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!

  5. I’m going to make this tomorrow. I prepared the buttermilk with 2 tablespoons of lemon rosemary salt from San Francisco salt company. The buttermilk mixture is really salty tasting so i hope it comes out good and not super salty. I Will post tomorrow my review. WISH MY LUCK.

  6. Hi, thank you for your comment and for pointing out the error (it is corrected:-). I appreciate your sharing your thoughts on the chicken. It is very moist and flavorful in my opinion, but flavorful in a “natural” way (i.e. not flavored by spices. As I am a HUGE spice lover, I will try Hazan’s lemon chicken. I almost always do low and slow on meats, but this recipe works for me (I do smaller chickens).

  7. Just a edit note: you may wish to check your spelling of the chefs name throughout your article. Hint (Recipe section). :)

    As for the recipe, I have made it twice to the letter and have not been impressed. Pretty flavorless in comparison to Hazan ‘s Lemon chicken, for example. Liked the Netflix series, though.

    In general, I have done lots of brines and have given them all up. Dry salt rubs are much more flavorful and do not dilute the natural taste of the chicken or other meats. As for moisture, I have also given up on all recipes that say blast it with heat at the beginning to crisp up the skin and give it color. All this does is cook the bird much more on the outside while undercooking the inside. Much better to go lower at first and if you feel the need blast it at the end.

  8. Hi Linna, yes, you rinse off the salt before putting chicken into the buttermilk. I pat my chicken with a paper towel to remove excess water. Let me know how this works with cornish hens!!

  9. I’m new at doing this. Do you wipe off the salt from the chicken before putting it into the buttermilk, or not? I’m going to try it with two Cornish hens that together are about 3.75 lbs.

  10. Hi Barbara! I’ve never made it with the pieces, but I would follow the recipe up to the point of cooking. I would brown the chicken pieces on all sides until super crispy, then finish them in the oven. I would cook until the internal temp of the thickest piece is 165 and then allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Thighs take longer to cook, so I would check their temp also. Good luck!!

  11. I couldn’t find my favorite brand of air-chilled chicken for Thanksgiving so I bought 2 chicken legs and 3 breasts. How would the recipe be adjusted for chicken parts rather than a whole chicken?

  12. Hi Sharon!!! I have not tried to make it dairy-free and don’t know for sure if it cooks out. I wish I had an answer for you; let me know if you find out!!!! It really is delish!!!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!!

  13. This recipe looks amazing and I want to use it with Turkey for Thanksgiving. I and several people coming are primarily dairy-free. Does the dairy cook out of this?

  14. Hi Leah, I went back into the nutrition calculator and entered the info again for a 3-pound chicken. It has calories now at 64 per serving. Hope this helps!!! Thanks for pointing out the error.

  15. Hi Jamie,
    Are you sure the calories per serving of this chicken are only 33?

    Thank you for letting me know and possibly correcting the count.

    Thank you!!!

  16. Hi Erin, the 4 tsp is for the buttrermilk. There is no official measurement for covering the chicken before brining. You just coat the chicken well with kosher salt. For the buttermilk, you measure the salt. Hope this helps!!

  17. This says to reduce to 4tsp for fine sea salt. Is that what goes into the buttermilk or is that divided between the milk and salting the chicken?

  18. Hi Laura! I think the buttermilk brine makes it tender for any cooking method. I would LOVE to hear from you or anyone else who grills this. I think it would be fabulous!!! Please lmk it you make it!!!!

  19. I’m curious if you think this would be good grilled instead of roasted in the oven? Either way, can’t wait to try it!

  20. Hi Amy!!! I love Boo Mama; she is the best!!! As for the chicken, I am not sure why it would be too salty unless the chicken happened to be high in salt. If you followed the recipe, it should have been perfect. Some chickens have added water and salt, so this is probably what happened in your case. Hope this helps!!!

  21. Hey there I got this recipe from Boo Mama. It was super tender and juicy but sooooo salty. I’m wondering what I did wrong?

  22. I tried this recipe last night, with what I had on hand – a thawed 5.4 lb turkey breast in a 2 gallon ziploc bag and buttermilk to cover. I only left it in the brine for 13 hours, and it was AMAZING. Juicy with a crispy skin. I cannot wait to make it with a chicken, brined for 24 hours!

  23. Seems like everyone on instagram is raving about this recipe (namely Boo Mama!!). I’m trying it tonight and am confused about cooking times. THe recipe says 20 + 10 +30 with 10 minutes rest. But when I download the recipe to my software, it seemed to say 10 min prep time and 30 min cook time. Also, the blog article says let it rest for 30-60 minutes but the recipe says 10 minutes. Can you clarify?

    Thanks. Looking forward to an amazing chicken dinner!!

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