For a number of months now I have been brining most of the chicken I cook. I really can’t believe the difference it makes in how moist and tender the chicken turns out.
I have tried brining pork with this recipe a couple of times, and it didn’t work as well as it does with chicken. If you’re interested, try Lynn’s recipe for brining pork.
Many brine recipes include sugar. I have tried it with and without sugar and didn’t notice a significant difference, so I leave it out. Herbs can also be added to the brine, but I haven’t gone there yet.
Brining does take time. It doesn’t take much hands on time for you, but it takes time because the meat has to sit in the brine. The amount of time depends on whether you are brining a whole chicken or pieces and whether it has skin or not. Boneless skinless breasts only take about 45 minutes, and I have learned to factor this time into my meal plan.
Honestly, it makes such a difference in the chicken the extra time is worth it.
If you don’t have time to brine the chicken immediately before using it, you can brine and then drain and rinse it and save it until you are ready to cook it. For example, if you want to use it in a slow cooker recipe, you might want to brine it the night/day before and have it ready to go into the crock.
I have not brined whole chickens very much because that takes a number of hours, and I either end up forgetting or, I buy the chicken and need to cook it the same day. I hope to start brining whole chickens more often though.
- 4 cups water and ice
- ¼ cup kosher salt or 3 Tablespoons table salt
- Heat 2 cups of water until hot but not boiling.
- Add the salt and stir until it is dissolved.
- Measure ice and water to equal 2 cups. Pour into the salt water and stir to dissolve the ice.
- Place a whole chicken in a deep pot or chicken pieces in a baking dish. Do not use aluminum, plastic, copper or wood containers.
- Pour the brine over the chicken. It should cover or almost cover the chicken. A larger amount of brine can be made for brining a lot of chicken.
- Cover and refrigerate for 4-8 hours for a whole chicken, 3-6 hours for a half chicken, 1-2 hours for bone in, skin on breasts, 30-60 min. for boneless, skinless breasts, 45-90 minutes for skin on legs or thighs, 30-45 min. for skinless legs or thighs.
- Drain the brine and rinse the chicken well.
- Cook as desired, but reduce or eliminate the amount of salt in the recipe.
Visit my chicken/turkey recipe index.