This Southwest Buttermilk Grilled Chicken is ridiculously tender thanks to the buttermilk brine! Topped with fresh, savory and spicy corn and poblano salsa, this dish is packed with flavor! With only 20 minutes of prep time required, this chicken is perfect for entertaining or easy weeknight dinners!
In case you love buttermilk fried chicken, but can’t stand the thought of aggressively bubbling oil in all this summer heat, I’ve got the perfect recipe for you! There’s a buttermilk brine and juicy chicken without all the hot grease!
About this Buttermilk Grilled Chicken recipe
Tender, succulent grilled chicken thighs subtly spiced with smoky southwest seasonings and brushed with sticky, chili kissed honey; then topped with a fresh, tangy, sweet n’ savory and mildly spicy corn and poblano salsa.
The secret to the deliciousness of this chicken?
The buttermilk brine. It’s not just for frying chicken!
It makes GRILLED chicken SUUUUPER juicy and moist. Sorry for using that word. I know there are some people who have a strong aversion to the word ‘moist’.
But this chicken?
IT IS MOIST!!!!
And the salsa is a KAPOW to the taste buds!
But, best of all, this chicken could NOT be easier to whip together.
The chicken and the salsa only take roughly 15 minutes of hands on prep time. However, it does require a bit of planning, because the chicken needs to brine for about 4 hours.
BUT, it’s four hours of HANDS OFF TIME.
Meaning, set the chicken in the fridge, pour yourself a cold one, kick back and RELAX.
Then, pull the chicken out of the fridge, fire up the grill and BASK in the gloriousness that is buttermilk NOT FRIED chicken.
Tips for the best Southwest Buttermilk Grilled Chicken
- Marinating chicken: While I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, you can use any cut of chicken you would like for this recipe. I highly recommend you let the chicken marinate for 4-6 hours! While you can get away with marinating the chicken for as little as 1 hour, you sacrifice flavor and the chicken won’t be as tender. If you are using bone-in chicken, increase the marinade time to 6-12 hours.
- If using bone-in chicken, increase the cooking time. Bone-in chicken breasts will take about 15-20 minutes total, and bone-in chicken thighs/legs will take about 20-25 minutes total. Always cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Spicy honey: While entirely optional, I highly recommend you brush your chicken with the chili powder honey mixture during the last 2 minutes of cooking! Simply add a few dashes of chili powder to a couple tablespoons of honey and brush the mixture on the chicken. It adds a sticky, slightly spicy sweetness to the chicken that will rock your tastebuds!
- Salsa: The heat level of the salsa is easily customizable to taste. For a spicy salsa, leave some, or all, of the ribs and seeds in the poblano and jalapeno peppers. For a mild salsa, remove all the ribs and seeds.
- You can make the salsa up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Serving sauce: If you, like me, love a good dipping sauce, try serving this buttermilk grilled chicken with Alabama white bbq sauce.
Get this Southwestern Buttermilk Grilled Chicken with Corn Salsa in your life immediately! Just don’t blame me when buttermilk becomes a staple in your fridge.
Until next week, friends, cheers! To juicy buttermilk brined chicken!
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How to buttermilk brine and grill chicken at home👇
Southwest Buttermilk Grilled Chicken with Corn Salsa
- 2 Cups Buttermilk
- ¼ Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Lime zested and juiced
- 3 large Cloves Garlic – chopped
- 2 TBS Chili Powder
- 1 TBS Cumin
- 2 tsp Ground Coriander
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 5-10 dashes Hot Sauce Recommended: Tabasco
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper to taste
- 1 ½ - 2 Pounds Chicken Thighs *
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil for grilling
- ¼ Cup Honey
- ¼ tsp Chili Powder
- 1 Poblano Peppers
- 1 Jalapeno * - finely diced
- 2- 3 Ears Corn – husk and silk removed (about 2 cups of corn)
- ¼ Cup Cilantro Leaves – chopped
- ¼ Red Onion – finely diced (about ½ cup)
- 3 TBS Lime Juice
- ¾ tsp Granulated Sugar
Optional Garnish: Cilantro, Lime Wedges, Sliced Jalapeno, Hot Sauce
- Marinate the chicken: In a large measuring cup whisk together buttermilk, sugar, lime zest and juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, hot sauce, 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the chicken to a large zip-closure bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Seal the bag and refrigerate, at least 1 hour, preferably 4 hours*.
- Preheat a grill to medium.
- Grill Veggies for Salsa: Brush the poblano and corn all over with oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Place poblano and corn on grill. Grill, rotating every 2-3 minutes, until poblano and corn are charred all over, about 10-12 minutes total. Remove to a clean work surface and set aside until cook enough to handle.
- Grill Chicken: Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the chicken with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown and charred on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side, or until just cooked through*. (Optional: Whisk together honey and chili powder. Brush on chicken during last 2 minutes of grilling.) Remove to a clean plate and allow to rest while you prep the salsa.
- Make the Salsa: Slightly peel the skin from the poblano and finely chop and add it to a medium bowl. Cut the kernels of corn off the cob and to the bowl along with the jalapeno, cilantro, red onion, lime juice and granulated sugar. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- To Serve: Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and top with salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!
This recipe is FABULOUS! I was unable to grill the chicken last night so it marinated for 24 hours which worked great. We absolutely loved the corn salsa — it made a perfect accompaniment. We will be making this grilled chicken often – thanks so much for this awesome recipe.
Buttermilk brine is the best! And as soon as I saw corn poblano salsa I was sold. This sounds just absolutely delicious. I love fried chicken, but I hate the fried oil smell that just lingers in my place… This is the perfect solution to that! I’m glad I keep roasted poblanos in the freezer for things like this 🙂
Marinating chicken in buttermilk was a brilliant idea instead of frying — this meal is so much more summer friendly! I haven’t marinated chicken in buttermilk in AGES and need to remedy that quick. And since I’m all about corn I’m loving that salsa — I need to make this this week!
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says
I’m all about cooking outside during the crazy hot days of summer! I love how this is marinated first to add flavor and keep it extra moist! This looks really wonderful – especially topped with the corn salsa!
I’ve never had buttermilk grilled chicken, I’ve had buttermilk fried chicken but that’s it. I would die for some triple digit heat right now, it’s been overcast and muggy in Northern California 🙁 This brine looks like the real deal Cheyanne 🙂
stacey @ The Sugar Coated Cotted says
Wow! love all the seasonal ingredients! And you know when you hear buttermilk and chicken in the same sentence its gonna me damn good!! Yum! Take care.
haha, love your story! And you know what? I have been having a crazy strong fried chicken craving for like two weeks. I’m reading The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis (which I highly recommend!) and Edna has been describing how her mother would make Southern fried chicken….#swoon Anywho…your timing is perfect! Because frying chicken seems like more of a cool weather affair and this recipe of yours looks like the PERFECT way to cure my craving in the summertime. xoxo
Chris Scheuer says
Looks and sounds amazing! You definitely made the most of your fried chicken craving 🙂
Ben | Havocinthekitchen says
I love your story, Chey! The best part is that it’s pretty short. I tend to forget what I’ve read if a story too long. Still, I needed to read this happy end 3 times because I didn’t feel it was so simple. I though you might have written something between the lines. Nope, looks quite straightforward…is it?:) Anyway, I’m happy to read such a beautiful ending. I do love this recipe too (and I don’t mind the word “moist”. Cause we’re honest people and have to honesty describe the things. This chicken looks fabulously moist and delicious!) Excellent!
Katherine | Love In My Oven says
I think you’re a fabulous story teller. I was CAPTIVATED!!! Haha I have some chicken thighs in the fridge that are just crying out to be smothered and all dolled up like this. Doing it!! Have a great weekend!!
Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry says
Wow! I have no words except an intense craving to the run to the kitchen right now and make this recipe ASAP.
Thao @ In Good Flavor says
Yum!! I’m loving the look and sound of this, Chey! I think about brining but not always good about actually doing it. But the extra step is totally worth the effort.I don’t mind the word moist at. all, because when food is moist it’s a good thing!! I need to make this! Pinning.
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
Well I think you’re a fabulous story teller! I love hearing how recipes came about–how brilliant to grill your chicken and still enjoy the flavors you were going for :). I’m alllllll kinds of hungry right now. Hope you’re having a great week, despite insane humidity.
[email protected] says
I can imagine how moist and delectable this chicken is! A perfect summertime meal! The layers of flavor have me thinking that I need to get to the grocery store, stat! Love it! Have a great weekend, my friend! xo
Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers says
Love this chicken and so perfect for Summer. It must be wonderfully moist and flavourful! And yes … you are a fabulous story teller 🙂
Wow, I would have never thought of brining chicken for grilling in buttermilk. Brilliant! It looks delicious. I wish I could teleport some to my kitchen table tonight at 7:00…
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
You have some kick ass grill mark there, girlie! High five! And story teller? I was intrigued…..after all, it was about food, so…………….
Ain’t nobody got time for cooking in a hot kitchen so this healthier, less hot, recipe is awesome. Plus, didya know that it’s good to eat spicy food in hot weather? Not that poblano peppers are spicy or anything, but they are a pepper so just go with my little story, ok 😉 ? Though, there is jalapeno in there too.
Anyway….doesn’t matter about all this hot weather/hot food talk. I’m rambling. All that matters is that it’s delish and it needs to be in front of me ASAP 😀 Right? Right! Pinned! Cheers to a fab weekend, girlie!!
Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says
No matter how this chicken happened, I’m glad it did! I don’t know what I like better…that corn salsa, or the buttermilk chicken. Let’s just call it a tie! This looks SO good, Cheyanne! I’m always looking for new ways to make chicken, so I’ve got to try this. The flavors sound just perfect for summer. Pinned! Hope you have a great weekend, friend!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
This chicken! Those grill marks! They look perfect Chey! I love the spices you’ve got going on in the buttermilk brine. And of course that salsa sounds fabulous on top. Awesome summer meal! Hope you have a great weekend! Stay cool!
Kathryn @ Family Food on the Table says
A buttermilk brine for grilled chicken is brilliant, my friend! I am loving everything about this gorgeous chicken! I’ll definitely be brushing it with the chili powder-honey mix and that salsa is making my mouth water! Pinned and hopefully happening this weekend when we grill! XO
[email protected]'s Recipes says
I had some buttermilk chicken legs yesterday too. So moist and delicious with buttermilk. Love your grilled version…so much prettier. Well done, Chey.