Spicy Honey-Lime Chicken
The combination of honey (or maple syrup), soy sauce, sriracha, zesty lime, garlic and ginger in this spicy honey lime chicken recipe is wicked. Delicious hot, room temp or cold.
You can make the recipe with whole boneless chicken thighs or chicken breasts on skewers or with bone-in chicken.
My favorite is boneless skinless chicken thighs (pictured here) because they are so flavorful, they absorb the marinade well and they tend to stay moister than breasts. If you’ve read any of our other chicken posts, you’ve heard this. Many times.
The spicy honey lime chicken marinade with its tart citrus tang – so delicious, so much flavor – also works well with pork skewers, tenderloin or chops. Even tofu. It’s one of my favorite chicken thigh recipes.
Best side dish for this chicken dinner
That’s hard. So many things go well with honey-lime chicken thighs. Here are some great ideas for a side and side salad: citrus salad, easy potato knishes, bread salad with charred snap peas, grilled corn salad, party salad with grilled vegetables and quinoa, roasted baby cauliflower and grilled vegetable orzo salad recipe.
Tailor To Your Taste
How to serve honey lime chicken
- I love the grilled chicken skewers format the best because you get the maximum glaze covering the chicken. But you can also use whole chicken breasts or thighs. If using bone-in, I suggest doubling the marinade.
- For appetizers, use regular boneless chicken thighs or breasts. Once cooked, cut the chicken into small pieces and thread on small wooden skewers or toothpicks to serve.
- The chicken is fabulous served in pita or tortillas with a tangy coleslaw or Israeli salad.
Options for honey lime chicken marinade
- Vary the amount of sriracha heat you like. The amount in the recipe is fairly spicy. I know some will like it even hotter. Or some not at all. If you don’t have sriracha, try chili powder or red pepper flakes.
- Replace the lime with lemon in the honey lime mixture (marinade).
- Try adding coriander or a favorite spice to the marinade.
Cooking method alternatives
- If you don’t have a grill, broil the chicken skewers in the oven for 9-12 minutes.
- Cooking time will take longer with bone in chicken. Heat one side of the grill on low, the other on medium high. Cook until almost done ((140F) on the low side, then switch to the hotter side to brown and finish cooking.
- Skip the skewers and cook boneless or bone-in chicken (not cut up). Still delish! And dinner in 20 minutes.
- Substitute 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder for the fresh garlic.
- Marinate at room temperature for 30-40 minutes instead of 4-6 hours or overnight in the fridge. Or skip the marinating altogether. The flavors won’t be as intense, but still great. Consider doubling the sauce or making 1 1/2 times the amount if you are not marinating the chicken.
How to make spicy honey-lime chicken
- Make the recipe ahead for a crowd and serve it at room temperature. Or warm it briefly in the microwave for a minute or two. Don’t overdo it or the chicken will dry out and toughen.
Other easy grilled chicken recipes you might like
- Mediterranean marinated grilled chicken
- chicken bulgogi recipe (Korean)
- Grilled BBQ chicken
- Grilled Vietnamese chicken
- Sweet and spicy chicken wings
- Smoked chicken thighs (without a smoker)
Salt is king when it comes to flavor enhancers. Check out our article on what experts say about the best salt for cooking (and what you should know).
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Spicy Honey Lime Chicken
- Skewers (metal or wood). If using wood, soak for 30 minutes before using. Skewers not needed if using uncut boneless or bone in chicken.
- 2 1/2 pounds (1.13kg) boneless skinless thighs, trimmed and cut into 2 inch/5.1cm pieces, Note 1 chicken tenders or boneless breasts are fine too
- Garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley; lime wedges
Honey Lime chicken marinade (and glaze), Note 2
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce low sodium is good if you have
- 6 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon lime zest from one lime
- 3 tablespoon fresh lime juice from 1 1/2 to 2 limes
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (about 1 1/2 inch of fresh ginger)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Sriracha sauce for pretty spicy (use more or less to taste)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (to thicken to glaze consistency) Optional
- MAKE MARINADE/SAUCE: Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Or blend them in a food processor.
- MARINATE CHICKEN: Pour half the marinade (about 1/2 cup) into a sealed zipper bag or container and add chicken. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or 6-12 hours in fridge. Tip: if marinating overnight, I leave out lime juice and increase zest so it doesn't 'cook' the chicken. Glaze: The reserved 1/2 cup marinade will be used for glazing/basting. (Optional but suggested: Mix 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch into reserved marinade and microwave for 1 minute to make a glaze-like consistency. I do this). Set aside.
- PREPARE GRILL: Scrape grill and spray grill with oil (or dip paper towel in oil and rub on grill). Heat grill to medium-high heat. If using wood skewers, soak them for 30 minutes beforehand to avoid burning. Note 3.
- GRILL CHICKEN SKEWERS: Skewer marinated chicken pieces onto skewers and pat dry (important). Discard the marinade used for marinating. Lightly spray chicken with oil to further avoid sticking. Grill on all sides until chicken cooks to a golden brown (you'll need to turn chicken a couple of times), for 9-12 minutes in total (depending on thickness and how tightly packed the skewers are), basting once or twice with the honey lime glaze. Instant thermometer will read 160F/71C. Rest chicken, loosely covered for 5 minutes.
- SERVE: If you have any leftover sauce, drizzle it on the chicken or warm it in microwave for 30 seconds and pass it around. Sprinkle chicken with cilantro or parsley and serve with lime wedges if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.
- Chicken options:
- I prefer thighs because they are juicier and less likely to dry out when cooked. In this recipe, however, breasts work really well too when marinated.
- Instead of skewered chicken, you can also cook regular bone-in or boneless chicken (but make extra marinade for bone-in)
- Kosher chicken is juicier and has a little extra flavor because it is already brined.
- Marinade/glaze: If you are using bone in chicken, I suggest doubling the marinade/glaze. In fact, you might also want to double it (or do 1 1/2 times the amounts) to use as a dipping sauce or to soak into a side of rice or quinoa.
- No grill? Instead, chicken can be broiled in the oven, turning once, for 9-12 minutes, brushing with the glaze.
- Make Ahead: The recipe can be made ahead for a crowd and served at room temperature or cold. Or warmed briefly in the microwave for a minute or two. Don’t overdo it or the chicken will dry out and toughen.
This recipe, adapted from Once Upon a Chef, was originally published in 2016, has been edited with new images and information. It is now our most popular recipe!
This chicken is fabulous! Have made it twice in 3 days per request of my husband! The only thing I found is the marinade only made 1/2 cup total so I feel like u need to dbl the marinade ingredients. Maybe if I put in the food processor it may foam it up enough to make a whole cup that can be divided in half?
Hi Tracy, The marinade should be more than 1/2 cup, but like you, I like lots of sauce. That’s why I added a note (Note 2) suggesting you double or 1 1/2 times the marinade recipe. Glad you liked it though and I may take your suggestion and increase the marinade amount in the recipe at some point. Thanks for your input.
Made this for dinner last night but just did boneless thighs. Didn’t cut up and skewer. Serviced with garlic and olive oil flavored jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. Delicious!
Great shortcut. Glad you liked them!
Made this for my moms 75th birthday dinner and the whole family Loved it!
I was wondering if you can make the marinade a few days in advance and then put it in a bag with the chicken? I want to make it at home and take it camping. Will it last 3 days in the fridge? With the lime and zest in it?
Hi Jen. So glad the family liked the chicken. Unfortunately, you can’t marinate the chicken with lime juice for 3 days. The acid from the lime will turn it mushy. The maximum is 48 hours but even that long will start ‘cooking’ the chicken. There are a couple of options you can try. 1) You can make the marinade before and just put the chicken in it a few hours before cooking it if that will work. 2) Make the marinade without the lime – just adding the lime in the last few hours before you cook the chicken or 3) Put the chicken in the marinade and freeze it. Freezing stops the marinating process until you thaw it (use the chicken within 24 hours of thawing). I hope that helps for your camping trip.
This looks delish!
This looks like a tasty meal. Adding to the dinner menu for the week.
Hope you like it Stephanie. We do!
Made this lime chicken today, on the grill and it was super tasty and easy to make! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!!
Thank YOU for taking the time to comment Sue 🙂
Hi, I was wondering about meal prepping and freezing this recipe. Would you recommend marinating the chicken then freezing it? Or marinating and cooking and then freezing the cooked chicken? Im trying to have some freezer meals prepped. Thanks
Hi Susie. I would marinate the raw chicken and freeze it. Cook it soon after you defrost it and make sure you use fresh chicken (not previously frozen). Here is an article that might help https://www.diys.com/marinated-chicken/.
Hi I was just wondering if you can use lemons instead of lime or is it better with lime I have so many lemons at home I wanted to use them up
Hi Susan, it won’t have the exact same taste, but I think it will still be delicious. If you have all those lemons to use up, I’d say go for it. I’d love to hear how it worked out – and maybe other readers would too 🙂
This looks so tasty. It’s finally starting to warm up here. I’ll have to make this for dinner one night.
If you try it, let us know how you like it 🙂
This looks incredible! If I want to bake it in the oven at what temp and for how long should I do so? Thank you!
Hi Annie. You can bake them at 400F/204C for about 25-30 minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), brushing on additional glaze when you turn them half way through. 450F will also work for about 10-12 minutes. Or you can broil the chicken about 6 inches from the heat (top of oven) for 9-12 minutes, turning and glazing half way through. The internal temperature in all cases will be 160F/71C when the chicken is done. The temperature will rise a few degrees when resting for 5-7 minutes before serving. Hope you like them!
Can you use pork if you don’t have chicken?
Yes, I think pork in this recipe would be delicious too.
Couldn’t wait until grilling season so made this in the oven! Easy and so much flavor.
Thanks Ross! One of our most popular recipes. Glad you liked it.
This looks absolutely amazing, can’t wait for the grilling season to start so I can try your recipe out! And I will try the same marinade with chicken wings, that should work great too 🙂
It’s a very popular recipe. And yes, it will be great with wings too. Even in the oven 🙂
Absolutely love this recipe. We did omit the soy sauce, salt, and cornstarch. Didn’t miss any of those items. Flavor is outstanding! We baked in oven at 425 for 30 minutes. We also used Chicken thighs and avocado oil and marinated for 30-40 minutes. Highly recommend.
Glad you liked the recipe Ruth! And it’s good to hear that it still worked so well even without the salt and soy sauce.
Made today for lunch, marinated the day before with all the marinade, cook in the oven at 450 for 35-40 minutes with all the marinade also, it was delicious, served with pilaf rice, my family loved it!!!! Thanks for such a great recipe.
So glad your family loved it Erika! Thanks for leaving a comment.
What a great way to change up dinner.
Glad you liked it Angela. 🙂
Made this for dinner this evening and my family loved it! Thank you for a great recipe I will make over and over in the future!
Thanks Lisa! I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.