Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa

I’m literally up to my elbows in dirt right now trying to get my first-ever square foot garden set up without saying too many bad words and/or stapling my finger to the garden boxes while applying weed barrier.

My rocky relationship with gardening is a very boring subject for another time, but since I love to reap the benefits of the harvest, I’m digging in (haha) and getting an official garden up and running, since last year’s attempt, a traditional garden out in the back pasture our first true summer here in Idaho, was overgrown in about three seconds with some type of noxious weed.

Because I was officially kicked out of that space to make room for our four new Angus friends, I decided to try a new method, and I’m now immersed in all things square foot gardening and hoping the effort is worth it (please don’t tell me otherwise right now; I might cry).

Anyway, my point is, since I have a mountain of compost on my driveway to deal with (and thankfully four energetic boys to help, which is a nice way of saying throw dirt clods at each other while I man the wheelbarrow), I’m going to quickly encourage you to get right on with adding this chili lime chicken to your menu.

Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa

It’s fast and simple and absolutely crazy delicious with the tender, spiced chicken, fresh mango salsa and creamy avocado lime drizzly sauce. If all those components have you shaking your head in a big “no way, not gonna happen” motion, be reassured that every step of this recipe can (and should) be made ahead of time.

Since the chicken, salsa, and sauce take literally minutes to prep and get to hang out in the refrigerator just waiting for you to come claim them, you’ll be in great shape when you get ready to serve this stellar meal for dinner.

I’ve given some tips and suggestions in the recipe about the options for cooking that delectable chicken on a grill or InstantPotting the whole thing. Either way = stellar results, so be sure to read through the recipe and notes. Also, this meal easily transitions from tacos to salad. Or, go crazy and serve it both ways since it’s as simple as throwing romaine lettuce on the table with the tortillas.

Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa

As much as I love food and variety, this meal totally fits into the category of “I could eat this every night and be exceptionally happy.” Light and healthy and full of fresh, yummy flavors (that mango salsa just slays me), this chili lime chicken number is such a winner.

With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, I’m thinking these tacos followed by the tres leches cupcakes of two days ago just might be the best combination ever.

Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa

What To ServeMy Favorite Cornbread
Fresh, seasonal vegetables

One Year Ago: Sweet and Spicy Pork and Pineapple Tacos
Two Years Ago: Whole Wheat Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Three Years Ago: Pretzel and Toffee Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa {Grilled or Pressure Cooker}

Yield: Serves 6-8

Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa {Grilled or Pressure Cooker}

This recipe is so dreamy because all of the components can be prepped ahead of time. The chicken can sit in the marinade for up to 8 hours (conversely, I've also been pressed for time/lazy before and forgot to marinade and thrown all the chicken/marinade ingredients in the pressure cooker without marinading beforehand). The mango salsa can be prepped a day or so in advance and refrigerated, and the avocado cream can be made a couple hours ahead of time, too (even a couple days ahead of time if you don't mind the color darkening a bit).

UPDATE: I forgot to mention in the recipe instructions below that if using the pressure cooker (stovetop or electric), you'll need to add a bit of extra liquid. Some people will tell you this isn't necessary but for safety reasons, a pressure cooker needs a certain amount of liquid to operate safely. I've updated the directions below.


    Chili Lime Chicken:
  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2-3 limes)
  • Mango Salsa:
  • 1-2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced (for about 1-2 cups chopped mango)
  • 1/2 cup small diced red pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and membraned removed, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Avocado Cream Sauce:
  • 2 avocados (pitted and flesh scooped out)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Handful of fresh cilantro leaves (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Milk for consistency
  • Extras:
  • Tortillas for serving OR turn it into a main dish salad with romaine in place of the tortillas


  1. For the chicken, place the chicken in a ziploc bag or in a dish. Combine all the marinade ingredients (chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne and lime juice) and pour over the chicken. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (up to 8 hours). Grill the chicken until cooked through (about 6-7 minutes per side on a grill preheated to medium-high heat). Alternately, the chicken can be pressure cooked at high pressure for 8 minutes; on an InstantPot, add the chicken and marinade ingredients PLUS 1/2 CUP LOW-SODIUM CHICKEN BROTH OR WATER, secure the lid and press manual --> 7 minutes (let the pressure cooker naturally release pressure when finished cooking). Let the chicken rest for 5 or so minutes before slicing into strips or shredding.
  2. For the mango salsa, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and give it a good stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve; can be made a day or so in advance if you have the willpower not to eat it all before you serve it with the tacos.
  3. For the avocado cream, combine all the ingredients except the milk in a blender and process until smooth. Add milk, a tablespoon at at time, until the sauce is at the right consistency for drizzling (not too thin!).
  4. To serve, top each tortilla with chicken, mango salsa, and avocado cream. You can also transition this very easily into a main dish salad by swapping out the tortillas for romaine lettuce.

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (chili lime chicken from a recipe my sister has made for years – I just converted it to grilling/InstantPot, mango salsa just like I make it day after day during the summer, creamy avocado lime sauce similar to the version I instagrammed months ago – we eat it on everything) 

51 Responses to Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa {Grill or InstantPot}

  1. […] Chili Lime Tacos from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  2. Sarah says:

    Just made this for a give-away meal to a family and they said they really liked it. It was fun to make. Since I don’t own an Insta-pot or grill, I just did the chicken on the stovetop using this online method ( and it seemed very tender. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Christen says:

    This meal was divine!!! There are no other words to explain it!! It was heaven!!

  4. Rebecca J says:

    I used my new InstantPot to make the chicken, following the recipe exactly. But my chicken came out flavorless and tough. Should I have marinated it before cooking and/or added a few minutes to the cooking time? I’m a pressure cooking novice, and this was a simple enough recipe that I’d love to troubleshoot it to make it work for us again. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Rebecca, it sounds like the chicken overcooked in the InstantPot. You might need to decrease the time depending on the thickness of the chicken you were using. That might help!

  5. Sabrina says:

    I made these chicken tacos last night for dinner with the mango salsa and avocado cream on corn tortillas. Absolutely delicious! We didn’t have any left overs–bummed. I will be making them all summer. I didn’t grill the chicken because our grill is not working well so I cut up the chicken in bite-size pieces, then marinated it and cooked it in a saucepan on the stove. Turned out moist and juicy and spicy. Yummy! Mel, your recipes are the best I’ve every had!

  6. Bri says:

    These were fancy and yummy! I was so bummed Dan was working late. He never got to try them, and I know he would have loved them!

  7. Tami says:

    I made this today and it was delicious! All the flavors combined for a mouth-watering experience. Thanks so much!

  8. Melanie B says:

    I just discovered the avocado cream sauce on instagram and was checking to see if you knew about it so I could share it with you. looks like you beat me to it! No surprise. It’s amazing! And so are these tacos.

  9. Jessica says:

    I Made These Tacos Tonight For My Birthday Dinner And They Were So, So good. I added a pinched of crushed red pepper to the avocado dressing to give it a little kick. Way better then going out to eat!

  10. Kate says:

    I used Dole frozen diced pineapple and mango to make the salsa even easier, and it was fabulous! Even my husband who thinks he doesn’t like fruit with meat went back for seconds and thirds. I took another cheat due to a busy day and made the tacos with popcorn shrimp. They were supper yummy with shredded cabbage, but I definitely want to try the chili lime chicken next time. Thanks, Mel, for another winner that will be in heavy rotation this summer!

  11. Fabulous! I especially love the idea of the avocado cream; looks like it would be wonderful in a variety of recipes.


  12. Heather says:

    This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  13. Diane says:

    Hi Mel
    Just wondering how long the avocado cream and mango salsa will keep in
    the fridge?

    • Mel says:

      The mango salsa is probably good for a couple days and same with the avocado cream (although it may darken a bit in color).

  14. Lisa Andersson says:

    We had these for dinner last night and they are so good! One of my favs. I love all of your recipes that I have tried so far. Anytime I am looking for a new recipe, I come here, your recipes never disappoint

  15. Jessica says:

    Best meal I have made, and eaten in a long time! DELICIOUS combo of flavors! Can hardly wait to eat my left overs!

    • Mel says:

      Yep! I should have included directions; sorry about that! Usually about 4-5 hours on low is perfect for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Thanks, these tacos look delicious! A fun change from regular tacos. You will LOVE your new gardens! I added 5- 4×12 boxes and a few 4×4 boxes with the leftover wood about 10 years ago. They are great! You get tons of food in very little space.I still get very few weeds and as others have mentioned, easy startup every year. I even grew 4 zucchini plants (2 yellow and 2 green) in one 4×4 box. That may sound like a lot of zucchini, but hey, you have a lot of great recipes for zucchini! I found a great recipe for lemon zucchini bread last year, made with yellow zucchini it is amazing! It sounds like you are doing the square foot gardening method. I didn’t make the grids, I just mark the wood in 12″ increments a draw the line in with a stick when planting. It works fine and I don’t have to remove them every year to add compost or store them. I still use the regular garden I had before I built the garden boxes for really big things, but I love my garden boxes! Happy Gardening! There is nothing better than a fresh tomato, basil and cucumber sandwich straight from the garden!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jennifer! I think I’m leaning toward doing your method (marking with a pencil and wood as I go but not keeping grids in there. Thanks for all the input – it was so helpful! Maybe I’ll cram one more squash plant in – I was using the full 3X3 recommendation for one plant and I’d like to grow a bit more. I love zucchini, too!

  17. Shawna says:

    A cinco de mayo success! So yummy! And since I pretty much cook 75 percent of my meals from your blog, I finally caved and ordered a instant pot from Amazon. Happy mother’s day to me. So keep posting the instant pot recipes! Thanks for all your hard work and sacrifice to make our lives easier! Food is life!

  18. Lachelle says:

    This was delicious! Thanks for another winner!

  19. Jessica says:

    Do you think this would work in a crock pot?

    • Mel says:

      Yep! I should have included directions; sorry about that! Usually about 4-5 hours on low is perfect for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

  20. Jessica says:

    Do you think I could cook the chicken in the crock pot?

  21. Lennie says:

    Thanks for another delicious recipe! I made these last night and my family LOVED them. Can’t say which of the three components are the tastiest – the chicken, mango salsa, or avacado cream. Each are yummy on their own, but together in a soft warm corn tortilla they are out of this world!

  22. SBakes says:

    These look delicious!! I’m in the middle of planning a graduation party for about 150 guests and am contemplating doing some sort of taco/burrito bar. If I go that route, this might be an option! Mel – if YOU were planning a party for this size, what would YOU serve? I trust your opinions and recipes. Thanks! FYI: The party will be at our house, but I’d like to keep it outdoors as much as possible. 🙂

    Just as my “baby boy” is graduating from high school, so will yours before you know it. Where does the time go???

    • Mel says:

      Seriously, where does the time go? That’s crazy! A taco bar is a great idea! I did one when one of my kids had a large get together for his baptism. I did shredded salsa chicken and regular taco meat and then had all the fixings so people could build their own tacos. It was a hit. And I think you should totally do the tres leches cupcakes I just posted. 🙂

  23. Katie says:

    This recipe looks great–thanks! I did square foot gardening for several years before we moved to a new house. I’m planning on setting it up again because I really liked it. We did not have the space to do a big traditional garden, but it really grew a lot in a small space. I made the trellises too and my pumpkins would grow up and down them, then over the fence. We did eventually get some grass growing in the square foot gardens but it’s SO easy to pull out with the loose soil. Our peas, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, and green beans always did really well. I never had good luck with onions and carrots though, but that could be my fault :-). I think my most favorite thing was when it was time to plant I just fluffed up the soil, added a bit of compost and planted my seeds. So easy. No tilling, making rows, etc. I hope it works out for you too!

  24. Kat says:

    We started square foot gardening too this year. So far, so good! We have 4, 6’X2′ boxes. Our cold weather veggies are thriving, and I have zero weeds. I love it!

    • Mel says:

      That’s so awesome to hear! This year will be a trial for sure – I’m positive I’m planting everything in the wrong spot but I’m trying to maximize space and I’m going to vine my tomatoes. Here’s to hoping we get at least one good piece of produce from the the garden. 🙂

  25. Brianne says:

    I don’t have an instant pot or a pressure cooker. What’s an alternative for cooking the chicken?

  26. Liz says:

    Can I just use a rotisserie chicken?!

    • Mel says:

      I’m sure you could – the chili lime flavor will obviously be less present in the chicken since it’s already cooked.

  27. Lane says:

    These look delicious!!! Do you think they could also be made with fish or shrimp? Thank you!

  28. Chris says:

    Mel, this look not only beautiful, but delicious and perfect for warm weather too. I’ll definitely be giving this one a try!

  29. Ashley says:

    What kind of tortillas did you use in the picture?

  30. Ashley says:

    Mel, square foot gardening is SO worth it!! I used to be a terrible gardener because I just hate weeding. I decided to try the square foot garden method by Mel Bartholomew and it is so much better! Once you get that initial work done it is (almost) maintenance free!

    • Mel says:

      That gives me hope! We must mixed up our magical dirt last night and I’m carting it into the garden boxes by the wheelbarrowful. I’m hoping for good things (and no weeds). Ha!

  31. Kami Stewart says:

    Well, I have to admit I came looking for double chocolate oatmeal cookies.,, But, this looks good too! 🙂 I thought it was salmon at first from the photo. Definitely not cookies. But get your garden finished and then I’m sure you’ll post those! 🙂

  32. BeccaT says:

    Hopefully i will be “surprised” with an instapot this weekend but just out of curiosity, could the chicken be done in a crock pot?

  33. Catherine says:

    It is totally worth it! Once you get past the initial work of setting it up, your garden will be almost maintenance free and you’ll have an abundance of delicious, home-grown goodness! I hope you’ll keep us posted!

  34. Meridith says:

    Since I am completely new to the world of pressure cooking, but excited to learn, I need to ask: are your manual setting and time listed on the InstantPot for thawed chicken breast, having assumed it has already marinaded in the fridge for eight hours?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Meredith – the pressure cooking time is for thawed chicken breast (doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s been marinated). I did forget in the recipe to indicate that if using the InstantPot, I usually add 1 cup of chicken broth (it’s safest to add a minimum of one cup liquid to the InstantPot when using it). I’ll edit the recipe!

  35. Helen says:

    Oh gardening… I have a love/hate relationship with gardening of any kind… I’m sure your square foot gardening will be amazing, I hope you will share here how it goes and what works and what doesn’t. This recipe looks otherworldly !! so excited to give it a try 🙂

  36. Hilary says:

    For sure this will be our supper on Thursday, and I cannot wait to have those tres leches cupcakes for dessert! So funny you mentioned square foot gardening because that is EXACTLY what I have been doing these past few days- my plants were delivered early so now I am scrambling to put my box together!! How many boxes are you doing?

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