This cilantro lime grilled chicken recipe has an insanely delicious Thai-inspired coconut red curry marinade with just five ingredients! It's bright, zesty, so simple to make, and grilled to perfection.
Love grilling? Try these Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers.
Why you'll love it
It's hard to believe this easy grilled chicken has so few ingredients since it tastes just so dang good. It's no secret that I adore Thai flavors, and they work so well when grilling! This fun twist is tasty and vibrant, yet it's still a family-friendly meal that I bet the kids will enjoy as well since it's not spicy.
The marinade takes only 10 minutes to prepare, making this chicken recipe a no-brainer for a quick summer meal or easy entertaining. Just pop it in the fridge and forget it until it's time to fire up the grill.
Just a few ingredients
- Chicken thighs - I used boneless/skinless
- Coconut milk - my usual brand is Thai Kitchen full-fat coconut milk. I wouldn't recommend using anything with a lower fat content.
- Lime juice - freshly squeezed lime juice adds brightness and acidity
- Red curry paste - the star ingredient that sets this recipe apart from all the other cilantro lime chicken recipes out there. I find that Thai Kitchen brand has rich, deep flavor.
- Brown sugar - a little sugar ties the marinade all together and balances it with a hint of sweetness
- Cilantro - fresh cilantro is a staple in Thai cooking, and it goes perfectly here
How to make cilantro lime chicken
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Make the Thai marinade by adding the coconut milk, red curry paste, brown sugar, lime, and cilantro to a bowl. Whisk together.
- Add chicken thighs to a large ZipLoc and pour the marinade in. Massage to ensure it's saturated with marinade, and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours up to 24 hours. Overnight is best.
- Preheat your grill to high heat, then grill over medium-high heat for 7 minutes/side or until it's cooked through and has nice grill marks!
Tips for success
- I used boneless skinless chicken thighs. If you use bone-in/skin-on ones, cooking time may increase, and it may be best to cook them slower over a lower heat so the skin doesn't burn.
- Chicken thighs tend to be more moist and forgiving than chicken breasts. If you want to swap for chicken breasts, adjust cooking time as needed, and be careful not to overcook them.
- I recommend marinating the thighs for 8+ hours (up to 24 hours) so they get the most flavor and become more tender!
Do I need to use a grill?
- I used a gas BBQ to grill the chicken thighs since the charred bits are amazing, but you could try using a grill pan or even browning them in a cast iron skillet and finishing in the oven.
- Keep in mind that cooking time may need to be adjusted as needed. Use an instant read thermometer to ensure chicken is cooked to 165F.
Substitutions and variations
- This marinade is meant to be quick, easy, and accessible, but you can definitely jazz it up a bit more. Try adding a couple teaspoons of grated ginger, some minced garlic, lime zest, a few chopped Thai chilis for heat, or even a splash of fish sauce!
- Keep in mind that Thai red curry paste generally already includes ginger and garlic, but you're welcome to add as much extra as you crave.
- Don't like cilantro? Just use parsley.
What to serve with these chicken thighs
- This easy Black Bean Corn Avocado Salad with Rice is really refreshing and pairs so well! Plain jasmine rice with a little lime juice would be great too.
- You could even make these into a sandwich in a toasted bun or served as a lettuce wrap.
- Or serve along with other BBQ favorites like Cajun Grilled Corn on the Cob.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers of this chicken will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days as long as it's in an airtight container.
- You could freeze leftovers if you like for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, I'd recommend microwaving until warmed through. You could also toss in the oven at 350F in a baking dish.
Questions about this grilled chicken recipe? Made it? Talk to me in the comments below!
Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Thighs
- 2 pounds chicken thighs boneless skinless
- 1 (8.5 ounce) can coconut milk full-fat
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup Thai Red Curry Paste
- 1 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
- 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro chopped
- Add the marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk together until smooth.
- Place the chicken thighs in a large ZipLoc (or add them to the same bowl as you made the marinade in), and then pour the marinade over and toss until coated. Place the chicken in the fridge and marinate for 8 hours (up to 24 hours).
- Preheat BBQ to high heat (you may want to oil the grate but I find the coconut milk is oily enough to skip that step).
- Place chicken on grill and then reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook for 7 minutes then flip and cook for another 7 minutes or until it's cooked though.
- Let chicken rest for a few minutes prior to serving. Season with extra salt & pepper if needed (Thai red curry paste usually contains salt).
- Serves 4-6 depending on how much people eat.
- I used Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk and red curry paste.
- I recommend marinating overnight (or even longer) if possible. The longer marinating time really helps infuse more flavor.
- All BBQs/grills/grill pans vary as does the size of each chicken piece, so timing may need to be adjusted to ensure chicken is safely cooked.
- Chicken thighs are quite forgiving and won't dry out as easily as chicken breasts, so I recommend using those if possible for this recipe.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
Can I cook these Cilantro Lime Chicken thighs in a gas oven? If so, what temperature and time do you recommend?
Sorry - I've only grilled them. Can't say without testing.
I get nervous when things say Thai. Is this spicy?
Hi! I didn't find it particularly spicy, no. The coconut milk really mellows it out, and Thai Kitchen red curry paste isn't particularly spicy IMO. I think some brands are spicier than others.
Can I make this with chicken breasts? I am not a fan of dark meat. Thank you!
Hi! I do mention this in the blog post... basically yes you can, but you'll need to adjust cooking time, and be careful they don't dry out when cooking as they're a whole lot less forgiving than chicken thighs. Hope you enjoy the recipe!
We really liked the flavor on these grilled chicken thighs. Thank you!
You're very welcome, Kathy! 🙂
I was thinking to serve these as a lettuce wrap. What would you recommend to serve with this?
Hi Katy! I think making them into lettuce wraps would be delicious! There's actually a section in the blog post where I answer the question of what to serve with this recipe. 🙂
Love this recipe! I was a little hesitant at first but took the plunge. While the Thai Red Curry Paste can be a bold flavor the combination of the coconut milk and other seasonings made it such a light but flavorful dish. I marinated the chicken thighs overnight and it was perfect.
I would recommend using foil on your grill because chicken thighs are naturally fatty and they tend to flair up.
I paired it up with the rice, bean and corn salad suggested here and that was fabulous too!
Thanks Natasha, keep your innovative recipes coming!
Thank you so much for your thorough review, Patty!! 🙂 I'm so happy you enjoyed the recipe!
Do you think it would be okay to fry?
Yes, I think that should be fine.