Made in one pan, chicken with creamy cilantro lime sauce is tender chicken in a rich, tangy sauce. Serve this weeknight-friendly meal over rice or with tortillas to soak up the flavorful sauce.
Happy Monday! How about a creamy, saucy, fast-cooking chicken dish to start off the week? It’s pouring rain here, and I’m feeling grateful that we spent most of the weekend outside. Our tomatoes were devoured by the squirrels, so we pulled out all of the plants and will put in some fall-friendly flowers and greens. With school all online for our first graders, we’re going to need to spend plenty of time out in the backyard and on the deck this fall for recess / sanity breaks.
The skillet full of tender chicken and creamy sauce that you see before you is an example of what happens when I discover something I really like and then want to keep making it different ways. This recipe is sort of a blend of the method for Creamy Dijon Chicken and the flavors of Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette. It’s got a Tex Mex vibe and makes great leftovers.
We keep it super simple when we serve this meal. Just with rice and / or warm tortillas and a side of roasted broccoli.
- Chicken Breasts - Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in this quick-cooking meal. Chicken breasts these days can sometimes be really large and thick, so you can slice them in half lengthwise to thin them out and help them cook more quickly. Sometimes I even slice them into cutlets to make them easier to serve (you can use cutlets like this in Creamy Dijon Chicken).
- Lime Juice - Fresh lime is the flavor that really makes this dish shine. It takes a few minutes, but use fresh limes for this. You’ll need 2-4 limes, depending on their size.
- Fresh Cilantro - As with the lime, this is a key flavor in the dish. If you love the flavor of cilantro, feel free to add even more or tone it down a bit if you’d like more mild cilantro flavor.
- Crème Fraîche – Crème fraîche is the base for this creamy sauce. It’s a creamy, sour dairy product that is similar to sour cream but has a much thicker texture and a richer flavor. Look for it in the dairy section, often near other soft, specialty cheeses (like ricotta, mascarpone, or perhaps near the goat cheese and fresh mozzarella). Many grocery stores carry it, and I’ve been picking up the Trader Joe’s version any time I make a TJ’s run.
- Low-Sodium Chicken Stock – If you have regular (not low-sodium) stock, that’s just fine. Just reduce the salt you use to season the chicken by about half. You can always add more salt to the sauce after cooking. (Vegetable stock will also work fine here, and you can even use water in a pinch, but the sauce won’t have quite as much depth of flavor.)
- Cooking Oil and Butter - Use cooking oil (any type will work) to sear the chicken and then butter to start the base for the creamy sauce.
- Flour - A tiny amount of flour helps to thicken the sauce. You can easily skip it for a gluten-free meal.
- Garlic, Cumin, Honey - These add flavor to the sauce.
How to Make Chicken with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
- Sear chicken in a hot skillet.
- Melt butter with garlic and cumin.
- Add stock, crème fraîche, and honey and simmer until the sauce is thick.
- Finish sauce with lime juice and fresh cilantro.
- Combine chicken with sauce and serve!
- Make it Gluten-Free - Just skip the flour. The sauce may take a bit longer to thicken, but you’ll still get a rich, creamy sauce.
- Add Vegetables - Want to give the dish more of a vegetable boost? Simmer chopped green beans, broccoli florets, diced green bell peppers, or baby spinach right in the sauce.
- Change the Protein - Try this with thinly sliced pork chops, chicken thighs, or salmon. (Just adjust the cook time)
- Make it Vegetarian - This is great with thinly sliced tofu steaks instead of chicken. Slice the tofu thin and cook the dish as written.
More Chicken Recipes
- Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken (sweet and sour and made in the slow cooker - no pre-cooking required!)
- Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken (a lighter twist on the take-out classic)
- Instant Pot Honey Adobo Chicken (I love this lightly spicy dish served with potatoes made right in the Instant Pot)
- Sheet Pan Honey Dijon Chicken (one of our favorite sheet pan meals!)
Chicken with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
- 1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, halved lengthwise if large
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Chopped Cilantro
- 2 tablespoon Cooking Oil
- 2 tablespoon Butter
- 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 2 teaspoon All-Purpose Flour (optional, see note)
- ½ cup Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
- 2 teaspoon Honey
- 1 8oz container Creme Fraiche (about 1 ½ cups; see note)
- Rice or tortillas, for serving (optional)
- If the chicken breasts are large / thick, slice them in half lengthwise to thin. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Combine lime juice and cilantro. Set aside (to add at the end of cooking).
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer chicken to the hot pan. Cook on both sides until deep brown and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes (depending on thickness). Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Reduce heat under the skillet to low-medium and add butter. When butter melts, add garlic, ground cumin, and flour. Stir until garlic is fragrant and no dry spots of flour remain, about 1 minute.
- Pour stock into pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Simmer for 1 minute.
- Whisk in honey and creme fraiche. Continue cooking sauce, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and whisk in lime juice and cilantro.
- Return chicken to the skillet and spoon sauce over top.
- Serve over rice and / or with tortillas on the side for soaking up sauce.
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