I think there are two types of Thanksgiving eaters. The people who are there for the meat and the people who are there for the sides. I am, 100%, without a doubt, a side gal. Give me a full plate of carbs on Turkey Day and I will pass on the actual turkey every time. It’s really just taking up valuable tummy real estate. Don’t get me wrong, turkey is delicious and I will eat the hell out of it on Thanksgiving evening on a sandwich, but for the meal? Give me potatoes or give me death!

That’s why, when I was planning our Canadian Thanksgiving meal, I wanted a super flavorful main dish that wouldn’t be overshadowed by the sides (although, admittedly, the cornbread dressing was definitely the star of the show). This chicken dish definitely fit the bill.

If you’ve never used buttermilk as a marinade, you probably think this combo sounds mega weird, but I promise it’s a good one. The buttermilk makes the chicken incredibly moist and tender and adds a tiny touch of tang that is really addictive. Usually, you’ll find buttermilk marinades used before frying chicken, but it works equally as well with a roasted bird.

And you better believe, I made this into a sandwich on Thanksgiving night. With a little bit of mayo, it was the perfect snack before curling up with Babyface and Puppyface to watch TV. There may or may not have been a pumpkin beer involved as well.

Okay, there totally was.

Buttermilk Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Herbs

The longer the chicken marinades in the buttermilk, the more tender and tangy the end result will be. For best results, let it hang out in the marinade overnight in the fridge.

Serves four


  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 5-6 leaves fresh sage
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stem
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 whole chicken, cut up


  1. In a food processor, combine the buttermilk, olive oil, garlic, syrup, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
  2. Pulse until herbs and garlic are well chopped.
  3. Season chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Place chicken pieces in a large zip-top bag or baking dish, pour over marinade. Toss to coat.
  5. Close bag or cover dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours up to overnight.
  6. When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 375°.
  7. Remove chicken from marinade and shake off excess. Place chicken pieces, skin side up, in a baking dish.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and skin is brown and crispy.

Are you a main dish person or a fan of the sides?

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  1. Totally a side dish kind of girl! Sweet potatoes, squash casserole, dressing, bread. I leave the bird completely alone. But yes, it makes one hell of a sandwich later on!

  2. I’m a sides person as well. For me, the turkey is just there for leftover sandwiches. It tastes so much better after the main meal.

    This recipe looks delicious!

  3. I’m usually sides all the way especially my Squash Pudding and homemade Cranberry-Orange Sauce, but that chicken sounds AWESOME. Seriously going to have to try this recipe.

      1. Yep! My basic recipe is:

        3 medium yellow squash
        3 tablespoons flour, heaping
        1/4 cup butter
        1 cup sugar
        3 eggs
        1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
        1 tablespoon vanilla
        nutmeg & cinnamon

        – Slice the squash, saute in a pan with a bit of butter or oil.
        – Drain & Puree cooked squash in a blender.
        – Mix all ingredients together, except nutmeg & cinnamon
        – Pour into greased baking dish. Sprinkle with nutmeg & cinnamon
        – Bake at 350 for about 45mins.

        Can be served warm or cold. Delicious!