Brining your chicken may seem like an unnecessary extra step but this easy peasy first step will result in juicy, moist chicken every time. Not to mention it will cover a multitude of kitchen mistakes, like overcooking.
You can also check out our tutorial on how to perfectly brine and roast salmon.
Please read the entire post for tips and tricks to ensure a perfect recipe every time. And don't forget to tag @peelwithzeal on Instagram so we can admire your creation!
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I firmly believe that we can all be great home chefs. And what sets a good home cooked meal apart from simply heating up food are the tips and tricks we learn over a lifetime.
Back when the Food Network actually had shows that taught you how to cook, think late 90s. Chef David Rosenthal had a show called "Taste", he taught me basic recipes like how to make the most awesome tuna salad and most importantly to brine chicken breast. I picked up so many tips and tricks from these shows.
And the lost of art of brining chicken is the one I still use every week. So why is brining so important? Well... let's answer that and a few more commonly asked chicken brine questions.
Chicken Brine FAQs
Brining was originally used for food preservation but today brining can add flavor to the chicken and ensure moistness (even if you overcook it a bit).
Have you ever had chicken at a restaurant that tastes extra chickeny? That chicken was brined.
Osmosis! When you soak the chicken in the salt water it travels through the meat to even out both water and salt levels. Unlike when you are trying to fit into your favorite jeans, here water retention is good!
A wet brine is a saltwater solution that the chicken is submerged in. While a dry brine isn't actually a brine but the beginning of the meat curing process.
Both are delicious but we recommend starting with the traditional wet brine.
Always use kosher salt. And keep in mind different brands have different structures.
We use Diamond Crystal in the Peel household. Mortons is the other most common brand in the US. Cook's Illustrated did a study comparison and Diamond Crystal has a larger structure so it contains less salt than an equal volume of Mortons.
It doesn't matter which brand you use, it matters that you are consistent in your cooking so you get a feel for how much of your preferred kosher salt is the right amount when seasoning food.
I don't recommend table salt for brining, it will cause the meat to be too salty.
Yes! We often buy high quality chicken in bulk and brine overnight. Dry the chicken and then repackage into smaller containers.
As long as you follow directions and don't over brine the chicken it should be fine. Always rinse and pat dry the chicken to remove excess salt.
When seasoning chicken that has been brined I always go lighter than the recipes calls for just in case and season to taste at the end.
All cuts can be brined, from a whole chicken, wings and boneless skinless breasts.
We always brine our shawarma chicken wings- those tiny little suckers dry out fast.
Chicken Brine Instructions
Time needed: 1 hour.
Step by step instructions for how to brine any type of chicken.
- Make the Brine
Combine warm water and salt into a large pot. Stir to dissolve the salt.
Most recipes will say to boil the water to dissolve the salt. I don't find this necessary unless my salt won't dissolve.
- Add the Seasonings
Add peppercorns, lemons, herbs and other spices as desired. If freezing the chicken post-brine I skip the seasonings. Seasonings should reflect the flavor of the dish you are making. When in doubt, peppercorns and garlic are safe bets.
I never add sugar to my chicken brine. While I see it many recipes I find it tastes funny with chicken. Although, I do use sugar when brining pork.
- Add the Chicken
The chicken should be completely submerged. Use a plate to hold the chicken down, if necessary.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, up to overnight.
- 3 lbs chicken breast, whole or pieces
- 1 gallon water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 3-5 sprigs hearty herbs rosemary, thyme, oregano
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 2 bay leafs
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 1 Tbsp whole peppercorns any color
- Rinse and trim your chicken.
- In a nonreactive bowl, combine water and salt. Stir until salt is dissolved. Add chicken. Weight down the chicken with a plate to ensure it is full emerged. Add any combination of your optional flavorings.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight. If you brine longer than overnight rinse the chicken before cooking to get rid of excess salt.
- Cook according to your recipe instructions.