What Bobby Flay Says You Can Swap Buttermilk With For Fried Chicken

In a recent appearance on "The Rachael Ray Show," chef and television personality Bobby Flay took one of the set's cameramen along with him on a grocery shopping trip. The mission: finding the best ingredients to craft a classic Southern fried chicken meal with collard greens and black-eyed peas. During the adventure, Flay shared various tips about perfecting the dish, including one that any fried chicken fan may find useful.

Buttermilk is quite often a staple ingredient in fried chicken recipes. In fact, many instruct cooks to soak the chicken in buttermilk for hours, so the acidity can help tenderize the meat, yielding a moist and juicy dish (via Chef Works). However, Flay offered another suggestion in the segment. As he approached the grocery store cooler packed with dairy products, he suggested swapping whole milk for buttermilk (which is extra convenient since there's not many people that keep buttermilk stocked in their fridge). The only change in the recipe, Flay explained, is that buttermilk requires both baking soda and baking powder, whereas only baking powder is needed if you use whole milk. This again has to do with the natural acidity of buttermilk, says MasterClass.

In the episode, Flay shares a few more of his secrets regarding fried chicken, including his go-to marinade — plain Greek yogurt. He says the ingredient helps add major flavor and tenderness to the meat. Flay also prefers to buy whole chickens, allowing the opportunity to cut up the protein exactly as you desire with the bonus of having chicken bones later to use for homemade stock.

You can always make your own buttermilk

If you're not totally sold on Flay's substitution, there are other very simple ways to create your own buttermilk when you don't have a carton on hand. Generally it just involves adding a splash of something acidic to regular milk. MasterClass suggests a few different DIY buttermilk options, the simplest being to mix a cup of regular milk with a tablespoon of either lemon juice or white vinegar. Then, let it sit for about five minutes until the mixture curdles, and the tangy concoction will be ready to use.

Another combination with relatively common ingredients is mixing plain yogurt with some regular milk to thin it out. Or, combine milk and sour cream for another acidic mixture. In each of these suggestions, you'll just need to give your homemade buttermilk a few minutes to combine and curdle before using it, according to Taste of Home.

In search of a dairy-free substitute? A simple tweak on the above combinations will create the perfect buttermilk alternative, adds Taste of Home. They advise to mix ¾-cup almond milk yogurt with ¼-cup of almond milk and half a teaspoon of white vinegar.