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Buttermilk Brined Chicken Breasts


Serves four.

  • by from Grillin' with Gas

This just could become your new go-to barbecue chicken recipe. The chicken stays in the buttermilk brine overnight, so plan accordingly. Glaze the breasts generously with your favorite sauce and prepare yourself for one of the moistest, most tender chicken breasts you've ever cooked on the grill. 

  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk 
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • Four 1-pound bone-in chicken breasts 
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. granulated garlic
  • 1 Tbs. onion powder
  • 1 Tbs. freshly ground  black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground sage
  • Your favorite sauce for chicken, barbecue or otherwise (optional)

Pour the buttermilk into a large zip-top bag. Add the salt and the chicken breasts. Close the bag and squish the liquid around the chicken breasts. Put in the refrigerator and let sit overnight, turning the bag several times.

Combine the 11 herbs and spices in a small container with an airtight lid. You won’t use all of this mixture for this recipe, but use the extra within 6 months.

Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes.

When the grill is hot, cut off the center or back burner and adjust your heat to medium-high.

Remove the breasts from the bag and discard the brine. Pat the breasts dry and then sprinkle about a tablespoon of the rub on each breast, gently massaging the rub into the meat.

Place the chicken breasts, skin down, over the direct heat section of your grill, close the lid, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until nicely seared. Turn and sear the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. Move the chicken breasts to the indirect area, cut your burners to medium, and close the lid. You want to maintain about a 325°F temperature. Grill-roast for about 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 170°F in the thickest portion of the breast. During the last 5 minutes glaze the chicken breast with your choice of sauce on the skin side only. Remove the breasts from the grill to a platter and let rest for about 5 minutes. Serve.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with Traditional Cole Slaw or Grilled Butter Lettuce with Buttermilk-Chive Dressing.

Photo: Sarah Breckenridge

I made this tonight for the first time in a long time. I honestly don't understand the people who don't like the rub. Too much cinnamon? Not by my taste buds. The flavors are perfectly balanced and the buttermilk brine results in the most moist chicken breast I've ever had from the grill.

Do you wash off the buttermilk after brining?

The Chicken was moist, but we did not like the rub.

I used chicken leg quarters and was very pleased with how moist the brine made them. The rub is wonderful...though I didn't use as much of the ground peppers being timid of spicey heat! Very much worth the effort on this one.

The chicken cooked up exactly like it was supposed to. It was very juicy and tender. The cinnamon flavor in the spice rub was something that neither of us liked. Next time we'll use this brine but a different spice rub.

This chicken is simply the best marinated chicken we've ever made! My husband and I tried it several years ago when it was first published in your magazine and it is a recipe we go to quite often. We've never added BBQ sauce, because it's wonderful on it's own!

Simply delicious. I followed the recipe to a T except I only marinated it for a couple of hours. The chicken was moist and tender and the flavour was perfect. I will definitely be making this again.

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