Key West Lime Chicken

5 Servings
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Key West Lime Chicken is a juicy chicken recipe full of tropical flavor! Baked chicken thighs in a key lime juice, honey and garlic marinade.

From BBQ Chicken to Thai Peanut Chicken to this tangy Key West Chicken, baked Chicken Recipes are always an easy, flavorful Main Dish. With only a handful of ingredients and chicken thighs, it’s dinner you know the entire family will love!

Key West Lime Chicken in cooking pan after baking

If you’re craving a taste of the tropics in the comfort of your own kitchen, Key West Lime Chicken is the perfect recipe to try. This juicy chicken dish brings together the vibrant Key lime juice, sweet honey, and aromatic garlic to create a delightful flavor explosion. The best part? It’s incredibly easy to make, and ready in just over an hour including the marinating time!

The entire family will love the tropical flavors of these delicious chicken thighs. The citrusy, sweet marinade comes together in seconds and once the chicken has time to soak a bit, it’s ready for the oven. The marinade is super simple, made from soy sauce, honey, key lime juice, crushed garlic and oil. Plus you can marinate the chicken overnight to save even more time. Just throw it in the oven as soon as you get home for a tasty dinner in about 30 minutes!

Key West Lime Chicken is so easy and versatile. You can double or triple the recipe to feed a crowd or meal prep for the week. You don’t have to bake it, you can throw it on the grill for a BBQ or you can even make it in the slow cooker and skip the marinating time. The tropical flavors of this delicious chicken go great with Coconut Rice. Or keep it simple with some Brown Rice and Green Beans to let the bold flavors of Key West Chicken shine! 

Key West Lime Chicken collage

What is the difference between Key Limes and Regular Limes?

Key limes are smaller and rounder compared to regular limes which are typically larger and oval-shaped. Key limes have a more intense lime flavor with a slightly floral undertone, but they aren’t as sour. Regular limes have a milder lime taste and are much more tart. Key limes are usually saved for special recipes like Key Lime Pie and certain regional dishes like Key West Chicken, while regular limes are more broadly used in a wide range of common recipes.

How to Make Key West Lime Chicken

  • Marinate: Combine the soy sauce, honey, oil, lime juice, and garlic in a large ziploc bag. Add the chicken thighs and massage to coat the chicken. Leave chicken in marinade for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours, in the refrigerator.
  • Bake: Preheat the oven and lightly spray a baking dish. Remove the chicken from marinade and place skin side up in the dish. Bake until the skin is browned and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Serve: If the sauce is too thin, you can reduce it on the stove top to thicken it. Rest chicken in the dish for 5 minutes before glazing with the sauce and serve with lime zest and lime wedges.

The Best Sides for Citrus-Flavored Chicken!

FAQs for Key West Lime Chicken

What chicken is best for this Key West marinade?

Since this is baked chicken, it’s best to use bone-in, skin on chicken thighs. They stay nice and juicy as they bake plus the tasty skin is even more flavorful as it crisps up! You can use other types of chicken, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time.

What if my chicken skin is browning too fast?

If the skin on your Key West Lime Chicken looks like it’s starting to get too brown to quickly, cover the pan with foil and continue baking. Before you add the foil, spoon some of the juices onto the chicken to keep it moist as it finishes cooking.

How long do I need to marinate this chicken?

Key Lime Chicken is best if you marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking, but you can leave it for up to 24 hours to let the citric acid and salt really tenderize the meat.

Can you marinate chicken for too long?

Yes, you can marinate chicken for too long especially if the marinade is made with soy sauce and citrus juices. Citrus juices and the salt in the soy sauce both act as meat tenderizers so they will break down the meat quickly. Don’t leave your chicken for more than 24 hours in this marinade.

Key West Lime Chicken in cooking pan after baking

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken: Chicken thighs are great for baked recipes like this because the higher fat content keeps the meat from drying out while it bakes. The bone-in thighs are more flavorful and the skin helps to retain moisture plus it gets deliciously crispy!
  • Key Lime: Key limes have a powerful punch of intense lime flavor that is less sour than regular limes and also lightly floral. This tiny but mighty lime adds a lot of bold flavor plus it helps tenderize the chicken quickly.
  • Soy Sauce: The salty umami flavor of this classic Asian seasoning goes perfectly with the bold citrus flavor of the limes. It also acts as a tenderizer, helping to break down proteins and make the chicken more juicy.
  • Honey: Honey adds a touch of sweetness to balance the tanginess of the lime and saltiness of the soy. It also helps to caramelize the chicken’s skin during roasting, resulting in a flavorful glaze. 
  • Garlic: This dish is all about bold flavor so of course there needs to be some aromatic, pungent, slightly spicy fresh garlic in the marinade! You can use garlic powder if needed, but fresh is going to have the best flavor.
  • Oil: Vegetable oil helps to evenly distribute the flavors in the marinade and prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan during cooking. It also adds moisture to the chicken, keeping it tender.

Can Key West Lime Chicken be made ahead of time?

Yes, Key West Lime Chicken can be made in advance. The marinade is an excellent make-ahead component, as it allows the flavors to develop and penetrate the chicken. You can marinate the thighs in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking. This not only saves time on the day of cooking but also enhances the taste as the chicken absorbs the flavors more thoroughly.

Key West Lime Chicken in cooking pan meat on fork


  • Southwestern: Give your Key Lime Chicken Thighs some south-of-the-border flavor by swapping out the soy sauce with some salsa verde. Give it a spicy kick with diced jalapenos and garnish with some chopped fresh cilantro.
  • Asian: Add some more Asian-inspired flavor to your Key West Chicken by adding some fresh ginger, green onions, and hoison sauce to the marinade. Garnish the chicken with some more green onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
  • Citrus: The amazing thing about citrus marinades is that you can almost always swap in a different citrus fruit and it will still be delicious! Try this recipe with grapefruit, orange, or lemon juice instead, or you can pick one to combine with the key lime for a tasty fusion of flavors.

Slow Cooker Key West Lime Chicken

  • In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, honey, oil, lime juice, and crushed garlic.
  • Place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker and pour the marinade over them, ensuring the chicken is well-coated.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 4 to 6 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours.
    Once the chicken is cooked through and tender, remove it from the slow cooker and place it on a baking sheet.
  • Preheat your oven broiler on high.
  • Brush the chicken with some of the remaining marinade and broil for a few minutes, until the skin is browned and crispy.
  • If desired, thicken the leftover marinade from the slow cooker by transferring it to a saucepan and simmering it over medium heat until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Drizzle the thickened sauce over the chicken or use it as a dipping sauce. 
Key West Lime Chicken in cooking pan after baking

More Delicious Baked Chicken Thigh Recipes

How to Store

  • Serve: You should not leave your Key West Lime Chicken for longer than 2 hours at room temperature. Let the Key West Lime Chicken cool down to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container and store it in the fridge. The leftovers will last for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat: To keep the chicken moist, it’s best to reheat in the oven at a low temperature. Place chicken pieces in a baking dish, add a little water or chicken broth and cover with foil. Bake at 300 degrees until warmed through.
  • Freeze: Cool the chicken completely then store in a freezer safe airtight container or bag. Properly cooled and stored, leftover Key West Chicken will be good in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating in the oven.

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Key West Lime Chicken

Key West Lime Chicken is a juicy chicken recipe full of tropical flavor! Baked chicken thighs in a key lime juice, honey and garlic marinade.
Yield 5 Servings
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 3 tablespoons  soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon  vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic , crushed
  • 5 chicken thighs , bone in, skin on


  • In a zip lock bag add soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic.
  • Place chicken thighs into the mixture, and turn to coat.
  • Marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Put chicken in pan skin side up. Roast for 30-35 minutes until skin is browned.
  • If the juice is thin, remove chicken and thicken, then glaze chicken with thickened sauce.
  • Garnish with lime zest and lime wedges.


Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 607mg | Potassium: 326mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 114IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Key West Lime Chicken
Key West Lime Chicken collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. Fixed this at the end of a kind of fractured day. Followed the recipe to the letter. Perfect! It was nice to have at least something go right. Baked it in the oven with Old Bay fries. It’s so easy and tastes like you fussed.

  2. Sounds good! But… you may want to edit the recipe.
    Where it says, “Place chicken breast halves into the mixture”.
    Shouldn’t it say ‘chicken THIGHS’?

  3. The recipe calls for bone in/skin on chicken thighs in the ingredients, but states chicken breast halves in the instructions.

  4. Hi Sabrina, If I’m using low sodium soy sauce, should I add a pinch of salt or garlic powder to the chicken? Cannot wait to try this one. I love your recipes.

  5. This recipe sounds delicious. I’m going to make it later this week. I have celiac disease. It mentions in the description that it is gluten free with a link to soy sauce that has gluten in it. To be truly gluten-free you will need to substitute tamari for the soy sauce.

  6. Hi Sabrina – two things…you show thighs in the ingredients and breasts in the directions. Also, directions were a little vague. I figured it out because I’ve been cooking for 50 years but you say if the liquid is too thin to thicken it. I’m assuming just with cornstarch? For those not experienced in reading between the lines, you might want to be more explicit. This sounds like a great recipe and I can’t wait to try it.