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Posted by on Jun 30, 2013 in Easy, Entree, Featured, Lunch | 47 comments

Jalapeño Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken

Jalapeño Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken

Hola!!!  It’s almost the 4th of July and I know everyone is running around putting together their recipe lists for the holiday.  I am.  On my list this year…Jalapeño Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken.  We usually try and do a little traveling this time of year but I think we’re headed to the lake with friends.  We have a fairly tight knit group of friends (Ha!  I typed fiends and my computer corrected me although fiends is probably a little more accurate!) and one of the couples has a place at the lake.  We always have the very best time when we all get together.  We’ve dubbed ourselves “The Sexy Six” because we’re terribly witty and clever and most of all very vain but we all get along so well.  We also think we’re hilarious but I’m sure people on the outside looking in just think we’re extremely annoying.

jalapeño buttermilk brined grilled chicken

When we spend the weekend at the lake we all bring enough food for an army  and sit and stuff ourselves until we can’t fit another bite.  It’s so much fun!!!  So I’m thinking this recipe would be a good lunch, thrown on the grill for one of the days.

Aaannnnyyyywayy.  I tested this recipe out the other day and fell in love.  I’ve talked about my love of spicy and sweet together.  I know you’re sick of it so I won’t keep reminding you.  This recipe was perfectly centered in that category.  I could have used more heat personally but since I was trying to feed the whole family I held back some.

I used a brine for the chicken this time.  What exactly is a brine you ask?  Well, there are two types of brine.  A wet and a dry.  A dry brine would involve rubbing the meat with a mixture of salt and herbs and spices (especially heavy on the salt…that’s the key) and letting it sit for about an hour per pound.  Traditionally a brine is used on turkeys at Thanksgiving.  A wet brine is more like a marinade but uses salt water with added spices.  In this recipe I used buttermilk and water along with salt, sugar and some other fun stuff.  I LOVED the way it turned out.

brined chicken

For the spicy element, I used jalapeño’s but I seeded and deveined them since I had small children eating.  They were especially large (the jalapeño’s…not the children) and after handling them (again…not the children) my hands burned like the devil for hours which never happens.  For that reason I didn’t add a large quantity as I assumed they were super spicy.  They weren’t and looking back I wish I had left some of the vein and/or used more to get more of the pepper flavor.  You’ll have to use your own judgment there.

Normally when I marinate meats I dump everything in a 1-2 gallon zip top bag.  It’s so easy and there’s no clean up.  So, I threw in the ingredients along with the chicken and stuck it in the fridge for about 48 hours.  You probably don’t have to do it that long but I wouldn’t go less than 24 or you could even go a little longer if you wanted.

chicken in brine liquid

When I was ready to grill them, I placed them on a hot grilled that I brushed with canola oil, let them sit a few minutes and then turned 180 degrees to get a nice criss cross pattern of grill marks.

grilled chicken

It worked on some and not on others since I have hot spots on my grill.  When I flipped them over to do the same on the other side I brushed the cooked side with simple syrup.  It gave the chicken a slightly sweet flavor on the outside and added a nice caramelized color and also added another layer of flavor to accentuated the brine ingredients.  Very pleased.  Very, very pleased!  You really should try it if you’re grilling for the 4th.  If you do, let me me know?




Jalapeño Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken

Jalapeño Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken


  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cracked pepper
  • 3 tablespoons worcestershire
  • 5-10 dashes hot sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 3 large jalapeño's, seeds and ribs removed for less heat (or more to taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used garlic paste)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 lbs chicken (I used skinless, boneless thighs)
  • For simple syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar


    For the simple syrup:
  1. Over medium heat on the stove, bring 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a simmer for 2 minutes. Allow to cool. Set aside for later.
  2. For the chicken:
  3. In a large bowl stir water, buttermilk, sugar, worcestershire, hot sauce, salt and pepper until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Place chicken and buttermilk mixture in a 2 gallon zip-top bag.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours. (I kept mine in the brine approximately 48 hours.)
  6. Remove chicken and discard brine liquid.
  7. Heat grill to 300-350 degrees and brush lightly with canola oil.
  8. Grill chicken until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 165 degrees turning from time to time and basting with simple syrup while cooking.
  9. Let stand 5-10 minutes prior to serving.


    • Thank you so much! All the flavors, tart, spicy, sweet are subtle and not overpowering at all but so good together!! Please let me know if you have a chance to make it and what you think.

  1. I have my chicken and brine in the fridge right now, this looks SO yummy! I can’t wait :)Thank you for posting this!
    Kristin recently posted..Beauty Quick TipMy Profile

    • Yay! So exciting! Maybe that sounds weird. I have an unnatural obsession with food I think. I can’t wait to hear how it turns out.

      • I don’t think that’s weird at all! I don’t trust people who don’t excited about food 🙂 Came back by to let you know that the chicken was SO delish, my chef hubby even complained I didn’t make more!
        Kristin recently posted..Do you suffer from BRF?My Profile

        • Oh yay! Yay! Yay! I’m doing a little happy dance! We said the same thing after I made it and were fighting over the last piece. I’m so happy you enjoyed it. Nothing makes me feel better than have a reader tell me they liked something I shared. Thanks so much for letting me know. You made my day. 😀

  2. Hi! Is this cracked pepper the red kind? And what type of hot sauce do you recommend? Thanks!

    • Hi there! The cracked pepper is just regular black peppercorns. If you don’t have a grinder you could use plain black pepper. As for the hot sauce I think I used Louisiana Hot Sauce. It’s what I normally keep. We like the flavor but if you have a favorite then by all means use that. Don’t go out and buy a different brand. It won’t make much difference.

  3. I really love this recipe. It is definitely worth more than one go around. I made it last summer and it was so great! It’s already marinating in the fridge for a Memorial Day grill out with friends. We like things hot so I doubled down on the jalapeños. The buttermilk makes the chicken so tender and the added ingredients really turn up the dial on the flavor meter. Thanks Christy!! I love what you did with this chicken 🙂

    • Wow!! What a killer comment! I’m so happy you liked it. I love spicy foods especially with a little sweet element. Now I need to make this again soon. Thanks for stopping by. Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Josh!!!

  4. Very good. We want try to cook these items.

  5. Well, thank you ZipList for choosing to feature your recipe – looks so yummy that I’ll be giving this one a try soon (need to hit the store first as buttermilk is not usually in my frig!). Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe!!!
    Susan the farm quilter recently posted..Kevin the Quilter Picks the WinnersMy Profile

    • I’m glad you liked the recipe. I loved it and had really good feedback from my readers who made it at home. Come back and let me know what you think? 🙂

  6. This sounds wonderful! I don’t have a grill, is it possible to make this in the oven or broiler?


    • Hi Holly,
      I’m sure you could cook it any way you liked. If you have a grill pan that would also give you the grill marks. That would be my second choice. Then if not bake, broil or even sauté.

  7. I just finished cooking and eating this chicken, and it was very very good. I was a little afraid of it being too spicy so I did half the jalapeño. Well I definitely should of put atleast the full amount and included some of the seeds and ribs. I brined both chicken breast and thigh for 24 hours and the thigh was way more flavourful, even though I prefer breast. I could see brining for 36-48 hours for even more flavour. This recipe is a definite keeper!

    • Hi Tammy,
      Thanks so much for your great comment. Yes, I love thighs so much more. Although they do have a little more fat they’re so much more flavorful and half the price of breasts so I almost always use them. Especially when grilling. Also, I definitely agree with you. I could use a lot more spice as well but not everyone I cook for loves spicy things so I strive to get the flavor of a pepper but leave out most of the heat. Like I said in my post the peppers burned my fingers so badly I would have sworn they were super hot but didn’t turn out that way.
      So glad you enjoyed the recipe and thanks again for stopping by to let me know!! Have a great 4th. 🙂

  8. Quick question Christy, did you chop the jalapenos? I’m in the middle of making the marinade and I’m not sure because I can’t find it mentioned anywhere. Sorry if I missed it. Thanks!

    • Hi Jennie! Sorry I didn’t make it clear. I just roughly chopped them. I also removed the seeds and ribs from the peppers but that removes a good bit of the heat so that’s up to you. A few other comments said the same so you may want to leave some of that. Hope you enjoy!!!

  9. Made this for 40 people fourth of July – Placed it all in a clean cooler, marinaded for 48 hours. It was the best chicken I have ever Barbecued. Everyone Loved It! This is going to be the new tradition for our 4th family get together. Thank you.

    • WOW!!! That just makes my heart smile. This is why I do what I do. I absolutely LOVE sharing my kitchen with my readers. I’m so happy you all liked the chicken. My family is coming over Monday since some of us couldn’t get together for the 4th and I’m making this recipe along with a few others. Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to let me know it you liked it. It truly made my day. XOX

  10. I have been looking for a marinade recipe using buttermilk to grill chicken & turkey. This is the BEST recipe ever! It has tons of flavor. I’ve used this with skinless chicken breasts & turkey cutlets. This marinade rocks!!!

    • I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the buttermilk brine. I made this recipe for the 4th of July recently and had forgotten how much I loved it. The chicken stays so moist. Thanks so much for stopping by to let me know. These comments always make my day.

  11. Do u rinse the brine off the chicken before grilling ?

    • No. I don’t rinse them. Hope they turn out well for you. This is one of my favorite recipes.

      • Ok so as soon as I’m ready to grill I just remove the chicken from the bag and start grilling?

          • This recipe is AMAZING!!!!!!!! Made it three times so far and every single person faved!!!!!

          • That makes me SO HAPPY!!! I love this recipe. It seems odd to brush with simple syrup but it really does give it that little bit of extra something you’re not really expecting. Thank you so much for stopping by to let me know they were a hit! Nothing makes me happier than to know my readers liked what I posted. 😀

  12. Mine is marinating now, will BBQ it over coals tonight.

    I’m excited, the marinade tastes awesome.

    • I wish I could use charcoal. I’m sure they turned out amazing!!!

      • All we use Is charcoal and its sooooooooooo good!!!

        • My grill is gas but I really miss the taste of charcoal. I’m sure they just push these awesome chicken thighs right over the top!!!!

  13. Could you use a whole chicken with the backbone removed?

    • I suppose you could. Not entirely sure if you’d get the same result since the marinade may not penetrate the meat as fully since it’s thicker but that’s just my opinion as something that’s possible. If you try let me know how it goes. 🙂

  14. I recently came across this recipe on Pinterest. We have made it twice and loved it both times. One of my favorite summer recipes now!

    • This is hands down one of my favorite recipes for summer. I made it for a huge Memorial Day gathering and almost tripled it…with nothing left over. So glad you liked it! Thanks for letting me know.

  15. Hello Christy, I just came across your recipe for the chicken here through and notice that the hot sauce is called for twice. I reread the recipe and don’t see where it calls for any other hot sauce other than the 5-10 dashes. I’m guessing this is a typo? Thanks or clarifying, cannot wait to try this!!

    • Hi. Yes, just a typo. I guess I got excited about the hot sauce and wanted to make sure no one forgot about it. Oops.

      • Thanks for clarifying that for me, just wanted to be sure.

  16. I was totally excited to try this since I was looking for non-salsa alternatives to using a bunch of jalapeños I bought at the farmer’s market. I got the brine and chicken in the fridge 4 hours ago. Then it hit me to review the recipe and wouldn’t you know I misread your directions and put the simple syrup mixed in with the brine.

    I hate to start over at this point (I don’t have any more buttermilk anyway) nor do I wish to waste chicken. Is it even worth a shot or is this going to be too much sugar in the brine?

    Surely the first time you’ve been asked this question for sure!

    • Hi! Don’t feel bad. I’ve certainly done much worse before. Although the lines between your sweet, salty, spicy flavors may be more blurred than the original way I don’t think the recipe is ruined. Nor would I start over! Who knows you may find you’ve made a happy accident and you’ve improved my recipe!
      If it were me, I would make the simple syrup and grill one or two pieces of chicken with the simple syrup glaze and taste them before making the rest. If you still taste the spiciness and the glaze makes the caramelization as intended then continue on. If the chicken it too sweet with the glaze then leave it off.
      Hope this helps!! Come back and let me know?

  17. Hi Christy, I just made this recipe over the weekend for friends and family, and it was a HUGE hit! I doubled the recipe for our group size, but there wasn’t a single piece of leftover chicken. I expected there to be some, since we had pulled pork as well. No one cared about the pork, but kept going back for the chicken, LOL. =) We used some good local honey we had on hand for the glaze but stuck to the rest of the recipe. We all agreed that it was the best grilled chicken we’d ever had. Thanks for this great recipe, I’ll be making this often!

  18. Hi, I printed this a while back to try. It was delish! I didn’t use the hot sauce or the sweet sauce but it was great. My husband loved it too 🙂


  19. Think about doing this to a 23 pound turkey and put it in the deep pit

    • Apparently I’m WAAAAY behind but this sounds amazing.


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