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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.

3 chicken thigh skewers on cutting board

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.

Shortcuts

  • 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

cut up boneless chicken thighs, salt, sriracha, ginger, soy, maple syrup, garlic, lime juice, lime
Ingredients: Cut up boneless chicken thighs, salt, sriracha, ginger, soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, lime juice, lime
boneless chicken thighs marinating in ziploc bag
Make the marinade and use half of it to marinate the chicken. Reserve the rest for basting.
3 raw chicken skewers
Skewer the chicken.
3 chicken skewers on the grill, partly cooked
Grill chicken on medium high heat and baste with remaining marinade.
3 honey lime chicken skewers on cutting board p

Make Ahead

  • 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

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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4.69 from 215 votes

Spicy Honey Lime Chicken

The combination of honey (or maple syrup), soy sauce, sriracha, lime, garlic and ginger in this spicy honey lime chicken recipe is wicked. Delicious hot, room temp or cold.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Marinating time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5
Author: Cheryl

Equipment

  • Skewers (metal or wood). If using wood, soak for 30 minutes before using. Skewers not needed if using uncut boneless or bone in chicken.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Recipe Notes

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. No grill? Instead, chicken can be broiled in the oven, turning once, for 9-12 minutes, brushing with the glaze.
  4. 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.
Nutritional information estimates include boneless chicken breasts. Thighs would have more calories and fat. 

Nutrition

Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 1553mg | Potassium: 904mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 68IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

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!  

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Recipe Rating




93 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Yum…….made this for lunch today with my homemade fried rice. Just about to add it to my “all time faves”

  2. 4 stars
    Excellent recipe! It’s past grilling season here, and with those flavors I decided to make a stir fry out of it. I cut the boneless skinless breasts up into bite size pieces and marinated for about 6-7 hours during the day. We like spice, so I used Mike’s Hot Honey and the full amount of sriracha sauce. Stir fried in a small amount of sesame oil and tossed in some fresh veggies. The marinade became the sauce for the dish. It was very good! Next time I will increase the spice level even more.

  3. 5 stars
    This was dinner this evening and it was a huge hit! I will definitely work this into the rotation. Thanks for the great recipe 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Very good! The recipe made exactly 1 cup of sauce, just enough to marinade and baste, so if you want extra sauce definitely increase the recipe. I used boneless chicken thighs and broiled them in the oven. It was a big hit and I’m looking forward to trying the sauce with other types of meat which I’m sure will be just as tasty. Thank you!

  5. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. I had the same results so I always double the marinade. Haven’t tried the food processor either though. This recipe is absolutely delicious!! Made it many many times!

  6. 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!

  7. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. Hi, Jen.
      If you want to marinate it in advance, I would suggest to leave the lemon and the zest for when you’ve to grill it. Just add the lemon and the zesty to already marinated chicken about an hour before cooking it. Hope this helps