Spicy Buttermilk Chicken

I’d love to tell you a witty, entertaining story about the inception of this dish but there isn’t one. My life recently has been all about deadlines and decorating and I’m in grave danger of turning into a BOF (Boring Old Fart). If you’d like to know about kippers, racism in food or what to do when the paint won’t stick to the wall, I’m your girl. But if you are similarly pushed for time in the kitchen, you might like this recipe. 

That may seem contradictory, considering I’m about to tell you to marinate it for 24 hours, or up to 48 if you’re too busy even to eat. (This never happens to me but sometimes I forget I’ve also arranged a social life and stuff sits in the fridge a bit longer.)

All the same, the marinade takes minutes to make and when you come to eat, you can have the food on the table in under an hour. We ate it with sweetcorn and griddled cornbread but if you are in a hurry, try it with a crusty loaf, a salad and perhaps a glass of something nicely chilled and you can chill out too. Any leftover chicken is good cold.

For anyone watching their weight, buttermilk is low in fat and a good way to ensure the meat stays moist. Roasting keeps the fat content down too, compared to the traditional method of frying. No diet, however, can make me give up crispy chicken skin.

I used cultured buttermilk in this, available from supermarkets, but I’ve just got my hands on some of the proper old-fashioned stuff from Fen Farm Dairy, a spin-off from their raw milk cheese and butter making. Expect a lot of buttermilk recipes in the coming weeks.

Spicy Buttermilk Chicken

Image of spicy buttermilk chicken


1 kg chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin on, bone in, slashed

220 ml buttermilk

5 or 6 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika

1/2 tspn cayenne pepper

1/2 tspn turmeric

1 heaped tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tspn dried

3/4 tspn salt

Zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1/2


Whisk together all the ingredients (except the chicken, obvs, and the oil and lemon juice.) Slash the chicken joints fairly deeply with a sharp knife and dump them in the bowl with the marinade, massaging it into the cuts. Cover and refrigerate for around 24 hours. Six hours is the minimum, I’d say, 48 hours the max.

When you want to eat, pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Shake the excess marinade from the chicken and put it in one layer in a roasting tin, skin side up. Bake for about 35 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and allow to rest for 10 minutes.Skim off any fat and serve the chicken with the juices spooned over the top.

12 thoughts on “Spicy Buttermilk Chicken

  1. Looks great!
    We are on an extended holiday in America at the moment and buttermilk is everywhere in recipes and on menus. Yet at home I sometimes find it difficult to get hold of.
    I’ve found it makes the best breakfast pancakes too.

    • Sounds wonderful, hope you’re having a good time. Send postcards (or recipes)! And you’re right, buttermilk makes great pancakes. I can usually get the cultured type from Tesco, if that helps. Lx

      • Have you come across an American cook called Ina Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa? I love her food. I love the American ranch dressing and she does a great one with buttermilk

      • Yes, I have seen her programme a few times. Ranch dressing is delicious … there’s a (sigh) low-fat sort-of version coming to Mrs P shortly. Actually it tastes fab but I’m still tweaking the recipe. Lx

  2. The buttermilk chicken looks delicious Linda. We all need simple recipes up our sleeve for dinners that will wait for us to be ready. Sadly buttermilk hi high in lactose and i’m intolerant but I’ve found if I dilute LF sour cream 50/50 with LF milk I get a similar outcome

  3. Yum~my! You had me running off to the butcher’s before even leaving a comment 🙂 My bird’s currently spa’ing away in your marinade for tomorrow’s BBQ – I’ll skim 10 mins off the oven time and finish it off on the coals~ Thanks for giving me the inspiration I needed 🙂
    Oh and @ the lactose issue – I don’t have that problem myself, so I can’t tell you more about the product itself, but I’ve recently encountered a whole range of almond milk-based dairy substitutes, including buttermilk, in the milk & cheese section of an organic foodstore nearby. Maybe it’s worth a try…?

    • What a compliment, thank you! I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for the almond milk substitute tip, I’m sure it would be of help to others who are lactose-intolerant. All the best, Lx

  4. Oooh, they’re doing buttermilk now, are they? This sounds good, especially seeing that whenever I have tried frying chicken a la posh KFC it has gone very wrong (think burnt outside, raw middle).

    • There’s a version on Mrs P somewhere, oven baked. Yes, they do buttermilk but not, I think, online. If you came up, we could always pay them a visit! Lx

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