Spicy Honey Lime Chicken

Spicy honey lime chicken is our go-to for a quick, easy, healthy weeknight meal. Made with boneless chicken breasts and a sweet and spicy marinade, this simple recipe is going to be a star in your dinner rotation.

Five chicken breast pieces with grill marks on a platter, topped with halved cherry tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro.

Adapted from Tara Teaspoon | Delicious Gatherings | Shadow Mountain, 2022

Oh hey! Just your works-for-everything, anytime, delicious chicken recipe here! I’m not kidding; you’ll come back to this honey lime chicken marinade every week. A little smoky, a little spicy, a tad sweet and citrusy, with a splash of umami savoriness—it’s the bomb!

This chicken is perfection grilled, or you can bake it, cut it up and make kebabs, or throw it in the slow cooker or Instant Pot for shredded chicken. And don’t throw out that marinade! Simmer it into a sauce and drizzle it over your entire plate.–Tara Teaspoon

Honey Lime Chicken FAQs

Can I make this with boneless chicken thighs or bone-in chicken?

Yes, definitely. You can make it with boneless thighs or bone-in legs, thighs, or breasts. Keep in mind that the cooking time will be longer for any of these options.

What should I serve with this chicken?

Try this chicken with a side of rice and grilled vegetables, or slice it up and serve it with tortillas and all your favorite taco toppings.

Can I use less honey? I’m not a fan of sweet dishes.

You sure can. Some of our testers felt the same way. Cut the honey in half–to two tablespoons–and you’ll be set.

I’m a little nervous about reducing the marinade. What about salmonella?

There’s no need to worry. Salmonella is killed at 150°F (65°C). Simmering the marinade takes care of that.

☞ Like chicken recipes? Try these:

Spicy Honey Lime Chicken

Five chicken breast pieces with grill marks on a platter, topped with halved cherry tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro.
This sticky sweet grilled honey lime chicken is quick to put together, making it perfect for weeknight dinners.

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 1 hr 30 mins
Entree
American
4 to 6 servings
470 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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Ingredients 

  • 3 large (about 2 pounds) chicken breasts or substitute 6 thinly sliced chicken cutlets
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 to 5 limes)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce, from canned chipotle in adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Oil for the grill
  • Cherry tomatoes for serving (optional)
  • Fresh green salsa for serving (optional)

Directions
 

  • Using a sharp knife, cut each chicken breast in half horizontally to create a total of 6 thinner pieces. (If you purchased chicken cutlets, skip this step.)
  • Place the chicken in a zip-top freezer bag or glass dish.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, chipotle chili, adobo, onion powder, cumin, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
  • Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Oil the grill grates or pan.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and transfer it to the grill or grill pan. If using the marinade as a sauce, transfer it to a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Grill the chicken until cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), about 4 minutes per side.
  • Serve drizzled with the cooked marinade sauce and topped with tomatoes and green salsa, if desired.
Print RecipeBuy the Delicious Gatherings cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Notes

Instant Pot Shredded Honey Lime Chicken variation

No marinating is needed. Place all of the ingredients in an Instant Pot or multicooker with 1/4 cup of water. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into pieces. Simmer the juices until reduced and thickened. Strain it before serving, if desired.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 470kcal (24%)Carbohydrates: 22g (7%)Protein: 71g (142%)Fat: 10g (15%)Saturated Fat: 2g (13%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 193mg (64%)Sodium: 992mg (43%)Potassium: 673mg (19%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 19g (21%)Vitamin A: 262IU (5%)Vitamin C: 10mg (12%)Calcium: 51mg (5%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This honey lime chicken was fabulous! It was a bit spicy, but not too much, and really juicy. I highly recommend serving it with the marinade so don’t skip the step of heating up the sauce!

I served the chicken over Right Rice’s Cilantro Lime Rice and topped it with cherry tomatoes, the sauce, and La Costena Green Mexican Salsa.

I wanted to make this spicy honey chicken dish because the ingredient list sounded delicious. We have limes from our tree that need to be used, and I knew the dish would come together in a flash. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal, lunch, or BBQ with friends. There’s a nice smoky hint from the chipotle and a refreshing tang from the lime.

Instead of serving the dish with raw tomatoes, I roasted grape tomatoes using cumin, salt, lime juice, and oil and served them on top of the chicken with some pre-made salsa verde I had in the fridge. Turned out great. I’ll definitely make this again.

I served the chicken some leftover Latin-inspired rice with some fresh cilantro on top, which complemented the chicken well.

While I wasn’t in love with the final flavour of this honey lime chicken, I did love the tender, smoky, and slightly spicy cutlets. Therefore, I’m saying “pass the chicken” instead of “pass on this chicken.”

A white platter filled with marinated chicken breasts, tomato salad, and lime wedges.

I was excited to use the chipotle and the adobo sauce. I also chose to use the marinade as a sauce. I think if you have a sweet tooth, you may be impressed by these flavours. I prefer just a hint of sweetness to balance out all the flavours. I also missed the chipotle punch that was overpowered by the honey.

We served this spicy honey lime chicken sans sauce with roasted corn and cauliflower rice.

I wasn’t impressed with the flavor of the chicken on its own at all. It was lacking. So I shredded some and added tomatillo salsa, and that definitely helped.

I then tried tossing some of the shredded meat in the reduced sauce and serving it as tacos with avocado crema. This was very good. I was torn about whether to give this a Testers’ Choice as I had to zhuzh it quite a bit for it to work, but it is quite delicious with the right accouterments.

This honey lime chicken is an easy, tasty, and fun dish to prepare and eat! Even with impending rain, I had the urge to grill today, and once I had a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, I was good to go. My wife and daughters went shopping and came home with chicken breast tenderloins which were perfect for this recipe.

Assembling the honey lime chicken marinade was a breeze, but one drawback was the cloying sweetness of the honey (1/4 cup is a LOT of honey in this application). In the future, I would probably use a more neutral sweetener like agave syrup.

Grilling time was mercifully short (I was low on propane), and I put some nice grill marks on the meat. I did reserve the marinade for sauce. It wasn’t thickening like I would have preferred, so I added a little cornstarch and water, which did the trick, and helped the sauce cling to the meat.

The meat reminded me of the fajitas I came to love when I lived in Texas many years ago, so after slicing the cutlets into thin strips, I served this two ways: taco-style with rice and flour tortillas, which my family could spruce up with the usual toppings–lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, and sour cream–and fajita-style with sautéed green pepper and onions. I tried one of each, and while the taco toppings were good, I preferred the fajitas-style. I will make this again, to be sure.

This is a quick and delicious way to make moist and flavorful shredded chicken in an Instant Pot. I’m glad to have discovered it.

I found that simmering the sauce down uncovered on sauté in the Instant Pot didn’t concentrate it as much as I wanted, so after 10 minutes of trying that, I simmered it in a small saucepan on the stove for less than 5 minutes, until the consistency was more sauce-like. Wow. It was good. (I didn’t strain it.)

The parts of the chicken that didn’t get fully sauced were a little lime heavy (it really does come through), but the sauce and chicken mixed thoroughly together made for a dish that was quite well-balanced. We really liked the sauce made from the marinade.

The first time I made this, I served it with warmed pita bread and an antipasto salad. I offered the salsa (but not tomatoes) for serving.

The second time I served it in soft tacos (lettuce, tomato, spiced roasted chickpeas, habanero cheddar, and additional salsa verde) with sour cream mashed potato patties alongside.

I made the Instant Pot variation of spicy honey lime chicken. The cooking method is spot on for tender, moist, and easy-to-shred chicken. Chicken thighs would be a nice alternative to breast meat.

I rubbed the dry seasonings on the breasts after patting them dry. After mixing the wet ingredients together in a small bowl, I poured that mixture into the Instant Pot and then added the chicken. When the cooking process was complete, I cooked the juices on sauté mode for 10 minutes to reduce while I shredded the chicken. The shredded chicken absorbed all the juices when tossed together with the sauce.

To serve, I rolled the shredded chicken in flour tortillas and smothered them with enchilada sauce to turn them into baked chicken enchiladas. The lime juice shines through, so if you want to amp up the spice, I suggest doubling the onion powder, cumin, and chipotle.

Next time I make this, I would add sliced onions and green peppers or jalapenos to the Instant Pot while cooking, and I might reduce the lime to 1/4 cup.

This spicy honey lime chicken is a perfect warm-weather dish, but it’s so versatile you can make it during a long, cold winter when you need a taste of summer. It’s a wonderful combo of flavors, too: sweetness from the honey, spice from the chiles, tartness from the limes.

I’d recommend making the fresh green salsa to go with the chicken. For us, that took it over the top and deeper into TC territory. For those who are not fans of spiciness, the heat level can easily be dialed down…or up for those who like it really hot.

The honey lime chicken recipe was straightforward and simple. The biggest challenge was slicing the chicken breasts horizontally. I wasn’t able to get a nice even cut, so I ended up with some pretty thin cutlets, which meant I had to watch them more closely on the grill.

I highly recommend simmering the marinade into a sauce. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, and you’ll end up with a nice, thick sauce that matches well with the salsa.

This lime chicken marinade is quite tasty and complex, with a good balance of chipotle smoke, citrus, and sweetness from the honey. I used 4 pounds of skinless, boneless thighs for a cookout, so I doubled the marinade recipe. I was a bit reluctant to use the marinade for a sauce, so I served the thighs with store-bought salsa verde.

Next time I’ll make extra marinade and hold some aside to reduce for a sauce. This is a delicious, quick, and versatile recipe–the chicken would make great sandwiches with bacon, arugula, and red onion. There’s a menu plan right there!

I found this spicy chicken dish to be extremely flavorful and reasonably easy, which was nice. I also appreciate the number of ways in which it can be enjoyed. I chose to cook chicken breasts on a charcoal grill but will also be giving the kabobs a try.

The pressure cooker option would be an outstanding weeknight meal that can marinate during the day, then be finished and on the table within minutes of arriving home. Once you have the fundamentals of the recipe down, it’s then up to you how you choose to make it.

Of course, the versatility of this recipe wouldn’t be that important if it didn’t taste good, but it does! The ingredients work together nicely, and the recipe is excellently written.

Being able to marinate for four hours yielded excellent results. And don’t be afraid to make a little extra marinade because it’s delicious. Using it to baste toward the end of cooking and for drizzling when serving is absolutely the way to go in my opinion. The salsa verde suggestion is also a great addition.

This star of a grilled chicken recipe requires a little bit of advanced planning. At lunchtime, make the marinade and add the sliced chicken breasts. It’ll take about 10 minutes of prep time, and the payoff come dinnertime is well worth it.

Because the chicken is sliced thinly, it cooks quickly. If you’re planning to use the marinade as a sauce (I strongly recommend doing that–it’s delicious, tangy, and tastes of summer), start simmering it around the same time you turn on the grill. We served the chicken with the sauce poured over–it’s pretty thin, so it will pool on your chicken-serving platter–along with green salsa on the slide, and halved cherry tomatoes.

We served this to guests as part of a summer evening barbeque, with a corn salad and focaccia on the side.

Originally published September 26, 2022

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The dishes name speaks for itself, this chicken is flavourful! It has a tangy and spicy aroma to an otherwise bland meat. While the taste was good, we found the meat dry once cooked to an internal temp of 74 degrees. We recommend cutting the meat thinner for the cooking time to be more accurate and to get more juices in the meat. With that being said, this is still a recommendable, simple, and tasty dish for lunch or dinner.

    1. Thanks, Loagen! We’re so pleased that you enjoyed this. You may want to cook your chicken a few minute less to avoid it being dry. Please let us know what you try next.

  2. I would love to try this recipe. Can it be made using an oven broiler? And what about roasting /baking in the oven, as in sheet pan chicken?

    1. Binnie, we didn’t try it this way, but I think it should work. You’d just need to monitor the internal temperature so that you don’t overcook it.

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