Applebee’s Fiesta Lime Chicken is a surprisingly easy recipe to make at home! Learn how to make this copycat dish with chicken breasts and a salsa ranch sauce that is baked in the oven to cheesy perfection. Serve over tortilla strips, with pico de gallo, and a side of Mexican rice for one of the best family dinners.

Copycat Fiesta lime chicken is eaten off of a plate.

Copycat Applebee’s Fiesta Lime Chicken

Applebee’s was our go-to spot when we visited the neighboring town growing up.

And my go-to dish to order? Their Fiesta Lime Chicken!

Juicy and tender chicken breasts were coated in a creamy and tangy sauce and topped with cheesy goodness.

It was then served on a bed of crunchy tortilla strips with a side of Mexican rice — you honestly couldn’t get any better than that!

(Well, unless you ordered their Walnut Blondie for dessert — anyone else remember that?)

Reminiscing on this dish last week gave me the inkling to try making it at home. It couldn’t be that difficult, right?

And it wasn’t! After creating a simple marinade for the chicken, baking it in the oven (it’s SO much easier than grilling!), and topping it with some Mexican salsa ranch, the BEST homemade Fiesta Lime Chicken recipe was born.

Speaking of homemade… since you’re in charge of the ingredients, you can also make this dish a bit healthier with a few simple swaps! (I’ll go over those in more detail below.)

Honey, chicken, salsa, lime juice, oil, sour cream, cilantro, salsa, cheese, and tortilla chips are the ingredients for this recipe.
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Ingredients

  • Chicken. You need boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into equal portions. It’s best if you tenderize with a meat mallet and make them about 1-inch thick.
  • Marinade. This is similar to what you use when making steak fajitas or chicken fajitas. The simple marinade is made from lime juice, soy sauce, taco seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and honey.
  • Mexican ranch. The delicious and creamy sauce that gets drizzled on top of the chicken—and it’s SO easy! It is made from ranch dressing, mild or medium salsa, sour cream, lime juice, and freshly chopped cilantro.
  • Cheese. Sliced cheese is the easiest to put on chicken, but you can use shredded. Cheddar, Colby-Jack or Monterey Jack are all great options.
  • Tortilla strips. If you are not on a low-carb diet, these are a MUST. You can use either strips or regular chips. They give a wonderful crunch to the tender chicken.
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

How to Make Fiesta Lime Chicken

Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts.

1. Prepare the Chicken

Cut chicken into four 5- to 6-ounce portions. Tenderize the pieces with a meat mallet until they are 1-inch thick.

Chicken breasts are pounded into 1 inch thick.

2. Marinate the Chicken

Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Do not keep overnight as the acidity from the lime juice will make the chicken have a mealy texture.

3. Bake Chicken in Oven

Place the chicken in a 13×9-inch baking dish in a single layer with a little space between each one. Be sure to let any excess marinade drip off before adding it into the dish.

Bake chicken in a preheated 350°F for 20-25 minutes. You want the internal temperature to reach just shy of 160°F. 

Marinated chicken breasts are laid flat in a baking dish.

4. Add Salsa Ranch and Cheese

While the chicken is cooking, stir together the salsa, ranch, sour cream, lime juice, and cilantro in a medium-sized bowl. This can be made up to 2 days in advance, if needed.

Once the chicken is cooked, cover each breast with 1-2 tablespoons of sauce and 1 slice of cheese.

Return to the oven for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

5. Serving

Serve over tortilla strips with additional sauce, lime wedges, pico de gallo, and cilantro. And don’t forget the Instant Pot Mexican Rice or Authentic Mexican Rice—a perfect pairing!

Leave out the tortilla strips and serve over cauliflower rice for a low-carb option.

A plate of fiesta lime chicken and Mexican rice is eaten for a dinner.

FAQs

Can I grill this instead of baking?

Yes! Add the chicken to a medium-heat grill and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Add the sauce and cheese slices and cook until cheese is melted.

What kind of sauce is used on Applebee’s Fiesta Lime Chicken?

Mexican salsa ranch is what covers the chicken breasts. Easily make your own by mixing salsa, ranch dressing, sour cream, lime juice, and cilantro.

Is Applebee’s Fiesta Lime Chicken healthy?

The cheese and ranch cause this recipe to be relatively high in fat. However, you can make it low-carb if you skip the tortilla chips and side of rice.

Recipe Tips

  • Pound it out. Take the time to tenderize the chicken.
  • Similar sizes. Make sure to cut the chicken breasts into the same size so they cook up evenly.
  • Make it spicy. Use a medium or spicy salsa for the Mexican ranch to give it some heat.
  • Better when homemade. Mix up your own taco seasoning for the most flavor.
  • Serve with strips. The crunchy texture and salty bite complement the juicy chicken breasts perfectly.
Fiesta lime rice is served with Mexican rice, fresh pico, and tortilla chips.

What to Serve with Fiesta Lime Chicken

Serve this fiesta lime chicken with any of these delicious Mexican side dish recipes.

Top it off with Lime Crema, Easy Guacamole Recipe, or Roasted Tomato Salsa.

Serve Mexican Street Corn Salad or Cilantro Lime Rice on the side.

And don’t miss out on Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup or Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup.

More Chicken Recipes

Keep these easy and healthy chicken recipes ready for when you need a good dinner the whole family will love.

Tap stars to rate!

4.99 from 68 votes

Fiesta Lime Chicken Recipe (Applebee’s Copycat)

Applebee's Fiesta Lime Chicken is a surprisingly easy recipe! Serve over tortilla strips with pico de gallo and a side of Mexican rice for a fabulous family dinner.
Yield 4
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 40 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 1 ¼ – 1 ½ lbs. chicken breasts cut into 4 portions
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. oil olive or avocado
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. salt to taste
  • 4 oz. Colby Jack cheese slices

Salsa Ranch

  • ¼ cup ranch dressing
  • ¼ cup salsa mild or medium
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro finely chopped

To Serve: (Optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare Chicken Breasts: Cut chicken into four 5-6 ounce portions. Tenderize with a meat mallet until they are 1-inch thick.
    1 ¼ – 1 ½ lbs. chicken breasts
  • Marinade Chicken: Whisk together lime juice, soy sauce, taco seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, honey, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add chicken and marinade in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.
    2 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tbsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. honey, ½ tsp. salt
  • Bake in Oven: Once the chicken has marinaded, place it in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish in a single layer with a little space between each one. Be sure to let any excess marinade drip off before adding it into the dish. Bake chicken at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
  • Salsa Ranch and Cheese: While the chicken is cooking, whisk the Salsa Ranch ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Once the chicken is almost cooked through, add 1-2 tablespoons of sauce per breast and then place 1 slice of cheese on each. Return to oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
    ¼ cup ranch dressing, ¼ cup salsa, 2 Tbsp. sour cream, 1 tsp. lime juice, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, 4 oz. Colby Jack cheese slices
  • Serve Fiesta Lime Chicken over tortilla chips with additional sauce, lime wedges, pico de gallo, cilantro, and a side of Mexican Rice. Enjoy!
    Tortilla Chips, Pico de Gallo, Cilantro
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

4.99 from 68 votes

Video

Notes

  • To Grill: Add chicken to a medium-heat grill and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Add sauce and cheese slices and cook until cheese is melted.
  • Nutrition information is calculated without tortilla strips, pico de gallo, or additional cilantro.
Prep-Ahead Instructions:
Cut and tenderize the chicken, mix up the marinade, and make the Mexican ranch. Keep separately in the fridge for up to 2 days until you’re ready to cook.
Storage Directions:
Place leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. To freeze, keep in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months, but just know the ranch sauce may change texture slightly. To reheat, return to a 350°F oven, or microwave until heated through.
Recipe Tips
  • Pound it out. Take the time to tenderize the chicken.
  • Similar sizes. Make sure to cut the chicken breasts into the same size so they cook up evenly.
  • Make it spicy. Use a medium or spicy salsa for the Mexican ranch to give it some heat.
  • Better when homemade. Mix up your own taco seasoning for the most flavor.
  • Serve with strips. The crunchy texture and salty bite complement the juicy chicken breasts perfectly.

Nutrition

Calories: 591kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 62g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 199mg, Sodium: 1807mg, Potassium: 1095mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1436IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 231mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Tastes just like Applebee’s! I made some homemade Spanish rice and crushed some lime flavored tortilla chips to go with it. PERFECT!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Lisa! Yummy! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Emma! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Christal! High praise! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious and easy. Although I used frozen chicken
    patties from Costco. It can really be a quick dinner! I had all the ingredients except cilantro .so I just brought out the pickled jalapeños.

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Pam! I love that it can be so quick and easy. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this recipe using chopped rotisserie chicken from the store. I spread the chicken out in a baking dish, spooned a layer of sauce on top of the chicken (I doubled the recipe for the sauce) and then placed pepper jack cheese on top of that. I popped it in the frig until dinner time. Since the chicken is already cooked, it only took about 15-20 minutes on 350 degrees to heat everything through. I served the chicken over mexican rice and topped with tortilla chips. Easy to portion smaller sizes this way and absolutely delicious!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Sue! That’s such a unique way to make it. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! That sounds so tasty. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Tony! I’m happy you can now make it yourself. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

  4. 5 stars
    I made it last night and my husband said this the best. We have had it at Applbees a couple times, so I decided to make it at home. It was Awsome!! Thank you

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Melissa! I love how much it tastes like the original. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, LouAnn! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Mickey! That’s awesome. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!