Whenever I cook a whole chicken, or really just about any chicken on the bone, I like to brine the chicken.  Brines, really just a mixture of water, sugar and salt, are a great way to add additional moisture and flavor to meat like chicken.  They also work really well with pork, and you can find a similar pork brine here.  In this recipe video, I show you how to make a simple flavored brine that works really well with chicken.  While brining takes some time (mostly just marinating time in the fridge) if you can plan ahead a bit, I guarantee you’ll end up with a better finished chicken that is moist, tender and absolutely delicious.  Enjoy!

CHICKEN BRINE RECIPE

Ingredients for Chicken Brine

  • 2 quarts of water (about half of which will be ice)
  • 1/2 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 roughly chopped onion
  • 1 roughly chopped carrot
  • A couple tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Heaping tablespoon of Thyme

Recipe Overview & Keys to Success

Making a brine is very simple and there aren't really are any tricks.  Just watch these couple things:

  1. Make sure you don’t burn the onion, carrot, garlic.  I like them nicely softened/slightly browned, as that gives up a lot of flavor.  Just don’t walk away and burn them…or your brine will taste burnt
  2. You need enough salt and sugar to make the water taste salty and sweet.  Taste the brine before you add the chicken.  It should definitely be salty/sweet, but if it tastes “bad” in any sense of word, add some more water to dilute it out.
  3. Finally, make sure your brine is cold before using it.  You do not want to enable bacteria growth, by using a hot or warm brine.

Making the Brine

  • Coarsely chop the onion, carrot and garlic, and sauté in a pot with some olive oil until the onions & garlic are soft – about 10 minutes
  • Add the thyme and stir to combine; let cook for about 30 seconds
  • Add the salt and sugar and stir to combine
  • Add about a quart of water, and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar
  • Turn off the heat
  • Pour the brine into a large bowl into which you’ve you place ice cubes; about another quarts worth of water, but there is no reason to measure – just use a couple cups
  • Allow the ice to melt, and taste
  • Add any additional water to further dilute the brine; or salt/sugar to make it stronger; allow to cool in the fridge, and you’re ready to use.

To use the brine, allow the chicken to sit submerged for 5 – 8 hours, or even overnight.  Hope you enjoy it, and let me know how it goes.

Total Time: 
300minutes
Prep Time: 
300minutes
Cuisine: 
American
Main Ingredient: 
How to Cook Chicken