This is a chicken brine that will yield the most succulent, juiciest roast chicken you will EVER have in your life! Brining injects flavour and moisture as well as tenderising – you will be blown away how juicy even the chicken breast is.
Once you learn how to brine chicken and taste the incredible results, you will never look back! It’s simple and makes roasting a chicken stress free because you have extra insurance to ensure it stays juicy even if you overcook it a bit, plus injects flavour into the flesh!
Brining is the process whereby chicken (or other meat) is submerged in a salty liquid (“brine”) and left to marinate to inject flavour, tenderise the meat AND to inject moisture so the chicken stays juicier when roasted.
It injects flavour and seasoning right into the flesh of chicken in a way that no other method can, even by slathering liberally with herb and garlic butter under the skin which is my favourite non-brining way to roast chicken.
It’s a technique widely used by chefs. In Sydney, there are a handful of restaurants famous for their roast chicken – such as Glebe Point Diner, Boronia Kitchen and Restaurant Hubert – and they are all brined!
This brine recipe is adapted from a recipe by Thomas Kellar, one of the greatest culinary masters of the world!
The juiciest chicken breast EVER!
Here’s an up close and personal of the breast of brined roast chicken – LOOK HOW JUICY IT IS! It’s hard to believe your eyes but it’s true, it IS possible to make chicken breast this succulent – but only with a chicken brine!
What you need for Chicken Brine
To make chicken brine, all you need is water and salt. Everything else is for flavour so it’s optional and customisable – see below for substitutions for each.
- Salt and water – the only two ingredients that are non negotiable, they are the brine!
- Honey – for a touch of sweet, sub with sugar
- Parsley, thyme and rosemary – 100% optional, switch with other herbs, or use dried
- Peppercorns – use ground instead
- Lemons, garlic and bay leaves – for flavour, optional
How to brine chicken
It’s as easy as this:
- Bring all the brine ingredients to a boil with a bit of water – just to bring out flavour a bit and dissolve the salt;
- Add cold water to bring the temperature down, then refrigerate until fully chilled;
- Submerge chicken upside down (ie drumsticks and breast facing down) and brine for 24 Horus (even 12 hours is terrific);
- pat dry, brush with butter and roast!
Difference between brining and marinating?
Brining is different to marinading in that there is a much higher liquid to meat ratio – a whole chicken is completely submerged in the chicken brine. Marinades usually have far less liquid and the chicken is mostly coated in it, rather than submerged (examples: my favourite Everyday Chicken Marinade, Greek Marinade, Vietnamese Lemongrass Marinade).
This chicken brine recipe is based on a recipe by Thomas Keller, one of the great masters of the culinary world. Known for high end iconic restaurants such as Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in the Napa Valley, as well as Bouchon Bakery in various locations across the US so you don’t need to sell your soul for experience the magic that is Thomas Keller!
Watch how to make it
Succulent Roast Chicken
Brining is the secret to an incredibly moist, succulent, flavour infused roast chicken. This brine is based on a recipe by Thomas Keller, one of the great masters of the culinary world. This recipe includes a verjuice jus sauce, a lighter alternative to gravy.
- 4 liters / 1 gallon water
- 3 lemons (, halved)
- Half a bunch ((50g / 2oz) flat leaf parsley)
- Half a bunch ((15g / 0.5oz) thyme)
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 12 bay leaves
- 1⁄4 Cup honey
- 1/2 head garlic (, skin on, cloves smashed)
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 cup kosher salt1
- 1 roasting chicken ((around 1.5kg/3.3lbs), rinsed with water)
- 2 tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to season
- Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot (large enough for the brine and submerged chicken), cover, and bring to boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt and honey. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using. The brine can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
- Completely submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate for 12 hours. If you brine for longer than 12 hours, it could be too salty.
To prepare the chicken for roasting:
- Preheat fan forced oven to 220C/430F.
- Remove chicken from brine and pat dry to remove excess moisture. Truss the chicken (note 2), rub 1 tablespoon of butter all over and season with salt and pepper, then leave to come to room temperature (note 3).
- Place chicken on a rack in a heavy based roasting tray.
- Turn down the oven to 180C/350F (note 4), then place chicken in oven and roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour (note 5), checking every 15 minutes and rotating the pan if the chicken is not browning evenly.
- After 30 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven and quickly rub the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the chicken, then return to the oven.
- To test if ready, pierce the meat between the leg and thigh – the juices should run clear. Otherwise, if you have a thermometer, insert it between the leg and the thigh – the temperature should read approximately 68C/155F. Note: the chicken will continue to cook while resting.
- Remove chicken from the roasting tray and rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- While the chicken is resting, make a gravy, or for something different, a light jus with verjuice.
- Remove most of the fat from the pan, then place on the stove, add 1⁄4 cup of verjuice (note 6). Bring to a gentle simmer for 1 minute or so, just to bring the flavours together. Adjust the acidity in the jus to your liking, and season to taste. This is a great, lighter alternative to traditional gravy. Add some thyme leaves for extra flavour.
1. Kosher salt substitutes: table salt or rock salt – decrease by 1⁄4 cup.
2. Trussing a chicken is simply using twine to fasten the wings and legs to the body of the chicken so it cooks evenly.
3. Bring the chicken to room temperature before roasting to help it cook more evenly.
4. If you do not have a fan forced or gas oven, increase the oven temperature by 20C/70F.
5. As a guide, an unstuffed chicken at room temperature in a preheated fan forced oven
at 180C/350F will take about 20 minutes per 500g/1lbs. So a 1.5kg/3.3lbs chicken will take approximately 60 minutes.
6. Verjuice is like a vinegar but is not as tart as lemon juice and vinegar. It is made from the juice of unfermented grapes. Lemon could also be used, but as it is tarter, reduce the quantity to 1/8 cup and add sugar until the sharpness of the lemon mellows.
Originally published May 2014, updated November 2019 with fresh photos, video and most importantly, Life of Dozer added!
Life of Dozer
Dozer taking me for a walk in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall! Staying in an Air BNB for a week, cramming in meetings and generally pretending to be a Melbourne-ite for a week. First time I’ve driven down – it’s a long 10 hour drive – but I REALLY wanted to bring Dozer down with me this time and I’m so glad I did! He’s having a blast, More photos to follow – he’s causing a riot down here!
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