How Long Can You Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk? (Fact Based)


This is the ultimate guide on marinating chicken in buttermilk.

Let’s get started

How Long Can You Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk?

According to USDA, it is safe to marinate chicken in buttermilk for up to 48 hours if you place it in the fridge.

It is important to understand that just because it is safe to keep chicken marinated in butter for two days it is the best thing to do. For most cases, just marinating chicken for 1-3 hours in buttermilk will be good enough.

The longer you keep the chicken, the more the likelihood of the marinade excessively breaking the protein structure of meat and making it mushy.

But if your recipe requires it to be placed longer, it is fine to marinate it for a longer time too.

Here is a quick video on preparing buttermilk fried chicken –

Can You Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk for 24 / 48 or 72 hours?

Till 48 hrs yes, but for 72 hrs, maybe. According to USDA, it is safe to marinate chicken in buttermilk for up to 48 hours. Anything longer than that may be risky.

Please note, most of these durations are guidelines, chefs across the world have experimented with longer marination duration with chicken with success. But then there is always a risk of the meat getting mushy.

Thus, it is best to stick to a lower time period unless you are absolutely sure about it.

Can you Reuse Buttermilk Marinade?

No, this is not a good idea to reuse buttermilk marinade. Raw chicken can contain dangerous bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens etc. Thus, reusing you are risking those bacteria to be part of your food.

Apart from the safety point (which is the main reason), many chefs also believe that the buttermilk marinade once used loses its flavor and thus, even you try to use it again, it will not give good results as a fresh one.

What does Marinating Chicken in Buttermilk do?

Buttermilk is the acidic part of the marinade and is an age-old tested and tried marinade that works amazingly and tenderizes the chicken nicely.

Just like all acids used in marinades, it helps in breaking down the protein structures in the meat, thus making space for flavors to seep in nicely.

If you are on the fence to use marinades, here is a quick video to help you out –

Can you Refrigerate Buttermilk Marinated Chicken?

Yes, you can refrigerate buttermilk marinated chicken. If you plan to marinate chicken in buttermilk for more than 1-2 hours, it’s highly recommended to keep it in the fridge to stop bacterial growth.

Raw meat has bacteria, and they start growing rapidly at room temperature; thus, marinating at room temperature is risky.

When kept in the fridge, the marinated chicken can last up to 48 hrs safely.

Use can use freezer bags or glass containers for this. Avoid using aluminum containers as the metal reacts with an acid to give unwanted flavors and colors.

Can you Freeze Buttermilk Marinated Chicken?

Yes, you can safely freeze buttermilk marinated chicken for a long duration. Freezing is a great way to keep marinated chicken which you plan to use later than 2 days.

It is important to understand that you should nicely pack the chicken in freezer bags or in air-tight containers for best results.

Can you Freeze Cooked Buttermilk Marinated Chicken?

Yes, according to USDA, you indefinitely freeze and store cooked buttermilk marinated chicken. But if taste and texture are your concern, then use the frozen chicken within 4 months.

It is important to understand that the time periods are only valid when the process of freezing (temperature of 0 F or lower) is uninterrupted. Power failures etc., can cause temperate to rise.

In such cases, the meat needs to be evaluated for quality before consumption and in case of any doubts, should be discarded.

Check our guide on freezing the cooked chicken here>

Can you Soak the Frozen Chicken in Buttermilk?

Yes, you can soak the frozen chicken in a buttermilk marinade, but you may not get the end results in terms of flavors and texture you may be looking at.

The key reason for using marinade is to infuse flavors inside the meat. According to common knowledge, the infusion is slower when you are using frozen meat.

How To Make Raw Chicken Last Longer In Buttermilk?

The best way to make a raw chicken last lower in buttermilk is to freeze it. This way, it can last for months. You can also safely keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Final Words

I hope this guide helped you understand how best you can use buttermilk for marinating your chicken.

In case of any suggestions, please drop us a line.

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About Nancy Miller

Nancy is a foodie by heart and loves experimenting with food. She likes to experiment not only as part of academics but also as a cook at home, sometimes she does not get the desired outcome of these experiments though! But that doesn't stop her from trying more out-of-the-box things. When Nancy entered college, it became clear to her that food was going to be an important part of her life.