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This quick chicken brine leads to the juiciest, most tender chicken you’ve ever cooked, and it does it in as little as 2 hours. With savory flavor in every bite, I guarantee you’ll use this simple method every time you roast a whole chicken or pieces of chicken from now on.

A whole, uncooked chicken in a large pot filled with a quick chicken brine of water, lemon, and herbs.

💧 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • You only need a couple of hours for this brine, making it totally doable when you remember that, oh yeah, you have to cook dinner tonight, just like every night. You know that’s how it happens… at least in our house. Anyway, This quick chicken brine is everything I ever wanted and more (no hyperbole, I swear). It’s flavorful, simple, and quick.
  • The reasons this quick chicken brine works are simple: 1) The salt content is higher than most brines, so it works more effectively and more quickly than a standard brine. 2) The hot solution extracts the flavors from the aromatics much faster than a standard brine. The ice bath cools things down quickly, too, so you don’t risk cooking the chicken as it brines.
  • You can include garlic, peppercorns, herbs, citrus, or any other aromatics you might fancy, but it works wonders without all the fancy add-ins, too. Especially if you’re stretching a chicken to use over several recipes, this basic salt + water mixture can be the best choice. You don’t want to find yourself with rosemary-infused chicken in, I don’t know, a Thai dish. Could be cool, but… probably not your favorite.

🧂 What Goes Into a Brine?

Brining is a simple concept: when making a wet brine, you make a salt solution and flavor it with spices, herbs, and sometimes sugar. Just how high the salt content will depend on how quickly you want to brine the meat – this brine, for instance, has a higher salt content so you can brine quickly. Whereas, with your Thanksgiving turkey, you reduce the overall salt density so you can brine it longer. This is necessary because that dang bird is so big.

Many people season their chicken brine with sugar, too, but we a) don’t love sugar in our food and b) find that a salt-only brine produces a super versatile chicken that truly just tastes better and more tender and juicier.

A whole, roasted chicken that sat in a quick chicken brine for 2 hours before cooking.

🤔 Why Should You Use a Brine?

We’ve all had overcooked chicken – not so good, right? A chicken brine does two things:

  1. It gives the poultry flavor, and
  2. it keeps the meat tender and juicy.

When you brine chicken, you’re essentially installing a failsafe on your dish. You have more wiggle room to cook the bird without it becoming dry after one minute too long in the oven, and you have creative control over the flavors throughout the entire muscle meat of your chicken, not just the skin.

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • Don’t over-brine the chicken! The salt solution is higher than your standard overnight brine, so you want to make sure to limit your brining time to 2-3 hours at room temperature or 4-6 hours in the fridge.
  • I like to brine my chicken in the morning, drain after a few hours, then let it air dry in the fridge until I’m ready to cook it. Air drying allows the skin to really dry out, so that when you sear, fry, or roast it, the skin gets unbelievably crisp and delicious.

💬 Frequently Asked Questions

Can chicken be brined too long?

Yes! Please, please do not brine your chicken using this recipe for longer than the recommended time. If you do, too much of the salt solution will permeate the meat, resulting in an over-salted bird.

How long does it take to brine a chicken breast?

If you’re brining boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you can get away with brining them at room temperature for about 30 minutes or chill for about 1 hour.

Why do you brine chicken?

Brining chicken results in the most tender and flavorful meat, and it makes it harder to overcook!

A whole, uncooked chicken in a large pot filled with a quick chicken brine of water, lemon, and herbs.

🍋 More Recipes You’ll Love

Recipe By: Cheryl Malik
5 from 34 votes

Quick Chicken Brine

Prep 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Brine 2 hours
Total 2 hours 20 minutes
An easy, quick chicken brine that creates the most flavorful and tender chicken and poultry.
1 brine


  • medium saucepan with lid
  • Large bowl
  • Large wooden spoon
  • large food-safe container heavy pot, sealable bag, or sous vide tub


For the Brine

  • ½ liter water approximately 16 ounces or 2 cups
  • 5 tablespoons kosher salt 100 grams or approximately 3 ounces
  • 3-6 sprigs fresh herbs of choice rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc.
  • 4 large cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 pound ice

For the Chicken

  • 1 4-pound whole, uncooked chicken or 4 pounds of uncooked chicken pieces


  • Pour ½ liter water into medium saucepan. Add 5 tablespoons kosher salt, 3-6 sprigs fresh herbs of choice, and 4 large cloves garlic to saucepan and quickly stir to incorporate.
  • Place saucepan on stovetop over high heat. Bring water to violent boil.
  • Once water boils violently, stir mixture until salt is completely dissolved, then move saucepan to cool burner and cover with lid. Let mixture stand, covered, 10 minutes.
  • Place 1 pound ice in large bowl. After brine mixture has stood 10 minutes, remove lid and carefully pour mixture into bowl over ice. Stir mixture gently until ice is completely melted.
  • When ice has melted, place 1 4-pound whole, uncooked chicken in large container. Carefully pour brine over chicken, making sure chicken is entirely submerged.
  • Let chicken rest in brine 2 to 3 hours at room temperature. Alternately, let chicken rest in brine 4 to 6 hours in refrigerator.
  • After chicken has brined for appropriate length of time, remove chicken from brine and drain well. Pat chicken completely dry with paper towels, then cook chicken as desired.
  • After brining your chicken, don’t add any salt when you cook it or the chicken will be way too salty.
  • Fresh Herbs: You can use just one type of herb or a blend of your favorites.
  • Chicken: If you want to brine boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken, you can cut the brining time back to 30-60 minutes at room temperature and 1-2 hours refrigerated.
  • For a really crispy chicken skin, brine the chicken then let it air dry in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it.

Alternate Brine Add-Ins

  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1-2 lemons, sliced into coins
  • bay leaves
  • cracked peppercorns
  • Italian seasoning
  • carrots
  • sweetener (white sugar, brown sugar, or honey)
  • fresh cilantro
  • sliced fresh jalapeños

Approximate Information for One Serving

Calories: 19calProtein: 1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.03gSodium: 34932mgPotassium: 58mgTotal Carbs: 4gFiber: 0.4gSugar: 0.1gNet Carbs: 4gVitamin A: 10IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 76mgIron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimers
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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  1. Avatar Daniel Vidal says:

    Hi there,

    I’m trying your brine recut right now.
    Do I rinse the chicken before cooking?

    Thank you

    1. Avatar Jessica | 40 Aprons Team says:

      Hi, Daniel! After brining, drain the chicken and pat dry. Then, cook however you’d like! Hope this helps. 🙂

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