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Grilled Buttermilk Chicken

A soak in herb-laced buttermilk imparts a slight tang to this chicken while tenderizing the meat. The key to grilling chicken is to create two heat zones: one for high, direct heat (over the coals) and one for low, indirect heat (away from the coals).

  • Servings: 12
Grilled Buttermilk Chicken

Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2010


  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 15 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup fresh rosemary or thyme
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 whole chickens (about 3 pounds each), cut into 8 pieces each (then halve breasts on the diagonal)
  • Safflower oil, for brushing


  1. Combine buttermilk, garlic, herbs, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.

  2. Divide chicken between 2 baking dishes. Cover with marinade, turning to coat. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning chicken occasionally. Remove chicken from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

  3. Heat grill to medium with direct and indirect heat zones. Brush grates with oil. Remove chicken from marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Grill breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks, skin side down, over direct heat for 10 minutes. Flip, move to indirect heat, and grill, covered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thighs registers 165 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes. Grill wings over direct heat, flipping often, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Cook's Note

Serving idea: Grill orange segments and rosemary sprigs over direct heat while the chicken is cooking.

Reviews (4)

  • katiekiki13 15 Aug, 2014

    i am trying to be vegetarian right now, so i made this recipe with whole portabella mushrooms instead of chicken. was fantastic!! i made the chicken version for my boyfriend, he said it was great too.

  • llewis10 28 Jul, 2012

    Enter your review...

  • hjrslp 17 May, 2012

    This is one of our favorite simple, but so delicious. I typically use boneless, skinless thighs, which is outstanding, but I've also been known to use breasts as well. Leave the chicken in the buttermilk for as long as you can for the most flavor. Definitely a keeper.

  • MarthaandMeBlogger 8 Jul, 2010

    This was definitely moist, but lacking in flavor. You can see my results here:

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