Chicken Thigh Marinade

Buttermilk is a favorite down South not just as a cool and creamy beverage, but as a cooking ingredient that adds depth, flavor, and texture to a wide range of dishes. For generations, Southern bakers have trusted buttermilk to make their favorite recipes, such as homemade biscuits, cakes, and pancakes, tender and flaky. Smart cooks also know that buttermilk is the secret to a great marinade or brine, which can be an important step when creating a juicy and tasty chicken dish. Using a buttermilk-based marinade gives you the saltiness of a brine plus the wonderful, tangy flavor of buttermilk, and, when you toss in chopped herbs and garlic, you add even more flavor to the marinade. Mix this marinade and chicken together and store in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container or zip-top baggie, before you head off to bed at night or leave for work in the morning; the chicken needs to chill at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Actual cook time is about 20 minutes, which gives you time to toss a green salad, make a quick pasta side, and warm a loaf of bread. This marinade will also work with other chicken pieces, such as breasts and leg-quarters; just adjust the cook time, if needed. 

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 30 mins
Serves 4 (serving size: 2 thighs)


  • 2 cups whole buttermilk

  • 1 cup packed assorted fresh herbs (such as dill, tarragon, cilantro, chives, and parsley), chopped

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 tsp.)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 6 (5-oz.) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • Canola oil, for grill pan

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)


  1. Stir together buttermilk, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken, nestling in buttermilk mixture to coat. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  2. Remove chicken from marinade, allowing excess to drip off; pat dry. (Discard marinade.)

  3. Heat a grill pan over medium. Lightly oil grill pan; add chicken, skin side down, and loosely cover with aluminum foil. Cook chicken until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thighs registers 165°F, about 20 minutes, turning chicken every 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter; drizzle with lime juice. Serve hot.

    Chicken Thigh Marinade
    Jennifer Causey
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