cut up cilantro lime chicken on a cutting board

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Crispy Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken features a Greek yogurt marinade to lock-in moisture and impart an intense, bright herb and lime flavor. Grilling gives these chicken thighs a crunchy exterior with a tender pull-apart texture.

Best Grilled Chicken – Keto, Low Carb, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, LCHF

Summer is slipping away from us. The dreaded back-to-school sales are starting to pop up. Food bloggers are posting pumpkin recipes. It’s the beginning of that weird transition seasonal transition when you don’t know whether to wear a tank top of a utility jacket because the media keeps telling us it’s fall, but Mother Nature is holding on fast to 80 degree days.

I’m still grilling though. I’ll be out on my deck until it snows–sometimes even when it snows–because recipes like this Crispy Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken are irresistible regardless of the season.

Cilantro Lime Chicken recipes seem to be all over the Internet. These chicken thighs have a bright herbal and lime pop with smokey undertones. It’s a tried-and-true flavor combination, to be sure, but my version offers a different approach:  the yogurt marinade.

Benefits of a yogurt marinade

I’d be lying to you if I said that the idea of marinating chicken in dairy didn’t initially scare the heck out of me. It did! That just sounds gross. However, using full-fat Greek yogurt (no flavored yogurts, please) as the base for a marinade is life-altering. Here’s why:

Dairy slowly tenderizes meat creating a pull-apart texture. While acid-based marinades are awesome for intense flavor, they break down the protein almost too quickly which can change the final texture of your chicken. Amazing flavor but a rubbery texture. 

Yogurt marinating actually impacts the cooking process too. The sugars in the dairy will caramelize and create a crispy exterior. Grilling gets the best results given the direct heat produced by the flames. You can do a high temperature roast in the oven, but you won’t get those super crispy edges. Mmm…crispy edges. You’re too right to ever be wrong.

You don’t have to limit yogurt marinades to just chicken. Lamb and beef can also benefit from a yogurt marinade. Imagine that on lamb chops. Mmm…incoming recipe inspiration. 

Why is there so much drooling in this post?

pile of grilled cilantro lime chicken

How to make Crispy Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Ingredients

  • Full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Lime zest & juice
  • Cilantro
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Some tips, tricks, and take-aways about the Grilled Cilantro Chicken recipe and process:

Marinade time increases flavor and moisture retention. I highly encourage you to let your chicken thighs marinate as long as possible to really impart the amazing flavors from the marinade. The dairy will actually tenderize the meat. I suggest at least four hours if you are in a hurry, but I often let my chicken sit any time from 12 to 24 hours.

Grilling is best, but keep an eye on the grill to prevent burning. The dairy-based marinade is a bit more flammable than I realized. The first time I made this recipe, I had a scorching hot grill that I likely could have used to blacksmith some horseshoes. I singed those chicken thighs beyond recognition. Keep your grill at 400 degrees and be sure to oil the grates before placing the chicken on. Using a direct (to produce grill marks and crisp up the exterior) then indirect heat (to bring up the internal temperature) grilling method was much more successful and prevented burning. 

If a grill is not an option for you, you can roast these chicken thighs. I suggest 425-450 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, flipping the thighs about half way through. If you go this direction, line a baking tray with parchment or foil, place a metal baking rack on top and then top with your chicken to keep it elevated and allow air to pass beneath. If you simply set the chicken on the tray, it will stick and not get crispy since the thighs will just be sitting in the residual marinade.

Other Low Carb Keto Chicken recipes you’ll love:

cut up cilantro lime chicken on a cutting board
Yield: 4

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Marinate: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 30 minutes

Crispy Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken thighs uses a Greek yogurt marinade to lock-in moisture and impart an intense, bright herb and lime flavor with smokey undertones that are amplified by grilling.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp lime zest, about one lime
  • 2/3 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2-2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients for the marinade into a large, non-reactive mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Add chicken and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for 11 hours.
  2. Heat charcoal or gas grill to 400 degrees. Remove one hour prior to grilling and allow meat to come to room temperature. Oil grill grates and cook chicken over direct heat for about 5-8 minutes on each side. Move to a cooler, in-direct spot on the grill to complete the cooking process. About 20-25 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  3. Serve immediately. Store any left-overs in an air-tight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out! Leave a comment below and make sure to join the @noshinandnumnums community on instagram or facebook and tag me in your cooking pictures! 

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2 Comments

  1. Loved this. Changed the Greek yogurt to coconut cream.

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