Perfectly Spiced and Tender: Buttermilk Roasted Chicken

Perfectly Spiced and Tender: Buttermilk Roasted Chicken

Growing up, I didn’t get to see my Daddy, the project manager, as much as I’d like. It wasn’t that my parents were divorced or separated like many of my school friends assumed; rather than have us move every few years when he got a new project, he worked away from home during the week during the school year. He came home every weekend, though, so we could be a whole, reunited family again. Even though he was only home two days a week, Dad managed to build 2 additions to our house with minimal outside help, made it to our football performances (Josh and I were in band), and always made it to church on Sunday.

We didn’t splurge on much during my childhood since Mom stayed at home and we were frugal, but we always got fried chicken for Sunday lunch from Albertson’s as we did our grocery shopping on our way home from church with the mandatory side items: coleslaw, potato salad and hawaiian rolls. My brother and I would argue over the drumsticks, I would turn up my nose as Dad offered me gross potato salad every time, and we would pray together as a family before we dug in. The chicken may have gotten a little soggy by the time we got home, but it was a delicious precursor to the Sunday nap that was always to follow 😉

My brother and I have grown up and moved out since the days of our Sunday chicken tradition, but when I go home to visit my parents we still pick up Albertson’s chicken to take over to Grammy’s house for a special Sunday lunch.

Nowadays, Bill and I don’t eat too much fried chicken (unless we visit Mom and Dad), but I still love a delicious drumstick. Frying at home is such a messy ordeal that I don’t usually get to indulge; luckily I found this wonderful recipe for roasted drumsticks that captures the taste and fun of fried chicken with a lot less hassle and fat along the way. Drumsticks (or any other chicken part) are brined in a buttermilk and spice mixture and refrigerated for 24-48 hours so the flavors really get into the meat. I kept it pretty simple with salt, sugar, garlic, pepper, thyme and smoked paprika, but you could customize the brine with any flavor you desire. I particularly liked the smokiness the paprika added to the chicken without overwhelming it.

After the brine, a quick roast in the oven leaves you with a tasty, bubbly skin and moist, tender meat. The buttermilk brine imparts great flavor to the chicken, infusing the spices throughout the meat. The skin is extra-flavorful without being too greasy or fatty like fried chicken. Cook these ahead for a great picnic food or grill them while you enjoy a sunshiney weekend!

Buttermilk Roasted Chicken

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Flaked or coarse sea salt, to finish
  1. Whisk buttermilk with garlic, salt, sugar, paprika and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Place drumsticks in a lidded container and pour buttermilk brine over them so all parts are covered. Refrigerate for at least 24-48 hours.
  2. When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425° F.
  3. Remove chicken from buttermilk brine and arrange in dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with additional paprika and sea salt to taste.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, until brown and a bit scorched in spots. Serve immediately.

Buttermilk Roasted Chicken

Based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!


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