This is the Best Imitation Fried Buttermilk Chicken Recipe (2024)

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Everyone’s grandma in the South (often called Memaw or Granny) has her own fried chicken recipe. It’s the one dish she can always be counted on to bring to potluck dinners.

This recipe for fried buttermilk chicken is the closest shortcut we’ve been able to come up with for Granny’s fried chicken. We know that a proper Southern grandmother typically has a recipe that takes hours to soak in the buttermilk alone. But as busy parents, many of our readers don’t have that kind of time.

You can make some fried buttermilk chicken without having to spend all day in the kitchen. This isn’t quite a 30-minute meal, but it doesn’t take much longer than that. You can satisfy your craving for fried chicken even on a busy day when you can’t make it to Granny’s house for dinner.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

One of the things you’ll notice about this recipe is that even though it’s called fried buttermilk chicken, it’s not actually fried. Part of that is because we are generally more health-conscious than our grandmothers were. Granny’s chicken is a delicious treat on special occasions, but most of us are watching both our cholesterol and our waistlines.

This is the Best Imitation Fried Buttermilk Chicken Recipe (1)

Even though this buttermilk “fried” chicken is actually baked, you don’t have to miss out on the satisfying crunch of fried chicken. Because this recipe uses panko (Japanese) bread crumbs and crushed walnuts, these ingredients still keep the chicken crispy.

This recipe is also healthier than traditional fried chicken because it uses boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Typical fried chicken uses a whole chicken, skin and all. While fried chicken skin is delicious, it’s also not very healthy. Chicken skin is high in fat and most nutrition experts advise you to avoid it on a healthy diet.

The ranch dip mix adds a tangy zip of flavor to the chicken that will still wow your taste buds. Even though this recipe doesn’t have as much fat as a traditional buttermilk fried chicken recipe, it doesn’t lose anything in flavor. In fact, kids absolutely love it because they think ranch goes great on everything. And let’s admit it: they aren’t wrong!

Buttermilk Chicken Recipe

This recipe still fits our criteria for a healthy, relatively inexpensive meal. But we know some families are on tighter grocery budgets, so you don’t need to take this buttermilk chicken recipe off the menu entirely.

You can make the recipe even cheaper by making substitutions for the buttermilk. You can use lemon juice or white vinegar, plus regular milk instead of buttermilk. To make this buttermilk substitute, use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar, then enough milk to add up to a total of one cup.

If you don’t have Panko bread crumbs, you can use regular bread crumbs. Or, if you want to save even more money, you can make your own bread crumbs by letting some white bread get stale and then crush them up very finely. Instead of crushed walnuts, you could use crushed corn flake cereal.

You can even use cheaper cuts of chicken if you want. You can buy a whole chicken and cut it up into breasts, thighs, wings, and legs. This is by far the cheapest way to purchase chicken, but it is more time consuming than just getting pre-cut boneless skinless breasts. If you’re health-conscious, remove the skin before preparing the food.

Sides to Serve With This Recipe

Even though the buttermilk chicken recipe is different because it’s baked instead of fried, you can still make the traditional side dishes. The most typical side dishes for fried chicken are mashed potatoes, corn, and biscuits. Some people also make macaroni and cheese instead of mashed potatoes, which is always popular with kids.

Macaroni and cheese usually isn't the healthiest side, so if you want to serve it with this chicken without hurting your diet you'll need to make a couple of adjustments. For one, you'll want to use low-fat cheese instead of regular cheese. Second, try using reduced-fat milk instead of whole milk. The taste will still be very similar, but it won't have as many calories.

Sweet potatoes can make a great side for this chicken recipe, as well. The great thing about sweet potatoes is that they offer a lot of health benefits, but are still beloved by kids. Healthy foods that kids love are far and few in between, so you should definitely take advantage of the ones that exist out there.

A salad is never a bad side, either. A simple side salad is easy to prepare, and a nice way to make a complete meal. Choose simple, affordable ingredients and a good dressing. A nice dressing is the key to ensuring your kids actually eat their salad without too much fuss!

Buttermilk fried chicken is a delicious favorite that has stood the test of time. If you don’t have a Southern Granny to make it for you, this recipe is a healthy alternative that you can make in very little time.


This is the Best Imitation Fried Buttermilk Chicken Recipe (2)

Fried Buttermilk Chicken Recipe

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  • Author: Moms Who Think
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
Print Recipe


Buttermilk fried chicken is a delicious favorite that has stood the test of time. If you don’t have a Southern Granny to make it for you, this recipe is a healthy alternative that you can make in very little time.


Units Scale

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 ounces each)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons dry ranch dip mix
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper for taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Place the chicken in a large freezer bag or between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound to a 1½-inch thickness.
  4. Whisk together the buttermilk and dip mix in a shallow dish.
  5. Add the chicken and turn to coat.
  6. Combine the panko and walnuts in a food processor and process until fine.
  7. Transfer the panko mixture to a shallow dish.
  8. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture and shake off the excess buttermilk.
  9. Transfer the chicken to the panko mixture and turn to coat both sides.
  10. Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is crisp and golden.
  11. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper before serving.
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

The image featured at the top of this post is ©npostiglioni/

This is the Best Imitation Fried Buttermilk Chicken Recipe (2024)


What is a substitute for buttermilk when frying chicken? ›

Plain Yogurt + Water

This substitute for buttermilk is especially good for marinades (like in a buttermilk brine for fried chicken), but it works well for baking too. Whisk a bit of milk or water into plain unsweetened yogurt until you get a buttermilk-like consistency.

What is the secret to good fried chicken? ›

Essential Tips for Crispy, Juicy Fried Chicken
  1. Buy chicken pieces.
  2. Dry brine the chicken for juiciness.
  3. Make a strong spice mixture.
  4. Use egg whites, alcohol, and cornstarch for a crispy coating.
  5. Fry in a Dutch oven.
  6. Use two thermometers.
  7. Prevent overflow by using the Dutch oven.
  8. Set up a proper fry station.

Why do people soak chicken in buttermilk before frying? ›

The secret to making the perfect fried chicken is the use of buttermilk, as it helps tenderize each piece while leaving each bite juicy and crispy. After marinating, dredge your chicken pieces in the flour mixture and get to frying!

How to keep breading from falling off buttermilk fried chicken? ›

Place the breaded chicken on a cooling rack (or a platter) and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This cooling time will help the layers of breading ingredients solidify and adhere better after the chicken cooks. Once you start cooking the chicken, be patient and don't flip it over too early.

Can I use heavy whipping cream instead of buttermilk to fry chicken? ›

Yes. Just like my buttermilk scones, you can easily swap heavy cream for buttermilk. You will want to add some vinegar to the heavy cream to “curdle” the milk and give it the acidic quality of buttermilk. For 1 cup of heavy cream add 1 tablespoon vinegar.

How can I make my own buttermilk? ›

For every 1 cup of milk, stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. You can scale the recipe up or down depending on how much you need.

What happens if you use regular milk instead of buttermilk? ›

While the quantity of acid could be fine-tuned, the consistency of milk-based substitutions will be unavoidably thin. Compared to cultured buttermilk, plain milk is watery, making the dough so heavy and wet that it oozes into a puddle, turning the biscuits flat and dense.

Can I use sour cream instead of buttermilk? ›

As such, there are several great alternatives to use in recipes that call for buttermilk including yogurt, sour cream, cream of tartar, and kefir.

What type of flour is best for fried chicken? ›

All-purpose flour gives the buttermilk and seasonings something to stick to, while ensuring a wonderfully crispy crust. This crispy fried chicken recipe calls for paprika (which helps with browning), salt, and pepper. You can add more spices and seasonings to taste.

What is the trick to getting crispy chicken? ›

Double Dredge

The best way to ensure the breading will stay on the chicken is to double down on the flour. This creates a super thick, extra crispy coating on your chicken. After dredging the chicken in seasoned flour, dip it into an egg wash and place it back into the flour.

Do I rinse chicken after soaking in buttermilk? ›

When marinating chicken in buttermilk, there's no need to rinse it before cooking. In fact, rinsing would wash away a lot of the flavor your just infused! Simply remove the chicken from the buttermilk and let the excess marinade drip off.

Why does the flour fall off my buttermilk chicken? ›

You don't start dry

The first step to breading chicken is crucial: Make sure the chicken is completely dry before starting the dredging process. Using a paper towel, pat the meat dry on all sides. Excess moisture will cause the flour to get soggy, meaning it will not adhere properly to the chicken.

Is it better to fry chicken in egg wash or buttermilk? ›

Buttermilk Is More Than A Better Coating

This acidic nature also helps lightly tenderize the meat, creating an even juicier, more succulent texture. Even a few minutes of soaking in buttermilk (or resting after breading) can make a big difference.

Is buttermilk necessary for fried chicken? ›

Furthermore, the eggs help keep the chicken moist and juicy during cooking, resulting in irresistibly flavorful fried chicken without the need for buttermilk. This ensures that you can cook fried chicken recipe without buttermilk.

What is a substitute for 1 cup of buttermilk? ›

The simplest way to substitute buttermilk is to pour 1 Tbs. of vinegar into a 1 cup measurer and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with milk. Then gently stir the mixture and let it sit for about 5 minutes. If you don't have vinegar, lemon juice and cream of tarter also work as great buttermilk substitutions.

Can you replace buttermilk with milk for chicken? ›

If you are looking for a substitute because you don't have buttermilk, you can add some lemon juice to regular milk to soak the chicken.

Can I use egg instead of buttermilk for fried chicken? ›

Instead of buttermilk, the chicken is coated in flour, then an egg mixture, then the flour mixture one more time to create a crispy outer crust. The egg helps to keep the chicken moist and juicy as it cooks and you won't even miss the buttermilk because it is so juicy and flavorful!

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