Simple Chicken Brine (With Brown Sugar)

A simple way to get tender and juicy smoked chicken with crispy caramelized skin. Whether you are cooking a whole chicken, turkey, thighs, wings, or legs, this brine will change your chicken game for good. Press the easy button and leave the whole bird in the brine overnight for amazing results every time!

Why Brine?

Brining meat adds flavor from the inside out. In the brining process, the salt denatures meat’s proteins, softening muscle fiber and allowing tons of flavor and moisture to flow into the meat. If you have never tried brining, what are you waiting for!? This basic brine will result in juicy tender chicken and is a great way to get amazing flavor no matter what method of cooking you use. Consider this brine for your Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas turkey- it works wonderfully on all poultry!

Tips and Tricks

Increase Batch Size: easily double or triple this brine recipe to suit your needs. Unused excess brine can be kept for a week in the fridge.

Add Variety: If you are feeling ambitious, add a bay leaves, fresh herbs, cayenne pepper, onions, or orange zest to your brine mixture for some extra zip!

Meat Choice: Use this brine for any poultry or pork recipe. Have you ever tried brining pork chops? Life changing!

Cooking Method: This brine is great no matter what method you are using to cook the chicken (oven, smoker, bbq etc.) It helps to avoid the dreaded rubbery chicken skin when smoking.

Rinse: It is important to rinse your wings off after they are finished brining to make sure that the residual salt and sugar come off.

Submerge: Make sure that all of your chicken pieces are fully submerged in the brine!

Post Cook: Let your chicken rest for 10 minutes after cooking for optimal moisture levels.

Key Ingredients

Water– any good quality tap water or filtered water will work. It is important for safety reasons that you have cold water rather than warm water to start the brining process.

Salt– use table salt or fine grained Himalayan salt.

Brown Sugar– brown sugar allows the chicken skin to caramelize and counteracts a bit of the saltiness that comes along with brining.

Equipment:

Large stock pot or bowl that will house the brine and the chicken.

How to Make: Simple Chicken Brine

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and whisk until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Place chicken in the wet brine for 2-18 hours in the refrigerator. It is not safe to keep raw chicken at room temperature. Rinse well. Pat Dry with paper towels.

How To Make Simple Turkey Brine

This recipe uses the exact same base as the simple brown sugar chicken brine but in a larger scale and adds a few flavorful elements. Adjust for larger turkeys as needed.

Combine 8 liters of water with 2cups brown sugar, 2 cups kosher salt, 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves), 2 tablespoons peppercorns, the outer peels from three oranges (use a peeler to avoid the pith and to get mostly zest). At this point you can add in your favourite herbs and spices to add more depth to the brine including 3-4 bay leaves and 4 sprigs of rosemary.

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and whisk until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Place turkey in the wet brine in a large stock pot, bucket, or other vessel for 18-24 hours in the refrigerator. It is not safe to keep raw turkey at room temperature. Rinse well. Pat Dry with paper towels.

Batch and Storage:

Yield: This recipe will yield around 8 cups of smoked chicken brine depending on what extras are added to the brine. Perfect for a whole chicken, chicken wings, chicken thighs, and even chicken breasts (skin on is best).

Storage: Always store your meat brine in the fridge and discard any leftovers after use.

FAQ

How long can I leave my chicken wings in the brine:

In my experience, chicken wings can soak up the benefits of the simple brine in as little as four hours. Too long in the brine and your chicken wings will be spongy and overly salted. I recommend no longer than 24 hours in the brine for wings. Larger pieces of meat can handle longer brining times.

Can I use poultry brine for pork?

Yes! This brine is fairly universal and will work wonderfully for pork, giving it extra moisture and flavor.

Should I rinse my meat after brining?

While it isn’t imperative to rinse meat after brining, it might help to rinse some of the salt solution off. Before salting your wings, whole chicken, or whole turkey with seasoning, I recommend trying a cooked wing or piece of meat to gage the saltiness to make sure that you don’t have an over seasoned chicken or turkey.

Can I use this brown sugar chicken brine for turkey?

Absolutely! Consider doubling with a gallon of water and additional ingredients or tripling if you are brining a whole turkey.

Printable Recipe Card

A brined chicken wing with crispy skin being held up over a pellet grill.

Simple Chicken Brine (With Brown Sugar)

Yield: 8 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

A simple way to get tender and juicy smoked chicken with crispy caramelized skin. Whether you are cooking a whole chicken, thighs, wings, or legs, this brine will change your chicken game for good. Press the easy button and leave the whole bird in the brine overnight for amazing results every time!

Ingredients

  • 2 litres water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon peppercorns, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and whisk until fully dissolved.
  2. Brine for 2-24 hours.
  3. Rinse your wings well.
  4. Pat dry and add seasoning. I like to coat my wings in baking powder or corn starch to help crisp the skin.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 45Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 7087mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 0g

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More Harvest Recipes to check out

If you are a fan of the smoking process, check out these delicious smoked chicken recipes.

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