Monday, June 24, 2013

Mrs. Wilkes' Baked Buttermilk Chicken

On West Jones street in Savannah is a landmark of Southern cooking, and, no, it's not Paula Deen's restaurant. It's Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room (previously Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse), started by Sema Wilkes in 1943 in an old boardinghouse, and run by her until her death in 2002 at the age of 95. The family runs it now, in the same way Sema did - a true "family-style" environment. There is no menu - diners all sit in a large table for 10, already plated with food, and the diners all pass the dishes around to one another. Fried chicken and biscuits are ALWAYS on the table - a Southern classic always. 

Mrs. Wilkes' baked buttermilk chicken is another one of her well-loved dishes, and thankfully, she shared the recipe in her wonderful cookbook. The chicken is wonderfully moist, but the gravy, with the wonderful tang of buttermilk, is the standout star. I used the extra gravy in the pan for my mashed potatoes

Mrs. Wilkes' Baked Buttermilk Chicken

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed & patted dry with paper towels
2 cups buttermilk, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

Dip the chicken in 1 cup of the buttermilk. 

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne in a shallow dish. Dredge the buttermilk-dipped chicken into the flour mixture, covering the meat completely. 

Add the melted butter to a 13x9" baking dish. Place the dipped & dredged chicken into the pan and bake, uncovered, in a 425° oven for 30 minutes. 

Flip the chicken over and bake for another 15 minutes. 

Whisk the remaining 1 cup of buttermilk with the cream of mushroom soup. Pour over the chicken and bake for another 15 minutes (1 hour of total baking time).


  1. I made this a couple of nights ago, and it turned out GREAT! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. You're welcome, Brian! Glad you enjoyed it!!

  2. I've been making a similar recipe for years w/o the gravy. In my family, we make it w/bisquick, but this is such a great recipe. We also use whole chicken pieces. If you have a crowd coming over, you can bake a huge pan of (oven baked) chicken with no problem. And it's delicious to boot! Thank you!