Learn how to brine chicken and tenderize your meat at home! Brined chicken is moist, delicious and bursting with flavor. The marinade consists of salt, garlic, herbs, peppercorns, bay leaves, and water. This mixture should be added to a large pot of water and simmered until the salt dissolves. Once the brine is ready, add the chicken and refrigerate it until needed.
A dry brine, or rub, is similar to a wet brine. It’s applied to the chicken overnight, drawing out moisture and converting it to a concentrated brine that breaks down the protein in the meat. Dry brines do not contain any extra moisture but instead contain the chicken’s juices. Dry brining also retains the juicy meat, so make sure your chicken is bone-in for the most tender result.
Brining involves soaking chicken (or other meat) in a saline solution (a “brine”) and letting it sit for some time to add flavor, tenderize, and increase moisture, so the chicken stays juicy when roasted.
No other method, including slathering liberally with herb and garlic butter under the skin, my preferred non-brining method of roasting chicken, can impart flavor and seasoning directly into the flesh of a complete chicken as it can.
Chefs frequently employ this method. Some places in Sydney are known for their roast chicken, all of which are brined, including Glebe Point Diner, Boronia Kitchen, and Restaurant Hubert.
Why Brine the Chicken?
The brined chicken retains more moisture because the proteins inside have been broken down. Because the proteins dissolve, the chicken won’t shrink or compress as much while cooking as it would otherwise, resulting in considerably less moisture loss than if the meat hadn’t been brined.
Your chicken will be juicier and more delicious as a result.
Brine solutions are fantastic since they are easy to make and adaptable.
Since brine is simply a saltwater solution with herbs added for additional seasoning, it may be used for various cuisines and meats, with chicken being one of the most popular meats to brine.
On the other hand, dry brining is essentially seasoning and salting your meat before cooking without water.
It is ideal for coating the chicken you are preparing in your brine well before cooking, preferably the day before, whether you are brining or dry brining chicken or other birds.
What is Required to Make Chicken Brine?
All you need for chicken brine is water and salt. Everything else is optional and customizable because it adds flavor; check the replacements for each below.
- The only two components of brine that cannot be altered are salt and water.
- Honey: substitute sugar for a hint of sweetness.
- 100% optional: substitute different herbs or use dried for the parsley, thyme, and rosemary
- Peppercorns: substitute ground pepper
- Bay leaves, lemons, and garlic are optional flavorings.
- This is how simple it is:
- To bring out the flavor a little and dissolve the salt, bring all the brine components to a boil with a little water;
- Refrigerate until completely chilled after adding cold water to lower the temperature;
- Place chicken in a brine for 24 hours in the fridge (even 12 hours is great), with the drumsticks and breast facing downward;
- Dry off with a towel, then roast!
Is an Hour-Long Brining Process Possible for Chicken?
Although a 30-minute brine is preferred, I’ve found that even a 15-minute brine has an impact. Instead of drying out, the meat comes out moist and tasty. Although the meat can be brined for longer periods, the meat might become mushy after around two hours. If you’re bringing boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you may either refrigerate them for an hour or leave them at room temperature for 30 minutes. The secret to the softest and moist chicken breasts you’ve ever had is brining the chicken breasts.
Chicken Brining Techniques
Knowing how to brine chicken properly and for how long can bring out the meat’s natural juices, soften it, and highlight its best qualities.
Dry brining, buttermilk brining, and wet brining is the three main techniques to take into account.
We’ll begin with a dry chicken brine, which resembles a rub in many ways. Mix your dry ingredients and sprinkle them on the chicken before letting it rest for four to six hours in the fridge or somewhere more comfortable. If you’re using a dry rub, that is the time you should brine the chicken.
After four to six hours, take the chicken out of the fridge and give it a good rinse before letting it sit at room temperature for around thirty minutes. To avoid mushy chicken, ensure it is completely dry before cooking.
The second method of brining chicken is a buttermilk brine, a quick and simple method that works particularly well for frying chicken. Buttermilk, salt, and pepper taste are all you need. During the brining process, place the chicken in the refrigerator for three to four hours.
That is how long it takes to brine chicken using the buttermilk method.
Since the acid in the buttermilk tenderizes the chicken, it becomes incredibly flavorful, tender, and juicy. This method has many benefits.
Brush off any extra buttermilk from the chicken after soaking it in buttermilk, and then start dredging it in seasoned flour before putting it in the fryer.
I like to use buttermilk chicken brine when cooking chicken breasts to enhance their texture and make them juicy and delicate.
The third and most time-consuming method for brining chicken is wet brine.
Chefs worldwide advise delivering chicken using this method, which is also our recommended method.
Let’s go over the components and tools you’ll need, the procedures you’ll have to go through, and how long you should soak the chicken in the wet brine.
Can Chicken be Wet Brined?
While the mixture is still hot, add the sugar and kosher salt, and whisk to incorporate.
Once the sugar and salt have completely dissolved, let the water cool to room temperature before adding the veggies. You may prevent the garlic from clumping together in one area by properly mixing it.
The boiled water and veggies should be placed in a zipper-lock bag to accommodate the chicken, brine solution, and bag.
The amount of time required to bring it depends on whether you use a whole chicken or a bird that has been cut into quarters. When a whole and quartered chicken were compared, we found that the quartered bird accepted the brining process more quickly, resulting in a shorter brining period.
For tasty outcomes, you need to brine your chicken for a minimum of one hour for every pound (0.45 kg) of meat.
Let’s now discuss the precise timing and method for producing your brine solution depending on how you prepare your chicken.
When should Chicken be Brined for Frying?
Before frying, the chicken should soak for about 24 hours in your choice of brine; do not rinse the brine off before cooking. For wonderfully juicy yet crispy results, leave it on while battering and frying the chicken.
The delightful flavors of the crispy batter and the chicken within, a mixture of saltwater and brown sugar, will be enhanced by a superb brine solution on your fried chicken. A good ratio is:
- 0.94 liters (1 qt) of water
- Kosher salt, 0.12 liters (0.1/2 cup)
- Brown sugar, 2 to 4 tbsp (29.6 ml)
- As an alternative, fried chicken is fantastic with buttermilk brine. Add the following together:
- 0.94 liters (1 qt) of buttermilk
- 14.8-24.6 ml or 3 to 5 teaspoons of kosher salt
- and black pepper, 1 to 2 tsp (4.9 to 9.9 ml).
Can Chicken be Brined the Night Before Cooking?
Chicken can be brined the evening before cooking. In a pinch, brining your chicken anywhere between 4 and 12 hours the night before cooking is okay. Most brines perform best when allowed to seep into the chicken for up to 24 hours.
Brine the chicken even if you only have a few hours to spare because any time in the brine will help the chicken become juicier and tastier.
Try to leave as much time as you can before cooking to allow the wet or dry brine to completely permeate the meat because, in general, the longer the brine, the better the results. Remember that brining the chicken for a longer period is always a good idea because the salt takes some time to break down the proteins in the chicken.
What are Different Types of Brines?
Wet and dry brines are the two different varieties. You can add other herbs, spices, and garlic to the traditional wet brine solution, which combines salt and water. While dry brine is essentially just a salt rub, it is frequently altered by adding herbs and spices.
Both wet and dry brines frequently contain oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
You may create a buttermilk brine, which is quite popular with fried chicken and other dishes where crispiness is vital for wet brines. Buttermilk is used in place of water.
To tenderize the beef and give the dish a wonderful, tangy salinity, some individuals additionally choose to use pickle juice rather than water.
A brine is essentially just salt, your choice of herbs, and, if it’s a wet brine, a liquid like water, buttermilk, beef or chicken broth, or even apple cider to aid in the salt’s penetration of the meat and enhance its flavor.
After Brining, do you Wash the Chicken?
Unless you’re concerned that you’ve left the chicken in the brine for too long and want to lessen its saltiness, you don’t need to wash the chicken after bringing it. In most circumstances, it’s ideal to leave the brine on the chicken before cooking, though you might pat it dry with a towel after brining it.
To avoid the chicken getting too salty for your taste, you may choose to rinse it in cold water right before cooking, depending on your preferences. Depending on how salty you want your meat, some folks wash their chicken, and some don’t.
Is Chicken Healthy to Brine?
The chicken does not contract as much when cooked and retains its fluids because the salt in the brine breaks down the proteins in the chicken. This implies that you’ll get a large bird. Brining the chicken in flavor-infused water will also help to increase moisture. According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, some chicken sold in South Africa reportedly includes excessive amounts of brine, raising serious health risks for consumers due to its high salt content.
What is the Brine Formula?
4 tbsp (19.7 ml) of salt to 4 cups (0.95 L) of water is the brine formula. Depending on how much chicken you’re preparing and how you intend to cook, you can adjust this ratio to taste. A higher salt to water ratio should be utilized for more salty meat.
However, if you add more water or other spices, the saltiness will be diluted, and other flavors will result.
You are welcome to substitute other liquids for water in your wet brine. You can also experiment with other herbs and spices to make your chicken less salty and more flavorful and complex.
Both wet and dry brines have been used to prepare meat for generations, and brining is still a quick and easy technique to increase the moisture and flavor of meats like chicken, turkey, and hog.
Buttermilk and pickle juice brines are well-liked brines that may be customized greatly by adding whatever herbs and spices you like. However, a straightforward saltwater solution is the most efficient and widely used brine because it is the quickest way to give your meat flavor and moisture before cooking.