In Episode 024 we are making Buttermilk Marinated Chicken for dinner. Susie shares this awesome way to ensure you NEVER have to suffer through a dry grilled chicken breast again. It just takes 4 ingredients to have really flavorful and juicy grilled chicken: buttermilk, chicken breasts, fresh garlic and kosher salt. Learn the whole method and some amazing tips in this episode of Let’s Make Dinner.
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Intro: Welcome to Let’s Make Dinner, your audio library of amazing dinner recipes you can get on the table any night of the week. I’m your host, Susie Weinrich.
Susie Weinrich: Do you ever try to grill chicken for dinner and it just turns out dry and like a little piece of shoe leather? It’s the worst. Chicken has a tendency to dry out so quickly, especially when you’re cooking it over that dry heat, like on the grill.
Intro: But I have a great recipe that’s going to come to your rescue, and you are never going to have to suffer a dried chicken breast again. We’re talking about buttermilk-marinated chicken breasts that are perfect for grilling. You only need four ingredients to make your grilled buttermilk chicken. Obviously, chicken breasts; boneless skinless chicken breasts. I think you could also do this recipe with chicken thighs or really any other type of chicken. But for this recipe, we’re talking about boneless skinless chicken breasts. You obviously need buttermilk, kosher salt, and some garlic cloves. If you want to add a little extra flavor profile in there, you could always add some fresh herbs as well. I’ve definitely used rosemary. You could do thyme, you could do oregano, you could try basil. Any of those would work.
This definitely isn’t a throw-together dinner. You have to plan ahead just a little bit because you’re marinating the chicken in the buttermilk. So you want at least 12 to 24 hours to do the marinating.
At the end of this episode, I’m going to give you a few different ways to serve your juicy chicken breasts.
Tips and Tricks: All right, let’s get into a couple of tips for buying chicken and making this recipe. First of all, when you buy chicken, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Look for air-chilled chicken. Of course, you can buy organic, free-range, vegetarian fed, is that a thing? Vegetarian-fed chicken? I swear I know what I’m talking about. Okay, so when you’re buying chicken, all those other things are great, but the one thing that’s going to make the biggest difference in the flavor and the texture of your chicken is buying air-chilled chicken.
The next tip, you can absolutely make your own buttermilk. It’s just low fat, maybe 2% milk, and either a little lemon juice or a little vinegar added. However, the buttermilk that you buy in the grocery store is actually a low-fat milk with lactic bacteria added that produces lactic acid. That lactic acid is what does the magic on your chicken in a very soft way. It tenderizes your chicken and makes sure that it stays really juicy when you grill it.
Next chicken tip. If you have those monster chicken breasts that are super, super thick, and enormous, I highly recommend that you cut each breast lengthwise so that then you end up with two thinner breasts. What that does is it just allows the chicken breast to marinate a little bit better. It also allows it to grill or cook more evenly. If you leave it big and thick like it is. The top thick end will take much longer to cook than the skinny tail end.
Two final tips. Make sure you’re using kosher salt, not iodized table salt. They are completely different. Kosher salt is much milder and has a grainier texture, whereas iodized table salt has almost, when you taste them side by side, the iodized table, salt definitely has more of a chemical flavor than a salty flavor. So if you’re using iodized table salt in your kitchen, I highly recommend grabbing some kosher salt, tasting them side by side, and then making the switch to kosher salt.
The last tip is with the garlic that you’re going to add to the marinade. When you add garlic to a marinade and then you’re going to cook whatever meat you’re marinating, I highly recommend either just chopping the garlic into large pieces or just cracking the garlic so that the insides are exposed. When you mince the garlic, those tiny garlic pieces will stick to the meat and then possibly burn on the grill. So next time you do a marinade, definitely try just cracking or making the garlic into larger chunks. Those are all my tips.
Buttermilk Chicken Recipe: Let’s get onto the recipe. Actually, this recipe’s going to take me like two seconds to tell you how to make. You need six fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts. Place those in either a rimmed baking dish or you can use a large Ziploc baggy. You’re going to want to salt the chicken with your kosher salt very generously on both sides. Then crack six fresh whole cloves of garlic and nestle those all around the chicken. Now if you’re going to add any of the fresh herbs as we talked about at the beginning, you can go ahead and nestle those down in there as well. Just like the garlic, I don’t recommend chopping up the herbs because they will stick to the chicken and possibly burn. I recommend if you’re using oregano, thyme, or rosemary, you can just stick the whole sprig of herbs down in with the chicken. Then you’re going to take two cups of the buttermilk and just pour it right into the dish with the chicken, nestle that chicken down into the buttermilk, cover the dish, and pop it in the fridge.
You’re going to marinate it anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. I wouldn’t recommend doing less than 12 because that’s not going to be enough time for that lactic acid to affect the chicken. I wouldn’t do it any more than 24 because, beyond 24, it may start to break the chicken down and get oversaturated.
All right, then when it’s time to actually cook your chicken, what I recommend is if you’re grilling the chicken, which by the way I think is the very best way to grill this buttermilk marinated chicken. If you’re going to grill it, then pull that chicken out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature until the grill is ready. This is called tempering and I recommend it for almost all meat that you’re going to grill or bake or cook, and it just basically tempers it so it’s not ice cold right out of the fridge and lets it cook a little bit more evenly and retain more of its juices.
So while your chicken is tempering, you want to set your grill up for direct and indirect grilling. When you pull the chicken out of the buttermilk marinade, just make sure there are no large pieces of garlic stuck to the chicken. Let some of that buttermilk drain off the chicken, and then if there’s a lot left stuck on there, you can always take a paper towel and pat it a little bit, but it’s okay if there’s some excess buttermilk left on the chicken.
Then take your chicken out to your grill and you’re going to start over that direct heat and you’re going to cook it for about four minutes per side. Then what I like to do is move it to the indirect side, check it for the temperature, and if the internal temperature is 160, you can pull that chicken off the grill. If it hasn’t quite reached 160, then you’re going to want to leave it on the indirect heat side. Pop the lid on your grill and let it cook anywhere from, this is going to sound like a long time, anywhere from one minute to five minutes. It really depends on the chicken, because they can vary so much in size. You really want to cook your chicken to temperature, not time. So you have to cook your chicken anywhere from 160 to 165 to be safe to eat.
So once you have reached 160 to 165, you can remove your chicken from the grill. Let it sit for about five minutes and then it’s time to eat.
I have some great recipes and ideas for using your tender and juicy grilled buttermilk chicken. The first is just eating it as grilled chicken. I have a killer recipe for a horseradish cream sauce that makes an amazing dip for your grilled chicken. I would serve that with just some grilled veggies, and then I’ve talked about this recipe before. It’s for crispy oven potatoes from my friend Lori over at Josie + Nina. These potatoes are a dream. I talked about them in episode three of garlic steak bites. They would also go really well with your grilled chicken, so I will make sure and link that recipe in the show notes for you. The grilled chicken would also be amazing on top of just Alfredo, so you know, a chicken Alfredo situation, or on top of a Caesar salad if you want something really fresh and light and delicious for a hot summer night. Or the last one would be a grilled chicken sandwich. This is not going to be your average boring grilled chicken sandwich. I’m talking start with a brioche bun. Add a huge slathering of that horseradish cream sauce that I talked about earlier. Add some lettuce, fresh-cut tomato, avocado slices, and then some thick-cut crispy bacon. Add those buttermilk-grilled chicken breasts, and these sandwiches will knock your socks off. Super, super delicious.
That does it for today’s episode. As always, I will link all of the recipes that we talked about right in the show notes so you can find all of them and make your delicious dinner.
If you’re enjoying these episodes of Let’s Make Dinner, I would love it if you would subscribe or follow in your preferred podcast player. That will just make it easier for you to find all the future episodes, right in your podcast feed.
Outro: Until next time, I hope this episode of Let’s Make Dinner makes your dinner time a little easier. See ya.
- Buy air chilled chicken, it has the biggest impact on the texture and flavor of your chicken.
- If your chicken breasts are SUPER thick, slice them in half lengthwise so you have two thinner breasts. They will marinate better and cook more evenly.
- Use kosher salt not iodized table salt.
- Just crack your garlic cloves or cut them into large pieces. If you mince the garlic you risk have burnt garlic once you cook the chicken.
- Marinate the chicken in buttermilk at least 12 hours, but not more than 24 hours.
- Buttermilk Marinated Grilled Chicken
- Horseradish Cream Sauce
- Alfredo Pasta
- Would also be amazing with Pesto Pasta!
- Crispy Oven Potatoes (Josie & Nina)
We would love to have you comment & rate the recipe!