I'm trying a new recipe and I was told to soak my boneless skinless chicken thighs in milk with a little spices. Let them soak for a while then take them out of the milk and then drop them in seasoned bread crumbs. Cook for about 20 minutes with foil on and another 10 without foil. It sounded good so I am going to try it. Does this sound like it should work?

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    It's hard to say whether it will work without knowing what "work" means. What's the expected benefit?
    – jscs
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 20:03
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    It won't "hurt" it in any way I can think of, so go ahead and try. I like chicken baked in a "breading" from yogurt and ground spices, but haven't run across other dairy-based marinades personally.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 21:02
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    It won't hurt the chicken, because the chicken is dead. (SCNR.)
    – Erik P.
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 21:25
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    Hurt? Studies show that mixing meat with milk degrades digestive absorption of milk calcium due to abundance of iron in meat. It hurts the milk not the chicken.
    – Cynthia
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 6:20

2 Answers 2


Soaking chicken in milk or buttermilk in the refrigerator overnight is a common practice when making Southern-style fried chicken. This practice supposedly tenderizes the chicken through the actions of enzymes naturally present in the milk. Yoghurt is used in a similar way in many Middle Eastern and southern Asian food ways.

The milk can be used alone, but is often seasoned with onions, garlic, or spices.


I can hear one lone salmonella on a piece of chicken shouting "yipee!" as the chicken lands in the milk marinade, which is pretty clever for something unicellular that doesn't have lungs.

There has to be more control than "a little while" in the milk.

Off the top of my head, I'd suggest no more than a half hour in milk, and then the dunk in breadcrumbs and cooking has to happen in the next few minutes. If the overnight immersion is wanted, do that in the refrigerator so the temperature does not get over 4 degC .

I don't see anything bad about the procedure, and it might make a big difference to the final dish - but there is not a lot of point in making Southern fried bugs as a by-product.

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    I've made numerous recipes that called for overnight soaks in milk or milk products (eg: yoghurt). Is there any reason salmonella rate of production would increase when the chicken is combined with milk? Obviously, this would be done in fridge, covered well, etc... as with ANY chicken marinade.
    – talon8
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 15:56
  • @talon8 - the whole purpose of the post is to remind people to use the fridge. Salmonella production will increase when the chicken is covered with milk, they are facultative anaerobes, so they like to be covered by the milk and use the small amount of oxygen dissolved in the milk for growth. Chilling stops them growing.
    – klypos
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 23:40
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    The part about milk accelerating growth of salmonella is really good information, but your answer didn't really explain that. I think this disclaimer would be a helpful comment, and that is really good to know. I'll be sure to be even more carefull with such marinades. As it stands though, I think this makes a better comment then a full answer, as it doesn't answer the OPs question of "will this work".
    – talon8
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 3:47
  • LOL - the answer is that it will not work, unless care is taken to avoid "laxative bugs", although it has to be said that chicken producers are conscious of the need for care these days. Didn't want to put the OP off the dish. If you want belt and braces safety, or room temperature marinading, you can quickly sear all the meat surfaces, then score the surfaces lightly to let the marinade penetrate the meat. How easy that is to do depends on how cleanly the meat was cut.
    – klypos
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 10:59
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    Yes, but even if you change the original question to "if I soak my chicken in milk IN THE FRIDGE... will ... ?", which I assume they would do, now knowing the inherent dangers, they're still right where they started not knowing the answer to their question, which is the point of providing "answers".
    – talon8
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 15:29

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