Juicy Buttermilk Roast Chicken

I tried this roasted chicken recipe when I first moved to New York and it has been in my regular rotation ever since. Smitten Kitchen has never failed me and this is seriously some of the juiciest chicken you will ever bite into.

The trick is to plan to make this chicken a day in advance. Once that decision is made, the rest is a breeze. Brine the chicken overnight, pop it in the oven the next day, cook for thirty minutes and then gleefully devour. The long marinating time is essential, and if you don’t normally keep buttermilk in your fridge (it goes bad surprisingly quickly…) you can always make your own buttermilk from basic ingredients.

Is that enough to convince you? Here are the specifics.

Directions for homemade buttermilk:

Homemade buttermilk won’t be as thick as store-bought. The only difference this seems to make for the chicken is that the end product looks prettier with store bought buttermilk as opposed to homemade. The chicken featured in this post was brined with the homemade buttermilk mix, and tasted just as good as my previous iterations (but without the post-cooking guilt of unused buttermilk going bad).

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 30 min


  1. 2 cups buttermilk (or make your own, in which case you would need 2 cups of milk and 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice).
  2. 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  3. 1/2 tablespoon salt
  4. 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  5. 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  6. Ground Pepper
  7. 1-2 lbs drumsticks
  8. Olive oil

Directions for Buttermilk Roast Chicken:

Mix buttermilk, garlic, salt, paprika, sugar, and a generous grind of pepper. Put chicken in gallon-sized ziploc bag and pour mixture over it. Close the bag and squish it around a few times to make sure all of the chicken has been covered. Refrigerate overnight (but if you’re short on time, at least let it marinate for two hours).

When it’s time to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking dish or skillet with foil for easy clean-up and arrange chicken on foil. I like to make sure that there is a bit of space between the parts, otherwise it can take longer to cook through.

Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle paprika and salt to taste. Roast for 30 minutes until the tops look a bit scorched. Serve and amaze your guests (or yourself) at how tender, juicy, and tasty these drumsticks are.

Other things I love about this recipe:

  • Clean-up is a cinch. No scraping bits off of a pan, since the foil pretty much keeps all of the juices together.
  • This is a one-pot recipe. I know it’s more wasteful, but using the ziploc bag to marinate saves me refrigerator space and an extra dish to clean.
  • If I know my kitchen will keep a low, moderate temperature throughout the day, I’ll often toss drumsticks that are frozen solid in a bag in the morning and let it marinate (and thaw) in my kitchen sink throughout the day. When I get home after work, it’s all ready to go into the oven (similarly, you could thaw it overnight in the bag and put it in the fridge in the morning, so it stays cool throughout the day). I don’t recommend keeping raw meat out in the open so, you know, be safe about it.
  • While the chicken is roasting, it’s easy to throw on a pot of rice or veggies and have them ready in time for a delicious, well-rounded meal.

Happy dining! Let me know if you try this recipe and how it worked for you.

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