These grilled chicken tacos get a little tipsy after being doused with tequila then take a cold shower in the form of a squeeze of lime and a soothing mayo sauce.–David Leite

Wood bowl with tequila-lime chicken tacos, charred limes, radishes, sour cream

Tequila-Lime Chicken Tacos

5 / 3 votes
These easy chicken tacos, made with marinated grilled chicken and a cilantro-spiked mayonnaise, are an easy meal, perfect for weeknights or casual entertaining.
David Leite
Servings12 servings
Calories210 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time40 minutes


For the marinated tequila lime chicken

  • Minced zest and juice of 3 limes or lemons
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec or other orange flavored liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried green chile or chile seasoning, or 1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeño
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, pounded 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick
  • 3 to 4 medium limes, sliced into 4 wedges
  • Few tablespoons tequila
  • Vegetable oil

For the sauce (optional)

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried ground green chile or green chile seasoning , or minced pickled jalapeño to taste
  • 12 corn tortillas, plus a few extras in case of tears

For serving the tequila lime chicken tacos

  • Cilantro
  • White onion, chopped (optional)


Make the marinated tequila lime chicken

  • In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, tequila, Triple Sec, oil, chile or chile seasoning, and salt. Place the chicken breasts in a zippered plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag, and toss back and forth to coat the chicken evenly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
  • Up to 1 hour before grilling, place the lime sections on a plate, sprinkle them with the tequila, and rub lightly with oil. Let sit at room temperature.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: If you don’t have the time to fuss with the limes, you can simply serve lime wedges with the tacos for squeezing.

Make the sauce (optional)

  • In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the tequila lime chicken tacos

  • When you’re ready to grill the chicken, drain and discard the marinade.
  • Fire up the grill to medium heat.
  • Grill the chicken and limes, uncovered, over direct heat. Cook, turning the chicken and limes a few times. Grill the limes until they’ve softened somewhat and developed a bit of char, 4 to 6 minutes. Grill the chicken until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, warm the tortillas along the perimeter of the grill and then wrap them in a towel or foil to keep warm.
  • Working quickly, coarsely chop or shred the chicken and pile it on a platter. Surround it with the grilled limes and bowls of cilantro and onion, if desired. Serve with the wrapped tortillas and, if using, the sauce. Serve immediately.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: For a heartier meal, you can add a spoonful of cooked white or Spanish rice to each taco.

Adapted From

Chicken on the Grill

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 210 kcalCarbohydrates: 14 gProtein: 10 gFat: 11 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.03 gCholesterol: 34 mgSodium: 221 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2004 Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Photo © 2020 Joshua Resnick. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This taco recipe has a nice tang of citrus and, when mixed with the sauce on the taco, it’s a very pleasing taste on the palate. I started marinating my chicken the night before because I wanted the flavors to penetrate throughout the chicken. I also used green chile powder instead of the jalapeños.

The one thing I’d do differently next time is to heat the corn tortillas in the microwave. When cooked on the grill, they tended to be dry and hard to roll. We microwaved the rest and wrapped them in plastic wrap, and they were very soft, moist, and perfect for rolling. The combination of chicken, sauce, tortilla, and a squeeze of lime will leave you wanting more.

So many marinated grilled chicken breast recipes end up being bland, but this one actually had a flavorful punch because the thinness of the pounded breasts actually allows the marinade to permeate and the shredding made it extra appealing to sink our teeth into. Plus the flavors themselves are bright and bold.

I used Patron Silver tequila and Cointreau (it’s a little less sweet than triple sec). I used 2 fresh jalapeños in the marinade and 1 tablespoon of minced pickled jalapeño for the sauce. I marinated the chicken for about 24 hours.

After shredding the chicken I poured the accumulated juices from the cutting board back over the chicken. Next time I won’t discard the marinade but will bring it to a boil and pour that over the shredded chicken too. Or just add another good drizzle of olive oil, another few squeezes of fresh lime and another waft of salt over the shredded chicken, because why not?

We served 6 people with two tortillas each.

These were a huge hit with our dinner guests and will now go on repeat.

These were wonderfully flavorful chicken tacos. The combination of sauce and limes and corn tortillas with the tequila marinated chicken was perfect. I will definitely make these again and the process will go faster no doubt.

You could skip the steps of making sauce and prepping and grilling the limes for a fast weeknight taco dinner…although those really add to the flavor of the tacos.

I marinated the chicken for 30 minutes. I grilled the chicken for 14 minutes total, turning throughout cook time. It was nice and juicy and fully cooked. The limes were grilled for the same amount of time.

When cooking Tex-Mex, I can never get enough lime juice and so this was a perfect recipe. The marinade, the sauce, and the grilled limes gave the tacos such a great fresh flavor.

As such, I did use just lime juice for the marinade rather than lemon. For the alcohol, I used Sauza Silver tequila and Cointreau. I did have pickled jalapeños on hand but I chose instead to pick up a fresh one because they just looked so appealing.

I let the chicken marinate for 12 hours. Preparing everything was simple enough and the chicken took 8 minutes to cook while the limes only took about 4 minutes to develop a gorgeously burnished char.

I was hesitant about the addition of mayonnaise to the sauce but I was very pleasantly surprised. It had a nice body to it but didn’t have that telltale mayo “tang.” The addition of the lime juice and cilantro really makes the sauce a standout.

I was very pleased with this recipe; it is easy to put together and the fairly short ingredient list belies just how delicious it is.

This recipe turns out so well. It takes no time at all to get the marinade ready and after marinating for only an hour, this chicken was absolutely divine.

The grilled chicken with the sauce and the limes makes for a very tasty dinner on it’s own, but I might add lettuce and tomatoes next time to have more of a traditional taco. I will definitely be making this chicken again for other entrees because it’s just so good, easy, and flavorful.

Feel free to play around with the spicy aspect of this recipe to suit your family’s tastes. We have family that can’t do spicy so I only used a pinch of red pepper flakes in place of the dried chiles.

Having just returned from Mexico City where I did a walking tour of Mexican street tacos, I was ready for this recipe. The chicken in the recipe, although grilled and shredded, was moist with very good flavor. I used lemons to marinate, but will definitely use limes next time. I think the lemon flavor was somewhat lost in the grilling.

I thought the sauce was overpowered by the mayonnaise, and this comes from someone who likes mayonnaise. I made a second sauce that consisted of 1/2 cup sour cream, 3 teaspoons of lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of chili seasoning. I had my family try both sauces and everyone liked the one without mayonnaise better.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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