Buttermilk-Brined Chicken Breast Salad

July/August 2014

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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.

Buttermilk-Brined Chicken Breast Salad

Makes: 4 servings

Serving Size: 3 oz. chicken & generous 2 cups salad

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Total Time:


Buttermilk Brine

  • 2 cups buttermilk (see Tips)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Chicken & Salad

  • 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
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 10 cups mixed salad greens


  1. To prepare buttermilk brine: Combine buttermilk, sugar, shallots, 4 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 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, 1/4 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.

Tips & Notes

  • 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.


Per serving: 322 calories; 21 g fat (3 g sat, 14 g mono); 64 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrates; 1 g added sugars; 4 g total sugars; 26 g protein; 3 g fiber; 631 mg sodium; 680 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (76% daily value), Folate (41% dv), Vitamin C (38% dv), Potassium (19% dv), Iron (15% dv)

Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2

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July/August 2014
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