Utah Bites

Border Grill-Style Southwestern Chicken

Border Grill-Style Southwestern Chicken – grilled boneless chicken breast marinated with jjalapeños, lime juice, garlic, and black pepper.


Many years ago, when I was the restaurant critic for Las Vegas Life magazine, I visited Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s Border Grill restaurant at Mandalay Bay to write about it. The most memorable dish was grilled skirt steak with Southwestern flavorings such as cumin, jalapeños, lime juice and such. I’ve made that dish in our kitchen frequently, but recently decided to try it using boneless chicken breasts instead of beef. It was great! The marinade for this dish is so tasty I think you could use fish, shrimp or scallops and it would be delicious, so feel free to experiment. 


  • 4-6 Boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/3 cup cumin seeds
  • A handful of cilantro or Italian parsley (I don’t like cilantro, so I use parsley to help give the marinade some color and flavor.)
  • 2-3 jalapeño chile peppers, stemmed and chopped (I don’t bother to seed them, but you can if you want to cut down on the heat.)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. First, you’ll prepare a marinade for the meat: Lightly toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Place the cumin seeds and all of the ingredients except the chicken into a blender or food processor.
  2. Puree until you have a paste with a creamy texture, much like pesto. If the marinade is too thick (if you can’t pour it), add a little more olive oil to thin the paste out a little.
  3. Pour the paste into a sealable freezer bag and add the chicken. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  4. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the bag and marinade and sear the chicken breasts on both sides, until the chicken registers 165 degree F. on an instant-read thermometer.

Serve straight from the grill with a side dish like Spanish rice.



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Food writer Ted SchefflerOriginally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.

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