Basil Lime Chicken

Basil Lime Chicken Thighs

This easy recipe for Basil Lime Chicken Thighs will become a fast favorite with everyone in your house! Easy enough for a weeknight dinner but pretty enough for company!

Brown the chicken and then bake in the oven all in the same pan! Cast iron is my choice!

I’m always looking for dinners that don’t take a ton of time and that don’t create a kitchen full of dirty dishes.

I’m also on a mission to reduce our astronomical grocery bill!

We have gotten into the habit of buying the same items and, therefore, cooking the same meals. Baking is more of a passion for me than cooking. So staple recipes and staple ingredients have become an easy way of getting dinner on the table so that I can work on dessert!

Chicken breasts are expensive. But that is what I usually buy. And I buy lots of them. My husband eats a huge chicken breast for lunch every day. We bake it in a dutch oven about twice a week and my son, who is a fitness and diet guru, eats chicken and broccoli when he needs a quick meal.

Some of the chicken finds its way into dinner recipes at least once a week. Having it cooked and ready in the refrigerator makes it easy to get something on the table quickly. Chicken fried rice, chicken tetrazzini, fajitas or tacos. These are the staples in my family.

Variety is the spice of life

But I get bored. I have always loved change, whether it is in my job, the place that I live or how I cook my chicken!

It sounds strange, I know. Most people crave the comfort of familiarity. I am more comfortable when I am doing something new. My comfort zone is just outside the ‘box’ that most people see as normal. Show me an opportunity that most people think is crazy or maybe even impossible and I’ll show you my next adventure.

This explains a bit why I decided to run three Ragnar Relay races. First, I am not a runner. I have never liked running. But when my sister-in-law, Jessica (aka crazy woman with endless energy), asked me to run a Ragnar with her, I said yes without even thinking it through.

If I had thought about it, I would have thought, “But I can’t even run a mile right now without stopping” or “I really don’t like running”. I might have thought “I’m sooo out of shape” or “These races look like they could be a bit expensive”. But, nope. None of these things crossed my mind before I said yes.

These doubts did cross my mind later, as I started planning and training for my first race. One thing that I thought may have been smart and a bit more ‘normal’ would be to start with a 5k race.

Let me explain what a Ragnar Relay Race is before I go any further. A Ragnar is a race that is run by a 12 person team (or a 6 person team if you want to an ‘Ultra’. I don’t want to be an Ultra!). This team of 12 people will begin running on Friday morning and one runner will be on the course at all times until the entire 200-mile course is completed, normally mid-day on Saturday.

Yes, you read that right – 200 miles.

Each runner will run a total of 3 legs of the relay. My first Ragnar was in beautiful Colorado and my total distance was 16.4 miles, split into three legs. Some people ran much more than me and a few people ran less but we all ran until we were exhausted but exhilarated.

You would think that we would swear off all future races, and for that matter – running, by the end of this course. But, NO! The most common question that you will hear at the finish line is “When is our next Ragnar?!”

Building confidence with every step

So what does running Ragnar Relays have to do with this blog?

Well, a lot, actually.

Before running three Ragnars in three different cities, I had a lot less confidence in my own capabilities. I had always been willing to go out on a limb and to do things a bit differently. But never so publicly and never as a part of a team.

Now, I have never been much of an asset to my Ragnar teams as far as running fast. We have never been in it to win it but we have always wanted to do our best. While I am not fast, I will always finish. I will not give up. So I guess, in that respect, I am an asset.

I would like to be faster. I would like to be better. But I had to learn that we all bring something different to the team. Some bring speed, some bring reliability, some bring a positivity that encourages the rest of the team at the toughest times. And just finishing all three Ragnars (Colorado, Tennessee and Texas) with my teams has helped to build my confidence.

I mean, what can possibly scare you when you have run a 5-mile uphill leg at 1 am on a part of the course called the Devils Backbone alone?? It is spooky enough to run in unfamiliar territory, especially at night. Add to that the fact that the runners were spaced pretty far apart by this point in the race. I wasn’t guaranteed to see a single runner on this leg. I also found out later that this specific area is known to be haunted. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it adds to the spooky factor!

My team for the Texas Ragnar in March 2018.

Also, my team had taken a detour. They knew that I was not fast so they went a different route to get coffee and snacks while I ran. I was disappointed by this mostly because they didn’t see the never-ending hill that I had run so I couldn’t share this accomplishment with anyone. And the fact that they knew I was so slow that they had time to kill – I will admit that stung the ego a bit.

But I did my part. And I met an Ultrarunner on the Devils Backbone. Ultra teams only have 6 members so each person runs at least double the distance as people on the regular 12-man teams. This Ultrarunner walked almost a mile with me on that hill. She was wiped out.

This woman, with the stereotypical runner’s physique, a part of an ultra team of hardcore runners, was walking with me because this leg and this hill was so brutal.

I still feel like her and I are the only two to know what I accomplished that night. My first leg was a 7.8 mile leg at 2 pm in the Texas heat. I was dehydrated because I hadn’t had any water before that first leg (I was the team captain and was just busy with other things) and I had horrible plantar fasciitis. And then the Devils Backbone, which my teammates never saw.

This was a private accomplishment. I didn’t mention the excruciating pain in my foot, the lack of hydration or the disappointment of my team believing that the much smaller hills that others ran were the toughest of the course. But the fact that it was a private accomplishment doesn’t diminish the immense feeling of completion.

It belonged to me and that Ultrarunner and we would have it forever!

Finding my stride

So after all of this talk about running, I’m sure you are wondering what all of this has to do with a chicken recipe.

If you have stuck with me this far, thank you.

My point here is that, while I can cook and I do cook, it is not within my comfort zone to produce and share recipes for savory dishes. I make stuff, I don’t write down the recipes and I change the ‘recipe’ every time that I make them.

But I have recently realized that applying to compete on a national baking competition was also outside my comfort zone. (No, this didn’t dawn on me at the time. I just did it, without thinking about what I would have to do to make it!) While I didn’t win the competition, I am so proud that I put myself out there. I did incredibly well just to get into the tent. I impressed both of the judges and I impressed myself. Just like training for the Ragnars, I gave up ‘fun time’ to read about techniques and learn and try things that I had never done before.

I obsessed over perfecting the art of tempering chocolate and making a genoise and building with gingerbread. I even dreamt about bakes. And the hard work, along with a few sacrifices, paid off.

Expanding my repertoire

In addition to all of the sweet treats that I normally share here on this blog, I’m expanding. I will first share my go-to recipes for family favorite meals.

The recipes will be like blueprints because that is how I cook. Baking requires precise measurements and specific ingredients. Baking is a science.

Cooking also relies on science but to a lesser degree. If you are out of basil, substitute some cilantro. Don’t have limes, switch this up by either using lemons or completely change the flavors to something that you like and have on hand.

This chicken can be prepped the same as spelled out below but flavored with ginger and soy sauce for an Asian flair. Use chipotle peppers and cilantro for a Mexican vibe. I have used the ever-present chicken breast in my freezer in this ‘recipe’ and it is just as delicious as using thighs. Do you have a pack of chicken wings, or maybe even pork? Give it a try!

Step out of the box and out of the recipe and try new things.

You just might find that it leads you to some pretty amazing places!

Check out my Chicken and Black Bean Empanada Recipe!

Check out my Shepherds Pie recipe!

Check out my Quiche recipe, perfect for ANY meal!

My amazing Chicken Shawarma will be a fast favorite!

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Basil Lime Chicken Thighs

Recipe by Tanya Ott


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 8 Chicken thighs, skin on

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 120 mL (1/2 cup ) dry red wine or red cooking wine

  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice

  • 2 teaspoons lime zest

  • 2 Tablespoons honey

  • 360 mL (1 1/2 cups) chicken broth

  • 1/2 white onion,, chopped

  • 5 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, 1 Tablespoon reserved for garnish

  • 1 lime, sliced or wedged, for garnish


  • Preheat your oven to 375º F / 190º C.
  • Mix the cumin, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season each thigh on both sides with cumin, salt and pepper mixture.
  • Pre-heat a heavy-bottomed skillet, cast iron or dutch oven on medium-high heat for a minute or so and then add the oil. Add the thighs, skin-side down and cook until browned (about 5-7 minutes). Work in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the chicken in the pan. Turn and brown the other side (about 3-5 minutes). Remove to a plate and set aside,
  • Lower the heat and remove excess oil, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan. Add flour, garlic and diced onions. Stir well to cook the flour in the oil for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the wine and let it simmer for 3 minutes while scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the broth, honey, lime juice and zest and 4 Tablespoons of the basil. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken, skin-side up and place the pan, uncovered, into the oven. Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (165º F / 74º C on an instant-read thermometer). Garnish with sliced limes and the remaining basil.
  • Serve with rice or potatoes, a salad and a loaf of crusty bread for soaking up the sauce.


  1. Gary S Hurley

    What type of oil? And how much oil?

    • Tanya Ott

      Sorry for the omission of the oil in the recipe! I use 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil but you could also use vegetable oil as well.

  2. I wanted to say I love the recipe but the story won me over even more… I cannot really call myself a runner anymore, because I just cannot do more than 4 miles and even that requires plenty of walking breaks, but I know exactly what you mean about that yin and yang thing: the feeling of accomplishment when we reach a goal, no matter how slow, and the feeling of frustration when we realize most people running are REALLY a lot better. Contrary to you, I had to quit twice a race I prepared for, and I tell you, there were tears.

    so cool that you found a team to do this super challenging race – I cannot even imagine running in the heat of Texas, A HILL and all. But I am not surprised – you are determined and you are a go-getter.

    and you do a mean chicken!

    • I wouldn’t call myself a runner right now either! But one thing I know is that if you run, you are a runner – it doesn’t matter how fast or how slow or how many walk breaks you need to take! (I can tell you that I did NOT run that 7.8 mile leg non-stop!)

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