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How to Make Chicken Breasts with a Buttermilk Marinade

This is a down-home recipe that I first tried a few years ago and the results were so good that I wanted to be sure to share this delicious buttermilk marinade chicken recipe with you.

While this does call for prepping so you can marinade in advance the delicious results are well worth the wait.

This is the best way I know of to consistently serve a moist and tender chicken breast and is my go-to marinade when I make grilled chicken, Creamy White Chicken Chili, and my family’s favorite Chicken Teriyaki.

The first time I tried it my family raved and asked what I did differently with the chicken. They actually noticed which is huge, trust me. I could walk around with a monkey on my head and they wouldn’t take a second look.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts in a fresh buttermilk marinade - the secret to moist and tender chicken every time

The full recipe with instructions are available in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. You can find helpful tips and tricks within the blog post itself.

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FAQs

Why use a Buttermilk Marinade for Chicken?

From my experience, you can’t just cook a chicken breast, chicken tender, chicken thighs, etc. without first prepping them in some way and expect them to be moist and tender. This is where the buttermilk marinade comes into play.

Buttermilk is the secret to soft, tender chicken due to its acidity. That acidity is what helps to breakdown the protein structures in chicken, therefore, rendering the meat to be more tender and to retain better moisture.

How long should you marinate the chicken?

This marinade works the best when you allow your meat to marinate between 8 and 24 hours.

Does this recipe work as well with boneless chicken?

Yes, it does. I almost always use boneless skinless chicken breasts in my recipes and when I use this buttermilk marinade first, my chicken always tastes better.

What could I use instead of buttermilk if I don’t have any on hand?

You can make your own buttermilk by adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar OR fresh lemon juice to a measuring cup. Add enough milk (whole, low-fat, or skim milk will all work well) to equal 1 cup. Allow this buttermilk mixture to sit for 10 to 20 minutes before using.

Can this marinade be used for a fried chicken recipe?

Yes, it can.

Can I add seasoning to the buttermilk marinade?

Yes, you can. One of my favorites is this grilled chicken marinade:

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt (regular or coarse salt can be substituted)

Is this a buttermilk brine?

No. A brine contains a large amount salt in the marinade, usually a 1/3 cup of salt to 3 cup buttermilk ratio.

*This post may contain affiliate links and I’ll earn a commission if you shop through them. You can read my full disclosure here

Basic Buttermilk Marinade Recipe:

This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!

Ingredients:

*Note that the pictures show this recipe DOUBLED.  I almost always double everything so I have extras for another meal.

1 cup of Buttermilk

This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!

*Alternative – Buttermilk Substitute

You can make your own buttermilk by adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar OR fresh lemon juice to a measuring cup.

This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!

Add enough milk (whole, low-fat, or skim milk will all work well) to equal 1 cup. Allow this buttermilk mixture to sit for 10 to 20 minutes before using.

This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!
This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!

1 pound Chicken Breasts

Directions:

Add prepared chicken breasts to a glass bowl or plastic bag to begin the marinading process.

This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!

Pour buttermilk mixture over chicken breasts.

This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!

Cover, refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight (up to 24 hours).

Cook, bake, fry, or grill as desired.

Chicken Breasts in buttermilk marinade

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN BREASTS WITH A BUTTERMILK MARINADE

Mary Beth
This buttermilk marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, tender, and simply irresistible!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Time to Marinate 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 40 mins
Course Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 167 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar OR fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup of milk – whole low-fat or skim
  • 1 pound Chicken Breasts

Instructions
 

  • Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to a measuring cup.  Add enough milk to equal 1 cup.
  • Mix gently and let stand 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Add prepared chicken breasts to a glass bowl or plastic bag.
  • Pour buttermilk mixture over chicken breasts.  Cover, refrigerate an dallow to marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight up to 24 hours.
  • Cook, bake, fry, or grill as desired.

Notes

*Note that the pictures show this recipe DOUBLED. I almost always double everything so I have extras for another meal.

You could certainly use buttermilk in place of the milk and vinegar combo but if you don’t have it in the fridge, no worries, this substitution works just as well.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN BREASTS WITH A BUTTERMILK MARINADE
Amount Per Serving
Calories 167 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 78mg26%
Sodium 157mg7%
Potassium 498mg14%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 130IU3%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 73mg7%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword buttermilk, Chicken breast, marinade
Tried this recipe? Let me know what you think!Mention @TheHowToHome or tag #thehowtohome!

That’s it! Now wasn’t that simple?

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This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!

 

This basic marinade will make chicken breasts moist, delicious, and simply irresistible!

 

 
Recipe Rating




Linda galloway

Monday 3rd of May 2021

I have just now marinated my chicken tenders

Mary Beth

Wednesday 5th of May 2021

Awesome!

Malia

Monday 19th of June 2017

Thanks for sharing the secret. I end up with dried out chicken breasts a lot of the time (kids not happy when that happens) so I appreciate your tips!

Joey

Thursday 15th of June 2017

I'll have to try this. We eat a lot of chicken!

#ThursdayFavoriteThings

Mary Beth

Friday 16th of June 2017

Thank you, Joey! You'll be shocked at how much better chicken tastes with this marinade.