Southwest Buttermilk Baked Chicken — Damn Delicious

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Southwest Buttermilk Baked Chicken

The most flavorful chicken you will ever make, baked to absolute crisp-tender, juicy perfection! 207 calories each.

So with all these Thanksgiving recipes I’ve been posting lately, I figured a little break might be a nice refresher. After all, weeknight meals are still needed in the midst of this holiday mayhem, right?

That’s where this chicken comes in. Crisp-tender chicken thighs, baked to absolute perfection.

And with just a few spices, these chicken thighs are packed with tons of flavor, baked in its own juices with that creamy buttermilk.

You’d be amazed as to how such simple ingredients can transform a chicken dish like this.

I honestly didn’t expect much out of it but boy was I wrong. Jason had to beg me for days to make it again the very next week!

Southwest Buttermilk Baked Chicken

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

The most flavorful chicken you will ever make, baked to absolute crisp-tender, juicy perfection! 207 calories each.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Season chicken thighs with spice mixture, rubbing in thoroughly on all sides.
  3. Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and stir in buttermilk.
  4. Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes.
  5. Serve chicken immediately, garnished with cilantro, if desired.

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101 comments

Mmm, I love chicken thighs and I’m always looking for new ways to cook them. Definitely trying this!

This sounds so good! Easy, using stuff already on hand most of the time. Definitely a keeper! : )

Love the recipe and love the little fact about cumin at the end – very informative!

Hi can this recipe be used with skinless chicken breasted instead of skin on thighs? I never cook chicken with the skin on.
Betty in CA

I actually haven’t tried it with chicken breasts myself but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work!

You can always substitute one chicken part for another, Betty. Just cook breasts less time than dark meat: if thighs take 1/2 hour, cook breasts for 20 minutes. Bone in parts take longer.

I love buttermilk for chicken but have never baked with it. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

Wow. Love chicken thighs and southwest flavors. Have all the spices on hand – even the cumin. Next trip to the store will bring back the buttermilk and chicken. I know we will love this. Yum-o

YUM! Now I want chicken for breakfast!
Love the combo of cumin and buttermilk – I have some thighs in the fridge and cannot wait to try this!

ummm..yeah. This looks pretty amazing. and the fact that its 207 calories each? sold. your photos are perfect as always 🙂

Looks really good. Thank you for the nice recipe.

I love your recipes, especially the Asian ones.
PS Did you know the “degree” sign can be inserted by going to “Insert”, “Symbol”, and then go to “Latin-1 Supplement” and find the symbol. Once you’ve found it and used it, it should show up right away to use again. Or, if you’re lazy like me, here’s a simple one: just hit “Alt + 0176” and there it is!

Good Morning! Could you tell me, what is the purpose of pouring in the buttermilk just before putting the pan in oven? Does it make a sauce of some sort? Really enjoying your site. You one pan Mexican Quinoa has been a staple at our home!

Yes, it makes a thin sauce combined with the amazing flavors of the spice rub and the natural juices of the chicken.

Do you just pour the buttermilk over the chicken.

Yes, that’s exactly right.

Chung ah I must tell you I have pinned more of your recipes than any other. I might as well just suck your recipe box into my head.
Good wishes!

What role does the buttermilk have?

It makes a thin sauce combined with the amazing flavors of the spice rub and the natural juices of the chicken.

This looks so flavorful, such a great way to enjoy chicken thighs.
-Jamie

Hi! When you’re making the spice mixture in the beginning, how much salt and pepper do you usually put in to taste? I’ve never made a recipe where you put salt and pepper into a spice mixture to taste. Thanks:)

It really depends on personal preference as you should be adding it to taste. You can always start with 1/4 tsp salt and adding more as needed.

I never miss any of your recipes….I love them all. Is there anything I could use instead of buttermilk in the recipe.
Thanks x

Pauline, you can easily create a buttermilk substitute with plain milk and lemon juice.

I’m always at kind of a loss when it comes to using up the buttermilk left over from baking, but now it’s buttermilk baked chicken to the rescue!! Looks delicious 🙂

Hi,
I absolutely love your site & your recipes!! When roasting in the oven, do I cover the dish?

Nope, no lid needed!

LOVE that you threw smoked paprika into the mix!

This looks and sounds divine! The sweetness from the buttermilk must be a great addition 😀 Yum! x

Loving all those spices! I never cook with chicken thighs…I’ll have to give it a try 🙂

i love chicken thighs and i’m always looking for a way to use buttermilk. this looks great!

Hi Chungah! So for the buttermilk, do you place it in the cooking pan and then transfer it to the oven? Or straight for the oven? Thanks! I love your blog… I just found it recently and have been cooking up a storm from it!! 🙂

Yes, you stir in the buttermilk and then place it in the oven.

Looks fabulous – can’t wait to try this recipe on Friday – cheers!

This recipe was awesome! It was easy to make and the seasoning was just right for me. The smoked paprika added a nice flavor. I’ll definitely make it again!

This chicken looks perfectly crisp and flavorful! Pinned!

I made this a couple of days ago but didn’t have buttermilk. I substituted coconut cream and it was delish!

Hello! I recently found your blog, and I must say, everything looks so yummy! I especially love the soups, and I can’t wait to try them!

My question has to do with the cookware that you use. Your stainless steel pans look so heavy and high-quality. Are they All-Clad or another brand? Do you recommend any particular brand? Also, in this particular chicken recipe, what size pan did you use? I am trying to upgrade my cookware and am trying to get a sense of what brands/sizes may work best.

I prefer to use All-Clad, Le Creuset and/or Staub. This pan here is a 9 or 10-inch, and it’s certainly my most used cooking tool in my kitchen!

Thank you so much for your feedback, Chungah, I think I am going to save up for an All-Clad pan. It will be my first, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about All-Clad’s performance and durability. Thanks again!

This chicken looks so amazing! Love that you used skin-on, bone-in thighs! They stay so perfectly juicy!

This is lovely flavored recipe. I will definitely make this soon. thank you very much Chungah. 🙂

I made this last night & while it was “damn delicious” the “sauce” broke and we didn’t use it. I would make it again though as even without using what was left in the pan I think the buttermilk lent additional flavor.

I’m so glad you tried this recipe! But can you clarify on what you mean by the sauce breaking?

Certainly! The dairy separated from the fat, giving it a somewhat “icky” look and texture. I tried to whisk it back together, but to no avail. It could have just been that these particular thighs had “extra” fat on them or something. Definitely won’t deter me from making the recipe again! 🙂

I also served with rice, like Stephanie (below), and the leftovers make fantastic chicken and rice burritos. My 3 year old daughter loved the original dish as well as the burritos; thanks!!

This was DamnDelicious. Seriously. So good my 4 & 6 year old kids ate it. I made it using boneless/skinless thighs from Costco for same cooking time and still came out amazing, tender & juicy. I did baste it when it came out skimming using a spoon, just the top juices so as not to get the curdled buttermilk that was on bottom of pan. I also spooned some of the top layer of juice when plated. Served with your skillet enchilada rice. Mommy scored a DOUBLE Do-Over on both recipes from the kids. That makes me so happy when they love my meals! Thank you! Garlic brown sugar & Sundried tomato cream thighs next…woohoo!

Hi Chungah,
Thanks for the wonderful recipes! This is the third I’ve tried. I am wondering if the buttermilk is meant to completely cover the chicken in the pan? I halved the recipe and the chicken thighs were not totally immersed in the buttermilk and so there wasn’t much of a sauce to speak of.

Surita, the buttermilk is not meant to completely cover the chicken but please feel free to add more as needed.

I made this with some really large, free range chicken breasts. It fed my family of four with leftovers. It was so, so easy, and delicious.

My buttermilk curdled when I put in oven. Im afraid to serve the sauce. I pulled chicken out and put in new pan. I checked the date and it was good. Weird.

That’s really strange! But keep in mind that buttermilk (or really any food item) can expire before the actual expiration date. The expiration date is really a guideline but if it smells off or seems off in any way, I recommend discarding it.

I made this the night before Christmas Eve and it turned out soooo good. This will be made regularly!

Extremely delicious! I’ve made this several times! Thank you for the recipe!

I made this tonight it is a keeper! The chicken was so moist and practically falling off the bone. The flavors were so delicious! I didn’t have buttermilk so I used sour cream and thinned it with milk.

i bet this would be great with coconut milk instead of butter…great paleo recipes at urban pL8.

It looks delicious! Mine just came out of the oven, but the buttermilk curdled as soon as I stirred it in. Its fresh buttermilk from the store and smells just fine. And ideas why it would curdle so fast?

Katie, is there a reason why you stirred in the buttermilk after it came out of the oven? The directions advise to stir it in prior to baking:

Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Stir in buttermilk.

This is the second recipe of yours(first was the amazing Firecracker chicken!) I have made and it is currently in the oven, though I have to agree with the people above, the dairy and fat are separating as soon as hitting the pan(upon adding), with the fresh buttermilk curdling. I was cooking it on medium high heat as suggested so I’m really not sure why this happened.

Jenna, there’s many reasons why the buttermilk could have curdled, but it may be best to remove the pan from the heat source in its entirety before adding in the buttermilk.

Hi! I love the spice mix for this and it really smells delicious. I am baking it in the oven right now. However, I encountered a problem with the recipe. Everything was fine up until the point I attempted to pour cold buttermilk into frying-hot oil. Good thing I did not pour all of it in!! I am sending this dish to a family for a MealTrain meal since a the wife is having an operation, so I could not send it in the iron skillet that I browned the chicken in. As I browned it I removed it to a disposable aluminum pan in which to bake and send it. So all that was in the pan when I added the buttermilk was all the REALLY hot oil, from the butter and from the chicken itself. And there was a lot of oil! I added the buttermilk after removing from the heat and there was a big reaction because of the hot oil. It sizzled and splattered in a scary way. So I waited about 10 minutes until the hot oil cooled and then added the rest of the buttermilk. The buttermilk immediately turned into oily curds and didn’t mix at all with the oil. So I ended up adding another cup of buttermilk over the chicken in the aluminum pan and baking it that way. It looks great! Just wondering what went wrong with what I did in the first place. I did leave the skin on, but trimmed off the large globs of fat along the sides of the thighs so it would be less oily, but it still produced a LOT of oil.

It seems like your pan was really, really hot! That being said, I think the biggest issue here is that your heat source was set too high.

I’ve made three of your recipes in the last month & everyone in my family has loved them! Can’t wait to try this!

This recipe sounds terrific but I’m wondering if I could use yogurt instead of the buttermilk? Thanks!

You can certainly try substituting yogurt but without further recipe testing, I cannot speak for how much this will change the overall taste/texture of the dish. It is always best to use the ingredients listed in the recipe to obtain the best results possible.

Tried this tonight and loved it! I cooked it in a cast iron pan and it came out great. I also added fresh garlic instead of powder and eliminated the cumin, health or no health, it’s my least favorite spice :-). Delish!

The buttermilk curdled almost as soon as I poured it in. I could not make a sauce or gravy with the juices. The chicken was fine, but do you have any suggestions why it would do that?

Sumati, your heat source may have been set too high. It is best to remove the pan from the heat in its entirety before adding the buttermilk.

Made this tonight…7 teenagers and my wife all loved it.

I want to use bone in chicken breast what would be the cook time on that

Without further recipe testing, I cannot advise on the appropriate cooking time. Please use your best judgment to ensure that the chicken is completely cooked through as it should reach a temperature of 165 degrees F.

HI Chungah! Just wanted to say I enjoy your blog! To answer a question some readers had: Adding the cold buttermilk to the hot pan with the melted butter can throw off the emulsion and cause it to break. It’s perfectly normal and will not affect the flavor or quality of the dish. Thanks for sharing all your recipes!

I was wondering how much chicken (in weight) you recommend for this recipe? I’m ordering my groceries online so I need to know how much to order.

Chicken thighs can range in size, but for typical grocery store brands, four bone-in, skin-on thighs will weigh about 1.5 pounds.

Hi!
Love your recipes. I make them all the time and my husband loves them all.
I do not have an oven safe pan and planning to make this tomorrow..what can I do or use to have this recipe come out the best it can?
Thanks!

I am so happy to hear that you and your husband have been enjoying my recipes 🙂

If you do not have an oven-proof skillet, I recommend transferring the chicken to a baking dish and going from there. Hope that helps!

Made this tonight for dinner. The family loved it. We all went back for more…no left overs tonight. That’s a success in my book. I paired it with garlic penne pasta, which I found both recipes on Pinterest and both were great. Thanks for the recipe, it’s getting added to the normal rotation.

Hi there! Firstly, let me say that I’ve made quite a few of your recipes, mostly with fantastic results. Thank you for sharing!

However, I did have some issues with the sauce in this recipe. Basically, the buttermilk curdled and created a sort of chunky cheese that separated from the chicken fat that was released as the dish cooked. I followed the recipe to the letter, so I’m not quite sure what the issue could have been. Do you have any suggestions on how I could fix this? Thanks!

Jesse, there’s many reasons why the buttermilk could have curdled, but it may be best to remove the pan from the heat source in its entirety before adding in the buttermilk.

That is a weapons-grade amount of cumin!!

Ha. I love Cumin but as with any recipe you make it your own with tweaks unique to your palate.

Do you bake it covered or uncovered?

Nope – no cover needed here.

This recipe looks amazing and I can not wait to try it; thank you so much for sharing.

On the buttermilk issue that some of the folks have had. I would think it be treated just like adding raw egg and it might be tempered and also using more room temp buttermilk, instead of straight out of the fridge, too. We do not buy normal buttermilk but buttermilk is a staple in my kitchen. I use the powdered buttermilk with great success. It has a very long shelf life and I stretch that even further by keeping the container in the freezer or fridge, as well. The concept is the same as regular powdered milk- add water and you have buttermilk from the powder.

Can not wait to try to recipe, thank you again.

As quite a few people have stated above, the buttermilk curdled. While it ended up tasting pretty good, it looked a little yucky to serve. Chungah, any thoughts on how to prevent this curdling since so many are having this same issue with this recipe?

Lois, your heat source may have been set too high. It is best to remove the pan from the heat in its entirety before adding the buttermilk.

Can you use this recipe in a slow cooker?

It is very difficult to give exact conversion information to translate a traditional stovetop recipe to be used in a slow cooker without further recipe testing. However, here is an article worth checking out on a possible conversion guide. Hope that helps!

What side dishes should you serve with this chicken?

My absolute favorite side dish is the garlic parmesan roasted potatoes. But please feel free to check out all of my side dish recipes here.

Looking forward to a sauce but the buttermilk curdled.

Same for me. The buttermilk curdled and I did as you said and removed it from the heat before adding, I also left buttermilk at room temp before adding. I am making it again because the chicken and spices were awesome but this time am going to cook the chicken then remove it and cool down the pan and add the buttermilk to the cooled skillet and let simmer for a sauce and see if that works. I will then pour the sauce over the chicken if it works. I did use the powdered buttermilk.

What can you subtitute buttermilk?

You can actually create a buttermilk substitute from plain milk with lemon juice or vinegar! Here’s how:

If I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs should I still brown both sides of the meat?

I believe it’s worth the extra effort for the depth and complexity of flavor we gain in searing but ultimately, it’s up to you!

Unfortunately, mine also curdled. I removed the pan from heat and let it sit several minutes before adding. It seems to have curdled while baking. Spices were good, but even after trying to remove the curdled buttermilk it left a grainy film on the thighs.

Made this with 6 Pcs chicken. Didn’t have an oven safe skillet so transferred the chicken to a pan in the oven. Poured the finished product over a bed of fettuccini. Delish

Great modification! Happy you liked it 🙂

This didn’t even last 2 minutes on my son’s plate! I parboiled some baby potatoes and set them on top of the chicken to bake with them . Paired it with collard greens. Definitely going into the favorite dinner rotation, thanks!

That sounds so yummy!

Come join me in my culinary adventures where we’ll be using simple, fresh ingredients and transforming them into sophisticated and elegant meals for the everyday home cook.

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