How To Brine And Cook A Chicken

After everybody brined their Thanksgiving turkey and realized how tasty the meat was, brining became immensely popular all over the States. So, naturally, brining a chicken for roasting was the next step.

You’ll have to learn how to brine a chicken if you want to try the juiciest meat you’ve ever had. Also, you’ll need a high-quality recipe.

Lucky for you, in this article, we will provide all the necessary information for anybody that wants to make brined chicken. We’ll explain how to make brine for chicken meat, give you some helpful tips on brining, and even explain the roasting process.

So, wait no longer and start learning how to brine a chicken!

Why Make a Brined Chicken?

The result of simply seasoning a chicken won’t be anywhere close to brining a chicken for roasting, grilling, or any other type of dry cooking method. 

Seasoning a whole bird only works on the outside layer and the surface, so the flavor can’t match the brined chicken meat. 

On the other hand, using brine for chicken meat will elevate the flavor to a different level and make the entire bird much juicier. Until you give it a shot, you won’t realize the difference a high-quality brine can make.

Many people worry that the meat will taste like the brine itself, but that isn’t the case. The seasoning you’ll use won’t dominate the flavor. Instead, you’ll get juicy and savory meat with more chicken flavor than ever. And, on top of that, in the background, you’ll feel the notes of honey, lemon, and herbs.

Difference Between Chicken Brine and Marinade

Most amateur cooks don’t know the difference between marinating meat and brining a chicken. The answer is simple.

The primary purpose of the marinade is to inject flavor into the meat you’re working on at the time. That’s why most marinades include some type of acid in the recipe, along with a mixture of herbs and spices. When it comes to brining a chicken for roasting, the primary goal is to tenderize the meat, not alter the taste.

Tips for Making Brine for Chicken Meat

  • Don’t overdo it

The salt solution is relatively high in this recipe. So, don’t leave the chicken for too long, or you won’t get the results you wish.

  • Check the scale

Make sure to weigh all of the ingredients, so the proportions are correct. If you plan on working in the kitchen, a scale is a must-have anyway.

  • Dissolve the salt

The salt must be completely dissolved before you take it off the heat.

  • Salt the skin

After the brining, you can lightly salt the bird on the outside.

For Special Occasions

  • Try it Mexican

Experiment with fresh cilantro and jalapenos to try a Mexican-style brine for chicken meat.

  • Add peppercorns

Lightly crush some black peppercorns and add them to the brine.

  • Make it your own

Try adding your favorite herbs and spices and making your unique chicken brine version.

Chicken Brine Ingredients

Essentially, you only need water and salt to prepare a chicken brine. However, to get the best results, you’ll have to add a couple more ingredients that enhance the flavor of the bird.

  • Fresh herbs

The best options are parsley, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, etc. But, using whatever you have in the pantry will help with the seasoning process.

  • Bay leaves

You can use either dry or fresh bay leaves.

  • Black peppercorns

These are optional, and you can use ground pepper as well.

  • Garlic

How can any process of enhancing flavor go without garlic?

  • Lemon
  • Honey

How to Brine a Chicken

The salt-to-water ratio is the first thing you have to think about when preparing a brine.

The usual recommendation is for it to be around 3-6%. However, our advice is a bit more strict. Try using 40 to 50 grams of salt per 1 liter of water (that’s a 4-5% ratio) to get the juiciest meat.

It’s important to note that using cooking salt is recommended for the process of brining a chicken for roasting. 

Many people underestimate the difference between kosher(cooking) salt and table salt. So, they use everyday salt for the brine as well. And that’s where things go wrong.

If you use table salt and don’t alter the proportions, the meat will turn out quite salty. If you don’t have access to cooking salt and must use what you have, use only half of the amount to avoid oversalting.

To start this process, you’ll need a container large enough to fit the entire chicken. Once you have that, you can start prepping the brine.

  • To start, add 1/2 cup water, salt, and the rest of the ingredients into a pot. 
  • Bring everything to a boil and whisk until the salt and the sugar dissolve and all the ingredients combine.
  • Add the rest of the water and let the brine cool down to room temperature. If you’re in a rush, you can use ice cubes or refrigerate the mixture.
  • Once the water is cooled off, submerge the entire bird in the brine and refrigerate it overnight. Make sure to place the chicken breast side down.

How Long to Brine a Chicken

Most people think that the longer you brine a chicken, the results will be more satisfying. Unfortunately, that isn’t true.

Don’t brine a chicken for longer than 24 hours if you don’t want to risk oversalting the meat.

Also, less than 12 hours isn’t recommended either. 

So, our advice is to go with 16-18 hours. It seems to give the best results.

How to Cook a Brined Chicken

Chicken for Smoking

The recipe doesn’t differ from the one used for brining a chicken for roasting. Just do the same process and then follow your smoking instructions.

Chicken for Frying

Once again, follow the brine instructions. This time, make sure all of the liquid is patted off. We don’t want wet skin in a fryer.

Roasting a Brined Chicken – Step-by-Step

  • Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Rub butter under the skin. Use a spoon or your hands to loosen the skin and reach all places.
  • The chicken should be placed breast-side down with legs tied together with cooking twine.
  • Roast the bird for 30 minutes. Then, flip it breast-side up.
  • Then, roast for another 30-40 minutes. Use a cooking thermometer and take out the chicken once the inside of the thigh reaches 165 degrees.
  • Let the chicken rest for at least ten minutes.
  • Carve, serve, and enjoy!

Have a Meal With Us

Brining and roasting a chicken isn’t a quick meal you can make on the go. It’s a process that requires some time if you want it done correctly.

If you don’t feel like investing yourself for that long only to make one meal, maybe going to a restaurant is the better option.

So, visit Root & Bone in the heart of South Miami and check out our menu. With our cooking, there’s no way you’re leaving hungry.