Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken Legs

Two ways

For a Sunday roast with a twist, try these buttermilk-brined roast chicken legs, served with your favourite potatoes and greens. The buttermilk tenderises the chicken, making it extra succulent, and the natural sugars within it caramelise in the oven, giving it a beautifully browned skin.

The recipe includes two possible brines: ‘simple is best’, which is my personal favourite, and ‘spiced and seasoned’, which is my family’s favourite. The ‘simple is best’ version contains buttermilk, garlic granules, salt and black pepper. There’s something so delicious about how these ingredients interact and season the chicken. The flavour of the buttermilk shines through beautifully, which is not a flavour I expected to taste so good given how it tastes in its raw form! The ‘spiced and seasoned’ version combines smoked paprika, garlic granules, onion granules and dried mixed herbs, with an optional addition of cayenne pepper for anyone that likes a bit of heat. It’s a delicious flavour combination, but it does slightly mute the flavour of the buttermilk, which, according to my family, isn’t a bad thing at all! Which would you go for?

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Chicken


For the ‘simple is best’ brine:
  • 900 ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • ½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
For the ‘spiced and seasoned’ brine:
  • 900 ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • 1 tbsp onion granules
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • ½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper, optional
For the chicken:
  • 4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached)


  1. Add the marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk well to combine. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of salt they call for – very little of it actually gets absorbed into the chicken.
  2. Place the chicken legs in a large Ziplock bag. Carefully pour the brine into the bag. Push as much air out of the bag as possible and seal. Toss to coat, ensuring that all the chicken pieces are covered in the brine.
  3. Let the chicken brine in the fridge for at least 12 hours, or preferably, for 24 hours. It helps to turn the bag around a few times, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
  4. Take the bag out of the fridge 30 to 45 minutes before roasting to let the chicken come up to temperature.
  5. Heat your oven to 190℃ / fan 170℃. Line a large baking tray with foil (it’ll make cleaning up so much easier), then place a wire rack in/on it. Cooking the chicken on the rack rather than directly on the baking tray allows the hot air to circulate around it, which helps it cook more evenly.
  6. Remove the chicken legs from the brine, letting the excess drip back into the bag. You don’t need to scrape the brine off the surface of the chicken.
  7. Arrange the chicken legs in a single layer on the wire rack. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. It should be browned and the juices should run clear. Serve with your favourite potatoes and greens and enjoy!

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