This pan seared chicken recipe with flavorful chili cilantro lime marinade requires minimal prep and just a little planning. It is perfect for a quick dinner that is gluten free, clean eating and paleo friendly.
This isn’t an actual Thai recipe but it totally could be. In Thai cuisine a dish should prominently feature at least 3 flavor profiles. And this pan-seared chicken definitely delivers on the flavor front.
In the marinade there is spiciness from the chili pepper and powder, tartness from the lime, honey for sweetness and whatever flavor it is cilantro imparts. I would say it is fresh! (I am sure you Cilantro-haters will disagree on that)
The chicken is marinated in this powerful flavor combination for at least 2 hours. Marinate overnight, if you have the foresight and planning abilities that I am lacking.
Cooking chicken breast can be so tricky. Unlike beef, you never want rare chicken. It always has to be fully cooked to be safe for consumption. Unfortunately, it’s also too easy to err on the side caution and overcook chicken breast. Since it’s so lean, overcooked chicken breast can then be tough and dry.
This recipe will help you combat dry chicken in 3 ways:
- Halving horizontally
Chicken breasts are naturally uneven in thickness. Cutting them in half makes the pieces of chicken cook quicker and more evenly.
The chili cilantro lime marinade not only imparts delicious flavor, it also tenderizes the chicken.
- High-then-low Pan Searing
By starting to cook the chicken breast on high heat, its natural juices get sealed inside. Once the seared ‘seal’ is created, turn the heat to low to slowly cook to perfection. You can use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 75 C (165 F), but I usually just make a small cut in the thickest part to see that it is no longer pink.
In summer time (or if your BBQ is at the ready year-round) you can also grill the chicken after marinating. Again, first high heat then low is key for moist and tender grilled chicken as well.
Whether grilled or pan seared, this refreshing Pineapple Tomato Salsa pairs wonderfully with the Chili Cilantro Lime Chicken.
- 2 chicken breasts
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons oil (olive, avocado)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 chili pepper, seeds removed and chopped (I use Thai spur chili)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ground chili powder (cayenne) to taste (1/4 - ½ teaspoon)
- Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally.
- In a bowl combine all ingredients for the marinade (lime juice, oil, cilantro, garlic, chili pepper, honey salt and chili powder) and whisk until combined.
- Add the chicken breast halves to the marinade. Turn to coat from all sides. Cover and let marinate for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
- To cook the marinated chicken, heat a lightly oiled frying pan to medium high. Add the chicken breasts and let them sear quickly from both sides until the outsides start to brown.
- Then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. If the pan starts to dry out, add a little of the marinade to keep the chicken from sticking and burning.
- This fresh pineapple tomato salsa goes very well with the Chili Cilantro Lime Pan-Seared Chicken. Serve with steamed rice.
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