A brine is simply a solution made up of salt and water that you use to soak meat (like chicken) for a period of time before cooking. Brining chicken helps infuse flavors and evenly season the meat before cooking and also keeps chicken tender while cooking.
After many failed chicken recipes with dry or unseasoned meat, I’ve learned my lesson to always brine chicken ahead of time. Even if I am cooking chicken the same day, I try to reserve at least two hours to brine chicken first because it’s worth it. You can also infuse chicken with different flavors like citrus or herbs using brines, too. Learn how to make an easy chicken brine with our recipe below.
Chicken brine ingredients
This chicken brine includes ingredients that are a balance of fresh herbs, acidity from citrus, and savory seasonings like garlic and soy sauce. I like to bring all the ingredients to a boil over a partial amount of water in a saute pot and simmer for a minute. This simmering allows the ingredients to release extra flavor into the brine.
For this chicken brine recipe, I use a combination of limes, rosemary, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, honey, salt, peppercorns, soy sauce, and parsley. You can switch out ingredients you have on hand or prefer, like lemons, shallots, or other herbs like oregano.
How long to brine the chicken
Depending on what part of the chicken you’re cooking, brining chicken should take anywhere between 2 hours to 24 hours. Here’s a simple guide I use:
- Boneless and skinless: 2-6 hours
- Bone-in with skin: 2-8 hours
- Whole chicken: 8-24 hours
How to cook the chicken after brining
What’s great about this simple brining method is that you can use it for any cooking method. I’ve brined chicken for grilled chicken (like chicken inasal or smoked chicken thighs), fried chicken (like karaage or katsu), or baked chicken thighs
How to adjust future brine recipes
I use a 25% rule of thumb for adjusting chicken brines for future recipes that apply to the saltiness and flavor. If your chicken needs to be more salty, add 25% more brining time. For example, if you originally brined for 2 hours, try brining chicken for 2 hours and 30 minutes next time. If you want more flavor infused from your herbs, add 25% more spices to the following brine.
Chicken Brine Recipe
- 8 c filtered water separated by 2 cups and 6 cups
- ½ c (73 g) kosher salt Diamond brand
- 2 tbsp (44 g) honey
- 2 tbsp (28 g) soy sauce
- 2 limes cut into quarters
- 10 sprigs (3 g) fresh thyme
- 5 sprigs (15 g) fresh parsley
- 2 sprigs (8 g) fresh rosemary
- 10 cloves (25 g) garlic smashed
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp (9 g) whole black peppercorns
- 4 lb whole chicken
- 5 tbsp (70 g) unsalted butter softened
- 3 sprigs (1 g) fresh thyme minced
- 2 sprigs (5 g) fresh parsley minced
- 1 sprig (1 g) fresh rosemary minced
- 1 tsp (3.2 g) kosher salt
- ¼ tsp (1 g) garlic powder
- ¼ tsp (1 g) onion powder
- knife and cutting board
- saute pot
- weighted scale or measuring cups & spoons
- large bowl
- In a small saute pot, combine 2 cups of filtered water, limes, rosemary, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, honey, kosher salt, peppercorns, soy sauce, and parsley. Bring to a boil and let simmer for one minute.
- Remove from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the brine and the rest of the water. Stir until it’s incorporated. Let the brine come to room temperature on the counter.
- Add the chicken and make sure it’s completely covered.
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 8 hours and not more than 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 415 °F convection.
- Combine all the ingredients in the compound butter and mix until incorporated.
- Spatchcock the chicken by using kitchen shears to remove the spine. Flip the bird so the bird is breast/skin side up and bone side down. Put both of your hands on the breast and firmly press down so the bone breaks and the chicken lays flat.
- Use a paper towel to dry the chicken.
- Cover the chicken with the compound butter thoroughly. Use your hands to gently peel the skin from the flesh and put butter between the skin and the meat.
- Place the chicken in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes total, rotating halfway. Chicken is done when the deepest part of the breast near the bone hits about 147 °F, and the deepest part of the thigh measures around 180 °F.