These Chili Lime Chicken Tacos are quick and easy, using a quick and flavorful marinade. The perfect easy chicken tacos for any weeknight dinner!
How much do you love tacos? I REALLY love tacos. Not only are they incredibly versatile, but they make such great easy weeknight dinners. I have posted quite a few taco recipes here over the years, like THIS one and THIS one. One of my first “viral” recipes was Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos. People love this recipe so much that I decided it was time to make a chicken version. So introducing: Chili Lime Chicken Tacos!
How to make the BEST chicken taco marinade
We start this simple and healthy chicken taco recipe with a chili lime chicken marinade. Oil, spices, garlic and most importantly – lime juice and zest. Why do we use lime zest here and not just lime juice? Because the real flavor is in the lime zest. It’s where the essential oils of the lime are. Lime juice will give you some tang, but lime zest will really pump up the lime flavor.
I use a microplane like THIS ONE to zest limes, lemons and oranges. I also use it for so many other things in my kitchen, it really is a kitchen must have!
The oil is another important part of this marinade, because the spices are oil soluble. This means that the flavor of the spices are more easily extracted by oil. So to put it simply: using oil will make these Chili Lime Chicken Tacos taste better!
Baked chicken thighs make chicken tacos easier
The first time I tested this chicken taco recipe, I tried searing the chicken thighs in a pan on the stovetop. Although that worked fine, it is more labor intensive and requires standing over a stove, pan frying chicken in batches. Not my idea of an easy weeknight dinner. So I decided to bake the chicken thighs in the oven the next time I made these tacos. I was much happier with the results. Not only is it easier to put the chicken in the oven, set a timer and walk away – but I think the chicken thighs cooked more evenly. I turned on the broiler for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking to char the edges a little.
Why Chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?
I usually prefer using chicken thighs because they are juicier, more flavorful, and harder to dry out. If you want to use chicken breasts, that’s fine, but you may need to adjust cooking time to avoid drying them out.
What is a good side dish for chicken tacos?
Need some ideas for what to serve with chicken tacos? I think they are great on their own, but definitely make some of my EASY four ingredient guacamole for these! And naturally, you will need a margarita.
I also sometimes serve these with a side of rice and black beans.
- 1 lb chicken thighs boneless skinless
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 cup pico de gallo homemade or store bought
- 1 cup guacamole
chili lime chicken marinade
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp red pepper flake
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Zest of one lime
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice about 1 large lime
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- Whisk together all ingredients for marinade. Add chicken thighs and toss to make sure each piece is fully coated in the marinade. Marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- When ready to bake chicken, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.
- Bake chicken until cooked through, about 20 minutes. When cooked, place under broiler for 1-2 minutes to char the edges (optional).
- Remove chicken and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes, then slice.
- Serve chicken with tortillas, pico de gallo, guacamole and your other favorite taco toppings!