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Crispy roasted buttermilk marinated chicken comes together with just 15 minutes of prep and a handful of pantry staples. The juicy, golden brown chicken thighs, chicken breasts, or other chicken parts are flavored with garlic and herbs for a simple, delicious, and easy dinner recipe. Serve the meat with a tray of your favorite roasted vegetables, a bowl of buttermilk mashed potatoes, a pan of fluffy buttermilk biscuits, or a skillet of Southern cornbread.

Hands holding a pan of buttermilk marinated chicken
Table of Contents
  1. Chicken Marinated in Buttermilk
  2. What does marinating your chicken in buttermilk do?
  3. Ingredients
  4. How to Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk
  5. How to Cook Chicken Soaked in Buttermilk
  6. What to Serve with Buttermilk Roast Chicken
  7. Storage
  8. Recipe Variations
  9. Tips for the Best Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Recipe
  10. Roasted Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Recipe

Chicken Marinated in Buttermilk

Succulent, juicy, tender, and crispy roasted buttermilk marinated chicken is such an underrated, affordable way to feed a family. Flavored with fresh herbs and paired with potatoes, roasted veggies, rice, bread, or pasta, this simple, wholesome meal will soon become a staple in your regular routine. Use fresh herbs if you’ve got them, or dried herbs when necessary — the old fashioned baked chicken thighs or chicken breasts will be delicious either way!

What does marinating your chicken in buttermilk do?

Marinating chicken in buttermilk is a classic step in preparing a traditional Southern fried chicken recipe, and the process works equally well for roasted chicken (as shown here). The buttermilk keeps the chicken tender and juicy, and also adds flavor to the meat. Because buttermilk is only slightly acidic, it tenderizes the chicken without toughening up the meat (like a stronger acid such as lemon juice or vinegar might). The enzymes in buttermilk also help to break down the protein in the chicken, resulting in tender, flavorful roast chicken.

How Long to Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk

Allow the chicken to marinate in the buttermilk mixture for at least 30 minutes. For the best flavor and texture, 4-8 hours (or more) is ideal. You can even let it sit in the marinade overnight — just cook the chicken within 24 hours.

Do you rinse meat after soaking in buttermilk?

No, you do not need to rinse the buttermilk marinade off of the chicken for this recipe. Instead, use paper towels to pat the chicken pieces dry. Along with the oil that you brush on top, this will help the skin get nice and crispy in the oven.

Overhead shot of a tray of roasted buttermilk marinated chicken

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a buttermilk marinade for chicken breast, chicken thighs, or other bone-in chicken pieces of your choice. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Bone-in skin-on chicken pieces: you can use one large chicken cut into pieces, or about 4 lbs. of bone-in skin-on chicken pieces of your choice. For instance, if you prefer just the chicken thigh, just the chicken breast, or only the drumsticks or wings, go with that! I typically use two bone-in chicken breasts and about 4 bone-in chicken thighs.
  • Buttermilk: the key ingredient in this marinade, since it adds flavor, helps to tenderize the meat, and keeps the chicken nice and moist. Look for thick, rich, full-fat buttermilk.
  • Olive oil: a fat, such as oil, is an important component of a marinade, as it helps transfer fat-soluble flavors onto the meat and also helps the meat retain moisture. An extra coating of oil just before roasting helps the skin get nice and crispy, too.
  • Garlic: for savory flavor.
  • Rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chives: use fresh herbs when available, or substitute with a smaller amount of dried herbs.
  • Hot sauce: for a little bit of “kick” in the background. Add more if you like a spicy dish.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: add flavor and contribute to that great crust on the outside of the meat.
Marinating chicken parts in a buttermilk marinade

How to Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk

This process could not be easier, and only requires about 15 minutes of actual hands-on prep. The rest is just down time!

  1. Combine the buttermilk, olive oil, garlic, herbs, and hot sauce in a large resealable plastic bag or bowl.
  2. Add the chicken to the marinade and shake or toss gently to coat.
  3. Seal the bag or cover the bowl. Marinate chicken in buttermilk mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight).
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Discard the marinade, pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Now it’s ready to cook!
Brushing chicken pieces with olive oil

How to Cook Chicken Soaked in Buttermilk

You can cook buttermilk marinated chicken in a variety of ways — fry it, grill it, or roast it! Here, I’m showing you the oven-roasted method, which is an incredibly easy, hands-off solution that yields tender, juicy meat and beautiful golden brown, crispy skin.

  1. Place the seasoned chicken pieces on a wire rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray and placed on top of a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Roast the chicken in a 400°F oven until the skin is crisp and golden brown and the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 40-45 minutes for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs and smaller pieces, or about 55-60 minutes for large bone-in, skin-on chicken breast.
  3. Tent the chicken loosely with foil if it starts to get too dark before it’s completely cooked through.
  4. Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs if desired.
Overhead shot of roasted buttermilk marinated chicken on a bed of roasted vegetables

What to Serve with Buttermilk Roast Chicken

Throw some of your favorite vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper (or all-purpose seasoning), and bake in the 400°F oven with the chicken for about 30-35 minutes. Good options for roasting include small gold or red potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. In addition to the roasted vegetables, here are some other side dishes to serve with the buttermilk chicken:

Side shot of a pan of buttermilk marinated chicken on a dinner table with a side of cornbread

Storage

Store leftover roasted chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. The leftover meat is delicious on sandwiches, in soup, in casseroles, or in chicken salad.

Can you freeze buttermilk marinated chicken?

Yes! Store leftover roasted chicken in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you’d like to freeze the marinated chicken before cooking, I recommend soaking in the marinade for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours), then discard the marinade and freeze the marinated chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and pat dry before roasting.

Square front shot of chef holding a pan of buttermilk marinated chicken

Recipe Variations

  • To serve a smaller family, cut the ingredients in half and only bake 2 lbs. of chicken.
  • Switch up the herbs and just use your favorites. For instance, add parsley instead of oregano, or only use rosemary and thyme.
  • Season the marinade with other spices, such as paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, or onion powder.
  • Using boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breast? Baking with the bone and the skin will give you a more juicy, flavorful piece of chicken and a crispy exterior; however, you can use boneless, skinless meat in this marinade if you prefer. Boneless, skinless thighs will only need about 30 minutes in the oven, while boneless breasts will be done within about 40-45 minutes.
  • Instead of roasting the chicken parts, grill them or dredge them in seasoned flour and deep fry them.
Close up shot of crispy roasted chicken thighs

Tips for the Best Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Recipe

  • Use any chicken pieces that you prefer. For instance, instead of cooking the parts from a whole chicken, you can just roast chicken breasts or chicken thighs. You’ll want about 4 lbs. of chicken pieces in total.
  • Make sure that you allow plenty of time to soak the chicken in buttermilk. At least 4-8 hours (or overnight) is ideal; however, in a pinch you can shorten this time to about 30 minutes.
  • Allow the chicken to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for about 30-60 minutes before roasting.
  • Pat the chicken dry before brushing with oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. Removing the extra moisture will help the skin get nice and crispy in the oven.
  • Use a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. A lot of fat and juices will drip off of the chicken as it roasts, so the foil-lined sheet catches those drips and makes cleanup easy.
  • The total cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken and on the temperature of the meat when it goes into the oven. As a result, a meat thermometer is always the best way to know when your chicken is done. It will be perfectly tender and juicy when it reaches 165°F.
Buttermilk marinated chicken roasted and served with roasted vegetables
Square front shot of chef holding a pan of buttermilk marinated chicken

Roasted Buttermilk Marinated Chicken

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Marinating Time 4 hours
Total: 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 people
Calories 237 kcal
Crisp and juicy buttermilk marinated chicken is roasted to golden brown perfection!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (I used a combination of chicken breasts and chicken thighs)
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk, well shaken
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives (or 1 teaspoon dried chives)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • Optional garnish: additional chopped fresh herbs

Instructions

  • In a large bowl or Ziploc bag, combine the buttermilk, olive oil, garlic, herbs, and hot sauce. Add the chicken and toss to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate the chicken in the marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the wire rack with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting any excess marinade drain from the chicken. Discard the buttermilk marinade.
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken skin-side up in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each piece of chicken with olive oil; season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
  • Roast the chicken, uncovered, until it’s golden brown on top and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the meat (not touching the bone), about 40-45 minutes for chicken thighs and smaller pieces, and about 55-60 minutes for larger chicken breasts. Tent the chicken loosely with foil if the skin starts to get too dark before the meat is cooked through.
  • Let the chicken pieces rest for at least 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs just before serving, if desired.

Notes

  • Use any chicken pieces that you prefer. For instance, instead of cooking the parts from a whole chicken, you can just roast chicken breasts or chicken thighs. You’ll want about 4 lbs. of chicken pieces in total.
  • Make sure that you allow plenty of time to soak the chicken in buttermilk. At least 4-8 hours (or overnight) is ideal; however, in a pinch you can shorten this time to about 30 minutes.
  • Allow the chicken to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for about 30-60 minutes before roasting.
  • Pat the chicken dry before brushing with oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. Removing the extra moisture will help the skin get nice and crispy in the oven.
  • Use a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. A lot of fat and juices will drip off of the chicken as it roasts, so the foil-lined sheet catches those drips and makes cleanup easy.
  • The total cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken and on the temperature of the meat when it goes into the oven. As a result, a meat thermometer is always the best way to know when your chicken is done. It will be perfectly tender and juicy when it reaches 165°F.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the chickenCalories: 237kcalProtein: 27gFat: 13.4gSaturated Fat: 3.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.3gCholesterol: 87.3mgSodium: 81.3mgPotassium: 221.4mg
Keyword: buttermilk chicken, buttermilk marinated chicken, chicken marinade, roast buttermilk chicken, roasted buttermilk chicken
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Hi, Blair. I’ll try this. I’ve been looking for a recipe for plain chicken and vegetables. Sorry you haven’t heard as much from me lately. We had a death in the family BUT I I still have checked your site everyday. If I roast leg quarters, I would check the temperature in the thigh, correct?

    1. Hi, Marion! I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for keeping up with the blog, even during a difficult time!

      Yes, if you use leg quarters you’ll want to check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh, where the thermometer is not touching a bone. Hope you enjoy!

  2. Hi!!! Can you use boneless skin on chicken thighs for this recipe? I have a bunch in the freezer & can’t always think of recipes for them. It sounds good though!

    1. Hi, Erin! Absolutely! Just keep an eye on the chicken, because the boneless meat will cook faster than the bone-in thighs. Hope you enjoy!

  3. Wow, this sounds so delicious! Unfortunately, the full fat buttermilk isn’t available in our stores.
    And what else is nice is that there are so many good side dishes to pair up with this chicken.
    By the way, are you a Scorpio? I don’t remember just where Octobers “sign” ends, and November’s starts.
    I’m also a Scorpio–my birthday is this coming Friday,the 12th. Looked up the weather forecast for this week, and there’s the possibility of snow on the 12th. Wouldn’t be the first time that it snowed on my birthday, either.
    So,Happy Birthday to you too!!
    The flu is in the schools around here too. Glad I took the flu shot on my last visit at the clinic.
    As usual, your pictures are great. I also read Joanne Flukes books as well.

    Take care, & have a great week!

    1. Thanks, Sandra! Yes, we got flu shots, but they seemed to have helped some of us more than others. 🙁

      I am a Scorpio! Happy almost birthday to you. I can’t believe there’s snow in your forecast! It’s supposed to be 80 degrees here in VA tomorrow — crazy.

      The low-fat buttermilk will do in a pinch if you still want to make the recipe!

      Take care!