Coconut-Buttermilk Southwestern Grilled Chicken

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Coconut-Buttermilk Southwestern Grilled Chicken

Tender enough to fall off the bone, infused with the creamy richness of buttermilk, and grilled to a perfect golden brown, this chicken is irresistible soul food for any season. You can cook it up with any cut of chicken you have available: drumsticks make great finger food, but don’t underestimate the power of savory buttermilk wings or thighs. And better yet, it’s completely dairy-free, so even the lactose or casein intolerant can enjoy it without a hitch.

The secret to the buttermilk flavor without the dairy is simply understanding what buttermilk is. Despite the name, it’s not milk mixed with butter (although that does sound pretty tasty!). Instead, buttermilk is simply milk with a slightly acidic overtone. Traditionally, this is made by fermenting cow’s milk, but it’s easy to re-create by adding a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to coconut milk. You can get the same great creamy, tangy marinade, but without the need for any dairy products.

With the southern flavor of the buttermilk, this would be a perfect chicken recipe to serve with braised collards or other greens, or you could also go all-out on the comfort food front and pair it with these special baked sweet potatoes or a hot bowl of tomato soup. Kids love it, but just try serving it to your adult friends and watch the platter empty. The appeal is universal; it’s a perfect recipe for a crowd, or just for dinner when you want something simple and classic.

Coconut-Buttermilk Southwestern Grilled Chicken Recipe

Servings SERVES: 4Preparation time PREP: 15min+4hrsCooking time COOK: 20 min.


  • 2 lbs. chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, legs, etc);
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced;
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder;
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander;
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin;
  • 1 tsp. turmeric;
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime;
  • Fresh cilantro; (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper;

Ingredients for the coconut buttermilk

  • 2 cups of coconut milk;
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice;
Grilled Chicken preparation


  1. In a bowl, combine the coconut milk and lemon juice. Mix well and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chilli powder, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic, lime zest, and lime juice to the coconut buttermilk mixture. Season to taste and mix well.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours.
  4. Preheat a grill to a medium-heat.
  5. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill until cooked through and golden on both sides (about 15 to 20 minutes total).
  6. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro to serve.

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