Buttermilk-Brined Roast Chicken Recipe (2024)

By Samin Nosrat

Buttermilk-Brined Roast Chicken Recipe (1)

Total Time
About 1¾ hours, plus overnight marinating
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This recipe, adapted from Samin Nosrat's "Salt Fat Acid Heat," is inspired by the Southern grandma method of marinating chicken overnight in buttermilk before frying it. You're roasting here, but the buttermilk and salt still work like a brine, tenderizing the meat on multiple levels to yield an unbelievably juicy chicken. As an added bonus, the sugars in the buttermilk will caramelize, contributing to an exquisitely browned skin. Be sure to leave 24 hours for marinating the chicken. While the beauty of roast chicken is that you can serve it anytime, anywhere, try serving it alongside panzanella, which plays the role of starch, salad and sauce.

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Yield:4 servings

  • 1chicken, 3½ to 4 pounds
  • Kosher salt or fine sea salt
  • 2cups buttermilk

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

671 calories; 45 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 18 grams monounsaturated fat; 9 grams polyunsaturated fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 7 grams sugars; 58 grams protein; 1274 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Buttermilk-Brined Roast Chicken Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    The day before you want to cook the chicken, remove the wingtips by cutting through the first wing joint with poultry shears or a sharp knife. Reserve for stock. Season chicken generously with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.

  2. Step


    Stir 2 tablespoons kosher salt or 4 teaspoons fine sea salt into the buttermilk to dissolve. Place the chicken in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and pour in the buttermilk. (If the chicken won’t fit in a gallon-size bag, double up 2 plastic produce bags to prevent leaks and tie the bag with twine.)

  3. Seal the bag, squish the buttermilk all around the chicken, place on a rimmed plate, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. If you’re so inclined, you can turn the bag periodically so every part of the chicken gets marinated, but that’s not essential.

  4. Step


    Pull the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it. Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack set in the center position.

  5. Step


    Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and scrape off as much buttermilk as you can without being obsessive. Tightly tie together the legs with a piece of butcher’s twine. Place the chicken in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a shallow roasting pan.

  6. Step


    Slide the pan all the way to the back of the oven on the center rack. Rotate the pan so that the legs are pointing toward the rear left corner and the breast is pointing toward the center of the oven. (The back corners tend to be the hottest spots in the oven, so this orientation protects the breast from overcooking before the legs are done.) Pretty quickly you should hear the chicken sizzling.

  7. Step


    After about 20 minutes, when the chicken starts to brown, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and continue roasting for 10 minutes.

  8. Step


    Move the pan so the legs are facing the rear right corner of the oven. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is brown all over and the juices run clear when you insert a knife down to the bone between the leg and the thigh. If the skin is getting too brown before it is cooked through, use a foil tent. Remove it to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.



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Cooking Notes


Look, I have never written about a recommendation before, but I would be unfair if I didn't tell anyone reading this that this really is the best roast chicken recipe I've made. And I make roast chicken a lot as we believe a good roast chicken is the perfect food. For years, we've said, "Is it better than Marcella's?" The answer's always no. Until tonight. Don't do any of the ya-di-dahs recommended--make it as is--and love every bite.


Hey y'all, I think the objective here was to get your impression of this recipe not for you to talk about your own creations. Just saying....


I think the idea was for people to react in any way they wanted. Commenting on the recipe or suggesting other related ideas are equally valuable in my opinion.

Julie Spencer

You can freeze your leftover buttermilk in 1-cup portions or any convenient size. It keeps very well and defrosts quickly.

Kate NYC

OMG. I've been roasting chickens for 40 years and I've done them all: Child, Hazan, with rosemary and without, stuffed with lemon or empty, basted or brined, and the Zuni Cafe version that set off the smoke detectors not only in my apartment but also in my neighbors' above and below. But this version is in its own class as the best of them all. It also helped me appreciate Nosrat's lessons about salt. She is a genius.Best of all? It just tastes like chicken. Juicy and delicious chicken

Jena' Hatchett

This is the best roasted chicken I've ever made. Moist and tender. Beautiful color. And that's with cheating on the marinating time. I didn't realize it should be done overnight. I'm 70. Been cooking for 60 years. That's a lot of roasted chicken. So glad to find this recipe.


Before trying this, compare with the other NY Times version, where the roaster is butterflied and then marinated in buttermilk, garlic, peppercorns, salt, rosemary and honey. Calls only half the salt, so go figure (or taste!). https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/7264-buttermilk-roast-chicken.


This was quite delicious! I used store-bought buttermilk and marinated the chicken for about 20 hrs. There was no sign of mushiness from the marinade, and the chicken was extremely tasty and juicy. I roasted it on a rack set over a roasting pan in which I put some cut-up potatoes and carrots and a handful of whole, peeled shallots. The chicken juices and the residual buttermilk gave the veggies a nice flavor as well. I'll definitely make this again!


Best roast chicken I’ve ever made/had/seen!! Prepared this according to Samin a few times now and I’ve learned 2 days marinating is better than 1. And if you like a very crispy chicken, I’ve refrained from turning the temp down until it had ~10 min of cooking time left.


Easy enough and yielded a really moist chicken. I don't know if it's significantly better than my go-to Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe which uses a dry brine, but was interesting to try. Do yourself a favor and line your pan with foil or make sure you've really scraped off most of the buttermilk. What puddled in the pan beneath the chicken really burned and glued itself to the roasting pan. Dish guy/husband was not thrilled.


I've roasted many chickens but this is the best! I stuffed the cavity with a small Meyer lemon. While the chicken rested after roasting, poured the pan juices into a fat separator then added chicken broth. Meanwhile deglazed the iron skillet with dry vermouth. Then added defatted juices and simmered until rich in color. Delicious.


Works well with chicken thighs.Can substitute yogurt.Can add harissa or other herbs.Can reduce any smoke issues by heating a cast iron skillet at 350 for 30 mins, then add chicken and continue at that heat.


After reading the reviews I decided to go with heating the cast iron skillet in a 350 degree oven for 30 mins then putting the chicken and continued at that temperature. Worked great with no mess or smoke detector issues. Chicken was fabulous.

Laurie Dunn

Can someone tell me how (or if) cooking time should be adjusted if I’m using bone-in, skin-on thighs?


Suggest marinating in a glass bowl to avoid single-use plastic bag. Better yet if the bowl has its own lid! Also I suppose if using cut up parts, the pan rotating will be unnecessary?


Six stars. Perfect chicken. I don’t have a rack so I roughly chopped some Yukon gold potatoes and yellow onions, seasoned w salt and pepper, and put the chicken directly on them. I’ve made it 3 times in 4 weeks. The carcass cooks up into a nice stock too.


Preheat the cast-iron skillet. Might want to flip the bird over at the end to crisp the bottom.


I thought it was good but not great. I usually dry brine my chicken with salt, then before baking make a compound butter with lemon zest, chopped herbs, butter, and pepper that goes under and over the skin. This recipe was easier than my usual but with inferior results.

John M

I did 4 game hens according to this brining recipe, 2 each in big ziplock bags.I was surprised how tasty and juicy it turned out, and my kids loved it too. I do think I will do it again.I skipped the twine and oven choreography described, just slam it in there at 450 and forget about it.Is there anything I can do with the buttermilk/salt/poultry effluvia? Seems a shame to rinse it down the sink.


The buttermilk from the brining had a subtle gamy flavor that haunts me to this day. Savory eggnog comes to mind. Great holiday treat for those in-laws who are slow to warmup to the idea of you cooking for the holidays.


I made this once in the oven exactly as directed and it was perfect. Then I got adventurous and followed directions through the marinade, but spatchco*cked and grilled instead of roasting the chicken whole. Still perfect! The buttermilk brine can do no wrong.

Susan from Nashville

This is just amazing! Best roast chicken ever! Made it almost exactly as written (only exception was that I spatchco*cked it) for this Sunday’s dinner, Monday was chicken sandwiches on sourdough with cranberry orange relish, tonight was the carcass turned into killer chicken noodle soup. I will make this again and again. Brilliant, Samin Nosrat!


We enjoyed the simplicity of this recipe almost as much as the juiciness of the chicken. I was skeptical of the cast iron skillet, but it was an inspired choice. I cooked the chicken 15 minutes longer than the recipe suggested as it was still pink near the bone and the juices hadn't yet run clear at the recommended cook time. Next time I make this I'm going to try placing the chicken in the center of my oven, and leaving it in one place.

lori online

This is now the only way I will make a roast chicken...stellar recipe and technique.


I love this recipe. I put the chicken in the buttermilk the night before, and realized the next morning I had forgotten the salt! I added it to the bag, squished it around, and let it marinate for about seven hours. It still turned out great! I also tucked butter and rosemary under the skin and put half a lemon in the cavity, and the drippings made delicious gravy. This is a keeper.


Re failure to brown: Try using the Convection setting. If you do, Use 400 degrees, not 425 degrees, and check temps sooner in case you have to shorten cooking time, often an issue when using Convection setting. Good Luck!


Best roasted chicken I’ve ever had!!!


Like some others, I have cooked many chickens over the years following instructions from numerous chefs and cookbook authors. This recipe is my favorite. I followed it to the letter except I was only able to find low fat buttermilk


Added powdered garlic, onion, smoked paprika & whole peppercorns to marinade, roasted it on top of thinly sliced potatoes, shallots, leeks, garlic & herbs tossed with tiny bit of melted butter. SO GOOD! Going to try turmeric in marinade next time. Inadvertently sat in marinade for 48 hours due “life happens” and it was not an issue. Chicken obsessed hubby loved it.


I’ve tried this recipe exactly as written twice. My chicken skin isn’t browning evenly. In Step 6, when the oven is on 425, she says “Pretty soon you should hear chicken sizzling.” Mine isn’t. It just sits there bald, white, and silent. Any ideas?

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Buttermilk-Brined Roast Chicken Recipe (2024)


How long can I leave chicken in a buttermilk brine? ›

You're roasting here, but the buttermilk and salt still work like a brine, tenderizing the meat on multiple levels to yield an unbelievably juicy chicken. As an added bonus, the sugars in the buttermilk will caramelize, contributing to an exquisitely browned skin. Be sure to leave 24 hours for marinating the chicken.

What does brining chicken in buttermilk do? ›

An intensely flavored buttermilk brine tenderizes the chicken while keeping it moist. Adding wet ingredients to the dry flour coating ensures an extra-craggy crust with lots of nooks and crannies. Starting in hot fat and finishing in the oven gives you fried chicken with a crisp crust and evenly cooked meat.

What does soaking chicken in buttermilk do? ›

The secret to making the perfect fried chicken is the use of buttermilk, as it helps tenderize each piece while leaving each bite juicy and crispy. After marinating, dredge your chicken pieces in the flour mixture and get to frying!

Is it good to brine chicken before roasting? ›

We all know how much better a turkey tastes if you brine it before roasting it. But we're about to take things a step further: You should also be brining your chickens—and not just for special occasions, like holiday roasts. A brine adds flavor and keeps the meat tender and juicy.

Do you rinse chicken after brining in buttermilk? ›

Yes, it's a good practice to rinse the chicken after brining in buttermilk. This helps to remove excess buttermilk and any seasonings that may have clung to the surface. Rinsing the chicken also prevents the buttermilk from burning during the cooking process.

Should you rinse chicken after soaking in buttermilk? ›

Before cooking the chicken, all you need is to pat it dry, not rinsing it. Rinsing it will remove all of the salt that you rubbed on before brining. Patting it dry is all you need!

Do you have to cook chicken after brining? ›

No, you don't have to cook immediately after brining. You can let the food sit in the brine for a few hours, or even overnight, before cooking.

Is soaking chicken in buttermilk the same as brining? ›

Similarly, buttermilk's acidity tenderizes the chicken while it marinates. So, both a brine and a bath are likely to offer juicy fried chicken, but a different kind of moisture is probably the reason behind buttermilk's often non-sticking batter.

Why does the flour fall off my buttermilk chicken? ›

You don't start dry

The first step to breading chicken is crucial: Make sure the chicken is completely dry before starting the dredging process. Using a paper towel, pat the meat dry on all sides. Excess moisture will cause the flour to get soggy, meaning it will not adhere properly to the chicken.

Can you let chicken sit in buttermilk overnight? ›

Directions. Soak chicken in buttermilk with garlic, onions, herbs, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain in colander, leaving some herbs on chicken.

Does buttermilk change the taste of chicken? ›

Marinating your chicken in buttermilk not only adds tangy flavor, it helps tenderize the meat and the acidity ensures a crispy exterior.

What is the simple brine formula? ›

For example, if you are using 1 gallon (16 cups) of water, add 16 tablespoons (1 cup) of salt. Place the meat in the brine and put the whole container in the refrigerator. If it doesn't fit, place it in an ice chest filled with ice.

Do you have to refrigerate chicken while brining? ›

Chicken can safely rest in its brining solution for anywhere from a few hours to two days, but generally, for a liquid based brine, you'll want to stick to about one hour of resting in the fridge per pound of meat you're preparing.

Should I rinse brined chicken before cooking? ›

Stir the salt and water in a non-reactive container until dissolved. Make enough brine to submerge the meat completely. There is generally no need to rinse the meat after using either brine listed above, just pat dry with paper towels.

Can you soak chicken in buttermilk too long? ›

Can you oversoak chicken in buttermilk? While buttermilk is a great marinade, you don't want to overdo it. Try not to marinate any longer than 24 hours, because after that your chicken may get tough or maybe mushy from the acidity breaking down the protein too much..

Can chicken be in buttermilk too long? ›

In my experience, chicken that is marinated for too long develops an unpleasant, mushy texture. Four or five hours is about the max for buttermilk. Other people don't mind if the meat gets a little soft, so an overnight marinade would work for them.

Can you leave chicken in brine too long? ›

If you go to extremes, such as leaving chicken in brine for more than 24 hours, you'll get overly-salted chicken. It can also change the texture of the chicken. When in doubt, 1 hour per pound is always a good plan.

Is it safe to brine chicken for 2 days? ›

Chicken can safely rest in its brining solution for anywhere from a few hours to two days, but generally, for a liquid based brine, you'll want to stick to about one hour of resting in the fridge per pound of meat you're preparing.

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