Buttermilk Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Cornichon Butter

February 20, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: There are countless ways to prepare a simple roast chicken, but sometimes you want and need a go-to preparation that you can turn to again and again without overthinking every single detail. This buttermilk roast chicken with potatoes and cornichon butter is that preparation for me. It takes a cue from fried chicken by relying on a simple brine of buttermilk and pickle juice, resulting in a beautifully bronzed, crackly-skinned, evenly seasoned and tender bird every single time. And because roasting a chicken is the perfect opportunity to sneak in some potatoes, I tuck as many as I can around this bird so they'll soak up the delicious pan drippings, and then toss them at the end with cornichon butter and parsley. The cornichons brighten up the rich potatoes and lend a nice crunch (like a warm, buttery potato salad).

Serves: 4
Prep time: 24 hrs 30 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 10 min


  • 1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup pickle juice, from any type of pickles (dill, bread and butter, spicy garlic, etc.)
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes, halved, or small golden potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick (up to 2 pounds of potatoes)
  • 1 splash olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 4 cornichons, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In This Recipe


  1. Mix together buttermilk, pickle juice, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Place chicken in a gallon-sized plastic zipper-lock bag. Pour in the brine. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate 6 to 24 hours (a longer brine will result in a more flavorful bird).
  2. About an hour before you roast the chicken, remove chicken from the bag and discard brine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub a little olive oil on the bottom of a large baking dish or ovenproof skillet (one large enough to hold the potatoes). Place the chicken in the middle of the dish, breast-side up, and let it come to room temperature.
  3. Heat oven to 425° F.
  4. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and kosher salt, to taste. Arrange potatoes around the chicken. Evenly rub the chicken with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season the chicken and potatoes with freshly cracked black pepper.
  5. Place the chicken and potatoes in the oven and roast for about 50 to 70 minutes, rotating once, until the juices run clear or the thickest part of the thigh registers 165° F. (If the chicken is browning too quickly relative to its internal temperature, reduce the oven to 375° F to 400° F.)
  6. Meanwhile, mash together the butter and cornichons with a fork. Don’t worry if they’re not completely integrated.
  7. When the chicken is done, immediately remove it from the pan and rest on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Add the cornichon butter and parsley to the hot potatoes. Once it starts to melt, toss to evenly integrate.

More Great Recipes:
American|Butter|Buttermilk|Chicken|Parsley|Potato|Pickle|One-Pot Wonders|Serves a Crowd|Summer|Fall|Winter

Reviews (17) Questions (0)

17 Reviews

Amy April 10, 2018
How do you come up with that much pickle juice on a regular basis? The recipe looks good, but I roast a chicken pretty often
Paul April 8, 2018
2 cups of brine doesn't seem enough to cover a whole chicken...do you add water to top or do you flip it during the brine or what? Thanks.
Author Comment
EmilyC April 8, 2018
Hi Paul: I like to put the chicken and brine in a large ziplock bag and press out the air—there should be enough brine to cover the bird. If not, flip the bag a few times during its brining time. Or, no reason you can’t increase the brine as long as it’s the same ratio of buttermilk to pickle juice! Hope this helps!
Henry March 29, 2018
Surprisingly bland. Marinated for 20 hours and cooked it on the grill. Nice and moist, but very little interest for flavors. Could be a regional thing...maybe this is exciting for mid-westerners, but pretty boring for people accustomed to more flavorful cuisine.
Author Comment
EmilyC March 30, 2018
Hi Henry: I like to think of the buttermilk/pickle juice brine as a way to ensure tender, juicy, well-seasoned meat every time. If you want bigger, bolder flavors for a grilled version, you could add a spice rub to the chicken before it goes on the grill, baste it with a sauce, etc.
Henry March 30, 2018
Fair enough...I was just hoping the buttermilk and pickle juice would impart more tangy flavor itself. It definitely turned out juicy though!
meganvt01 March 11, 2018
This was fantastic. Made with pee wee potatoes. Can’t wait to make it again.
Author Comment
EmilyC March 11, 2018
I’m so happy to know that you tried and liked this, Megan!! I love pee wee potatoes—good choice. Thanks so much for your note!
tenmiler March 11, 2018
How about doing this with a spatchcocked chicken? Ever since I learned how to spatchcock a chicken and how much easier it is to cook, I don't do anything but!
Author Comment
EmilyC March 11, 2018
Yes, a spatchcocked bird will work well! It’ll cook faster, so you may need extra time for the potatoes. Enjoy! : )
Katie March 11, 2018
If I don't want to make a whole chicken, do you think this would work with skin-on chicken breasts?
Cathy G. March 11, 2018
same question, hope the answer is yes!
Author Comment
EmilyC March 11, 2018
Lysa H. March 11, 2018
Would you use the same 425 temperature for skin-on breasts or even thighs?
Author Comment
EmilyC March 11, 2018
Yes, start them at 425, and then lower the heat if they’ve browned but aren’t cooked through. I like the blast of high heat so the chicken gets bronzed and the skin crackly. Note that with breasts, thighs, or drumsticks, the cook time will be less, which means the potatoes may not be tender in the same amount of time. If this is the case, just leave the potatoes in the oven while the chicken rests!
Sierra S. March 7, 2018
Sounds delicious. Does the oven temp get reduced after the initial sear at 425?
Author Comment
EmilyC March 8, 2018
Hi Sierra: I keep the oven at 425 the full time! If the chicken is browning too quickly, you can lower the heat to 375 or 400.