Recipe: Basic Brined Chicken

Brine chicken, salt, Kosher salt, salt and soak

While pastured chickens are incredibly healthy birds, sometimes they can be a little tough due to all that running around outside. To rectify this, I brine the chicken overnight before roasting. It does add a step to the cooking process, but it really tenderizes the meat and keeps it very moist. A simple brine is just salt water. Some recipes add sugar to the brine, but that is not something I would do. By soaking the meat in a salt solution, it allows the cell membranes to open up and the salt can enter the cell, followed by the water. This plumps up the proteins and allows it to retain moisture while cooking.

Use coarse Kosher salt measured at one cup of salt per gallon of water. Use a non reactive container, like a stock pot and be sure it will fit into your refrigerator. The chicken will be much juicier and more flavorful than an unbrined bird. You may also add other flavors to the brine, such as herbs, slices of lemon, peppercorns, or allspice berries. Add whatever flavors you like. Brining is also appropriate for chicken parts and, of course turkeys. The larger the bird, the longer the brining time. However, ten hours is the upper limit for any brine, as too long will cause the meat to get too salty and/or mushy.

Brined Chicken


3-4 pound chicken

1 cup Kosher salt (make sure there are no additives to the salt)

Large stock pot 3/4 full of water

Other seasonings of your choice (optional)


  • Dissolve the salt in a small amount of warm water in a separate pot
  • Add it to the large pot of water and stir until combined
  • Be sure the water in the pot is cool before you submerge the chicken
  • Place chicken in the pot and put a plate on top to keep the chicken under the water
  • Cover the pot with the lid
  • Put the pot into the refrigerator and let soak for 8 – 12 hours
  • After brining, remove chicken from pot and rinse
  • Let the chicken air dry for 30 minutes before roasting  or wrap and keep refrigerated until you are ready to cook

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Leave a Comment

  • Tina April 18, 2011, 8:28 am

    Timely, I’m roasting a chicken for Easter. Have brined turkeys but never thought to brine a chicken. Thanks for the idea!

    • Jill April 18, 2011, 9:11 am

      Hi Tina,
      Thanks so much for your comments. Please let me know what you think!

      • Tina April 25, 2011, 9:37 am

        Jill, I had to tell you how wonderful my roast chicken came out using your brining method. It was so tender. I combined your method of brining with slow roasting (Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen) and it came out just falling off the bone and had a “melt in your mouth” feel. I only had time for a 4 hour brining, but still worked wonders. Thank you so much, I never would have thought of brining a chicken!

        • Jill April 25, 2011, 11:05 am

          Hi Tina,
          Thanks so much for the feedback! Can you send me the link to Jenny’s recipe — or would I be able to search her site for it? What is it called? I will try that next time.

  • thepsychobabble April 18, 2011, 12:24 pm

    A good point! Most people wouldn’t think of it:)

  • Bess April 18, 2011, 2:47 pm

    This is perfect timing! I am going to cook my first whole chicken today.
    Now, I am off to the kitchen to brine my bird.

    • Jill April 18, 2011, 4:28 pm

      Hi Bess,
      Good luck!

  • Bess April 18, 2011, 7:17 pm

    Quick question: Do I roast the organs, as well, or should I use them in another dish?

    • Jill April 18, 2011, 7:56 pm

      Hi Bess,
      Sure, you can roast the organs with the chicken. (if you mean should you brine the organs…. I have not done that but I do put the feet in the brine). If I make chicken soup or stock, I put the organs in that, except the liver — I find I do not like it in the soup. As long as it is from a pastured bird, the organs are great to roast with the chicken or use elsewhere. Hope this helps!

  • Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations April 19, 2011, 12:12 pm

    Sounds Easy! Thanks.

    Come check out my recipe? I’ll be back to follow your blog.

    Have a great day. Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations

    • Jill April 19, 2011, 7:34 pm

      Hi Traci,
      Thanks so much!

  • Kankana April 19, 2011, 5:11 pm

    Very nice post . Thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul Hop. Please visit next week too to share your recipe 🙂

    • Jill April 19, 2011, 7:35 pm

      Hi Kankana,
      Thanks so much!

  • christy larsen April 19, 2011, 7:27 pm

    great tip on brining the chicken. i have only brined a turkey, and once i used brine on extra thick pork chops. i just love how juicy brined meat comes out. thank you for sharing this great way of preparing chicken with tuesday night supper club!

    • Jill April 19, 2011, 7:35 pm

      Hi Christy,
      It really does come out so juicy!

  • Linda April 20, 2011, 8:35 pm

    I’ve never brined a chicken or turkey, but have heard great things about it. I really need to give it a try some time.

    • Jill April 20, 2011, 9:07 pm

      Hi Linda,
      I think you will find it tasty!

  • Miz Helen April 21, 2011, 4:53 pm

    Hi Jill,
    There is a big difference in the way a bird taste when it have been brined. It is usually more moist and has a great flavor. Your method and recipe looks very good. I will sure have to give it a try. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope you have a special week end. Hope to see you next week!

    • Jill April 21, 2011, 6:45 pm

      Hi Miz Helen,
      I hope you do try it!

  • Sassy Chef Recipes April 21, 2011, 10:39 pm

    I always do this with my cut chicken, but I’ll have to try this yet with a whole one!

    Please check my FTF entry for this week: Hap Chan
    Much ♥,
    Sassy Chef Recipes and Reviews

    • Jill April 24, 2011, 9:15 pm

      Hi Sassy Chef,
      Thanks for the comments! I’ll check out your entry!

  • Michele@FitFoodista April 23, 2011, 2:24 pm

    This is great – I like the idea of avoiding the additional sugar.

    Thanks for linking to the Hearth and Soul Hop!

    • Jill April 24, 2011, 9:16 pm

      Hi Michele,
      There is truly no reason to add sugar to this brine.

  • Brenda January 3, 2012, 7:23 pm

    Jill, I think you changed our lives. I tried this recipe tonight and it was AMAZING! I’m going to make it forever. I never thought of brining a chicken before, and I never imagined a brined chicken would come out this tasty. Like your other readers, I brine turkeys but never tried it with a chicken. And it does mitigate the toughness/stringiness I sometimes get with pastured birds.

    The other thing I did was I only cooked the chicken until it was *just* to 180 (use a digital meat thermometer with a remote probe), and then yanked it out of the oven, let it rest an agonizing 20 minutes and carved it. I figured overcooking would only dry it out. As it was, this chicken fell right off the bone and I ended up “carving” most of it with my fingers; using a knife was futile.

    I would like to try this recipe next with adding orange, tangerine or other citrusy flavors since I love the flavor profile of chicken with citrus and walnuts. Any tips?

    • Jill January 3, 2012, 8:10 pm

      Hi Brenda,
      Thank you so much for your very kind words! It is appreciated! It sounds like you really cooked it perfectly! I think I need to buy a digital thermometer with a remote probe because sometimes I over cook it a little. It really depends on the size of the bird — a six pounder needs a little more time than a 5 1/2 pounder. Right?

      If you go back to the Slow Roasted Chicken recipe and look at the first comment

      — Meagan wrote, “… I put onions, tangerines, persimmons, sesame seeds, spices and butter on the bottom of the pan as well as stuffed inside the chicken. It was so good! Slow roasting is the way to go!”

      That idea also sounded good! Your idea sounds great as well, and for my next chicken (next week) I will be trying some citrus and maybe some ghee.

      • Brenda January 3, 2012, 8:36 pm

        I’ll try that next time – I have some ghee I’m going to use, and I was toying with the idea of stuffing the chicken with tasty things too. Orange zest, onion, walnut and tangerine came immediately to mind. Placing the fruit on the bottom of the pan never occurred to me, but it makes sense. I think I know what I’ll be cooking next week. I’m putting this recipe into regular rotation at my house because not only is it easy-peasy, but my husband is a reforming fast-food junkie and paleo-neophyte who previously only ate his chicken in nugget form. He loves these brined, roasted birds and it’s the first “bone-in”, non-fried chicken recipe that he’s specifically told me to make again.

  • Karen January 7, 2013, 10:51 am

    I have several frozen chickens in my freezer. could I put a frozen chicken in brine or should I defrost it first?

    • Jill January 7, 2013, 4:25 pm

      Hi Karen,
      I usually defrost it first as that takes 2 – 3 days. Then I soak it in brine overnight.

  • Shoshana Raff September 2, 2013, 10:22 am

    I am loving your recipes, especially the Rosh Hashana Roundup. I wanted to point out that for those who are buying a Kosher pasture chicken you should not brine it because part of the Kashering processes involves soaking the chicken in course kosher salt. Enjoy!

    • Jill September 2, 2013, 1:19 pm

      Hi Shoshana,
      Thanks for that!

  • Sandy K April 1, 2014, 3:17 pm

    I’m afraid to brine as I am suppose to be on a no salt diet. Does anyone know what the sodium count would be for a brined chicken? Thanks