Buttermilk-Brined Chicken Breast Salad

Buttermilk-Brined Chicken Breast Salad

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From the EatingWell Kitchen

This healthy buttermilk chicken salad recipe serves up delicious buttermilk fried chicken, without the frying and on a bed of greens. Using salt in the brine to draw moisture into the chicken, buttermilk to tenderize and a heap of herbs for fresh flavor, this healthy chicken salad is perfect for an easy dinner or for a potluck.

Ingredients 4 servings

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Original recipe yields 4 servings
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  • 2 cups buttermilk (see Tips)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano and/or thyme
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 10 cups mixed salad greens


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  1. To prepare buttermilk brine: Combine buttermilk, sugar, shallots, 4 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1½ teaspoons thyme, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce and ½ teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  2. To marinate chicken: Place chicken in a sealable gallon-size plastic bag. Pour in the brine mixture, seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours.
  3. To prepare chicken: Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine) and pat dry with paper towels. Rub 1 tablespoon oil all over the chicken and let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat a grill to 400°F or build a fire in a charcoal grill and let it burn down to medium heat (about 400°F).
  5. Oil the grill rack (see Tips). Grill the chicken with the lid closed, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the chicken registers 165°F, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Remove to a clean cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  6. To prepare salad: Whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon oregano (and/or thyme), 1 teaspoon garlic, Dijon, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add greens and toss with the vinaigrette. Divide salad among 4 plates and top each with sliced chicken.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Brine the chicken (Step 2) for up to 12 hours.
  • Buttermilk is a thick, tangy cow's-milk dairy product great for baking, salad dressings and marinades. Low-fat and nonfat versions can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Look for it in quart containers in the dairy section of the supermarket. In a pinch, you can make a substitute, mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into 1 cup low-fat or nonfat milk.
  • Once the grill is heated, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the hot rack right before placing the chicken on the grill.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 3 oz. chicken & generous 2 cups salad
  • Per serving: 322 calories; 21 g fat(3 g sat); 3 g fiber; 7 g carbohydrates; 26 g protein; 164 mcg folate; 64 mg cholesterol; 4 g sugars; 1 g added sugars; 3,787 IU vitamin A; 23 mg vitamin C; 121 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 652 mg sodium; 680 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (76% daily value), Folate (41% dv), Vitamin C (38% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: ½
  • Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 3½ fat

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