Brining is an excellent technique to cure meats and to season them uniformly.  Here is Thomas Keller’s recipe for chicken brine that you can use for roasting or frying chicken.

The key ingredient is lemon, which goes wonderfully well with chicken. Adding the herbs: bay leaf, parsley and thyme gives the chicken a wonderful aromatic flavor.

The recipe makes 2 gallons of brine which is enough for 10 pounds of chicken.  This  may be a bit much for a single person, a couple, or a small family.  I recommend either brining a big batch and freezing the brined chicken that you won’t use or simply dividing the recipe accordingly depending on how much chicken you are going to cook.


Chicken Brine Recipe
Recipe by Thomas Keller from Ad Hoc at Home

5 lemons, halved
24 bay leaves
1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch (1 ounce) thyme
1/2 cup honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
1/4 cup black peppercorns
2 cups (10 ounces) kosher salt
2 gallons water

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken pieces, add the chicken, and refrigerate for 12 hours. The chicken may be too salty if you brine the chicken for more than 12 hours.

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse with cold water, pat dry with paper towels and let it rest at room temperature for over an hour. Roast or fry the chicken.

Here is Thomas Keller’s recipe for his amazing Buttermilk Fried Chicken.


Ad Hoc Chicken Brine

  • Hope

    This was my first time brining chicken and it was perfect!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!

  • Hope

    I decided to give brining a try and WOW!!!!!!!! Chicken was delicious!!!!!

  • j green

    this was the best chicken i’ve ever cooked or eaten and i’ve eaten and cooked a lot of chicken. Thank you.

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you for writing, Hope. So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe.

  • Jun Belen

    That’s awesome! Great to know the recipe worked for you.

  • win glass

    The 10 pounds of chicken is a couple of whole chickens broken down ? To brine a couple of whole chickens would I brine them for longer ? and if I were brining 10 pounds of chicken breasts, would I brine them for a shorter period of time ?

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  • Regina Jeffries-Perry

    Do you put any other seasoning on the chicken when you roast it?

  • Jay Martirez

    Hi Jun, will this brine recipe be also applicable on pork meats? Many Thanks and more power on your blog.

  • Jun Belen

    Yes, Jay! You can also use the this technique for brining pork chops, pork loin and tenderloin. It will keep the pork moist. I also brine chicken and pork with a simpler combination of soy sauce and calamansi.

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  • Kayci

    This may be a silly question, but is this the recipe Thomas Keller suggests for brining turkey also?

  • Jun Belen

    Yes, you can use the same recipe for brining turkey.

  • Mickie Parker

    What method did you use to freeze the extra? How long would you recommend brining if using a year old rooster?

  • Katmandu

    We regularly brine and freeze 20, 30, up to 50 pounds of chicken at a time. I brine anywhere from 12 to 24 hours for chicken quarters to whole birds, just depends on how my schedule is looking. Then it comes out, gets rinsed really well, dried, and slipped into food saver freezer bags to be vac sealed. As for your yearling roo, as it’s been 7 months since you asked he’s probably long since been dined upon, however we do whole birds up to 24 hours with good results.

  • Jennifer Riggins Hansen

    Just curious what do you think about using this for pork?

  • Jun Belen

    Yes, you can use the brine with pork. We’ve tried to brine pork chops and pork loin with it and they turn out really well. Just adjust the amount of salt by weight of the pork.