Pickle Chicken

Brining is one of my favorite things to do with chicken. I like it because you can change the brine you’re using to suit your tastes and soak the chicken rather than doing a plain roast or slathering the poor thing inside and out with an herb butter. Mr. Cluckers already died for my belly and then I’m going to invade his cavities? I’ll pass when possible – although it is very tasty.

One night I pondered brines (because that’s what the cool kids do in their spare time) and all the aromatics you can toss in there, barring that the ration of water, salt and sugar are correct. Then my mind turned to pickles and the salty solution they sit in and how similar the ingredients are to a traditional brine but with a little more tang.

I drank whiskey and pickle juice shots and they were shockingly delicious – why not brine my chicken in it?

Thus was born: Pickle Chicken. The first time I made it, I fretted the entire day that it bathed in pickle juice. Would it taste like pickles? Would it work? Did I just waste an entire chicken on a fleeting idea?

The gorgeous end result was unbelievably juicy chicken packed full of flavor. I’m sure the end result will vary heavily on what brand and style of pickle you use, so choose what you like! (I’m a Claussen Hearty Garlic girl – the juice is clean with tons of minced garlic and peppercorns in it.)

Make it. You know you want to.


  • 1 whole roaster chicken, (3-4 lbs) fun organs removed from cavities
  • 4 cups pickle juice
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Notes: You don’t have to, but I also like to dust the outside with other dry spices like garlic/onion powder and paprika. Play around with the things you like too. Also, because pickle juice is salty, think about backing off on how much you put on the skin.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F

Place your chicken in a brining bag or jumbo Tupperware container. Cover with your pickle juice. Make sure there’s juice covering all sides.

Place the chicken in your refrigerator and allow to brine for at least 12 hours, maybe massaging the chicken every few hours or so if you can. Mine goes for a little less than 24 hours but it is a very light pickle juice. If you’re using a strong pickle juice, maybe cut back on that – use your judgment and love of pickles to guide you.

Once brined, discard the pickle juice, rinse the chicken off with clean water to remove excess salt. Pat dry with paper towels and season all sides with salt, pepper and any other spices you’ll be using.

Place the lemon, onion and garlic inside of the empty cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast the chicken for 1- 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature between the leg and the thigh is 160 degrees F (once out of the oven, the temperature will rise while the chicken rests).

Remove the chicken to a cutting board or platter and cover with an aluminum foil tent for about 15-20 minutes. Letting your meat rest lets all the juices go back into their places rather than all over your dishes.

Slice the chicken and serve along side a good portion of “breast or leg” jokes.

Viva el encurtido*

*All Spanish courtesy of an online English to Spanish translator. Edit: a commenter



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6 thoughts on “Pickle Chicken

  1. I’ve never brined a chicken or a turkey…yet. I don’t drink shooters but I love Amaretto on ice. Wonder how a chicken would taste brined in that?

    Your dinner looks delicious and I’m glad that it was.

  2. Thank you so much, Paula!

    You know, I say go for trying the Amaretto…you just never know when it comes to chicken. Oh oh oh! And then coat it with slivered almonds and pan fry! I’m such a nerd.

  3. hmmm, I’m not a lover of pickles, so I may not try this particular recipe. But I did want to applaud you on the idea :) We brine our birds quite often, especially if we’re going to smoke them on the Webber (we use a kettle grill). And you could totes do a beer or hard cider brine, just pick something fruity. So the Amaretto brine, I think it’d work quite nicely.

    Finally, that last phrase should be “Viva el encurtido!”

  4. OK, I clicked because who wouldn’t on something called Pickle Chicken?

    Brine it? But of course! In pickle brine, why not?

    Brining improves any bird, in my opionion and I will try this with some home made dill pickle brine and some homemade citrus olive brine. Been saving that delish brine for something-and this is it!

    Nice twist on this subject.

  5. I have a couple quart jars of homemade pickles from last summer that are darn near empty. I am TOTALLY using the brine for a chicken – spicy, garlicky dill pickle brine…. yes please!!!
    ALso, Picklebacks are the best. Combining whisky and pickles? Win. A bar in Astoria, Queens that I love a lot serves a pickle martini, which is just, y’know, heavenly.

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