Cilantro Chicken

Let me tell you a little story about cilantro.  I was once a hater… a very big hater.  When my husband and I were newlyweds, we used to eat at a local fish taco place once a week.  I always ordered the Shrimp Burrito with NO CILANTRO.  One day my husband brought home a shrimp burrito for me.  I took one bite and Pffft!  What the heck?!  He had forgotten to ask them to leave it out.  I disliked the stuff that much.  Somewhere along the way, I became okay with cilantro.  I won’t eat it raw by the handful, but I definitely use it in my cooking and have found that I finally have a taste for this fresh herb.  Even if you ARE a hater, you’re likely still going to enjoy this recipe:  Cilantro Chicken

The cilantro is ground up into the marinade.  It coats the chicken before grilling, and then the chicken is brushed with sweet sauce before serving.  This is my new favorite chicken recipe- shared by a beach house neighbor’s friend named Joyce who was visiting for dinner this summer.  Joyce was gracious enough to bring samples over for us to try.  It was so delicious that I simply had to have the recipe to share with you.  Here you go:

First things first:  this recipe is SO easy!  You’ll need chicken- I used wonderful skinless thighs with very little fat from Whole Foods.  I find the thighs that you buy from the regular market are far too full of fat.  By the time you remove the fat, there is hardly any meat left.  It’s worth it to go to Whole Foods for chicken thighs.  You can also use chicken breasts, but you’ll want to make sure they are evenly pounded out so they don’t dry out while grilling.

The marinade is simply made up of olive oil, garlic and cilantro.

And it’s all mixed together in the blender (or food processor) until it is thick and smooth.

I like to marinate my chicken in a large zip baggie.  I put the chicken in first and then scrape the marinade into the bag too.  Squeeze all of the air out of the bag, zip it closed, and then massage the marinade into every nook and cranny of the chicken.  If you do this in the morning, it can marinate all day long.  Busy folks can get it all ready the night before and let it marinate all night and into the next day.

It’s been so stinkin’ hot where I live that I decided to go with my stovetop grill pan instead of using the hot BBQ outside.  Just a few minutes on each side.

Stack the chicken onto a platter, and give it a generous brush of Sweet Chili Sauce (sweet chili sauce can be found in your market’s Asian aisle- if you can’t find it, ask.  Here’s a brand that is pretty common.  And if you don’t have access it, make your own!)

It’s ready to serve!  But wait… what will you serve it with?!

Whip up some Easy Coconut Rice (or regular steamed rice).  Recipe HERE.

Now you’ve got something new to make for dinner!  My whole family loved this.  The cilantro didn’t scare anyone- it just makes a wonderful addition to the simple marinade.  And the sweet chili sauce is NOT spicy.  I love using chicken thighs for grilling because they always turn out a little more tender and moist than breasts, which have a tendency to dry out on the grill.

Thanks to beach house friend Joyce for sharing such a wonderful recipe this summer!  And thank you to my tastebuds for overcoming your resentment of Cilantro ;)

Print Print Recipe

Cilantro Chicken

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 8 min


2 1/2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (a big handful)
3/4 to 1 cup sweet chili sauce


1. Place chicken in a large zip baggie.

2. Place olive oil, garlic and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Process until the mixture is combined and smooth. Scoop the marinade into the bag with the chicken, press the air out of the bag and zip it closed. Knead the marinade into the chicken until it is evenly distributed. Marinate overnight or all day long.

3. Preheat the grill to medium heat and coat with oil or grill spray. Remove chicken from the bag and grill 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, until good grill marks are showing. Flip and grill an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

4. Remove chicken to a platter and brush the sweet chili sauce on top.


*1/4 cup of minced garlic is quite a lot to mince yourself. I like to buy it already minced for this recipe - either fresh or jarred.
*If you are preparing this recipe as gluten-free, just be sure to use a brand of chili garlic sauce that is known to be GF.
*I like to serve this chicken with Easy Coconut Rice.


Leave a Comment

60 Responses to “Cilantro Chicken”

  1. 1

    Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama — August 13, 2012 @ 5:47 AM

    Lori this looks sooooo good! I would love it with some of your coconut rice. Great combo!!!

  2. 2

    Cookbook Queen — August 13, 2012 @ 5:49 AM

    My husband is a cilantro hater too, but this looks absolutely delicious!! I’m sure I’d have no problem getting him to stuff his face with it.

    ANd that rice?? Holy cow. Yum.

  3. 3

    Kat — August 13, 2012 @ 6:00 AM

    I used to hate cilantro also but have grown to really like it now. This looks delicious and easy. Can’t wait to make it.

  4. 4

    Jill — August 13, 2012 @ 6:42 AM

    I looooove cilantro, so this is awesome! Yum!

  5. 5

    kelley — August 13, 2012 @ 7:16 AM

    I love cilantro so I know I would love this. I, too, love chicken thighs from whole foods. Little fat and so much more flavorful than breasts. A perfect grilling recipe I can’t wait to try!

  6. 6

    Kalyn — August 13, 2012 @ 7:32 AM

    I knew I would love it, and I do!

  7. 7

    Deborah — August 13, 2012 @ 7:54 AM

    This seriously looks so good. I am a cilantro lover, so I know I’d love this!!

  8. 8

    JulieD — August 13, 2012 @ 7:58 AM

    Wow, looks good, Lori!! I have never used cilantro as a marinade before!

  9. 9

    shelly (cookies and cups) — August 13, 2012 @ 9:09 AM

    This looks amazing. Pinning!

  10. 10

    Crystal @ Crystal's Cozy Kitchen — August 13, 2012 @ 9:17 AM

    My husband is a cilantro disliker (he doesn’t hate it and will eat it, just doesn’t prefer it…) It just sounds too good to NOT make ;). I’m sure if I pair it with coconut rice he’d love it (he loves coconut rice)!

  11. 11

    Meghan — August 13, 2012 @ 9:37 AM

    What a gorgeous summer dish Lori! The cilantro marinade paired with the sweet chili sauce sounds perfect with the coconut rice!

  12. 12

    Maria — August 13, 2012 @ 9:47 AM

    I’m marinating the WF thighs as I write! Can’t wait for dinner! I’ll be making the coconut rice too!

  13. 13

    Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana — August 13, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

    I’ve made grilled cilantro chicken before, but never glazed it with sweet chili sauce…can’t wait to give that a try!!

  14. 14

    Amber {Sprinkled With Flour} — August 13, 2012 @ 10:05 AM

    Oooh, I love all the flavors in this recipe, it sounds amazing! I used to hate Cilantro too, but definitely learned to like it…funny how that happens.

  15. 15

    bridget {bake at 350} — August 13, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

    I looooove cilantro…and after 15 years of marriage, my husband announced that he doesn’t like it and never has. Poor guy…I’ve been feeding it to him all this time. Wonder if he’d notice? Maybe I’ll call it Parsley Chicken. ;)

  16. 16

    Tessa @ Handle the Heat — August 13, 2012 @ 1:42 PM

    This looks fantastic! Love the brilliant green color. I don’t mind cilantro but I can see how people can hate it – it’s very sharp and distinctive.

  17. 17

    Cassie — August 13, 2012 @ 2:30 PM

    I am an absolute cilantro lover! This is my kind of chicken dish!

  18. 18

    Renee — August 13, 2012 @ 5:35 PM

    I had such high hopes, but this just tasted like grass with sweet chili sauce on it. I wouldn’t say it was inedible, because the chicken was tender, but the flavor was just not that pleasant. The cilantro was really overpowering. Plus, serving it with broccoli made everything on the plate even more “green” (in color and taste), so that was not an ideal combo. Sorry.

  19. 19

    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef — August 13, 2012 @ 7:16 PM

    It’s funny how we can go from a cilantro hater to a cilantro lover seemingly overnight. I certainly did. This chicken dish would put a huge smile on my face.

  20. 20

    sal — August 13, 2012 @ 8:41 PM

    Cumin and lemon juice added to the marinade would make it kick arse. I make something similar. You can also add the chilli sauce in with marinade to save stuffing around at the end. OR for the brave – ignore sweet chilli sauce and add fresh chillies and a little brown sugar to marinade

  21. 21

    Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen — August 13, 2012 @ 9:00 PM

    I heart cilantro!! Love this, sharing. I know some people have an aversion to the flavor. I never understood it, it’s one of my favorite herbs.

  22. 22

    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — August 14, 2012 @ 4:41 AM

    Love the recipe! I haven’t seen a chicken dish like yours! Ohh, I can’t wait to try it!!

  23. 23

    Jen @ Savory Simple — August 14, 2012 @ 5:23 AM

    This looks so awesome! I wonder if Mae Ploy would work? It’s a spicy sweet chili sauce that I’m totally addicted to.

  24. 24

    Maria in NJ — August 14, 2012 @ 5:38 AM

    Lori this one is a keeper, I love cilantro and the pesto looks so good, I’m thinking that would be wonderful on a pizza!!…m

  25. 25

    Lori Lange — August 14, 2012 @ 8:23 AM

    Hmmm- that’s a bummer that it didn’t turn out for you. With my chicken, you could barely taste the cilantro because the garlic overpowers. Wonder if you used too much cilantro?

  26. 26

    Carla @ Carlas Confections — August 14, 2012 @ 8:47 AM

    My husband absolutely hates cilantro! Maybe I will just have to sneak this recipe in and see if he notices ;) It looks super yummy!

  27. 27

    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy — August 14, 2012 @ 9:47 AM

    :o How could you not like cilantro? it’s the BEST herb!

  28. 28

    Eliana — August 14, 2012 @ 10:48 AM

    I am a HUGE cilantro lover so this chicken looks absolutely perfect to me! Thanks for sharing Lori.

  29. 29

    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — August 14, 2012 @ 2:42 PM

    I’m not much of a cilantro person but this dish here is seriously changing my mind about that!

  30. 30

    Karly — August 14, 2012 @ 3:20 PM

    I looooooooove cilantro. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  31. 31

    Candice Collins — August 14, 2012 @ 4:37 PM

    Hi! Thanks for the great recipe! I made this for dinner tonight (but had to tweak the recipe… of course, I can’t just make a recipe as is… I always have to mess with it LOL!) anyway, was wonderful. …. I added ginger and lime to the marinade… YUM!

  32. 32

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles — August 14, 2012 @ 8:20 PM

    My cilantro intake increases all the time. I love it. And this recipe looks like one that I and my whole cilantro-loving family would enjoy!

  33. 33

    Janelle — August 16, 2012 @ 11:52 AM

    My husband made this last night. I cannot overemphasize how incredibly delicious this was!!!! I’m eating leftovers for lunch today and its still incredible. This is an absolute keeper!!! THANK YOU!!!!

  34. 34

    Rachel - A Southern Fairytale — August 16, 2012 @ 11:31 PM

    You knew that after lunch today I absolutely had to come check this recipe out and it sounds amazing! I can’t wait to make this with some good, fresh cilantro! ;-)

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed dinner with you tonight, glad we finally got some time together!

  35. 35

    grace — August 17, 2012 @ 12:00 PM

    i’m glad you’ve accepted cilantro into your life, lori. you will be much happier now. :)

  36. 36

    Victoria — August 18, 2012 @ 2:19 PM

    I’d love to know which grill pan you are using. Are you happy with it? Thanks!

  37. 37

    Lori Lange — August 19, 2012 @ 7:18 AM

    I have no idea what brand it is- it’s a reversible grill/griddle. It’s pretty hard to clean though… not sure I’d recommend it.

  38. 38

    Chef Tom — August 23, 2012 @ 9:49 PM

    Cilantro can definitely be overpowering. All about moderation.

  39. 39

    Sharon — August 26, 2012 @ 6:51 PM

    Wow, this was excellent! The Sweet Chili Sauce really added to the flavor. We sprinkled the chicken with garlic salt as we were grilling it.
    The Coconut Rice was wonderful, I just chopped up the rest of my cilantro and added it to the rice with the green onion. The Toasted Coconut really made the flavor of the rice pop!

  40. 40

    Susan — September 9, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

    This was really easy and very tasty. The cilantro flavor was subtle with hints of garlic a little more pronounced. The sweet chili sauce was a great touch. Four out of five enjoyed it at our house; the youngest and pickiest eater couldn’t get past the green color of the chicken. I might try blotting the marinade a little next time before I start grilling. Thanks for the keeper!

  41. 41

    Janelle Bielak — September 9, 2012 @ 10:08 PM

    This recipe is delicious beyond belief! My husband has made it twice already and we just Looooove it! In fact, I would say this is the best online recipe I have ever found. Thank you!!!

  42. 42

    Lori Lange — September 9, 2012 @ 10:56 PM

    Wow, what a great endorsement! Glad you like it so much!

  43. 43

    Amy — October 25, 2012 @ 11:34 PM

    Excellent!!! Made it tonight! Love live it. Will surely be making this again.

  44. 44

    J @ semplicemente ... J — December 30, 2012 @ 7:16 PM

    I am so happy you reposted this recipe … love it … I love cilantro!

  45. 45

    linda — January 5, 2013 @ 8:01 PM

    Do you think it would be okay to prepare the marinade and place in bag with chicken and freeze?

  46. 46

    Lori Lange — January 6, 2013 @ 7:58 PM

    Maybe… or it may lend too much cilantro flavor to the chicken!

  47. 47

    Brandi — January 9, 2013 @ 10:16 AM

    Is there a sauce that you would maybe substitute for the sweet chili sauce? I just really don’t like sweet flavor. Everythings else looks great!!

  48. 48

    Lori Lange — January 9, 2013 @ 7:55 PM

    not sure…

  49. 49

    Diane — January 11, 2013 @ 12:19 PM

    I made this on my grill pan with bone-in thighs but had to cook them quite a bit longer. Maybe they were bigger than yours. They were DELICIOUS!!!! Hubby was raving about it! I wondered though if I could bake the thighs with the marinade and sauce and just keep checking to be sure the sauce doesn’t dry up. Has anyone tried this?

  50. 50

    Diane — January 27, 2013 @ 9:48 AM

    I made this again with the boneless thighs in my grill pan and they came out great! They cooked up much faster than thighs with the bones and they were just as juicy. My husband LOVES this recipe! It’s a keeper! Thanks so much!

  51. 51

    Jennythevoice — February 27, 2013 @ 8:31 PM

    I just started cooking and this recipe was so easy and yummy !! Thank you . Everybody love it :)

  52. 52

    Joanne Hepler — April 10, 2013 @ 11:57 AM

    I have made this twice since my daughter shared the recipe. I love it cut up on a salad thanks for the recipe!

  53. 53

    Diana — May 7, 2013 @ 3:43 PM

    I just tried this recipe and it was delicious! I played around, changed it a bit by using whole cut-up chicken and Kikkoman Sweet and Sour Sauce since my husband can’t stand spicy food… Yummy! Thank you for sharing this. :-)

  54. 54

    Scott — May 31, 2013 @ 6:34 PM

    Outstanding recipe. Like you, I never cared much for cilantro. This notion was squashed by this dish. Very delicious…I’m eating it now.

  55. 55

    eileen cline — June 30, 2013 @ 3:13 PM

    This wasn’t really good, I hate to say. Too many tastes was one comment but it just didn’t do anything for me atall.

  56. 56

    Linda — October 23, 2013 @ 6:47 AM

    Hi, Lori:

    Thanks for the recipe. Will be trying this tonight. Cilantro is an amazing ingredient and I love it. Looks super delicious. I’ll let you know how it comes out. Thanks for sharing!

  57. 57

    Peggy Owen — January 5, 2014 @ 10:49 AM

    Ha Ha I moved to California and also took a huge dislike to Cilanthro. It tasted like soap suds to me. Been here 50 years and I love it with so many foods, Had the Cilanthro Chicken at a Chinese restaurant, a little too salty for my taste, but I knew they were on to something. Hence going to try this one. and thanks for the different tips. I’ve always preferred thighs over breasts.

  58. 58

    Lauren — May 3, 2014 @ 6:14 PM

    I made this for dinner tonight and was delicious. I could barely taste the cilantro, the chile sauce was dominant flavor but it all blended well. I will definitely make this again, it’s a great hot weather dinner. Thanks for the great recipe.

  59. 59

    Mary — July 27, 2014 @ 1:05 PM

    I use chicken breast on skewers. I only use about 3 cloves of garlic. I add a little more than 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce to the blender with the other ingredients. I don’t brush it on later. Delicious! Marinate the cut up chicken then put on skewers, so easy!

  60. 60

    Cindy C — January 12, 2015 @ 6:11 PM

    I loooove cilantro! I made this the other night and my husband and I loved it! I tasted the marinade before adding it to the bag with the chicken and thought the garlic was overpowering so I just used the entire bunch of cilantro instead of just the half. The end result was still great. Thanks so much for this easy recipe!