Buttermilk chicken

Garlic and herbs add flavour to this simple buttermilk chicken; marinate for several hours, or overnight, then bung it in the oven or on the barbecue. Serve with salad and chips, or boiled or baked potatoes.


  • garlic cloves, peeled
  • 284–300ml/approx. ½ pint buttermilk
  • 10g/⅓oz fresh flatleaf parsley (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar or runny honey
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt or ½ tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks


  1. Flatten the garlic cloves with the end of a rolling pin, the side of a knife, or in a pestle and mortar. (If you chop or fully crush the garlic it could burn when the chicken is baked.) Put in a large bowl and add the buttermilk.

  2. Roughly chop the leaves from half the parsley, if using, and return the rest to the fridge.

  3. Stir the chopped parsley, rosemary, sugar, salt and pepper into the buttermilk. Add the chicken and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Line a large baking tray with foil and place a rack on top. Take the chicken out of the marinade, gently shaking off excess buttermilk and garlic. Place on the rack, with the thighs skin-side up. Discard the marinade.

  5. Roast the chicken for 35–40 minutes, or until lightly browned in places and cooked through. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer in the thickest part. Chop the remaining parsley leaves and sprinkle over the chicken just before serving. Eat hot or cold with salad and baked potatoes, boiled new potatoes or chips.

Recipe Tips

If you can’t find buttermilk (sometimes labelled ‘cultured buttermilk’), use 200ml/7fl oz plain Greek-style yoghurt mixed with 100ml/3½fl oz milk. Alternatively, stir 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice into 300ml/½ pint milk and leave to stand for 30 minutes; it will thicken and go slightly lumpy.

There is enough marinade for up to 6 thighs and drumsticks, or 4–6 chicken leg or breast quarters. Instead of the pieces you can use a whole jointed chicken.

If you like, you can barbecue the chicken over a medium heat – not too close to the heat – for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Leftover chicken can be cooled, covered and kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Buttermilk chicken

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