I recently made these air fryer cilantro lime chicken tenderloins in my air fryer and shared it on my Instagram stories. It’s a simple recipe with a smoky and spicy marinade that comes together quickly. Sometimes when the recipe is so simple, I don’t think to share! But it turns out lots of you like simple too! So, by popular request, here’s my cilantro lime chicken in the air fryer.

You need this cilantro lime chicken in your life. www.lillieeatsandtells.com

Do you have an air fryer? Is it worth storing? Pulling out? Cleaning? I have one and love it for certain foods. But I’ll admit, I don’t use it a ton because it’s not quite big enough to cook enough food for my family in one batch. Personally, I’d usually rather just grill a bunch of meat at the same time instead of cooking things in batches in the air fryer. BUT— every time I pull it out, I’m like — THIS IS WHAT ALL THE FUSS is about. It’s kind of great. And I love it for a quick small batch of chicken when I don’t want to fire up the grill.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

The marinade for this recipe is really quick to put together. If you’re good at planning ahead, yay! You’ll have time to marinate for longer. But if you don’t, even 30 minutes will be great. And if you know me, I’m no planner so you can bet ours is usually hanging out on the counter for 30. Ha.

You won't have to sacrifice your macros for this chicken. www.lillieeatsandtells.com

You’ll need lime juice, olive oil, honey, chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder, kosher salt, minced garlic, and minced cilantro to make the marinade for my cilantro lime chicken. Combine all of the ingredients with the chicken tenderloins in a resealable bag. Pop it all in the fridge if you’re marinating for longer than 30 minutes. 

Are you one of those people who can’t stomach cilantro in any form? No worries, just substitute fresh parsley in the marinade for the cilantro I used. Your flavors will be a little different, but you’ll still end up with deliciously zesty and smokey chicken tenderloins.

You have to try this easy and smoky marinade www.lillieeatsandtells.com

How I Keep & Use Fresh Herbs

If you’ve seen any of my other recipes, you’ve probably noticed that I use a lot of fresh herbs in my food. They make EVERYTHING BETTER. Just trust me and join me mmkay?

This cilantro lime chicken is the perfect mix of smoky and spicy. www.lillieeatsandtells.com

Now, I’m not someone with a big herb garden. I wish I were and someday I hope to be! But for now, I just always buy the basil and mint plants that you can find in the produce section and stick them in a small pot on my counter next to the window. They drink from the bottom so you don’t need to water them. Just make sure they are sitting in water. EASY.

My other staples are cilantro and parsley. We eat a lot of Mexican inspired meals which means cilantro is ESSENTIAL, so I grab a bunch almost every time I go to the store. I just keep it in my fridge with parsley if I have it. We usually go through it fast enough that it doesn’t go bad on me. Especially if you’re hooked on making batches of the light cilantro lime ranch, or jalapeno avocado dressing! Which you should be.

Grab your air fryer and make this cilantro lime chicken. www.lillieeatsandtells.com

Time to Cook the Cilantro Lime Chicken

Now, back to the cilantro lime chicken in the air fryer. Once your chicken has marinated for 30 minutes- 2 hours or so, it’s time to cook it. Preheat your air fryer to 400 for a few minutes. Then, just before cooking, sprinkle your chicken with kosher salt and some pepper. Spray your air fryer basket with olive oil and place the tenderloins in it in a single layer. You don’t want them laying on top of each other, or you won’t get good results. Cook them for about 10 minutes or until they reach 165°. If you’re concerned with them not being as done as you’d like, I like to turn the air fryer off, but close it for a couple more minutes for them to cook a tiny bit more in the residual heat.

Don’t have an air fryer? Grill the chicken on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. 

If you want to substitute chicken breasts for the tenderloins I use in this recipe, just adjust your cooking temperature to 360° and cook them for 18 minutes, flipping halfway through. You’ll also want to tent the chicken breasts with foil when you remove them from the air fryer and let them rest for 5 minutes before you cut into them. 

This cilantro lime chicken is so easy to make. www.lillieeatsandtells.com

When you’re looking at your macros for this cilantro lime chicken recipe, don’t be too concerned with cooking exactly 2 ½ lbs. of chicken tenderloins. If you end up with 2 pounds, or 3 pounds…. your macros for 104 grams will be essentially the same. So don’t go freezing up a random ⅓ lb of chicken haha.

This cilantro lime chicken is the perfect mix of smoky and spicy. www.lillieeatsandtells.com

Air Fryer Cilantro Lime Chicken Tenders

An easy quick marinade for juicy chicken tenderloins, a little smokey and spiced with chili, cumin, garlic… but fresh and zesty from the lime and cilantro. Can’t go wrong. But if you hate cilantro, use fresh parsley!
5 from 6 votes
Author Lillie
Course chicken
Prep Time 22 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 130 kcal


  • 2.5 lbs chicken tenderloins 1104 g
  • ¼ cup lime juice 60 g
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 g
  • 1 Tbsp honey 15 g
  • ¼ cup cilantro minced (20 g)
  • 5 frozen cubes garlic or fresh cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  • Trim your tenderloins of any obvious tendon or weird stuff, and place them in a large resealable bag.
  • Combine the rest of the ingredients to make the marinade.  Pour it over the chicken and marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. If it’s just 30, I like to leave them on the counter so they’re at room temp for cooking. If they marinate longer, pull them out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before cooking.
  • Pre-heat air fryer to 400° for 2-3 minutes. Just before cooking, sprinkle chicken with a good pinch of kosher salt and a few cracks of pepper. Spray the air fryer basket with a mist of olive oil and place tenderloins in a single layer. Cook for 10 minutes or to an internal temp of 165°. You can also grill at medium high heat for just 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Use in tacos, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and bowls ALL WEEK!


  • If you want to use breasts, lower temp to 360° and cook for 18 minutes, FLIPPING halfway through. Remove, tent with foil, and let them rest for five minutes before cutting.
  • If you end up with 2 or 3 pounds of chicken, use it! Your macros for 104 grams will be essentially the same. The tiny variance in the marinade is negligible.
  • MFP: Lillie Eats and Tells Air Fryer Cilantro Lime Chicken Tenders


Serving: 104gCalories: 130kcalCarbohydrates: 2.2gProtein: 25.4gFat: 1.9g
Keywords air fryer, chicken, cilantro, lime, marinade

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About the Author

Hello. My name is Lillie. I’m not a registered dietitian, or a macro coach, or a public figure or culinary genius. I’m a mommy of four who FOUND macro-counting and fell in love with this balanced approach to food...

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  1. Is this recipe Freezable? What do I need to leave out to be able to make it ahead and freeze it or can I include all of it? Thank you!