This Roasted Buttermilk Chicken recipe is a cornerstone recipe for any kitchen. The results are always spectacular, juicy, tender, creamy-white chicken on the inside, and crispy, golden-brown chicken skin on the outside. Even if you’ve never cooked a chicken before in your life, you can master this recipe with very little effort. The key ingredient is time.
Flexibility & Flavour
I love this recipe because it’s flexible. It can be as simple as the base recipe: buttermilk and salt. Or you can bend the flavour to your will; a pinch of herbs, a blast of curry, or a touch of heat. I started with the same flavour influences we enjoy in a plain roasted chicken; thyme, bay, cayenne, salt & pepper.
It’s not overly spicy, but it is amazingly juicy! I actively encourage you to experiment with this Roasted Buttermilk Chicken recipe and make it your own.
There is often a debate on culinary terminology over most Roasted Buttermilk Chicken recipes. Because we’re standing a piece of meat in a salted solution, many use the term “brine”, which is used to preserve and flavour.
Marinade is more accurate here. Marinades impart both flavour and tenderness. In general, a marinade contains an acid; like lime juice, vinegar, or… buttermilk.
At the end of the day, what you call it matters very little. How you use it, however, will make a huge difference in your kitchen. a buttermilk marinade can take a tough, six-dollar utility chicken and make it a Sunday dinner showstopper. Use it on turkey, or guinea fowl – same recipe, same results. Golden-brown and heavenly.
Real Results for Real Life
I didn’t spend a huge amount of time food styling the Roasted Buttermilk Chicken in the photos. I literally shot it piping hot, fresh out of the oven, on my kitchen counter as the light was beginning to fade. I wanted you to see the natural rich colour and the traces of fat and dark brown suc on the bottom of the pan.
This was a 10-hour buttermilk marinade. I popped it in the marinade and into the fridge early in the morning and cooked it off that evening. The longer you marinate, the deeper the colour and the richer the meat. In the summer months, you can throw your chicken on a rotisserie over the grill, or split it up the back and cook it flat over the coals.
A cornerstone recipe for any kitchen, Roasted Buttermilk Chicken leverages the magic of buttermilk to create a roasted chicken that is moist, tender, delicious, and STUNNING. The basic recipe is literally three ingredients (chicken, buttermilk & salt) and it’s as easy as letting it sit overnight, then popping it in the oven until done. Beautiful results!
1 whole, roasting chicken
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Combine buttermilk, salt, and your choice of spices and herbs in a large ziplock freezer bag. Stir to combine. Place fresh, whole chicken in the bag, positioning it to be mostly covered by buttermilk brine. Zip to close, removing as much air as possible.
Place chicken in the fridge to marinade; 8 to 24 hours, turning at the halfway point to ensure equal exposure to buttermilk. (See note regarding brine times.)
Preheat oven to 425⁰f (215⁰c). Prepare a roasting pan with non-stick spray. Remove chicken from buttermilk, being sure to drain the body cavity. Place in the center of the waiting roasting pan. Let stand at room temperature for 25 minutes then place in 425⁰f (215⁰c) oven for 20 – 25 minutes (the skin should be starting to sizzle). Then drop your temperature down 375⁰f (190⁰c) until done to an internal temperature of 170⁰f (77⁰C). Times will vary depending on the size of your fowl. If in doubt, use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature, at the center of the thigh, where the meat is thickest.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for about ten minutes before carving and serving. Drippings make for a FANTASTIC pan gravy, so if you’re sauce inclined, remove chicken to rest, decrease your pan and then whip up your sauce with a bit of stock and a cornstarch slurry right in the pan, on the stove top.
A: In the recipe I suggest 8 to 24 hours, but I’ve buttermilk marinaded almost double that, pushing past 48 hours. If you’re considering going past the 24-hour mark there are two things to consider: the freshness of your chicken and the amount of salt you use. Reduce your salt by half a tablespoon if you’re pushing your time and be sure your chicken as fresh as possible. you don’t want your chicken going ‘off’ while in the buttermilk. Because that is nasty!
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.