other recipes that I’ve tried (the oatmeal m&m cookies are a big favourite at our house) 🙂 I doubled the sauce to go over some pasta and some winter greens and it was perfect!

    Happy Foodie greetings from Germany!

  9. Made this tonight and it was truly fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Veronica McCammon says:

    This was awesome! I made it tonight and served it over cauliflower rice. Both husband and toddler aprove!!! 🙂

  11. Jennifer Bradley says:

    This was SO good, even my kids (5, 4 and 1) all loved it. My hubby whipped it up quick and we had a great dinner with peas and jasmine rice. Next we’re going to try the lemon one. I’ve been a fan of yours for years and am thankful for your great work. My little girl’s birthday party is in a week and I’m thinking of doing the funfetti cake in a layer cake. I make everything of yours with gluten-free flour and it’s perfect, following the recipe exactly.

  12. Made this for dinner tonight with broccoli. The whole meal was delicious! I see why others said to double the sauce, I was kind of left with a paltry amount. Mine was definitely a ‘pan sauce’ and not really anything thick–but still good! I’m wondering if those are tenders shown in the picture instead of breasts? They look small! I might have had better luck with tenders. 

  13. I made this twice now. I love love love it. It’s so rich, creamy and delicious. Tiday I threw in some fresh mushrooms into the sauce right before baking it in the oven

  14. I made this tonight- amazing!! 4 large chicken breasts, double the sauce, served over taco brown rice (brown rice, chicken broth, some butter, 2 tsp of McCormick taco seasoning for 2 cups rice). I called it Mexican Curry – everyone loved it!! 

  15. This is amazing and I plan on making it again! Chipotle rice is the perfect side and soaks up the cream sauce. Use a tad less lime juice and be sure to double the sauce. Delicious!

  16. Genevieve Gravel says:

    Absolutely delicious! Definitely making this again, chicken was so tender and juicy mium

  17. Jessica Bauer says:

    SALLYYYYYYYYY! We have a new catch phrase at my house: “Sally’s done it again!” We made this last night, and it was so yummy. I mean, c’mon, lime and Cilantro-how can you go wrong? The chicken was soft and moist, so cozy that it wanted to stay in the skillet. But not at my house. My kids loved it! I’m thinking about starting a blog called,” Jessica’s Sally Addiction.”

    1. Hahaha…you are too funny 🙂 So happy you guys all loved this recipe – it’s a regular in my house!

  18. Made this last night as a low carb meal prep with cauliflower rice and it is soooo delicious! I added about a teaspoon of fish sauce and it gave it a really nice kick. Definitely going to be a stable!

  19. I don’t usually leave comments but dang, this recipe is just so good. I just made it for my boyfriend and his super picky friend for lunch, and there were no leftovers. I’ll definitely make it again, both for company and for my personal meal prepping. A few tips- I only used three chicken breasts (because there were only 3 of us) and the sauce was just enough for us.  If I were to make this again for four people, I would definitely double the recipe for the sauce. Also, because I like spicy food, I added about 3/4 tsp of red pepper flakes instead of the 1/2 tsp and it really packed a punch.  I didn’t end up baking the chicken either; instead, I cooked it in a pan, about 10 mins each side, and then set it aside until the sauce was done. I served it with a side of sauteed asparagus with a squeeze of lime on top, and it paired beautifully with the sauce!

  20. This is a sample meal in our house now! Love it! I usually double or triple the sauce and serve it over rice.

  21. Great week night recipe, easy prep and simple ingredients deliver a delicious and satisfying meal. I used 6oz chicken breasts for this recipe and they cooked up beautifully. I agree that the heavy cream for the sauce is a must! Leftovers are even more savory, will definitely make this again!

  22. Tried this tonight. Turned out fantastic, served it with bowtie pasta and steamed broccoli. Substituted plain Greek yogurt for the cream. My picky fiance gobbled it up.

  23. This was absolutely delish. Made cilantro lime rice as a side. Will be making it again tonight as it is now one of my favorites.

  24. I made this dish for dinner tonight and everyone enjoyed it, even my 2 toddlers! I put extra peppers in it because we like spicy meals. I will definitely be making this chicken again.

  25. I made this today, and I can’t believe how amazing it tasted!  I usually skip any recipe that calls for heavy cream, but this is more broth than creamy.   

  26. Hi Sally!!
    Can’t wait to try this!! A great Keto recipe !!

  27. krissy wood says:

    Made this recipe and really love it!

  28. I am OBSESSED with this recipe. I have made it about 5 times already, and each time I do the following: add the salt and pepper to about a cup of flour in a ziplock bag, mix, and add the chicken into there. This gives the chicken a nice little crunch during the browning process. I also always add about 4 lobes of crushed garlic and sliced mushrooms (probably to an excessive quantity because I love them) to the broth. This most recent time, I was feeling adventurous and chopped up a ring of the fresh pineapple I had in the fridge- best decision ever, totally recommend! Thank you so much for this wonderfully easy and cheap (grad student approved) recipe!

  29. I double all of the sauce ingredients and make extra and pour it over penne pasta. It is a staple at our house now.

  30. Is there a substitute for the dairy for those of us who have a dairy allergy? Would love to make this

    1. Hi Catherine! I suggest coconut oil and coconut cream.

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