The Best Buttermilk Brined Chicken From Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat


This buttermilk brined roast chicken adapted  from Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is the best chicken I’ve ever made or eaten.

buttermilk brined chicken


What is Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat?

Samin Nosrat shares how to brine a chicken and bake it to perfection in her book~Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. She also makes the dish on her Netflix series, which I highly recommend.  I bought the kindle version, and I cannot rave about the content enough! If you want to learn the elements of good cooking, this is a must-read.

Why brine a chicken in buttermilk?

Southern grandmothers were marinating chicken in buttermilk way before some of us were walking. Buttermilk and salt was how most Southern grands made chicken. This roasted version turns out just as perfect. An overnight or 24 hour soak of buttermilk and salt tenderizes the meat like nothing else can. Sugars from the buttermilk caramelize during roasting and help achieve the beautifully browned skin.

buttermilk brine chicken

How long do you brine a chicken in buttermilk?

For this recipe or any other where you use buttermilk to brine chicken, the minimum time is generally agreed to be 12 hours, the optimal time 24 hours, and the maximum time 72 hours. I brined this chicken 24 hours; it was absolutely perfect.

Can you brine chicken overnight?

Absolutely! I normally brine the chicken for 24 hours so it will work wonderfully to leave it overnight to be ready to cook 24 hours later in time for dinner. If anything, at least make sure it marinates for 12 hours, so leaving it overnight should work for that as well! As long as you do it for at least 12 hours and not more 48 hours then it should be good!

Does anything besides buttermilk go in the brine?

Besides seasoning liberally in salt, just place the chicken right into the buttermilk brine and it should be good to go! The buttermilk tenderizes the chicken and makes it super delicious, so this is all you need! 

Should you rinse chicken after brining?

Once you remove the chicken from the brine, do NOT rinse it off. 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! 

What salt does Samin Nosrat recommend?

In Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin recommends Diamond Crystal kosher salt, and she shares one reason why in this snippet from her book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I cannot find Diamond Crystal salt at my grocery, so I order here on amazon.

salt fat acid heat
Excerpt and image from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat


buttermilk brine chicken
Chicken in Diamond Kosher Salt

What pan is best for making this roast chicken?

Samin suggests using a shallow pan, and I find that my cast iron skillet is absolutely perfect.  I use Lodge cast iron, and this is the one I use (shown in photos).  If you want to serve this chicken high style, you could even invest in this white Staub in 10″ to cook in and serve from. 

How do I know that chicken is completely cooked?

In the recipe from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, the size of the chicken is 2-3.5 pounds. This is a small chicken, and I rarely see them this small in the grocery. So, since most of us will have larger sized chickens than in this recipe, it is important to make sure the chicken is completely cooked.

Follow these steps if you want to make 100% positively sure that the chicken is completely cooked.

  1. Keep in mind that the size of the chicken is critical to note. Look at the poundage before discarding the wrap.
  2. Adjust the timing if your chicken is larger than 3.5 pounds (which it probably will be).
  3. Use a meat thermometer; insert it into the thickest part of the chicken (photo below).
  4. An oven thermometer is easiest; it stays in oven with chicken and beeps when temp is reached. 
  5. Keep chicken in oven until internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
  6. Be sure to let the chicken rest for at least half an hour (I prefer an hour); it will cook a bit more and juices will settle.
whole chicken temp
Insert meat thermometer between the leg and breast.

My to make buttermilk brined chicken (video).

Watching someone make something is helpful to those of us who are visual. I did a short video of myself making this buttermilk brined chicken…..from how I salted it, how I adjusted the oven temperature, and how I inserted the meat thermometer at the end. These are key aspects of making this chicken:-)


Helpful tools for making this chicken.

Sides that go well with this chicken.

I love adding fresh roasted vegetables to this chicken, or serving it with a good salad and some crusty bread. Some of the recipes I make to go with this are below.

How to make buttermilk brined chicken (recipe). 

The recipe below is a slight adaptation of the one in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (book and Netflix). If you try this chicken, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I hope this turns out as well for you as it did the first time for me. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

buttermilk brined chicken

Buttermilk Brined Chicken from Salt, Fat, Acid Heat

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Samin Nosrat's Buttermilk Brined Chicken from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat


  • 1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken *note below
  • 1/2-1 cup kosher salt (see note)
  • 2 cups buttermilk


Brine chicken.

  1. Remove giblets and wingtips from chicken. Season liberally with kosher salt, rubbing on all sides and in crevices.
  2. Let the chicken sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Stir 2 tablespoons of kosher salt into the buttermilk.
  4. After 30 minutes, put the chicken in a gallon Ziploc bag with a buttermilk brine mixture. Move bag to distribute brine to cover the chicken.
  5. Place the bag in a baking dish (in case of leaks or spills) and into the refrigerator.
  6. Allow marinating at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours.

Cook chicken.

  1. Remove the chicken in brine from the refrigerator; let sit an hour at room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center oven; preheat to 425° F.
  3. After 30 minutes, remove chicken from the bag, discard brine and pat excess buttermilk off of chicken with a paper towel.
  4. Place chicken in a 10" cast iron skillet.
  5. Place chicken in the 425˚oven with the legs pointing to the rear left. Roast 20 minutes
  6. Reduce heat to 400˚F; roast for 10 minutes.
  7. After 10 minutes, rotate the chicken so that the legs face the rear right of the oven.
  8. Continue to roast for 30 minutes or until the meat thermometer reads 165˚ degrees in the thickest part between leg and breast. The chicken will be brown all over.
  9. Let chicken rest at least 30 minutes before serving.


Use enough kosher salt to liberally coat the chicken. This can vary based on the size of the bird.

Tent bird with foil if over browns before cooking.

If chicken is over 3.5 pounds, the cooking time will be longer. A meat thermometer should read 165 in the thickest part of the chicken before removing it. It will rise a bit when the chicken rests.

Nutrition Information
Yield 6
Amount Per Serving Calories 64Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 17mgSodium 2280mgCarbohydrates 4gFiber 0gSugar 4gProtein 6g

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  1. I was fascinated by the idea of butterpmilk brining a whole chicken for roasting, so I dived in. The recipe is extremely unclear on many of the steps though, so im pretty concerned as I get ready to put this in the oven. Nowhere does it say to rinse the salt off the chicken before putting it in the buttermilk. It says to pull the chicken out an hour before but here in the comments I find you meant to say 30 minutes. I should’ve read the reviews, that’s a lesson learned. Now I just hope it’s edible.

  2. Hello, my question is in regards to the step when you are ready to remove the chicken from the fridge. It says sit at room temp for an hour, but then it says after 30 mins, place chicken in skillet and bake. So is this 30 additional minutes to the one hour? I apologize, im just slightly confused and i want this to be perfect.

  3. It was ok. Not to salty. Turned out too brown. It was kinda dry and blah. I wouldn’t make this again. I’m sorry.

  4. Kim, the rosemary salt sounds fabulous!!! If you are worried about over salting, just rinse the salt off before cooking the chicken. Let me hear how it turns out!

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