If you have the gut-wrenching feeling that boneless skinless chicken breasts will always be bland, just wait until you introduce them to my mouthwatering marinade.
You can employ all kinds of aromatics to create bold flavors in a poultry marinade, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chicken breasts are like a blank canvas, ready to flavor with your choice of seasonings.
This mighty marinade is chock-full of jalapenos, and I like to think of these little chilies as spicy superheroes in capes.
When stripped of their seeds and ribs, jalapenos are floral, grassy, and vegetal. A slight tingle of heat still lingers, but it’s nothing compared to the fiery sting they can unleash when their inner membranes are left intact and undisturbed.
Without the cloak – or seeds and ribs, in this case – the jalapeno has a mild-mannered personality. But leave it fully suited up, and its bite will light up your mouth.
In addition to the chopped fresh jalapenos for heat, I use sharp green onions and pungent garlic to bring some savory notes.
Acidic ingredients also serve as a useful tool to liven up chicken, and help to tenderize the meat when used in a marinade – and jalapenos and lime go together like Lucy and Ricky.
The lime’s tart juice delivers a sour punch, and its zest is super fragrant. A combination of these mixed with fruity olive oil, garlic, onions, and the crisp kick of jalapeno pepper creates a simple and delicious marinade.
The other secret that makes this simple chicken dish shine is the cooking process. Charbroiled grill marks are magnificent, but I would choose seared meat finished in the oven over any other technique.
Not only will searing create a beautiful golden-brown crust, the even heat of the oven results in tender, moist, expertly cooked chicken.
Don’t forget that five-minute rest period before you slice into the meat, unless you want to share all of those glorious juices with your cutting board.
When it’s finally time to get to slicing, you want to make sure you’re working with the right kind of knife so you don’t butcher – no pun intended – your hard-earned chicken dinner.
This carving knife guide will help you choose the best option.
If you would rather use boneless skinless thighs in this recipe instead of breasts, don’t forget that dark meat takes a little longer to reach peak tenderness. The food-safe temperature for both white and dark meat when cooking poultry is at least 165°F, but letting dark meat cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 175°F will give it a more pleasing texture.
This may take an additional 5 to 8 minutes of baking time, depending on the thickness of the meat.
Whether Jalapeno Man is the main character of the next Marvel movie or not, this zippy, chili-marinated chicken will prove to you that the sassy little pepper has a lot to say.Print
Jalapeno-Lime Marinated Chicken
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
For an entree with some real pizzazz, try our spicy marinated chicken flavored with a zesty trio of fresh jalapenos, garlic, and lime.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Zest of 3 limes (2 teaspoons)
- Juice of 3 limes (6 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large jalapenos, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and light green parts
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 pounds)
- Chopped green onion tops, for garnish
- Lime wedges, for garnish
- In a bowl, whisk together 1 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons lime zest and 6 tablespoons lime juice, salt, black pepper, jalapenos, garlic, and the white and light green parts of the sliced green onion.
- Add the chicken to a large resealable bag and pour the jalapeno-lime marinade over the top. Seal and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or for up to 12 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and discard the marinade. Sear until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes, or until golden brown on the other side.
- Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or serving platter and set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with lime wedges and green onion tops.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Poultry
Keywords: chicken, jalapeno, lime, marinated
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Measure, and Prep
Take the chicken out of the fridge. Get out a large cutting board, chef’s knife, microplane or zester, and citrus juicer.
Zest and juice the limes. If you don’t have a citrus squeezer, you can insert a fork in the flesh of the lime and squeeze while you twist to help extract the juice.
You should have about 2 teaspoons of lime zest and 6 tablespoons of juice, but this amount can vary depending on the size and juice content of the limes. Consider purchasing a couple additional limes as backups if you need more juice, and to cut into wedges for serving.
Mince the garlic and separate the green tops from the light green and white parts of the scallions. Thinly slice the white and light green parts and set them aside for the marinade. Slice the green tops of the scallions, and place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These will be used as a final garnish before serving.
Remove the stems and dice the jalapenos. To reduce the heat, remove the seeds and ribs before dicing. If the chicken is still a little too spicy for your liking, read our guide full of tips to help you tone it down.
Measure the oil and salt. Grind the black pepper and measure what you need.
Step 2 – Marinate
Add 1 cup of olive oil, the lime zest and juice, salt, pepper, jalapenos, garlic, and white and light green parts of the scallions in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until fully combined.
I prefer to marinate chicken in a large resealable bag – a gallon-size zip-top bag works best for this quantity.
If using a bag, place the chicken inside and pour the jalapeno-lime marinade over the top. Make sure you remove all of the air from the bag before sealing, then massage the chicken in the marinade to coat thoroughly. I place the bag in a bowl or casserole dish as well, to catch any leaks.
You could also marinate the chicken directly in the bowl that you used to make the marinade. Be sure to choose one that’s large enough to fit all of the chicken and made of a material that will not react with the acid, such as glass, ceramic, or plastic. Place the chicken in the bowl and toss in the marinade with tongs until completely coated, then cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid.
Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 12 hours max.
Step 3 – Sear
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil – the foil will prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan, and will save you some dishwashing time! Parchment paper or a silicone pan liner could also be used for easy cleanup.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to heat up until it’s shimmering and just starting to smoke. You can test to see if the oil is hot enough by adding a drop of water to the pan. If it sizzles away immediately, it has reached the right temperature for searing.
Using clean tongs, remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, shake gently to remove any excess liquid, and then transfer them to the pan. Discard the marinade.
Work in batches or use two pans if necessary so you don’t crowd the pan, which will cause the temperature of the oil to decrease. The reduced temperature will prevent an even sear from forming on the exterior of the breasts.
Sear the chicken until golden brown on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for 2 more minutes, or until golden brown.
Step 4 – Bake, Rest, and Serve
Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet to finish cooking in the oven. Bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers an internal temperature of 165°F, about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the breasts.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board if you plan to slice it before serving.
Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing and/or serving. The resting period will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, so they don’t run out when you cut into it. This extra step will keep the chicken juicy and moist!
Garnish with chopped scallion tops and serve with lime wedges.
How to Chow Down on this Chicken
Insert into mouth. Make “yummy!” noises. Repeat.
Okay, those steps were a little obvious!
If you’re wondering how else to make use of this citrusy chicken packed with a peppery flair, here are some fun ideas..
The ingredients in our cilantro lime rice are a perfect match for the flavors featured in this entree. Serve with a side of black beans and elote antojitos for the Mexican-inspired meal of your dreams.
If you like the direction we’re heading in but handhelds are more your style, fajitas are a tasty option. With just a few additional steps, you can easily prepare and cook the veggies along with the chicken in this recipe.
Toss 1 sliced medium yellow onion and 2 sliced bell peppers with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl and season with a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Arrange them in an even layer underneath and around the seared chicken on the baking sheet before placing it in the oven to finish the cooking process.
Serve with warm tortillas, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, salsa, and sour cream.
How will you serve this chicken so it shows off its best side? Share your suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Jalapenos are a foolproof solution for sneaking in some heat where you least expect it. Try these recipes next that all take advantage of the pepper’s pleasing kick:
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on September 3, 2014. Last updated on October 22, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”
29 thoughts on “Jalapeno-Lime Marinated Chicken”
Chicken is always flavorsome when I am making it, otherwise I do not bother. I have made a very similar dish to this before, I love making fajitas and such, so this is not far off that realm.
How simple and flavorful! And affordable! This would taste so awesome complemented with some white or flavored rice. Thanks for the idea!
We do not do traditional foods for Thanksgiving and Christmas- I will be on this site often this coming holiday season
Mouth watering! Looks like this is going to be my next chicken dish. Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it out.
Yum, I can’t wait to try this. I prefer eating chicken to other proteins myself and I never understand why people insist chicken is bland. If you season it correctly it’s great. Jalapeno and lime are two of my favorite flavors so I think I’ll like this recipe. I would be good to make tacos with this meat or simply serve it with some seasoned rice and a salad.
I prefer cooking a whole chicken too but sometimes find myself short on time. They are much more flavorful that way though so I try to use them when I can. Thanks for the recipe!
I have had this dish before and I really enjoyed. I first had the Jalapeno Chicken a few months ago at a Chinese restaurant. I am grateful to know that I can prepare it as a meal for my family. I like knowing different ways on how to flavor chicken.
Made this one and really enjoyed it. What was fun was that the leftovers pulled and boneless made for a fantastic wrap with a few added items like lettuce, tomato, etc. Enjoyed it!
I followed this recipe yesterday and shared it with my friends *(we’re all very much into spicy food). I left a few of the jalapeno seeds in and you definitely weren’t kidding, it made it deliciously spicy. The lime really made the flavors pop too.
My friends thought I was a master chef, so thanks Lynne.
I love jalapenos and will eat them straight from the jar. It’s nice to see a recipe that involves a bit more than just placing them on the top of something and I am going to try this out next weekend. Jalapenos have a wonderful flavor and don’t seem particularly hot to me.
I think after years of having chicken on the dinner table on a weekly basis, one tends to tire out a little and you wish for newer, fresher things on the dinner table, maybe i tired out easily because the chicken was a ‘plain jane’ and now ‘hot spicy’ chicken has stepped out of my kitchen onto to my dinner plate, quite a simple recipe there, although i’ll have to minimize the jalapenos lest i start out with free flowing ‘waterworks’ moment…better yet i could arm myself with a glass of yoghurt to cease the fire that might arise within my mouth and throat ;).
I would never consider chicken bland or lacking in flavour; some of the best meals I’ve eaten have been simply a plain roasted chicken where the meat speaks for itself. That said, I do find other fowl like turkey to be of the blandest and dullest of meats.
I like the idea of marinating chicken – this is something I do regularly for dishes like jerk chicken, It really does tenderize the meat, and keeps it moist too, which is equally as important.
I’ll definitely give this recipe a go though – sounds delicious.
Oh SNAP! This is exactly what I’m all about. I love chicken AND I love jalapeno. However, my family is not on board with my sense of delicious. Is there a way, other than clearing the seeds, I can minimize the hotness for my family. They’re not troopers for spice.
Ugh! Why do I always come to this blog when I’m hungry? My mother said I’m a glutton for punishment. This dish looks delicious, can’t wait to make it and eat it. LOVE the presentation, and can’t wait to taste what the meat tastes like with the lime juice used as/in the marinade.
What would your suggestion be to marinate chicken in a warm or cold environment? What i mean is I’ve always marinated on the counter top but I know people who feel the fridge is a better option. I’ve felt marinating in a fridge retains less of the marinade in the meat.
I so agree with you about dark meat, and bone-in chicken. It’s much more flavorful than skinless, boneless breasts. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. I love lime with poultry and fish, and adding the jalapenos will give it a little kick. I’ve never been able to achieve a proper sear, so hopefully with your hints, I can master that technique.
This looks like a great, simple recipe! I’m glad my cast iron pan is well-seasoned. I love the subtle flavor of lime in chicken. I could totally see how guacamole would be a great accommodation to this chicken dish. I love hot peppers so I would probably use something a bit hotter than jalepeno, although I love the flavor of it.
This is a great recipe to try when you think you’re tired of chicken. LOL My family eats a lot of chicken and sometimes it gets old. If you love jalapenos, as I do, this is a most pleasant alternative to the same boring chicken dishes. The lime is going to go nicely with the jalapenos. I can’t wait to try this one.
This recipe sounds delicious, particularly the contrast of different flavors brought on by varying cooking methods and ingredients. I’ll have to try it.
Love chicken, it is one of the main sources of protein in my household as we do not very much red meat. This recipe sounds great, I will be making this!
That looks like a really awesome recipe! I also swear by fresh chicken bone-in, rather than the frozen, pre-butchered stuff. There is a really huge difference in flavor.
For those who find Jalapenos too hot and spicy, I think that a tomato-based marinade would also work well.
I love spicy foods, so this recipe is right up my alley. Would the taste be altered if I were to grill it rather than use it in a skillet? I just received a tabletop grill and I’ve been looking for recipes when it comes to using it to cook with.
I always make chicken in my house (we aren’t big red meat or pork eaters), so I love looking for different ways to make the meat flavorful. My household enjoys spicy food, so this recipe looks like a winner. I already have the ingredients, I just may be making this tonight!
I make this type of fowl a lot, so I’m always looking for new ideas for how to prepare it. This sounds quite tasty, and it’s certainly simple enough. I need to add more marinades to my repertoire.
I think my husband would enjoy this. He likes food to have a bit of a kick, and he tend to enjoy things made with lime. Double whammy. I think I’ll make a nice citrus rice to go alongside this.
Chicken is my favourite meat (we have it literally all of the time) and so I love to find new and interesting recipes! This is well explained and seems relatively simple to do, and the contrast of flavours appears as though it would work well. I’m excited to try it!
We eat a lot of chicken in our home, so I am always on the lookout for new recipes to feed my family. I am a jalapeno lover, so I will certainly enjoy this. I do a dish that is similar, but more on the Indian curry type flavor because it has Indian spices. I am certain it will be great with vegetables and salads.
My mouth watered the whole time while I read this post, it looks amazing! I’m a big fan of spicy food in general, and what a better idea to do it with an acid touch, yum!
The chicken actually reminds me of a recipe that my mother does regularly, but instead of chicken she make it with Cambray potatoes, and it’s an excellent idea for a little snack on a family reunion, at the end of the day everyone seems to love it.
I will definietly give this a try. 🙂
Well I have to say that I love spicy food, and when it come to chicken, I always feel the need to add as much spice and kick to it as possible, if nothing else then to just switch things up and try something new. I love chicken , and it is good and healthy protein for me, but sometimes it can get repetitive. That said, I love jalapenos so this makes perfect sense to me. Thanks for sharing, and I might just print this one off and keep it on hand.
I have always loved Mexican food, but I have always eaten it on restaurants, that’s why it’s always delicious. However, I personally think that I will have to pay Mexico a visit in order to find those jalapeños in the first place. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe, I am a big fan of the chicken, I will surely try this soon. Thanks for sharing it!
I love all things Mexican, and this jalapeno chicken looks divine. I’ve never made a dish on my own, though, and I’m looking forward to trying this one out. You can just see the flavor in this dish, and I just know everyone will love it. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.