Why Brine Chicken in Pickle Juice?
How many times have you finished a jar of pickles and then just tossed the juice and seasonings down the drain? I bet you’ve probably done that every time you’ve finished a jar of pickles! Well, don’t. That salty flavorful pickle juice is perfect for brining chicken. Pickle brined fried chicken not only uses up what you would otherwise throw out, it’s also some of the juiciest, tastiest fried chicken you will ever make.
What is Brining?
Brining became all the rage several years ago when people started brining their turkeys for Thanksgiving, but the technique has been around forever. (You can see how to brine a turkey here.) Basically, brining means to soak or marinate a meat in a salty liquid. The salty liquid initially draws the moisture out of the meat, but then the meat draws the liquid back in, taking all the flavors of the liquid with it. The meat ends up with a high moisture content and is seasoned throughout. The result once cooked is super juicy, tender and well seasoned.
What if you don’t have Pickle Juice?
Once you’ve made this pickle brined fried chicken once, you’ll probably want to make it again in less time than it takes to eat a whole jar of pickles in order to have leftover pickle juice. What to do? Well, just make your own pickle juice brine. You can add whatever seasonings you like to the brine, but here’s a basic recipe:
1 cup vinegar (apple cider or white wine)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons coriander seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole cloves
½ cup fresh dill leaves (or 1 tsp dried dill)
2 cups ice cubes
Combine everything except the ice cubes in a small saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar. Then, remove the pan from the heat and add the ice cubes to dilute and cool the brine. It’s very important that the brine be cold before you pour it over the chicken.
How to Make This in the Oven
This recipe calls for an air-fryer to cook the chicken, which is a lot easier and less messy than deep-frying. It also makes you feel a little better about enjoying fried chicken because the calorie and fat count is a lot lower. If you don’t have an air fryer, don’t fret. You can bake this chicken in your oven. Place the breaded chicken on a rack on a baking sheet. If you have a regular oven, bake it at 400ºF for about 30 minutes. If you have a convection oven, bake it at 375ºF for about 20 to 25 minutes. Whichever oven you’re using, remember to flip the chicken over halfway through the cooking time. The timing will depend on the size of your chicken pieces, so be prepared to adjust the time accordingly and check the chicken with an instant read thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken – it should register 165ºF when fully cooked.
What to Serve with Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken
You can serve all the usual fried chicken sides with pickle brined fried chicken. A good coleslaw is always a great choice. I prefer a mayonnaise-based coleslaw dressing over a vinaigrette to accompany the briny chicken. You could also serve a macaroni and cheese or a great potato salad. A bread roll or biscuit would be a nice touch on the side as well. Oh, and don’t forget a pickle spear or two.
Comments (16)Post a Reply
Yummy! Pickle brined for me, pickled jalapeños brined for my hubby.
Looks good, however, I am on nutrisystem so what is the serving size? one piece, two pieces? 535 calories is almost my daily allotment. Maybe in another lifetime!
The serving size would be for 2 pieces, one chicken drumstick and one thigh. The recipe calls for 4 whole legs cut in two pieces and it serves 4, so if you only have one piece of chicken you can cut the calories in half. And you definitely save some calories on air frying over deep frying. Good luck with your program!
Would Panko bread crumbs make it crispier?
Yes. Panko breadcrumbs are crispier to begin with, so they will make the chicken even crispier.
What would be the temperature and time for tenders?
Hi Karen. Depends really on how big they are, but I would say about 5 minutes.
I made this tonight in the oven. I used breasts because that’s what we had and substituted Panko bread crumbs for regular ones. Hubby loved it. Definitely had a bit of tang from the juice.
Just made this tonight with boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins. Oh my!! So fabulous! You’d never know it was brined in pickle juice, it’s not overpowering in flavor at all; so subtle. The chicken turned out extremely moist and tender. Dredging the “proper” way is the ONLY way. I’m reformed! I admit, I was a lazy dredger, skipping important steps. No more!! 🙂 Thanks, BJC for another winner and teaching proper techniques. I baked the chicken tenderloins in a 400 oven for 25 minutes, time was perfect. I put them on a rack over a foil-lined pan. Also, I used Pam for spraying the breaded chicken pieces before baking.
I wondered if you could use chicken breasts with skin and bones? If so what would the time change be for air frying? Thank you!
Hi Patricia. Yes – you can use bone in, skin on chicken breasts instead. The cooking time will be roughly the same, but it really depends on the size of the chicken pieces. Bone in breasts cook slightly faster than bone in legs. Check it after 20 minutes of cooking and then determine how many more minutes it needs. Chicken should be cooked to 165ºF on an instant read thermometer and will feel firm to the touch when you push on it with your finger.
I have made these several times & it is one of the most requested foods for movie night.. others get to make their own unique sauces!! Please try these you won’t be disappointed
This is my favorite air fryer recipe by far. It always comes out perfect and reminds me of Chik Fil A chicken sandwiches. I use skinless chicken thighs and a combo of regular and panko bread crumbs. I also use smoked paprika. If anyone finds out I’m making this I can count on having company for dinner. It’s delicious!
I used chicken breasts. They have a lovely light tang to them. I’m also a concert on spraying food with oil. The crust (Panko) was wonderfully crispy and GBD.
Have made this recipe a few times now – It’s a favorite at my house! Today I made chicken legs and the Greek Pasta salad. Perfect dinner for a warm day.