March 7, 2023 40 Comments
Do you know how to brine chicken breast? It is like magic!
I know I could use some magic right now.
The alchemy here is using a technique called “brining” to transform bland, rubbery chicken breast into something wonderful. It doesn’t take very long and it ensures your chicken will be moist.
Brining is one of those things that we only seem to do for the big day – like Thanksgiving but it is an every day tool. The people who really know how to cook in my life all add these little steps to make their food taste better.
For example, my neighbor always has a fresh rosemary plant that she snips when she needs some. It tastes so much better than dried!! Whenever she invites me to dinner, I cancel my other plans.
Everyone knows that eating dry chicken is like sucking on a hockey puck. If you can avoid it, you will and it is so easy to avoid it.
I also like using my slow cooker for a slow cooker chicken taco filling and for making a slow cooker whole chicken. I find that when I plan (and manage to get the chicken into the cooker in time), my chicken stays moist. Slow cookers are great for keeping liquid inside the dish.
Brining, on the other hand, enhances juiciness by ensuring that the meat absorbs liquid before it is cooked. This “extra liquid” protects the chicken from getting too dry as chicken will lose liquid as it cooks.
The best part is that it only takes 15 minutes! The chicken doesn’t have to sit in a salt water bath for an entire day. This technique is a wet brine (not a dry brine which I can save for another day).
If you have an extra 15 minutes, this step will change your life. My kids, who usually demand chicken thighs because they find breast too dry – love this take on chicken breast.
I used small, boneless and skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. They were about 5-6 ounces each and I think if your chicken breasts are larger, you should cut them into smaller pieces so that the brine has a chance to infuse the chicken before you cook it.
Do use 1/4 cup Kosher salt for the brining step. You can find it below the regular salt in the supermarket and it gives the best result. I use it as my regular salt because the larger grains make it easier to measure how much I am using.
My favorite Kosher salt is Diamond Crystal. Did you know that Diamond Kosher Salt has 53% less sodium by volume compared to regular table salt?
The crystals of salt are much bigger so it makes sense that there is less sodium. Once I started using it on my table in a little bowl for pinching – I never went back to the finer grained table salt.
It does cost much more than regular table salt but it is not expensive (like Himalayan salt).
You mix the Kosher salt in warm water in a large bowl, put in the chicken and let sit for 15 – 30 minutes. Take the chicken out of the brine, rinse it with cold water and dry the brined chicken with paper towels.
Smoked paprika can be found next the regular paprika and adds a whole level of flavor to the chicken. I use it a lot to add depth to a dish. It isn’t necessary here so don’t worry if you don’t have it.
I promise that your chicken will be tender and juicy. Honestly, you will never cook chicken breast without brining again.
Magic can happen in your kitchen – I promise.
Serve this with a salad (I used baby arugula in the photo) and you have a simple, delicious, and low carb dinner.
Have you ever tried brining chicken breast?
Brined Chicken Breast Recipe
Makes 7 breasts
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Total time: 20 min + 30 minutes brine
7 boneless, skinless chicken pieces about 6 ounces each (2.5 pounds)
¼ cup plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
First, mix ¼ cup kosher salt in a large bowl with 1 quart of warm water. Immerse chicken breasts in salted water for 15 minutes and then rinse.
Heat oven to 450 F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and put on a rimmed baking sheet. Mix ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Brush chicken on both sides with the olive oil and them rub the spice mixture on both sides.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the chicken registers the internal temperature of 170 F. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.
One breast is 163 calories, 6.4 g fat, 1.9 g saturated fat, 0.3 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 25.4 g protein, 0 g fiber, 234 mg sodium, 2 Green, 1 Blue, 1 Purple SmartPts
Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes