Tender and moist Buttermilk Grilled Chicken Breasts has a garlic buttermilk marinade that adds great taste and acts as a brine tenderizing the chicken.
👍Why you should try buttermilk marinade for chicken
- Buttermilk makes a perfect marinade for chicken breasts on the grill.
- Due to the acidic pH, buttermilk will tenderize and moisturize at the same time—very important for grilled chicken breasts which tend to be tough and dry.
- It is an economical and easy marinade to use for grilled chicken with its own flavor.
- It is flexible in spicing. You can keep it relatively bland with just pepper or add a lot of flavor with the optional spices.
- You can also tenderize and moisturize the chicken breasts in the marinade, then control the spicing to keep it light or spice it up with a dry rub or seasoning of your choice.
Serve with Grilled Mixed Vegetables or Cornmeal Biscuits. For other chicken marinades, you will like to try Quick Marinade For Grilled Chicken Breasts and Garlic Lemon Marinaded Grilled Chicken Breast.
And don't miss these other grilled chicken recipes like Grilled Whole Chicken, How to Grill Chicken Breasts, Grilled Chicken Drumsticks, and Grilled Chicken Thighs.
Based on Martha Stewart's Buttermilk Grilled Chicken Breasts. You can't be much simpler than this. Soak in buttermilk for hours; add salt and pepper. Grill. Now that is simple. But you may want more flavors.
- Chicken—skinless boneless chicken breasts Trimmed
- Garlic or garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
- Optional other spices or dry rub
👨🍳How to Cook Buttermilk Grilled Chicken Breasts
- Trim chicken breasts and place in buttermilk marinade with garlic for 1-12 hours
- Preheat grill to 450°.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, do not dry it. Add pepper if you want mild or spice to your taste with a dry rub or another seasoning.
- Grill over direct heat until 165° internal temperature.
⏲️How long to grill chicken breasts
Most chicken breasts will take 20-25 minutes on a grill with a surface temperature of 450°. Smaller breasts may be a bit less, and larger ones may be longer. Remember to never cook on time alone.
A chicken breast is done at 165° internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast. More will dry, and less is unsafe. An instant-read thermometer is required to get this right.
- When you pick out your chicken, try to get about the same size and thickness. If you have thick chicken breasts, flatten the breast a bit with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan. Try for about ¾ inch thick.
- If the chicken was frozen, it must be thawed before proceeding.
- We no longer recommend rinsing chicken, just a good pat dry. See Chicken... To Rinse or Not To Rinse?
- You can NOT cook chicken properly on high heat. You will dry the surface before the inside is even close to done or safe.
- The grill surface temperature should be 450°. A little less is fine, and a smidge more is ok, but never over 500°. To get this right, you should use a grill surface thermometer. The hood thermometer is ALWAYS wrong. Please see A Beginners Guide to Grill Temperature on a Gas Grill for more discussion.
- If you don't have a surface thermometer (you should), then medium to medium-high heat will be about 400°-450° on most gas grills.
- You can use a charcoal grill, but you need to be very careful about surface temperature. And, of course, your time will vary.
- With just buttermilk, garlic, salt, and pepper, this is very moist but bland. That may be what you want.
- You can add hot sauce or fresh herbs and spices to the marinade. Sugars like brown sugar or honey are good for chicken.
- I prefer to marinate with buttermilk and garlic then I can individualize the season for the guests. I suggest an excellent BBQ spice rub—see BBQ Dry Rub.
According to the USDA, chicken and all poultry need to reach an internal temperature of 165° in the thickest part of the chicken for safety.
You need to use an instant-read thermometer.
Yes, it can be used on any chicken, even with skin like drumsticks, chicken thighs, or bone-in chicken breasts.
Yes, it is one of the best. It imparts flavor, and because of the lower pH, it will also break down proteins to tenderize and adds moisture.
You can easily add other flavors to a buttermilk marinade or use it to add flavor, moisture, and tenderize, then add seasoning before cooking.
For food safety, buttermilk marinades should be refrigerated.
The marinade is a noun and refers to the liquid. Marinate is a verb and is the act of using the marinade.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Trim chicken breasts. Flatten to ¾ inch if thick.
Place chicken in a 1-gallon zip lock in a large bowl. Cover with about 1 cup of buttermilk per breast. You want to cover the chicken completely. Then, add ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder per cup of buttermilk. Mix everything well, then refrigerate for 1-12 hours.
When ready to grill, remove from the bag but do not rinse off the buttermilk—salt and pepper to taste. Another seasoning may be added at this point, like a dry rub.
Preheat the grill to a grill surface temperature of about 450° medium-high on most grills—clean and oil grates.
Grill over direct heat with the lid closed. Flip about every 5 minutes until an internal temperature of 165°—about 25-30 minutes, depending on the exact grill temperature and thickness of the chicken. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Breasts on a Gas Grill
- 2-4 skinless boneless chicken breasts - Trimmed
- lowfat buttermilk - to cover
- salt and pepper - to taste
- granular garlic powder - ½ teaspoon per cup of buttermilk
- Additional seasoning of choice
- Trim chicken breasts. Flatten to ¾ inch if thick.
- Place chicken in a 1-gallon zip lock in a large bowl. Cover with about 1 cup of buttermilk per breast. You want to cover the chicken completely. Then, add ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder per cup of buttermilk. Mix everything well, then refrigerate for 1-12 hours.
- When ready to grill, remove from the bag but do not rinse off the buttermilk—salt and pepper to taste. Another seasoning may be added at this point, like a dry rub.
- Preheat the grill to a grill surface temperature of about 450° medium-high on most grills—clean and oil grates.
- Grill over direct heat with the lid closed. Flip about every 5 minutes until an internal temperature of 165°—about 25-30 minutes, depending on the exact grill temperature and thickness of the chicken. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Your Own Private Notes
- Try to pick chicken breasts that are about the same size and thickness.
- If the thickness varies a lot, then using a meat mallet or heavy pan to get to about ¾ inch thick.
- I recommend real buttermilk here. You can use a substitute but there is some extra taste with the real stuff.
- Add some rosemary or thyme to the marinade if you want.
- Do not brine with salt before doing the buttermilk marinade/brine.
- Only salt lightly.
- Grill surface temperature is critical to getting this right. So use a grill surface thermometer. Also, use a meat thermometer to be sure the internal temperature is 165°.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
© 101 Cooking for Two, LLC. All content and photographs are copyright protected by us or our vendors. While we appreciate your sharing our recipes, please realize copying, pasting, or duplicating full recipes to any social media, website, or electronic/printed media is strictly prohibited and a violation of our copyrights.
Editor's Note: Originally Published May 31, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
We have a ton of snow right now so can i bake this and still get juicy results? If yes what temperature and how long would you cook it for? I think this sounds delicious 😋
Welcome to the blog.
It is a bit dependent on size of the breast. I would do 375. About 30 minutes for smaller, 35 for normal size, and maybe 40 minutes for large. But as always, you are cooking to a final internal temperature of 165 and never by just time.
Hope that helps.
I so agree. I'm using a lot of buttermilk for various things. Note to readers. Steph is at Plain Chicken and Chris is at Nibble Me This. Both are must follows for interesting and great cooking.
Ha ha, aren't we a trio? Like I said at Steph's blog, I think the whole secret is the buttermilk and everything else is just the cooker's preferences. Great post.
we did buttermilk grilled chicken last week too! We added lemon and fresh basil.