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


Comments are closed.

  1. 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!

  2. Can I use fish for this?

    1. In my opinion u can use it for salmon 

  3. 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.  

  4. 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! 🙂

  5. 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!

  6. The sauce is really good however, I feel like the chicken doesn’t absorb the taste of the sauce. What can I do to solve this? 

    1. I have the same problem! I’ve made this so many times and the chicken itself just isn’t special. Perhaps marinating it in a dash of lime juice beforehand? I too would like any tips someone could offer!

      1. I’ve made this 4-5 times in the last 6 months. I do pound the chicken breasts and add garlic to the sauce. I probably add 2x the lime and cilantro then cook in the oven at least 20 min. A little extra lime and cilantro after its on the plate and generous sauce on chicken with a bed of rice. I always make at lease 2x the sauce.
        YUMMY!!! Garlic really takes it over the top. I : )

    2. I pound chicken in gallon plastic bag, then add all ingredients EXCEPT butter, cream, and 1/2 broth.   Let this marinate a few hours and then cook chicken.  Use leftover marinate to make sauce and “rinse” bag with the other 1/2 broth.  I double everything. 

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

  8. Veronica McCammon says:

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

  9. I am very interested in trying this recipe but my husband is not a fan of cilantro. Can u recommend a substitute? I’m thinking flat leaf parsley?

    1. Possibly basil? 

  10. 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.

  11. Sounds really good! I’m just wondering if this would work as a freezer meal? And if so would you cook your chicken already or not?

  12. I’ve never been a fan of cilantro but with this recipe, I’m going to give it another try – tomorrow! This creamy skillet chicken with lime looks yahsome and sounds amazing.

  13. This dish is always a hit at my house! 

  14. So good! Made it for dinner and my boyfriend loved it! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers in the fridge 😉

  15. 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. 

  16. We made this for dinner tonight, very tasty and easy to make.  Thanks for sharing!

  17. One of my GF and I’s favorite recopies.

    If you are dairy free, 3 tbs of coconut cream or coconut milk works really well (no coconut taste, but you still get the creaminess)

  18. Honora Johnston says:

    My family LOVES this dish! I used heavy cream and fresh cilantro and its wonderful. A few days later I had pork chops and no ideas – so I made it again, but with pork! Also a hit.

  19. Wonderful dish – a hit every time. I make it with heavy cream, fresh lime and fresh cilantro.

    Had some pork chops the other day with no ideas – so I used this recipe and it was great.

  20. Paola Juarez says:

    I try this tonight with my family and we loved so much I already shared the recipe on my social media. 

  21. 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

  22. 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!! 

  23. 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!

  24. Genevieve Gravel says:

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

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

    1. Also, the chicken is soooo moist!

  27. I forgot to buy fresh cilantro , so I’m trying it with dried. Hope it doesn’t mess it up too much

  28. 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!

  29. Jacky @ Joyful Savings says:

    I just made this recipe today, and it was a total hit. I loved it, even though I’m not a big fan of citrus on my meals! Great recipe!

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

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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