‘Fried’ Buttermilk Chicken Thighs

I was in the mood for good comfort food and this recipe for oven ‘fried’ chicken fitted the bill perfectly. In this recipe Ottolenghi gives the traditional fried chicken a skinny makeover by ‘frying’ the chicken in the oven. Fried-chicken-purists will be horrified reading this recipe until they try it. Then they will find out that this skinnier little sister of the fried chicken is not so bad after all. Yes, it’s skinnier, easier and also very important…………there’s no greasy mess to clean up afterwards and you don’t run the risk of losing an eye to hot oil.

With this recipe Ottolenghi managed to achieve a crispy golden exterior but at the same time the meat is tender and juicy because you soak the chicken overnight (maybe even two nights) in a buttermilk bath. The chicken is so moist and juicy that it falls off the bone. So, succulent and moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. What more do you want? Before I encountered this recipe I didn’t make fried chicken often, because it’s not the healthiest thing to eat. The first time I made this ‘skinny’ version for my family they asked me to make it again the next day and because it’s much healthier than the regular fried chicken I did.

If you read this and I convinced you to try it then you will be disappointed once you read it needs to marinate for quite some time. I can already see the question coming if you can skip the marinating or marinade it for a shorter time. I recommend you marinade the chicken for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight (or two). Patience is a big virtue here. Not only does the buttermilk marinade keep the chicken super juicy once it gets fried, the long marinade also allows the chicken to really get infused with flavour. My advice would be not to skimp on the marinating time.


Remember you can always increase or diminish the amount of spices if the taste of the crust doesn’t suit you. I like to add 1/2 tbs paprika extra in the marinade and sprinkle another half on the chicken right before it goes into the oven. Do the sprinkling with your fingers so you can evenly distribute the paprika over the skin.

The original recipe uses 3 tbs of panko crumbs. I use more panko and just go by eye and stop when I think it’s enough.  The panko makes for the crusty exterior, but in order to get a good crunch you need to set your oven higher for the last 10-15 minutes. If the skin is not brown after 10-15 min you can always use your broiler to help with this last step. When under the broiler you have to watch your chicken closely so it doesn’t burn.

So if you like your fried chicken but don’t want the calories that go with it: this should be your go to recipe. You know calories right? Calories are tiny little creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night when you go to sleep.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

‘Fried’ Buttermilk Chicken Thighs

Source: ‘Guardian website’ – Yotam Ottolenghi

Servings: 5 people
  • 2 ½   tsp smoked paprika for the marinade
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika for sprinkling
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 200 g buttermilk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in (about 1kg in total)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • enough panko breadcrumbs to coat the chicken
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the paprika for the marinade, garlic and buttermilk with three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Add the chicken thighs, toss well to coat, then set aside in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight (or two).

  2. Heat the oven to 180C. Spread out the chicken skin side up on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle them with a tiny bit of extra smoked paprika so the smokey taste comes out even more in the finished dish. Roast them for 40 minutes, basting once or twice. I did this with a silicone brush.

  3. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and increase the oven temperature to 220C. Take another silicone brush and brush the oil over the chicken. Then sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs evenly on top and bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes more, until dark golden brown, leave to rest for a few minutes and serve warm.

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