Buttermilk Marinated Whole Roast Chicken

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Whole Buttermilk Roast Chicken for a Crowd

You know those recipes that are a solid 10 out of 10 on the difficulty vs. awesomeness scale?

Or those go-to meals that are super simple, have lots of room for error, and are always crowd pleasing?

This buttermilk marinated roast chicken is definitely one of those. It is incredibly simple and delivers a perfectly cooked whole roast chicken. It is the best way to roast a chicken.

You will have plenty of time to put together a few side dishes while this buttermilk marinated roast chicken cooks and cools. This hands-off recipe is based off of Samin Nostrat’s “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” recipe.

Why is the Chicken Marinated in Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is amazing at creating a tender and flavorful roast chicken.

The enzymes present in buttermilk breakdown some proteins in the chicken. This creates a more tender bird.

Also, buttermilk is less acidic than other citrus or vinegar based marinades. This allows the buttermilk to tenderize without toughening.

Buttermilk Marinated Roasted Chicken Recipe

How Long Will This Whole Roast Chicken Keep?

The cooked chicken will keep for 3-4 days covered in the refrigerator.

How Can I Use This Whole Roast Chicken for Meal Prep?

Consider multiplying this recipe and cooking a few chickens. Your oven can probably easily fit at least two.

Then carve the chicken into pieces. You can even take all the meat off the bones depending on how you plan to use it.

The roast chicken is a great addition to grain bowls, stir-fry, tacos, and salads to name a few.

How Long Should I Marinate the Chicken?

Ideally, you should marinate the chicken for about 24 hours. Aim for at least 12 hours.

At most, you can marinate this for 48 hours. After 48 hours, the chicken will become mushy.

What Kind of Pan Should I Use for This Buttermilk Marinated Roast Chicken?

I love making this in a cast iron skillet. My cast iron is the workhorse of my kitchen. I use this 10.25 Lodge cast iron pan on the stove, in the oven, on the grill and even over the campfire.

This size is big enough for cooking meats and small one-pan meals, but not too big that it’s tough to lift around the kitchen.

You can also make this in a roasting pan like this one.

Why Do I Need to Rotate the Pan When Roasting the Chicken?

The back is the hottest part of the oven. The chicken legs and thighs take longer to cook than the breasts. Positioning the chicken so that the breast is not quite in the back of the oven will ensure that the breast does not dry out.

Buttermilk Marinated Roasted Chicken Meal

What Should I Do If I Have Leftover Buttermilk?

A quart is typically the smallest container of buttermilk you will find. To use it all up, you can either make two of these chickens or this Vegetable Cast Iron Frittata.

What Can I Serve With This Whole Roast Chicken?

This buttermilk roast chicken is the perfect main course for dinner. Here are some delicious serving suggestions to complete your meal.

Side Dishes


This chicken is awesome on its own. But, if you wanted to make even more flavorful, you can serve one or more of these sauces alongside:

Buttermilk Marinated Roast Chicken

Nick @ walktoeat
Easy buttermilk marinated roast chicken for a delicious and hands-off main course. This perfectly cooked chicken is great for a crowd or meal prep.
4.50 from 20 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course entree
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 200 kcal


  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 - 4 pounds)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Kosher salt


  • The day before you are going to cook the chicken, generously season the whole bird with salt and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Stir 2 Tablespoons of salt into the buttermilk. Place the chicken in a freezer bag or plastic shopping bag (double up if using these) and pour the buttermilk in. Move the chicken around a bit to coat. Zip up/tie the bag and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before roasting so it can come up to room temperature. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Remove chicken from bag and wipe off excess buttermilk. Place chicken in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Then place the skillet/pan on the center rack of the oven towards the back. Rotate the pan so the legs are pointed towards the back left corner of the oven.
  • Roast for 20 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees and rotate the chicken so that the legs are pointed to the back right corner of the oven.
  • Roast for about 40 minutes longer. The chicken should be browned all over and the juices run clear when a knife is inserted to the bone between the leg and thigh.
  • Remove chicken from oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before carving.


Calories: 200kcalFat: 7.8g
Keyword buttermilk marinated roast chicken, whole buttermilk chicken, easy roast chicken, roast chicken for a crowd, whole chicken
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


10 thoughts on “Buttermilk Marinated Whole Roast Chicken”

    • Hi Jeannie! 120 minutes will be too long. A good rule of thumb is ~15 minutes of roasting in the oven per pound of chicken. For a 5 pound chicken, I’d leave it in the oven for an extra 15 minutes than this recipe suggests, bringing your total roasting time to about 1 hr 15 minutes. To check if it’s done, insert your knife down to the bone in the thigh. The juices should be clear. And don’t forget to let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Let me know if this answers your question!

          • 5 stars
            I wound up cooking for 1hr 20 minutes. I had foil tented the wing tips and leg tips because I didn’t want the skin to brown. It came out so perfectly moist, tender and delicious, the skin was perfectly brown and crisp. Even the leftovers stayed moist for 2 days! This was so good I am making it again today. Hands down the easiest way to cook a whole chicken and Best tasting. ** 1 slight change, instead of salting the chicken and adding salt to the buttermilk, I added onion and garlic powder to the buttermilk. I will let you know how it tastes.

          • That’s great news! I’m glad it turned out well, and you got to enjoy a delicious chicken. Cooking once and eating for days is one of my favorite things. I do think the salt is a big reason why the chicken tastes so great, so I’m curious to hear how it turns out without it. Salt is a flavor enhancer and can make chicken taste more juicy because it increases the ability for the proteins to retain water. Let me know how it turns out!

  1. You were right about the salt, it’s definitely needed for brining, although the second chicken was still delicious and crispy. Today, I am making split chicken breasts using same method. I will post my results.

    • Thanks for the update! Glad to hear the chicken still turned out delicious. If I can, I like to season any chicken I make all over with salt the day before I plan to make it. I don’t always do this because of time, energy, planning, etc. but I’m always happy that I did the next day while eating it.

  2. I’ve read that you can use kefir in place of buttermilk in any recipe, do you think kefir would work well here?

    • Hi Raina – I’ve never used kefir to marinate meat, but I think it will work similarly to buttermilk. The benefit of using a fermented milk like buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt is that their relatively low acidity will tenderize meat slowly and gently. Using something more acidic – like a vinegar or citrus based marinade – may result in tougher, rubbery meat. Kefir should work just fine. Let me know how it goes if you end up using it!


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