Sweet and spicy chicken is a quick meal featuring juicy marinated chicken. Make this recipe to add simple, delicious flavor to your meal.
Chicken is an easy choice when you need to throw together a quick meal. It’s extremely versatile and can be combined with a wide variety of flavors.
While the instructions below are for the stovetop, it’s just as easy to make this recipe in the oven or on the grill instead.
Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to allow at least 1 hour to marinate the meat. Otherwise, this honey lime chicken is ready in just 15 minutes.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Note: This is just a partial list of ingredients. For the full ingredient list, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Chicken breasts – Use boneless, skinless breasts and slice them in half horizontally if they are extra large. This helps them cook faster and more evenly.
- Olive oil – Substitute another neutral oil like canola, vegetable, or avocado oil.
- Chipotle chili powder – This is made with ground chipotle peppers and has more smokiness than regular chili powder, which is a blend of different spices. Chili powder can be used in a pinch, or try a mix of chili powder and cayenne powder for the added heat.
How to make sweet and spicy chicken
First, soak the meat in a blend of honey, lime, and spices. Then, cook the citrus marinated chicken in a pan on the stove. It’s that simple!
Honey marinade for chicken
- Mix together the marinade ingredients until well combined, reserving some of the oil for cooking. Remove some of the marinade to a separate small bowl and set aside for later.
- Then, lay the chicken breasts in a shallow container and pour the marinade over the top.
- Place in the refrigerator for about an hour. You can leave it for longer if you’d like, but the acid from the limes will cause the chicken to form a skin.
Cook and serve
- Heat the oil in a skillet until shimmering.
- Cook the chicken for 1-2 minutes on each side, basting with the reserved marinade in between.
- Baste again, then reduce heat and cover with a lid.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a plate and let it rest before slicing and serving.
- Storage – Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Or, wrap in plastic, place in a storage bag, and freeze for up to 6 months
- Reheating – Heat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove until the chicken is warmed through.
- Save time – If you’re in a hurry, this dish works just as well without the hour-long marinade. Between the basting and reserved marinade for spooning over at serving, there’s still plenty of flavor.
- Discard marinade – For food safety, never reuse any marinade that has touched raw meat. Even the reserved amount used to baste the chicken should be tossed once it’s no longer needed.
Alternate cooking methods
Whichever method you choose, be sure to let the chicken rest before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute through the meat so each bite is tender and juicy.
- Oven: Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees F for 18-20 minutes, flipping and basting halfway through.
- Grill: Heat the grill and oil well, then cook the chicken for 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Flip halfway through and baste several times throughout.
What to serve with sweet and spicy chicken
This chicken is delicious in tacos, sliced over salads, or in a sandwich. It also works just as well as a main course paired with a couple of side dishes. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Roasted vegetables
- Mashed potatoes
- Rice and beans
- Fruit salad
More marinated chicken recipes
Soaking chicken before cooking it creates tender, juicy meat that’s infused with flavor.
For other easy dinner ideas, try one of these recipes of mine. They contain flavors from around the world and are just as easy to make:
- Hawaiian Chicken (Huli Huli)
- Pollo Asado
- Thai Grilled Chicken
- One Pan Jerk Chicken and Rice
- Greek Grilled Chicken
Chipotle Honey Lime Chicken
- 4 chicken breasts large, boneless (See Note 1)
- 3 tbsp olive oil separated
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1 tbsp lime zest
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/8 tsp salt
- In a medium size bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, honey, chipotle chili and garlic powders, cumin, cilantro and salt until well combined. Reserve 1/3 cup of the marinade.
- Pour marinade over chicken breasts in container and let soak covered in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (See Note 2)
- Add remaining tablespoon of oil to hot skillet. Cook chicken for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown on medium-high. Baste with marinade, then turn and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes. Baste again, cover and cook on low for 10 minutes (and discard any remaining marinade). Transfer to plate, cover loosely with foil to keep warm until serving.
- Slice to top salads or in tacos or keep whole and serve with a side dish or in a sandwich. Spoon reserved marinade over at time of serving.
- Slice each breast horizontally for two pieces if extra large breasts.
- I have found that longer than 1 hour the chicken starts to develop a “skin” due to the citrus juice slowly “cooking” it. Some people marinate for 2-4 hours, but it’s up to you. With the marinade to baste while cooking and the reserved to spoon on top after, the flavors are definitely there.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.