Barbecued Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken Breasts

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Barbecued Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken Breasts are juicy, tender and unbelievably delicious; addicting even.

Barbecued Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken Breasts | | Barbecued Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken Breasts are juicy, tender and unbelievably delicious; addicting even.

It’s no secret that my least favorite part of the chicken is the breast. It may be the biggest and give the most bang for the buck, but I find that it’s also the most finicky.

The line between an under-cooked, raw center and a dried lump of white meat is razor thin and, unfortunately, my caution while cooking lands me dead center on the overdone side of things.

Enter Elizabeth Karmel, grill master and author. Covering an eight-page spread in the August/September issue of Fine Cooking, Elizabeth shares her secrets for grilling up juicy, flavorful chicken breasts.

After hitting the grocery store for meat, buttermilk and a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, I was ready to go.

The Process

Beyond easy. Since I try to create as little a pile in the sink as possible, I mixed the buttermilk, cayenne, salt and pepper in a big zip top bag, added the chicken and let it rest there for 30 minutes instead of whisking in a small bowl, then marinating in a dish.

I prepared my grill and when ready wiped the marinade off the chicken, spritzed it with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkled it with salt. I carried the chicken, barbecue sauce, tongs and magazine (I planned on following the instructions exactly) out to the hot grill and was ready to cook.

The chicken went on the rack and I set the timer for 3 minutes. When I heard the ding, I flipped the chicken and set the timer for four minutes. I brushed the top side with my barbecue sauce and waited, watching the deer family that’s taken up residence in our back yard try and make themselves invisible in the bushes.

When the time was up, I flipped the chicken again, moving it to a bit cooler area so the sauce wouldn’t burn and coated the other side with the Sweet Baby Ray’s (I love the stuff).

Three minutes later, it was done.

The Verdict

Holy friggen’ cow. Doug and I can both say without question that we’ve never had boneless, skinless barbecued chicken breasts that were anywhere close to that good. They were fantastic. Tender, juicy and packed with flavor. We could have made ourselves sick eating them.

The recipe’s a keeper and Elizabeth Karmel is my hero.

What I’d Do Different Next Time


The Cost

Buttermilk: $1.79
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: $5.98
Barbecue sauce*: $3.89

Total: $11.66

Barbecued Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken Breasts Recipe

Barbecued Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken Breasts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Grilling
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Olive oil, for grilling
  • ½ cup homemade or good-quality store-bought barbecue sauce
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, cayenne, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper until combined.
  2. Put the chicken in a bowl, dish, or large zip-top bag. Cover with the marinade, turning the chicken to coat if necessary, and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire.
  4. Shake the excess marinade off the chicken and pat dry. Lightly coat the chicken all over with oil and season lightly with salt.
  5. Grill the chicken without moving it until grill marks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and grill for another 3 to 4 minutes. Brush the top side with barbecue sauce, flip, and brush more on the second side. Grill until just cooked through (160°F), another 2 to 4 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.


4 thoughts on “Barbecued Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken Breasts

  • September 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    This Chicken sounds fantastic. I’m definitely going to try it this week thanks so much. Dee

  • September 27, 2016 at 8:11 am

    First, I’m with you when it comes to chicken breasts. (‘Razor thin’ is an excellent way to describe that fine line.) I’m also with you on the buttermilk, as I’ve done plenty of homework on the effects of milk (also buttermilk and yogurt) on meat. The bottom line is the enzymes. They work like a dream and I have no doubt that your recipe is as juicy and delicious as it looks! Keep ‘em coming!

    • October 2, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks Adam. It\’s given me new hope for grilling boneless chicken breasts, that\’s for sure.


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