How to Brine Chicken

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How to Brine Chicken

Three Methods:

Brining meats before cooking them is an effective way to increase the moisture and tenderness of the meat before roasting. This is especially important for chicken, which often gets dry in the oven. The process of soaking the meat in salted water causes the chicken to absorb some of the water through osmosis, making it moister when cooked. You can also work with dry brines, which lead to crispy skin and keep the natural moisture in the bird without the hassle of a wet brine.

  • Prep time (Wet): 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 8-12 hours (active cooking: 10 minutes)
  • Total time: 8-12 hours


Making A Wet Brine

  1. Pour some water into a large bowl, up to a gallon.The bowl will need to be large enough to submerge all of the chicken you are cooking, but also able to fit into your refrigerator. Fill the bowl with enough water to cover the chicken completely. Consider using warm water as you will be dissolving some solids into solution.
  2. Add 3/4 cup of salt for every gallon of water.All brine contains salt, as it is necessary to force the water into the meat's cells. The amount of salt used can vary greatly, but start by adding 3/4 cup of kosher salt per gallon of water (46 ml of salt per liter of water). Stir the salt into the water to dissolve it.
  3. Add sugar to the water.Sugar, while not required in a brine, is a useful ingredient to brown the skin. Adding sugar to a brine will increase the amount of caramelization achieved when cooking the chicken, regardless of cooking method. Try adding the same amount of sugar as salt. You can use any type of sugar, including white, brown, turbinado, or even molasses or honey. Stir the water to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Add any other desired seasonings to the brine.You can also add other ingredients to your brine to season the chicken. Peppercorns, fresh herbs, and fruit juices are all options for seasoning a brine. Some great ingredients to mix and match include:
    • Add aromatics such as: 2-4 cloves of garlic (crushed with a knife), bay leaves, a handful thyme, sage, or rosemary sprigs, 2-3 tablespoons uncracked peppercorns, parsley, juice from 1-2 large lemons or oranges, bay leaves, or 1-2 tablespoons of mustard, cumin, or coriander seeds.
    • Beer and Tyme Brine:Mix 4 12-ounce cans beer (lager, like Budweiser), 1 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, Small handful of thyme sprigs, 5 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper, and 6 cups ice in a large saucepot.
    • Rosemary Lemon Brine:1 small onion, thinly sliced, 4 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 cup Kosher salt, 5 or 6 branches rosemary, 1 liter water, juice of 1 lemon.
  5. Boil your brine mixture before adding chicken if you have added seasonings.Otherwise, the flavors won't penetrate the chicken. Add all ingredients (salt, sugar, water, seasonings etc.) and bring to a boil for approximately 1 minute. Allow to cool completely before moving on.
  6. Place the chicken into the brining solution.Make sure that the chicken is fully submerged in the brine. You can use a brine for either a whole chicken or for smaller pieces of chicken; the process is the same either way.
  7. Place the brine in the refrigerator and let it soak.Place the entire bowl into the refrigerator, covering it with plastic wrap. Let the chicken soak in the brining solution for several hours. For small pieces, 1 or 2 hours is sufficient, while 8 to12 hours is ideal for a whole chicken. If you can't spare that much time, a brine will still impart flavor and improve tenderness if used for only a short period of time, at least 2 hours.
    • Never brine chicken at room temperature, as this can lead to bacteria growth.
  8. Remove the chicken from the brine.Take the chicken out of the brining solution and pat off the excess water before cooking. Dispose of the brining solution by pouring it down the drain.

Making a Dry Brine

  1. Know that dry brines keep your chicken flavorful and the skin extra crispy.While wet brines are the traditional way to prep a roast chicken, many chefs are starting to experiment with dry brines instead, which lead to a more robust texture. The salt draws out moisture, which dissolves the salt into a thin, natural wet brine that the chicken then reabsorbs.
    • Use course sea salt or kosher whenever possible for a dry brine. Fine-grained salts, like table salt, will coat too much of the chicken, dissolve too quickly, and make the final roast taste too salty.
  2. Pat the chicken dry.Use a paper towel to get as much moisture off the outside of the chicken as you can. You do not have to rub it down or squeeze water out, a simple pat-down will do.
  3. Mix your dry brine in a small bowl before applying.Dry brines are simply massaged into the chicken and are made almost completely of salt. That said, you can mix in other spices and flavors as well. Start with roughly 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt for every pound of chicken you have (4lb chicken, 4 teaspoons salt), then add any of the following spices that you want:
    • 2 tsp cracked black pepper.
    • 1 tsp paprika, chili powder, or cayenne
    • 1 tsp rosemary or thyme
    • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  4. Massage the salt evenly into every side of the chicken.Rub the top, bottom, inside, and outside of the chicken with your dry brine. Use a little extra salt on thicker parts, like thighs and breasts.
    • You want an even, generous coating of salt. The whole chicken shouldn't be coated in salt, but there should be a fair amount of kernels on everything.
    • You may need an extra 1/2 teaspoon of salt to complete the brine.
  5. Cover the chicken and let it refrigerate between 2 and 24 hours.The longer you let the chicken brine, the better the results. Still, if you are in a hurry then you should see some results after two hours.
    • Aim for an overnight brining, at the very least. Two hours will work, but it will not be incredibly effective. The longer you let your chicken brine, the better. Try not to exceed 24 hours, however.
  6. Remove the chicken and pat it dry.There should not be much excess moisture on the chicken, and all the salt should be dissolved. Still, pat down any extra moisture or wet areas with a paper towel if you see them. When you're done you're ready to get the chicken in the oven and add any extra flavors.
    • Try stuffing lemon wedges, garlic gloves, and springs of herbs in the chest cavity or between the legs and wings for added flavors.

Roasting your Chicken

  1. Consider butterflying the meat for crispier skin and moister breast meat.Roast chickens are notoriously hard to keep moist, especially where the breast meat is concerned. Butterflying is when you cut and split the chicken, providing a more even cooking surface for optimum crispiness. This is best done before brining, but can be done afterward as well. To butterfly a whole chicken:
    • Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut out the spine of the chicken. This is the long bone in the center of the chicken on the opposite side as the breast meat.
    • Place the chicken breast-side up on a cutting board.
    • Use the heel of your hand to press straight into the center of the breastbone. You'll hear a crack and the chicken will flatten down.
    • Lightly brush the entire top surface with olive oil.
  2. Preheat your oven to 500°F with a rack in the middle of the oven.Make sure there are no other racks above the middle one. Get out a roasting or baking pan and place your chicken in the center.
  3. Add any aromatics you want to the chicken.Aromatics, like herbs and lemon, add flavor to your roast. Squeeze the juice of a large lemon on the chicken, add sprigs of rosemary or thyme between the wings and thighs, or crack some black pepper on top of the breasts.
    • If the chicken is whole, stuff lemon slices, garlic cloves, and herbs into the cavity in the middle of the chicken to your liking.
  4. Place the chicken in the oven, basting every 10-12 minutes.Basting is taking the hot oil and juice from the pan and spreading them on top of the chicken. This helps the chicken stay moist and gets the skin nice and crispy. Use a baster or a cooking brush to reapply the liquid from the pan on the chicken. Try not to leave the oven open for too long as you work -- this causes the heat to drop too quickly and slows cooking.
  5. Cook the chicken for 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer in the breast reads 150°F.Breast meat is best at this temperature, and thigh meat needs to be 170°F to be safe. If the outsides start to darken before the insides are fully cooked, lower the oven temperature to 450°F.
  6. Let the chicken stand before cutting into it.You need to let the chicken rest, otherwise all the juice will leave the meat when you cut into it. Set the chicken aside on a cutting board and tent it loosely with aluminum foil. After 5-6 minutes, you can remove the foil, cut into the chicken, and start eating.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How long can I keep the used brine?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Never keep used brine. Discard it immediately after use. Used brine is a dangerous breeding ground for bacteria from the chicken.
  • Question
    Should I season my chicken after using a wet brine of sea salt, sugar & soy sauce?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you should. The brine don't give full flavor to the chicken. But go easy with the salt, since the soy sauce is already salty.
  • Question
    Can you fry chicken that has been soaked in brine?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Absolutely. It makes for juicy, flavorful fried chicken.
  • Question
    Can I brine the chicken in hot water and salt?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Never start a brine in hot water! You could end up with salmonella. Use lukewarm water enable the salt/sugar you put in to dissolve and then add ice water to cool your brine BEFORE placing any poultry into it.
  • Question
    Can I use regular table salt in a wet brine for a chicken?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes. Many people find that table salt (uniodized) dissolves faster than other types of salt.
  • Question
    Can I slow roast brined chicken?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, try it at 250 degrees for moist chicken. Or, try smoking a whole chicken at 225-250 with apple wood/pecan wood mixture. Time depends on weight of the bird.
  • Question
    What temperature should I cook split chicken breasts at? 350?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Sure, 350 or 375 degrees is fine. Make sure the juice runs clear and the meat is no longer pink before you remove them from the oven. Depending on the weight of the chicken, it typically takes 25 minutes for boneless and 40 or so for bone-in breasts.
  • Question
    Can I brine the chicken and then freeze it?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If the meat was previously frozen, you shouldn't refreeze it unless you cook it beforehand. Refreezing before cooking meat alters the protein structure and produces a mealy texture when cooked. If the meat has not been previously frozen, then yes, you can do this.
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  • The amount of time the chicken will cook will depend on its size, so start checking smaller chickens (4lbs or so) around 35 minutes.


  • Using a meat thermometer is essential to prevent the risk of food poisoning.

Things You'll Need

  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Kosher salt
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sugar
  • Chicken
  • Plastic wrap (optional)
  • Refrigerator
  • Paper towels

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Quick Summary

To brine chicken, start by adding 3/4 of a cup of salt to 1 gallon ofwater. Then, mix in some sugar and other seasonings, like crushed garlic, sage, and rosemary. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let it fully cool. Next, place the chicken in the brining solution and cover it with plastic wrap. Finally, put the chicken in the fridge and let it soak in the brining solution for 8-12 hours.

Success Stories

Gene Bates

May 22

"I've struggled with cooking chicken that's moist and tender. I had been told that brining is the best way to keepbaked chicken and turkey moist, so I am going to give it a try."


Aug 27, 2019

"I found the ratio of salt to water rather helpful. Several recipes that I have use a lot less salt, and I find thatthey don't work as well as when I used this ratio."


May 26, 2019

"What helped specifically was the use of less salt after brining. I could never get the meat seasoned just right,but brining really helped. Thank you so much!"

Ingrid Smith

Sep 13, 2019

"I had forgotten about brining the chicken and any meats for that matter. Anyway I just wanted my food to taste waybetter than it had been."


Jan 15, 2019

"First time to brine chicken or any poultry. Step-by-step directions with photographs of the process were veryhelpful! Thank you!"

Martin Hayott

May 20, 2019

"I am very happy I found your website. Your instructions were spot on! Thank you for bringing happiness to my home.God bless. "


Jul 16, 2019

"I was so glad to learn that I should not wet-brine my (butterflied) chicken for more than 2 hours or it would tastetoo salty!"

Rajendra Chaudhari

Jun 8, 2019

"Really liked how the procedures were explained in a way that every layman can understand and implement."

Troy Williams

Mar 10, 2019

"Praise Jesus Christ, information are very interesting, can't wait to try out the ideas. A big thanks."


Dec 23, 2019

"Going to try dry-brining skinless boneless chicken breasts, then using them to make chicken parm."

Sharon Hougham

Oct 4, 2019

"Very useful, now I can brine my chicken a day before roasting to make it moist and flavorful."

Ivan Yousuf

Jul 11, 2019

"Good detailed recipe for brine. Explains everything nicely and the pics are very clear."

Rick Cooper

Mar 11, 2019

"Very informative step by step instructions. Great for a novice in the kitchen.

Video: How To Brine And Roast A Whole Chicken - Cooking Tips : How To Brine A Whole Chicken w/ Jeff Hyatt.

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Date: 15.12.2018, 13:28 / Views: 65441