Buttermilk chicken thighs and lemon garlic orzo make a comforting dinner for any weeknight. The chicken is marinated in herb and garlic infused buttermilk then pan-seared and cooked together with lemon garlic orzo pasta. It is guaranteed there will not be any leftovers!

This is a one-pan dinner, under an hour, with mostly pantry staple ingredients.

Butter milk chicken thighs with orzo in pan with a spoon.

Why this recipe sings

These buttermilk thighs are an easy, cozy dinner for any day of the week. Chicken, lemon, and orzo are a classic, delicious combination. Buttermilk is a fantastic marinade ingredient for chicken. The addition of honey, herbs like thyme and rosemary, and black ground pepper produce a tender delicious chicken.

Here is what you need

Ingredients for buttermilk chicken thighs.
  • Chicken thighs. Get free range, humanely raised chicken if possible. You can choose bone-in thighs with the skin on or skinless and boneless. This recipe will also work with chicken breasts. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the thickest part of the breast is fully cooked and at 165 °F.
  • Orzo pasta. You can also use ditalini, casarecce, cavatappi, conchiglie or other small-size pasta you like.
  • Broth. Vegetable or chicken broth works as well as a sustainable palm oil bouillon cube with 2.5 cups of water.
  • Lemons. You can use regular lemons or Meyer lemons.
  • Buttermilk. It is an excellent ingredient to marinate chicken. It comes out with a fantastic flavor and is very tender.
  • Honey. If you want to substitute maple syrup for the honey, you can. 
  • Fresh thyme and rosemary.
  • Garlic. It could not be a Mediterranean-inspired recipe without garlic.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Olive oil. Please see the garlic note ☺️
  • Salted butter. Unsalted may also be used. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Prep the chicken

Prepping these buttermilk chicken thighs is simple and begins the previous day or the morning of.

Chicken thighs marinating in buttermilk and herbs.

Mix all the marinade ingredients, add the chicken thighs and let them marinate for up to 48 hours. I usually prepare the marinade in the morning and leave the chicken in until about dinner time. The rest of the prep is easy and the meal comes together in about 30 minutes.

How to make it

Half an hour before you are cooking dinner take the thighs out of the fridge and place them in a wire rack (over a bowl or a pan) to drain most of the buttermilk.

Let chicken reach room temperature.

Pat skin dry with a paper towel.

Chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a cast-iron or oven-proof pan over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken and sear on both sides until they are golden, about 3-5 minutes per side.

Remove the chicken and set it aside on a plate.

Sliced lemons and garlic in a skillet with olive oil.

To the same pan, add the butter, garlic, and lemon slices.

Cook for about 2-3 minutes to infuse the butter with the lemon and garlic flavors.

Orzo in a pan with a wooden spatula.

Add the orzo. 

Cook until the orzo is toasted for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat and stir gently.

Turn down the heat.

Chicken thighs, orzo and broth in a skillet.

Return the chicken, and its juices left on the plate back into the pan. 

Transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Chicken is cooked when internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Serve the chicken with a sprinkle of fresh thyme with a Greek tomato salad.

Butter milk chicken thighs with orzo in pan with a spoon, and a kitchen towel on a wooden table.

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Check out my Greek pantry staples 

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Butter milk chicken thighs with orzo in pan with a spoon.

Buttermilk Chicken Thighs With Lemon Garlic Orzo

by Jenny | The Greek Foodie
The chicken marinates in a herb and garlic-infused buttermilk, then pan-seared and cooked together with lemon garlic orzo pasta. 
5 from 17 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinade time 1 day
Course Main Course
Cuisine Greek, Mediterranean
Servings 6
Calories 567 kcal

Equipment

  • Large bowl or zip log bag for marinating
  • Cast iron or oven proof skillet

Ingredients
  

For the marinade

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2-3 Rosemary sprigs
  • 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

For cooking

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced or minced
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • cups chicken stock
  • 2 lemons

Instructions
 

Marinate

  • Mix all the marinade ingredients, add the chicken thighs and let the magic happen.

Cook the chicken

  • Half an hour before cooking, take the thighs out of the fridge and place them in a wire rack (over the bowl or a pan) to drain most of the buttermilk. Let chicken reach room temperature.
    Pat skin dry with a paper towel.
  • Preheat the oven to 400° F / 200° C. 
  • Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set it aside on a plate.
  • To the same pan, add the butter, garlic, and lemon slices. Cook for about 2-3 minutes to infuse the butter with the lemon and garlic flavors.
  • Add the orzo. Cook until the orzo is toasted for about 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat and stir gently. Turn down the heat.
  • Place the chicken and the juices left on the plate back into the pan. Transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Notes

Nutritional Info – Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided is only an estimate and can vary based on the products used.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 567kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 27gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 1513mgPotassium: 579mgFiber: 2gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 370IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 132mgIron: 2mg
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Buttermilk Chicken Thighs With Lemon Garlic Orzo

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