How to make brined chicken
Thinking about delicious brined chicken recipes? Just in time for Thanksgiving, and the dry chicken will never make a family dinner better. However, juicy, tender, and flavorful chicken can easily save the day, awkward conversations notwithstanding.
Although brining a turkey is more popular around this time of the year, regular chicken bought in supermarkets can be brined. The process is pretty much the same, but the outcome is a little different.
Chicken is a naturally lean type of meat, and it has less saturated fat than other types of meat. While it is a healthier alternative, its meat is more prone to drying out.
Brine chicken absorbs the broth that it is marinated in and keeps the moisture and flavor of the fresh herbs and seasoning. Brine chicken is popular because it is fairly easy to make, and not to mention, it is delicious and versatile.
Brining Chicken and Other Meats
The process of brining chicken and other meats is soaking them in a saltwater solution, along with other kinds of seasoning. There are no rules about what you can add in the solution that you want the meat to soak in — whatever goes well can go in the container. The ratio is about one cup of kosher salt to one gallon of water, which can vary depending on the salt you are using. Just estimate the solution using a scale if you have one.
Brine chicken is a little bit fancier and labor-intensive than simply rubbing the chicken with some premade seasoning. The process is pretty easy, but the best part about brining chicken and other meats is the recipes you can make with them after. Brine chicken and meat are a total winner, from the juiciest roast chicken to fried chicken with crispy skin to savory barbecues.
How to Brine Chicken
The most important part of brine chicken is the wet brine solution. The final product’s flavor will depend entirely on the spices, herbs, and seasoning you will use with the saline mixture. A typical brine solution will include salt, pepper, sugar, and cloves of garlic.
Add honey, lemon, bay leaves, soy sauce, rosemary, and thyme if you want to be more elaborate. Plus, you can think of a few other native ingredients that will go well with the other seasoning.
Everything went in a large stockpot and simmered until the salt had completely dissolved. Stir them together every once in a while to aid the salt and sugar in dissolving faster. Turn off the heat and allow the brine to cool completely to room temperature.
Add in the chicken, cover, and refrigerate. The time for marinating might vary, and two hours for skinless chicken breast, four hours for the red meat like chicken thighs and legs, and 12 hours up to overnight for a whole chicken.
It is not recommended that you brine your chicken for longer than 24 hours, which might make the meat too salty and inedible. After brining, remove the chicken from the solution and wash off excess salt with tap water from the sink. Pat completely dry with a paper towel to prevent the chicken from steaming in the oven in an unpleasant texture and taste.
Brine Chicken Tips
Kosher salt works best for brining chicken. Table salt might be too salty, but if it is the only one available, be sure to adjust your ratio with the water. Submerging the entire chicken in the brine is best, so this recipe works best with smaller cut chicken.
With a whole chicken, you need to use an extra-large pot. You can also try amping up the seasoning — try brown sugar, orange juice or extract, fresh sage, dried chiles, and even a bit of vinegar.
Best Chicken Brine Recipes
As you may have figured out by now, brining chicken is pretty easy. There’s no need to make it elaborate and time-consuming, but you can if you want to. Experimenting with the brine solution is part of the fun of making brine chicken.
After you have your flavor-packed chicken, you are now ready to make some of the most delicious birds on the menu. Check out some of the best chicken brine recipes below.
Slow-Cooked Whole Brine Chicken
This whole brine chicken recipe cooked in a slow cooker is a rotisserie-style seasoned chicken that’s perfect for any day of the week. It is easy and tasty and can even use leftover raw chicken in the freezer that has been there for weeks. Whole brine chicken is also recommended.
- Whole brine chicken with the neck and giblets removed
- Cooking spray or oil
- One tablespoon of brown sugar
- Two teaspoons of salt
- One teaspoon of black pepper
- ½ teaspoon of garlic (powdered or minced)
- ½ teaspoon of onion (powdered or minced)
- One tablespoon of smoked paprika (optional)
- Mix all the brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.
- Coat a large slow cooker with cooking spray or brush over with a thin layer of cooking oil. Roll a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil into a ring shape to serve as a rack inside the slow cooker.
- Rub the spices on the whole chicken before placing it on top of the foil ring.
- Cover and cook on high for three to four hours or use a meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the thigh. Wait until the heat reads at 165°F (75°C) or a bit higher.
- Move the chicken to a sheet pan or baking dish and broil in the oven for four to five minutes or until the chicken skin is brown and crispy. Serve hot with gravy and mashed potatoes.
Korean Fried Brine Chicken
Korean fried chicken is becoming more popular nowadays, together with other Korean dishes like kimchi and kimbap. This brine chicken recipe can be regular ‘ol delicious crispy fried chicken, or you can amp it up with some sauce like honey garlic and soy barbecue.
- One lb. (about half a kilogram) of chicken wings, drumettes, and wingettes
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- ½ cup of potato starch
- Cooking oil, enough for deep-frying
- White sesame for garnishing (optional)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of Korean gojuchang (red pepper paste)
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of hot water
- 2 tablespoons of honey (sweetened or unsweetened)
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- Season the chicken with some salt and black pepper to taste.
- Coat each piece well with potato starch—Preheat the oil in a deep skillet or pan to 375°F (190°C).
- While waiting for the oil to heat up, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Stir to mix well and set aside for later.
- Coat the chicken with the second layer of potato starch. Shake off the excess and drop them gently into the oil for deep frying. Cook until the skin is golden brown and the insides are thoroughly cooked.
- Remove from heat and place on plates with paper towels to drain excess oil. Pour in the dressing and toss until the wings are all coated. Garnish with sesame seeds and some parsley if you have it. Serve and enjoy.
Brine Chicken Barbeque
Smoked chicken barbecue is surprisingly less popular than pork or beef barbecue, which doesn’t mean it isn’t as delicious or juicy as these other types of meat. If brined well and seasoned for barbecue, even bland chicken breast can become the next big hit at your family get-togethers.
- Brine chicken, preferably breast fillet, butterfly cut, or legs, and thighs, but any part will do
- Barbecue skewers
The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce
- 1 slice of bacon
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cups of tomato ketchup
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
- ¼ cup of molasses
- 2 tablespoons of red or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- ½ of an onion (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika (optional)
- Set aside the brine after you pat dry it to let it air dry some more. Make the sauce by wrapping the bacon around the bunch of thyme and tying a kitchen twine or something to keep the bundle together.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the bacon thyme and cook slowly for 3 to 4 minutes to render the bacon fat. Add the onion and garlic and the remaining ingredients, stir the sauce, and turn the heat down to low.
- Cook slowly for 20 minutes to meld the flavors together. Turn off the heat and remove about 1 and 1⁄2 cups of the sauce. Set aside for dipping at the table later. The rest of the barbecue sauce will be used for basing the chicken.
- Prepare your outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue to medium heat. Blot a small amount of oil on the grill to make a nonstick surface. Pat the brined chicken dry and arrange the chicken to cook. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once halfway.
- You can opt to bake the chicken to make it extra tender. In any case, baste the chicken with the sauce liberally every time you flip it.
- Serve with the set-aside sauce earlier and enjoy with rice, grilled vegetables, and corn.
Baked Fried Brine Chicken
Instead of deep-frying your brine chicken, opt for a lighter-in-calories option and bake them. Still juicy and crispy, baked, fried brine chicken will quickly turn into a typical family favorite. Serve it with gravy, some delicious mashed potatoes, vegetables on the side, and you have yourself a fulfilling yet easy meal.
- Slices of chicken tenders or fillet
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- ¾ cups of flour
- ¼ cup of cornmeal
- 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- Kosher salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon of onion powder
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika (optional)
- Chopped parsley (optional)
- Place the brine chicken tenders in the buttermilk and marinate for at least 30 minutes up to 8 hours. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C) and place a sheet pan in it for 10 minutes.
- Mix the flour, cornmeal, panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika on a large plate. Stir to mix well.
- Take each piece of chicken tender out of the buttermilk mixture and put them on the plate with the flour mixture. Turn each piece to coat everything evenly.
- Remove the sheet pan from the oven and melt the butter on it for a minute or two. Make sure the butter coats the entire sheet evenly.
- Place the chicken in a single layer on the sheet pan with the melted butter. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip.
- Bake for 8 more minutes or until the tops are golden brown and crispy. You can broil it for 2 to 3 minutes if it isn’t crispy enough. Sprinkle with parsley as a garnish and serve.
Benefits of Brine Chicken
The magic behind brine chicken and other brine meats is simple: salt. As a compound, salt helps the meat maintain moisture, and it breaks down proteins so the meat won’t contract and dry out while cooking. Broken down protein means less water is lost, thus, a juicier piece of meat despite undergoing intense heat while cooking.
Not to mention, salted meat is much tastier than just cooking it plain. In that way, the brine solution, whether wet or dry brine, works both as a tenderizer, seasoning, and moisture-retaining agent for the chicken. While brining your chicken may seem like an additional cooking step that will take up more time in the kitchen, it is worth it.
Brine chicken is simple and can be done with ingredients already found in your kitchen cabinets. Even with just a simple saline solution, it can bring out more flavor from an ordinary bird. The best thing is that you can add in whatever seasoning and herbs you want.
So long as they go well together, they will be absorbed by the chicken and result in a delicious, tender, and juicy roasted, fried, or barbecued chicken. With multiple special occasions in the coming months, brine chicken is perfect for impressing your family but mostly just for a satisfying and full meal.