tequila lime chicken topped with corn salsa on a light gray plate, vintage fork and lime wedge on the side of the plate

I have been loving simple chicken breast lately. At least, simple by my definition. There definitely needs to be flavor, and what better way to add flavor than tequila and lime juice? I mean, margaritas are good for a reason. Plus, the acid in the tequila and the lime juice tenderizes the meat and helps to bring out the other flavors in the marinade.

I’ve been making this recipe forever, but this time I used smoked paprika instead of regular paprika. And, it was a beautiful thing. It added so much to the flavor of the overall dish. Sort of like the flavor of a mezcal margarita, but the recipe is equally delicious without it, so don’t rush off to the store or freak out if you don’t have it.

This time I served our tequila lime chicken with Mexican rice and beans. You could easily go with plain rice or even use the chicken and salsa to make some killer tacos (just add some spicy aioli or some fresh avocado). No matter how you serve it, you will love this chicken.

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Here’s what you’ll need to make tequila lime chicken with corn salsa

tequila lime chicken topped with corn salsa on a light gray plate, vintage fork and lime wedge on the side of the plate

How do you make tequila lime marinade?

Ideally, you want to get your chicken marinating the night before or the morning you’re planning to cook. Obviously, we can’t all be that on top of things all the time, so just do it as soon as you can. Even an hour will give the meat a really good flavor and make a huge difference.

To make the marinade, mix together tequila, lime juice, honey, oil, cumin, paprika and salt & pepper. Whisk until everything is smooth. The honey should be fully “melted” into the marinade.

Add your garlic cloves and chicken to the bowl and mix them around to coat the chicken in marinade. You can leave your chicken in the bowl, cover it and refrigerate until ready to cook.

You could also transfer your chicken to a zip-top bag (or a reusable silicone bag if you have one) or a separate container with a lid. Just make sure the container is small enough to full submerge the chicken in the marinade.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry using a paper towel before cooking. I like to lightly re-season my chicken with salt & pepper here, but it’s more for looks than flavor.

tequila lime chicken topped with corn salsa on a light gray plate, vintage fork and cilantro sprig on the side of the plate

How to cook tequila lime chicken

There are many different ways you can cook the chicken for this recipe. My favorites are grilled – because there’s barely any cleanup – and on the stove in a skillet (or grill pan). Either way, you get a nice good sear, and that adds flavor to the recipe.

But before we get cooking, you want to make sure your chicken breasts are super thick or totally different sizes. The best way to do this is to pound you chicken breast, using a meat mallet until the chicken is all a similar height.

I prefer to make mine nice and flat for quicker cooking, but I didn’t for the chicken in these photos. You can also use the bottom of a small saucepan or a rolling pin to pound the chicken.

To grill this tequila lime chicken, preheat your grill to medium, direct heat. That means the burner under your chicken breast should be on. Grill them for about 8 – 10 minutes per side, turning once, until the chicken reaches 165˚F and juices run clear.

To sauté the tequila lime chicken, heat a large skillet to medium-high. Add 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and cook for about 4 – 6 minutes per side, turning once. The chicken needs to reach 165˚F to be considered done, but if you’re at 155˚F – 160˚F, you can remove the chicken and let it rest for about 5, and it will continue to cook.

tequila lime chicken topped with corn salsa on a light gray plate, vintage fork and lime wedge on the side of the plate

Don’t forget the corn salsa

Corn salsa is one of my favorite easy toppings for meats (and tacos, too!). To make the salsa, I combine all of my ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Depending on the sweetness of the corn, I may add a bit more lime juice and/or salt, but usually I just go with the exact recipe. Do what tastes best to you. The recipe will make plenty of corn salsa, so you’ll have enough left to use for the bbq steak tacos or just snack on with tortilla chips.

If you’re not feeling the corn salsa, you could also use the mango salsa from this recipe or the avocado cucumber salsa from this recipe, and it would be equally good. Pico de gallo would also be super delicious on this tequila lime chicken.

More chicken recipes you’ll love:


Tequila Lime Chicken topped with Corn Salsa

This tequila lime chicken marinade recipe is a super easy. The chicken can be pan-fried, baked in the oven, grilled. You can even toss it in the slow cooker. Serve it with corn salsa and your favorite sides for a complete meal. #chicken #marinade

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x



For the tequila lime chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the corn salsa:

  • 2 1/23 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 34 tablespoons diced green chilies
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (about 1 bunch, stems removed)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


For the tequila lime chicken:

  1. Whisk together the marinade in a small bowl.
  2. Pour over raw chicken and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the chicken breasts for about 5-6 minutes per side – or until juices are clear and chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  4. Top each chicken breast with a serving of corn salsa before serving.

For the corn salsa:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper, to taste.


  • Calories: 0
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Last Updated on November 5, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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