Learn to Brine & Get Juicy Chicken Every Time

I’m envisioning perfectly crisped skin and juicy, flavorful meat…..you know how you guarantee that?! BRINE! Chicken is one of the leanest meats and especially if you’re cooking over dry heat, aka roasting in the oven or cooking on a grill, it can be tough to get that juicy end product you’re hoping for. Brining will help you do just that!

The point of a brine is to force moisture into the meat, along with salt and any other flavors you add. I’ll walk you through the basic recipe and give you some tips on how to make it your own.

Basic Brine Recipe

All you need is water, salt and sugar. That’s it! From there you can get creative, but we will just start with the basics.

Feel free to adjust amounts as needed, keeping the ratio the same. For instance, if you’re doing a whole bird, you may want to double this. If you’re just doing two legs, you may want to half. It just depends on what you’ll be brining in - you don’t need as much if you’re vacuum sealing or placing in a ziploc, but if you’re using a bowl, you’ll need more liquid to make sure all parts of the meat are submerged.

  • 4 cups warm water

  • 1/4 cup salt

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix all these ingredients until dissolved and let cool in the fridge.

Place your meat, whether it be a spatchcocked chicken (learn how here) or a few leg quarters, in the container you will be brining in. I’d suggest either a ziplock bag, bag you can vacuum seal if you wanna be real fancy, or even just a big bowl you can cover.

Once brine is cool, add any additional ingredients (per suggestions below) and pour over your meat. If you’re using a bowl, make sure you use something to keep your meat submerged in the brine. This is why we love using a ziploc or vacuum sealed bag. It makes sure all meat is covered with liquid. If you do use a ziploc, make sure to place on a plate so that any liquid that leaks doesn’t end up all over your fridge….we may have learned this the hard way.

You’ll want to brine a whole spatchcocked chicken for 12-24 hours or a few leg quarters for 8-16 hours. And to ensure crispy skin, make sure to remove meat from brine, wrap in foil or plastic, and let sit in the fridge another 12 hours before cooking. This allows the meat to absorb the moisture from the skin.

Sweet & Smoky Brine

This is a delicious combo and amazing for brining a spatchcocked chicken for the grill.

  • whole orange or grapefruit

  • ancho chiles

With the peel on, slice the orange into thick slices. Rip or chop chiles apart. Add both ingredients to your basic brine recipe once cooled.

Below is a video we did with our friend Donnie who walked us through the steps of brining using these ingredients, enjoy!

Donnie in the video above suggests vacuum sealing a bag if you’re able. IT gives the meat great contact with the brine and it’s less likely to leak all over your fridge! The below picture was our bag when we were done, so beautiful!

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Other Brine Add-Ins

  • Garlic cloves

  • Large hunks of onion

  • Whole Peppercorns

  • Lemon

  • Herbs

  • Dry rub mixes

  • Apples

Cooking Your Brined Chicken

Make sure to pat dry your meat before cooking. Brined meat is delicious roasted or grilled, but just remember that brining actually makes the meat cook faster. We suggest using a meat thermometer to make sure you don’t over cook. You’ll want to cook chicken until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees.

Whether you roast or grill, we suggest finishing your chicken skin side up to crisp the skin. We hope you enjoy your tender, juicy chicken!

Tell us in the comments below what was most helpful and if you get to give brining a try.