Crispy baked buttermilk-brined chicken

Baking or air frying means no fuss, no muss!

There’s something so delicious about fried chicken – it’s no wonder many people find it irresistible. Unfortunately, it’s also a real pain to make. Deep frying is messy at best, dangerous at worst, and we all know we’re supposed to stay away from deep fried foods anyway. I have been on a bit of a quest to come up with a better way to enjoy all that I love about fried chicken: the crunchy exterior that yields to juicy, tender, flavourful chicken inside. I’m super happy to share this recipe with you – my husband was rendered speechless (probably because he was too busy stuffing more chicken in his mouth) when I made it the other day. You can also put the chicken pieces and buttermilk mixture into a ziplock bag and freeze the brining chicken. Thaw carefully and thoroughly before proceeding to cook the chicken in the oven or an air fryer per the instructions below. This method is especially helpful if you want to have chicken on hand, ready to be cooked on shorter notice (without the lengthy but very worthwhile brining time in the fridge). This chicken is as delicious cold as it is hot, making it an ideal dish for a picnic or pot luck. And if you love this chicken as much as I do, be sure to check out my fantastic gluten-free oven-baked chicken wings. They’re crispy, delicious and SO easy!


  • 1.5 cups (375 mL) buttermilk*
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon each (5 mL) coarse kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) paprika
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons (5 – 10 mL) hot sauce (Tabasco, Frank’s, etc.), to taste
  • 8 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups (375 – 500 mL) Kellogg’s Corn Flake Crumbs or Panko (Japanese Breadcrumbs) or a combination of the two
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (60 mL) melted butter

*Transform regular milk into buttermilk by warming gently to room temperature (easiest in the microwave) then stirring in 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vinegar or lemon juice.


  • Combine the buttermilk, garlic, onion, Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each of salt and pepper, paprika, lemon juice and hot sauce in a bowl and stir until evenly combined.
  • Put the chicken in a baking dish or a large ziplock bag just large enough to hold it and pour the buttermilk mixture over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate 12 – 24 hours, turning once.
  • If you want to freeze the chicken in the buttermilk brine; just squeeze the air out as you seal it in the ziplock bag and put in the freezer. Let it thaw safely and completely before proceeding.
  • Heat the oven to 425F and arrange a rack in the middle. Fit a wire rack inside a baking sheet and set it aside.
  • If using an air fryer, preheat (if necessary) to 400F.
  • Place the Corn Flake Crumbs in a shallow dish (I use a pie plate) and season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the pieces of chicken one at a time from the buttermilk marinade, letting the excess drip off for a moment.
  • Place the chicken pieces, also one at a time, in the Corn Flake Crumbs, turning to coat completely and pressing the crumbs onto the chicken to adhere. Set the chicken aside on a large plate, folding the thin edges of the thighs back up to form the chicken into compact rolls.
  • When all the chicken is crumb-coated, drizzle the melted butter evenly over the chicken pieces and transfer them to the rack on the prepared baking sheet or place in the basket of the air fryer.

  • Bake until golden and crispy and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the largest piece of chicken registers 165F, about 35 – 40 minutes in the oven or 15 – 20 minutes in the air fryer (flipping after 10 minutes if cooking in the air fryer).

Serves 3 – 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

12 thoughts

  1. This is a fantastic recipe Paula, thank you! We loved it (including Lara, my 18 month old who sometimes proves to be a picky eater…!). I have made it twice already. Since my family doesn’t really eat that much dairy, the second time I made this recipe, I made it with unsweetened soy milk that I turned into buttermilk by adding 1tbsp of white vinaigre for each cup of soy milk. The result was great. We couldn’t even tell the difference! Thanks! 🙂

  2. I use a FoodSaver vacuum system to freeze save these kinds of recipes. However, before applying the bag of brine and chicken to the FS it is best to slightly freeze the brine by placing the bag in the freezer upright, then flatten the bag before inserting it into the FS. Partially freezing the brine will avoid sucking the brine into the FS vacuuming pump which will ruin the pump.

  3. Sounds deeee-lish!! I love thighs but with a family of white chicken breast ONLY – will this work without being super dry? I also have to trim out any hidden veins etc.

    1. I hear you – my family was the same way but I gradually (it took a loooong) time got them used to boneless chicken thighs, thanks to this recipe. It would for sure work with chicken breasts – I even do chicken breast strips using this method. Because the meat is well-brined ahead of time and then well-insulated by the crispy coating, it does not seem dry at all to me, even with chicken breasts. Let me know if you give it a try!

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