Why you’ll love brining chicken in pickle juice:
There’s nothing worse than a piece of bone-dry chicken that’s difficult to chew. Unfortunately, white meat chicken is super easy to overcook. The answer to a tender, juicy piece of chicken is to brine it.
Brines aren’t just for your Thanksgiving turkey! A brine is a mixture of salt and water to soak your chicken in. It denatures the proteins and allows the chicken to absorb more liquid.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make your own brine. You can use leftover pickle juice instead! Pickle brine chicken is:
- Juicy, moist, and never dry!
- Flavorful with a slight tang from the vinegar
- Easy to make and customize!
Next time you finish a jar of dill pickles, don’t throw it out! Save it for this pickle juice chicken recipe!
Key Ingredient Notes:
- Chicken tenders – I prefer chicken tenders since they cook and marinade quickly. Boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs work great too though! You could even brine a whole chicken with pickle juice if you had enough of it.
- Dill pickle juice – Kiss dry chicken goodbye! Brining delicate white meat chicken is the best way to keep it juicy and moist. Pickle juice is an instant-made brine with a bit of zip from the vinegar. It’s more about texture than flavor, but it does give the chicken a subtle dill-pickle taste. The longer you brine the chicken, the stronger the flavor will be.
- Kosher salt – Salt is a crucial part of any brine. Since pickle juice is fairly salty, you don’t need extra for the brine. Salt denatures the protein strands, which simply means they’re able to trap water, resulting in a juicy, moist texture. Don’t forget to season the chicken tenders before you cook them though.
- Olive oil – To sauté the chicken and encourage caramelization. Canola oil works fine too.
How to marinate chicken in pickle juice:
- Place the chicken tenders in a bowl (I prefer a glass container for brining) and pour in pickle juice with spices and all.
- Cover and let the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. TIP: The longer the chicken sits, the more pickle flavor it absorbs.
To pan-sear the brined chicken tenders:
- Once you’re ready to cook the tenders, drain the chicken and pat them dry with a paper towel. Discard the pickle brine.
- Evenly sprinkle the kosher salt over the chicken tenders.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.
- Once the skillet is up to temperature, add the chicken tenders and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit to safely kill any harmful bacteria.
To grill chicken tenders:
- Preheat the grill until nice and rub the grates with oil soaked paper towel.
- Grill the dill pickle chicken for 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. (I love this instant meat thermometer!)
- Remove the cooked chicken from the grill, cover, and rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Brine the chicken for at least 4 hours! The longer you brine it, the more flavorful and tender it will be. However, don’t brine it for longer than 24 hours or else the acid will change the texture of the meat.
- Feel free to season the chicken or marinade. Cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, herbs, or jerk spice all work great!
- For a sweet and savory marinade, add brown sugar. Add three tablespoons of brown sugar to the pickle juice before you add the chicken.
- You can bread the chicken after you brine it. For a simple oven baked chicken tender recipe, just dredge the tenders in flour, then egg, and lastly breadcrumbs. Put the breaded chicken on a sheet pan, drizzle with oil, and bake at 425 until crispy.
- Pickle brine chicken is freezer-friendly! You can brine it and freeze it raw, or you can cook it first and freeze for later. It’s always nice to have precooked chicken in the freezer when you’re on a time crunch. Thaw the chicken in the fridge overnight or bake in a preheated oven until hot throughout.
- You can brine the chicken the night before you plan to make it. That way you don’t forget to do it 4 hours before dinner. Just remember not to brine it over 24 hours.
- Store leftover chicken tenders in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Reheat in the oven, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. It’s best to use the oven or stovetop since the microwave can make it dry and chewy. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake until hot throughout.
What to serve with pickle brined chicken:
- Rice is always a solid side for grilled chicken! To keep things simple, you can microwave a steam-in bag of rice or try my garlic butter rice or cilantro lime rice.
- Corn on the cob or any corn-based side dish. You can’t go wrong with corn fritters or creamed corn!
- Thinly slice the pickle juice chicken and throw it onto a crunchy salad!
- Serve with potato salad, creamy cucumber salad, or cucumber radish salad.
Pickle juice contains a lot of salt, which is an essential part of any brine. A brine is a saltwater solution that meat is soaked in. The salt penetrates the meat and denatures the protein, allowing the meat to absorb liquid. This results in a juicy, tender end product versus a dry and chewy one.
No, pickle brine chicken doesn’t taste overpowering. It’s more of a subtle pickle flavor, and the results are more about the texture of the meat. The longer you brine the chicken, the more flavorful it will be.
You can marinate the chicken in pickle juice for up to 24 hours. It’s important not to leave it in the pickle juice too long. The acid will give the chicken a weird texture, and not in a good way!
Easy Chicken Recipes
Pickle Brine Chicken
- large skillet
- 1 pound chicken tenders Note 1
- 1-2 cups leftover dill pickle juice
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- In a medium bowl, place chicken tenders and add pickle juice. (It’s best if the chicken is fully submerged.)
- Cover and let the chicken marinade for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Discard the brine.
- Sprinkle salt all over the chicken.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil.
- Once the oil is shimmering, add chicken tenders and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Alternatively, you can grill the chicken tenders for 5-7 minutes per side on a preheated grill.
- Serve over salad, roast vegetables, pasta, or rice.
– Store leftover chicken tenders in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
– Reheat in the oven, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. It’s best to use the oven or stovetop since the microwave can make it dry and chewy. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake until hot throughout.
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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