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Buttermilk Brine Survey

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I've been curious about a buttermilk brine for a little while and decided to try it out tonight on a humble little chicken.





I kept it pretty simple:

     1/2 gal buttermilk

     1/2 gal water

     1/4 cup table salt (rub had the rest of the salt as my calculations figured) ;)

     1 cup white sugar

     6 oz of a favorite store-bought dry rub for poultry


Brined for 20 hours in the fridge followed by a standard smoking procedure of 230F for 4 hours finalized by temp checking.





When I was carving it up and sampling I was a bit disappointed to find it tasted like an unseasoned chicken (and I smoke a lot of poultry, I know what an unseasoned chicken tastes like.)  There was a little different taste in the wing meat but that's it.


I'm asking the people of SMF to weigh in on their experience using a buttermilk brine on poultry to compare my results with.  Thank you and happy smoking.

post #2 of 14
I've not used it but have been very interested in it... will pay close attention to other's results... as for your salt in the brine.. you don't get much salt taste from the brine.. at least I never have from my experiences... I use a whole cup of kosher salt to a whole cup of sugar.. never salty...
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Oh, I brine stuff all the time.  I use the table salt because it dissolves better than kosher salt.  If you compare the mg content per volume 1/2 cup of table salt = 1 cup kosher salt.  For this brine I just added up what was in the dry rub and subtracted it from the total had the table salt been the only source of sodium.  I agree, if you keep your ratios straight like that it'll never be salty tasting.

post #4 of 14
I brine all my chicken but I use buttermilk on chicken wings. Haven't ever done it with a whole bird.
post #5 of 14

I have used buttermilk as a marinade for chicken and it is great.  Never used it in a brine, tho.


Good luck and good smoking.

post #6 of 14

I have not tried that recipe but the proportions are correct and time in Brine is more than sufficient to get the job done. While the Buttermilk will not add a ton of flavor, has some tenderizing effect and add a touch of a sour flavor, there is no obvious reason why there was not more of a salt uptake. I have found 1/2C Kosher (1/4C Table Salt)/Gal water, to be perfect for mine and my families taste...JJ

post #7 of 14

I wonder if the reduced salt in the brine was why it fell flat? According to Wikipedia, in addition to tenderizing, adequate salt is required for "osmosis" to occur. That is, the salt is what pushes the brine ingredients (water, buttermilk, cranberry juice, hot sauce, etc..) into the skin and muscle molecules of the meat, thereby plumping them up for added flavor and moisture to prevent drying out during cooking. My guess is if there wasn't enough salt in the brine solution, the bird had a harder time absorbing the buttermilk.


I used buttermilk brine once before on chicken wings last month. It had a full amount of salt and sugar included. The wings were then seasoned with Memphis Red, Hot, and Blue rub which I later realized had MSG....yipes!....but low and behold there were no complaints from my buddies about it being over salty and I didn't notice anything personally. Hope this helps.



post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

Like I said, according to the nutrition label on the seasoning mix it had the rest of the sodium content for the equivalent of 1 cup kosher salt per gallon of water.  I suppose the buttermilk its self could have covered up other flavors and just not added anything its self; this was just an experiment after all.  I'll wait to see if more people chime in.

post #9 of 14

I'm a BIG fan of Buttermilk Brined fried Chix, however a long time ago I did some Smoked ones and the (almost sour - Buttermilk taste) was overbearing. I used fresh milk so that wasn't the prob.


I did the same routine 2 more times and decided that was not my cup of Tea. I Brine with Slaughterhouse now and love the results. A combo of Brine , then a drying and Compound Butter under the skin with EVOO and Rub over the outside is Freakin' fantastic. Cooking at a higher temp. helps 'crisp' the skin(or you could run Her through a hot Grill to crisp the skin better,)


I must say, though  , your finished Bird looks very good and I'm sorry it didn't make the taste test.

However,  you'll see a diff. in the next cook...drool.gif


Have fun and as always...

post #10 of 14

Has anyone tried this recipie?



post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dad of four View Post

Has anyone tried this recipie?



That recipe is one of the ones that got me interested in trying a buttermilk brine on poultry.  I chose to do a chicken because they are a cheap test-run.

post #12 of 14

My favorite fried chicken also is soaked in buttermilk overnight. Haven't tried that with smoked chicken though. 

post #13 of 14

i used jeffs recipe about a month ago and it was great. super moist and great flavor. i used a turkey and am planning on doing it again

post #14 of 14
I did the buttermilk brine on my turkey last night. Smoked today at 250 for 6 hours to 170.
It came out incredible! I will use this brine again 1gallon water, 1 gallon milk. 2 cups salt and 6 tblspoons rub.
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