Can you Marinate Chicken in Regular Milk? How?


If you ever wanted to use milk for marinating chicken but are not sure whether it will be effective, here is a detailed guide to answer that question.

Let’s start!

Can you Marinate Chicken in Regular Milk?

Yes, you can marinate chicken in regular milk as milk has lactic acid and calcium in it. While just mildly acidic, milk is known to break down and tenderize the chicken effectively, thanks to the presence of calcium. Apart from this, marinating in milk produces a unique texture.

All marinades are acidic in nature. It is the acid in the marinade which acts in the meat and tenderizes it, and ensures that spices and flavors of the marinade seep in.

Milk is also acidic in nature, though most of us do not know this. 

Milk has lactic acid. Lactic acid is not part of fresh milk but is produced by the action of the lactic acid organisms on the milk sugar.

Lactic acid is a sour-tasting compound that is produced when milk sours. It is also present in other dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese. 

It is due to lactic acid; milk is acidic in nature, though just mildly acidic with a pH of 6.7- 6.9.

How can mildly acidic milk then ensure proper marination? The answer lies in the calcium present in the milk.

Research studies have proved that calcium promotes tenderness in meat, even though it is not acidic in nature. 

Calcium concentration has been known to promote meat tenderness even when there is no acid present.

But there is a fall out of calcium too, it also reduces the moisture-binding properties of meat. That is where fats in the milk play a part and ensure the final marinated chicken is moist and tender.

Soaking Chicken In Milk Vs Buttermilk – Which is Better?

Buttermilk is much more acidic in nature than milk and rich in calcium, just like milk. Thus buttermilk is a faster action marinade as compared to milk. But buttermilk is also tangy in flavor, while milk is not.

Both buttermilk and milk are good marinades. But if you are looking for a marinade that can act fast, then buttermilk is a better choice as it is far more acidic (ph of 4.4 – 4.8) as compared to milk (pH 6.7-6.9).

Table: pH of Popular Marinades

MarinadepH (Acidity)
Apple Cider Vinegar3.0 - 3.2
Beer3.7 - 4.1
Bourbon 3.7 - 4.0
Butter Milk4.4 - 4.8
Carbonated Drinks3.0 - 4.0
Coffee4.9 - 5.1
Cranberry Juice2.6 - 2.8
Grapefruit Juice3.0 - 3.8
Heavy Cream6.5 - 6.8
Lemon juice2.0 - 2.6
Lime juice2.0 - 2.4
Orange Juice3.3 - 4.2
Pickle Juice3.2 - 3.7
Red Wine3.0 - 4.0
White Vinegar2.3 - 2.5
Yogurt4.4 - 4.8
Sour Cream4.5

Both buttermilk and milk have a similar amount of calcium in them.

The key difference lies in the flavor and texture. 

Using milk will not alter the flavor of the dish much, but using tangy buttermilk may do this. So, if you are looking for a neutral-tasting marinade, go for milk.

How Can You Marinate Chicken in Milk?

You can marinate chicken in milk from 5 hrs to up to 24 hours. It is important that you keep it in the refrigerator and nicely packed.

It is best to use Ziploc bags, freezer bags, plastic containers or glass containers for this process.

Metal containers, especially the reactive ones, are not recommended as they can ruin the flavor and color of the dish.

How to Marinate Chicken in Milk? 

Here is a quick step by step guide of marinating chicken in the milk – 

Can you Marinate Chicken in Regular Milk

How to Marinate Chicken in Milk

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Step by step guide to marinate chicken in milk.


  • Freezer bags/containers
  • bowls
  • Spices
  • Milk
  • Chicken


  • Knife


    1. Start with clean, dry chicken. Place them in a large bowl or baking dish.
    2. Pour milk over the chicken, making sure each piece is well coated.
    3. Add your desired spices and herbs to the milk. Some good options include garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and thyme.
    4. Cover the bowl or dish with plastic wrap or a lid, and place it in the fridge. Let the chicken marinate for at least 4-5 hours, or overnight for best results.
    5. When you're ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the milk and pat it dry with paper towels.
    6. Prepare your recipe!
    7. Enjoy!

What is the Best Milk Marinade for Tender Chicken?

You can use any milk to marinate chicken except maybe fresh milk, as fresh milk has no lactic acid in it to start with. 

You can also use dairy-free milk with high calcium content instead of the usual milk.

Can you Marinate Chicken in Milk Overnight?

Yes, you can soak the marinated chicken in the milk overnight. In fact, given milk is just mildly acidic, it is better to marinate chicken for longer hours.

What is important is you keep them nicely packed in the refrigerator and freezer bags.

Do not overdo this and marinate it for more than 48 hours. 

Do you Rinse Chicken after Soaking in Milk?

No, it is not needed to rinse the chicken after soaking in the milk, but if you want, you can. You can just dry them using paper towels or, just cook with the marinade too!

If you do not want the marinade to be part of the final recipe, you can wipe or rinse it. Many chefs prepare to cook along with the marinade; in that case, you can do that too.

Final Words

I hope this guide helped you find if milk is the right marinade for your chicken

In case you have any queries, please drop us a line.

Do share this with friends and family who love chicken!

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About Amanda Jones

Amanda is a person with an eye for detail. She has been cooking since her childhood and loves to bake too. Recently, she's made the decision to pursue baking full-time and quit her 9 to 5 job. In the meantime, she still enjoys cooking and baking for friends and family, especially when it comes time for special occasions like birthdays or holidays!

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