Grilled Rosemary Buttermilk Chicken

Every summer I seem to run into a recipe that I just simply can’t stop making over and over again. In the past it has been the Silver Palate’s pasta with tomatoes and brie cheese, and fabulous “Way Life Should Be” lobster recipe from New York Times, and one summer many moons ago I made this super-simple raspberry sherbet recipe almost every day. This summer I am fixated on this buttermilk grilled chicken recipe.

It must be something about the buttermilk that makes it taste so wonderful. Buttermilk is a scary, scary thing to me (have you ever taken a really close look at this stuff?), but I have to say that anything I make with it, from this chicken, to fresh ricotta cheese, to my all-time favorite buttermilk fried chicken recipe, turns out great. This recipe calls for mixing up buttermilk, paprika, lots of garlic and some fresh herbs and letting the chicken soak in it all day before grilling it up. It comes out with a delicious flavor that is even better when you eat the leftovers cold for lunch the next day.

One trick that I always use when it comes to grilling chicken: I use kitchen shears to cut the chicken breast halves in half again, so you are left with breast quarters. Much more manageable in terms of picking up and eating…which is what you are going to do with scrumptious summertime grilled chicken, right? Right! 

Grilled Buttermilk Chicken
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 bone-in chicken halves, cut into quarters
  • 8 large stalks fresh rosemary
  1. Stir the buttermilk, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl.,
  2. Place the chicken in a zippered plastic bag and pour the buttermilk mixture into it. Now take the rosemary and roll it between the palms of your hands (this releases the oils) and drop it into the bag. Seal up the bag and let it marinate in the refrigerator, turning the bags occasionally, for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  3. Heat grill to medium high. Remove the chicken from the marinade (throw the marinade out) and grill until cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over a few times as you grill. This chicken is terrific hot off the grill or chilled!


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  1. Elle says

    oh gosh, I didn't even save this chicken recipe when it crossed my mailbox, but now I'm convinced, I have to overcome my fear of buttermilk (you aren't alone, the stuff is freaky) and make this chicken!

  2. tamilyn says

    I am going to try this when we go camping in two weeks. It sounds fabulous! And thanks to your post on the blueberry cheesecake bars, I went to Stonewall Kitchen and placed an order :-)

  3. susan says

    I have them marinating and will be grilling them as soon as the family gets home. I googled buttermilk chicken breasts and you came up…..

  4. says

    I love this recipe. We did it all last summer while vacationing on France’s Atlantic coast. When we ran out of buttermilk we used milk mixed with vinegar instead, which also worked deliciously.

    • Kate says

      Great idea – I’m going to try that if I ever find myself needing this without buttermilk. And that sounds like one glorious summer!!

      • ruthie says

        Indian cuisine marinates chicken in yoghurt for a couple things (at least), Tandoori? Tikka Masala?? Anyway, yoghurt is just a little thicker and smoother, but basically the same stuff.

        I think something in them tenderizes the meat as well as giving it a lighter, brighter flavor. Of course, the grill works its magic, too. I need to break in my baby kettle grill before I take it on the road, and this recipe may be it’s maiden voyage. 😉

        • Kate says

          The buttermilk DEFINITELY makes the chicken an amazing amount of tender. This is a great inaugural recipe for your new grill!

  5. Denise says

    Made this chicken recipe using bone in skin on breast & thighs. Absolutely delicious. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be making regularly!


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