Marinaded chicken is one of the finest cooking inventions known to man. A good marinade can take your chicken to a whole new level, adding in flavors and keeping your chicken super juicy!
But one of the best-kept secrets out there is the milk marinade, and today we are going to reveal all!
So, is soaking chicken in milk a marinade worth trying? A milk marinade will give you super tender chicken which melts in the mouth.
This is because milk contains lactic acid, which breaks down muscle fibers in the meat. The best milky marinade for chicken is one that uses a fermented milk product, such as buttermilk or yogurt.
If you’re looking to take your chicken to the next level, then you should definitely give a milk marinade a try! But before you start, you need to know the best way to do this without ruining your chicken.
Let’s take a look at how milk marinades work and the best way to do them!
What Does Soaking Chicken in Milk Do?
We’re all familiar with marinading chicken in delicious sauces such as BBQ sauce and honey-glazed chicken.
But one of the best-kept secrets out there is using milk to marinade chicken. And once you’ve heard about this magic ingredient, you’ll never prepare your chicken any other way!
Most marinades are designed to add flavor and moisture to meats and vegetables. However, milk has an extra trick up its sleeve which will make your chicken super tender, with a melt-in-the-mouth texture.
This is because milk contains a small amount of lactic acid. This acid will break down the protein in meats in the same way that acids such as vinegar and lemon juice do.
You might not have realized it, but most of the marinade recipes you’ve been using will probably include some sort of acid!
Even though milk contains just small amounts of acid, it appears to be much more effective at tenderizing meat than vinegar or lemon juice.
It is not entirely understood how this works, but it is thought that the calcium in milk may awaken the natural enzyme in chicken that makes it more tender over time.
And the best thing about using a milk marinade is that it does not greatly change the flavor of the chicken.
Other acidic marinades such as vinegar will have a strong flavor, and we might not always want a lemony tang to our chicken. Milk will make a much more tender cut of meat without making a huge difference to the flavor.
How to Soak Chicken in Milk
When soaking chicken in milk, there are some important safety tips to remember. We are dealing with raw chicken here, one of the most common sources of food poisoning!
Here’s a quick reminder of how to handle raw chicken safely:
- Use separate utensils, bowls, and worksurfaces for raw chicken, and wash all of them immediately after use.
- Always keep raw chicken covered, whether in the refrigerator or not.
- Do not leave raw chicken out at room temperature for more than 60 minutes before cooking.
- Wash your hands immediately after handling raw chicken.
To make your magic milk marinade, start by removing the skin from the chicken and dividing it into portions. Place your chicken pieces in a bowl, container, or food-safe Ziploc bag. Season your chicken with salt and pepper well.
If you’re looking for a particular flavor to your milk marinaded chicken, add this to your milk now. You can add in a classic lemon and herb dressing or go for something with a bit more spice or sweetness.
Pour the milk over the chicken pieces, ensuring they are covered completely. Cover the bowl or seal the bag or container. Place the chicken into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or up to one day.
To cook your chicken, simply drain away the excess marinade and grill or roast as normal. Keep the chicken covered as much as possible during the cooking process to preserve moisture.
Can You Soak Chicken in Dairy-Free Milk?
Dairy-free milk can be used to soak chicken, but it might not give quite the same delicious, tender results. Look for high-calcium dairy-free milk, such as rice milk, to get the most out of your dairy-free milk marinade.
To give your dairy-free chicken marinade a helping hand, you can add in some extra acid in the form of vinegar, lemon, or pineapple juice.
Remember that these will all change the flavor of your chicken, so choose carefully according to your recipe.
Soaking Chicken in Milk vs Buttermilk
So, we know that marinating chicken in milk can give us a lovely, tender meat. But can we improve on this? Absolutely, of course we can!
Using fermented milk products, such as buttermilk and yogurt, can intensify the tenderizing effects of milk on chicken. This is because they have higher levels of acid than regular milk and will give you the most perfect tender chicken.
Buttermilk is one of the most popular fermented milk marinades for chicken used in American cuisine. The advantage of buttermilk it that is does not leave any residue on the chicken, unlike thicker yogurt.
So, you can marinade your chicken in whatever flavors you fancy and cook it as normal for the perfect tender chicken.
(We’ll let you onto a little secret—buttermilk marinade is how the best Southern fried chicken is made!)
When comparing flavors, buttermilk is milder than yogurt and will have less effect on the flavor of the chicken.
Yogurt is slightly stronger in flavor and richer but can work well with rich spices such as in Indian recipes. Chicken baked in yogurt will give you a gorgeous, creamy crust on your chicken. Absolutely sublime!
Just remember, if you are using yogurt, use a plain one and not a flavored one.
Adding strawberry yogurt to your chicken could be interesting, but we’re sure not sure if we’re ready to try that. If you do try it out, let us know how it tastes!
Now that we’ve gone over what soaking chicken in milk does as a marinade, let’s look at a few related questions on the subject!
Can You Soak Pork Chops in Milk?
Marinading pork chops in milk works in just the same way as marinading chicken. The lactic acid and calcium in the milk will speed up the breakdown of proteins, giving you a tender and juicy pork chop.
Whereas a milk marinade will give you melt-in-the-mouth chicken, don’t expect your pork to be quite as tender.
This is because pork meat is denser with longer fibers than chicken, and it will not tenderize as well. Use buttermilk and leave your pork marinading overnight for the best results.
What Is the Best Milk Marinade for Tender Chicken?
Feeling inspired to try a milk marinaded chicken recipe? It can be hard to know where to start, but these are our top three favorites.
Simply blend the ingredients together, marinate the chicken overnight, and voila—you can cook beautiful, tender chicken packed full of flavor!
- Baked chicken thighs marinaded in milk, mustard, cumin, paprika and herbs
- Italian chicken breasts marinaded in buttermilk, garlic, and herbs
- Indian tandoori chicken pieces marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, and Indian spices
When it comes to the best milk marinade for chicken, the choices are endless. This is one of those cooking hacks that once you know about it, you’ll wonder why you never did it before.
Time to invite your friends over to dinner and impress them with your delicious tender chicken dishes!
Is It Easy to Make Buttermilk?
Have you ever scrolled on past a recipe because it asks for buttermilk? This fermented milk product is not something many of us keep in the refrigerator, and we tend to only buy it in for special recipes.
However, it is really easy to make buttermilk at home! Adding an acid to milk will cause the milk to curdle and will give you buttermilk in no time at all.
To make buttermilk, take a look at how much buttermilk your recipe asks for. Next, measure out the equivalent amount of milk into a measuring jug.
Now you need to choose your acid. The most common choices are either white vinegar or lemon.
Which you choose depends on your recipe—lemon works well in buttermilk pancakes, whereas a subtle vinegar flavor can be good for savory recipes.
Avoid strong acids like wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, as they will completely overpower your dish.
For every 250ml of milk in your jug, you need to add 1 tablespoon of your acid. So, if you are making 1 liter, you will need 4 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. After adding your acid stir the milk well and leave to stand.
After 5-10 minutes, the acid should have worked its magic! The milk will have thickened slightly, and there might be some curds or lumps.
Don’t panic if you see these, they are all part of the process and will disappear into your recipe when you start cooking.
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