This chicken brine recipe is made with lemons, honey, fresh herbs and spices, and produces a juicy tender chicken every time! A foolproof way for succulent and flavorful roasted, smoked or fried chicken.

If you’ve never had a brined chicken before, you’re missing out! It takes just minutes to make a chicken brine, but the end result is nothing short of fabulous. Serve your brined chicken with glazed carrots and rice pilaf for a complete meal.

This chicken brine recipe is made with lemons, honey, fresh herbs and spices, and produces a juicy tender chicken every time! A foolproof way for succulent and flavorful roasted, smoked or fried chicken. This chicken brine recipe is made with lemons, honey, fresh herbs and spices, and produces a juicy tender chicken every time! A foolproof way for succulent and flavorful roasted, smoked or fried chicken.

Chicken brine in a pot with a whole chicken, lemons, herbs and spices.

I always get anxious about cooking large items of poultry like whole chickens and turkeys. It’s just so easy to either overcook the birds until they’re dry as a bone, or undercook them so they’re raw in the middle. This chicken brine infuses a whole bird with tons of flavor and helps to keep it from drying out in the oven. Brined chicken is the best chicken you’ll ever eat!

How do you make chicken brine?

To make this recipe, you’ll need salt, honey, lemons, herbs, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves. Everything goes into a large pot with water and is simmered until the salt has dissolved. After the mixture has cooled to room temperature, you can add your chicken to the pot, then refrigerate it until you’re ready to make dinner.

Ingredients including honey, lemon, herbs, spices and garlic.

Why do you brine chicken?

Chicken is a naturally lean type of meat which mean it’s prone to drying out. When a chicken is placed into brine, it absorbs some of the brine which helps to both keep it moist and also to season it all the way through. When you’re working with a brined chicken, even if you overcook it a bit, it should still come out tender and juicy.

How long do you brine chicken?

A whole chicken should be submerged in brine for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours. Do not go past the 24 hour mark, as your chicken may be overly salty if it sits in the brine for too long. If you’re looking to brine bone-in chicken pieces such as chicken thighs, drumsticks or breasts, you’ll want to soak them for about 4 hours. If you’re working with boneless chicken pieces, you can brine them for about 2 hours.

Salt, water, lemons, herbs and peppercorns in a pot.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

  • This recipe tends to work well with smaller chickens in the 3-5 pound range. This is simply because you’re more likely to have a deep pot to brine a smaller chicken in. If your chicken is larger than the biggest pot in your house, you can use a brining bag.
  • Be sure to use kosher salt, do not use table salt in this recipe. Table salt measures differently than kosher salt and your chicken will be too salty with table salt. I typically use Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
  • Feel free to mix up the flavorings to fit your preferences. You can try orange instead of lemon, brown sugar instead of honey, add dried chiles for a little spice, or use fresh sage instead of thyme.
  • Make sure the liquid is completely cooled before you add the chicken for food safety reasons. Sometimes when I’m in a hurry, I add a cup of ice cubes to help speed the process along.

How do you cook brined chicken?

You can cook this type of chicken in any way that you would normally cook a whole chicken. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Sometimes I like to add a few teaspoons of chicken seasoning to the outside of the bird before I cook it.

A brined roasted whole chicken.

Once you try a brined chicken, you’ll be hooked! Everyone will think you’re a gourmet chef when they get a taste of your perfectly cooked chicken. While making a this brining solution is an extra step in the cooking process, it’s totally worth it in my opinion.

Sliced chicken garnished with fresh herbs.

Chicken Brine Video

4.99 from 56 votes

Chicken Brine Recipe

AuthorSara Welch
Chicken brine in a pot with a whole chicken, lemons, herbs and spices.
This chicken brine recipe is made with lemons, honey, fresh herbs and spices, and produces a juicy tender chicken every time! A foolproof way for succulent and flavorful roasted, smoked or fried chicken.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Cool Time30 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 12


  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt do not use table salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 5 cloves of garlic smashed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 lemons sliced
  • 4 lb whole chicken


  • Place the water, salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, parsley and lemons in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes or until salt has dissolved.
  • Turn off the heat and cool completely.
  • Add the chicken to the cooled brine. Make sure the chicken is completely submerged.
  • Cover the pot and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse with cool water; pat dry with paper towels. Proceed with roasting, smoking or frying the chicken.


Nutritional information includes the whole chicken.


Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 775mg | Potassium: 176mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 140IU | Vitamin C: 11.5mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg

This post was originally published on January 2, 2019 and was updated with new content on January 13, 2022.

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Recipe Rating


  1. My chicken turned out delicious. I am brining another today. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you for posting it.

  2. Have a chicken defrosting. Can I make the brine day before? Will roast tmr!
    I also have Mortons kosher Salt . Do I have to adjust the amt used?

    Thank you

  3. I am frying my chicken after brining and then rinsing. Should I season the flour with just a little salt or no salt?

  4. Looking forward to trying this for a feast. Can I put two chickens (totaling 5.7 lbs in the one pot of brine at the same time? Would table salt work and what would be the adjustment for it? Thanks!

  5. Thinking about making this for Thanksgiving! I was just wondering how the chicken in the pictures is cooked. Is that what it looks like after brining and then just placing in the over? If so, what temperature and for how long?

    You also mention a possible cooking option is Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Herbs – would you brine and then cover in garlic and herbs?


  6. 5 stars
    The result was Amazing!!

    Would you be able please to advise how to brine turkey the same way. Would it work?
    What sort ratio of salt, sugar, water are we looking at?

    Thank you very much

  7. 5 stars
    We have used this brine a few times now. I have a chicken soaking that I will smoke tonight. I agree, I will never want to just cook chicken on the grill without brining ever again. Fabulous ! Thanks for the recipe .

  8. HI!!! Extraordinary recipe.

    can be used the same brine for a second batch of chickens?

    Best regards from Chili

  9. 4 stars
    I’ve used this brine recipe a couple of times and have liked it as an introduction to brining. Before I found this recipe I had zero experience brining and now I feel much more confident; it’s pretty easy to follow with simple ingredients.

    The one thing that’s confused me so far is: sometimes with a bigger bird (~5 lbs) I’ve had to cover it with a lot more water than what is indicated; it says in the recipe to make sure it’s totally submerged, but in doing so had to add closer to 14 cups of water than the 8 cups indicated! Of course then one should add almost double of the other ingredients. The 1st time I used the recipe with a smaller bird (~3-4 lbs), used ~8 cups water, brined just for a few hours, and it was great. The 2nd time I used this recipe I used a bigger bird but didn’t realize I might have to add any extra ingredients to compensate (as it doesn’t indicate needing to do so in the recipe?), brined for a full 24 hrs before roasting and the meat came out super watery and flavorless. I think it should mention to double the ingredients if using more water/bigger bird? I’ll be trying a 3rd time tonight, large bird, extra water/ingredients.. brining for a few hours. I’ll report back how it turns out!

    Thanks for this.

    1. Was your second chicken 5 lbs or larger than that? If you need to double the amount of water to cover a 5 lb chicken then you could increase some of the ingredients, but I would only increase the amounts by 1/2, 1 cup of salt will be way too much.

    2. How did it go with the larger chicken? Did you add more ingredients like she suggested? Mine is 5 lbs and I just looked at the brine and realized it isn’t going to even closely cover the bird! Ugh. And I don’t want to just double the water as you did with soggy results. Thanks you!

  10. Hello, I’m having a problem fully understanding your Chick Brine Recipe – Ingredients: For example, One can Increase and Decrease the “Servings” box but shouldn’t the Ingredients increase & decrease per pound of chicken?

    1. This recipe is for an average sized chicken, anywhere from 3-5 pounds. You shouldn’t need to scale up unless you’re trying to brine multiple chickens at once.

      1. Thanks for your reply. I went to my grocery store Thursday. They didn’t have fresh Rosemary or Thyme. Parsley, yes, but I decided not to get any. It’s a pretty big grocery store, I don’t know if they’re out due to recent events or they never carried fresh.

        Anyway, I substituted about 1/8 – 1/4 tablespoon of the ground parsley, rosemary & thyme. I couldn’t find what a “sprig” equated. Guess I should have asked you first lol.

        The herbs don’t really seem to be overpowering. When it was simmered, it sure made the house smell good. I think it will be ok, I am hoping to cook it tomorrow using your ‘Roasted Chicken w/ Garlic & Herbs,’ recipe.

        Like I said, I think it will be fine. However, if you would care to comment about substitutions when fresh isn’t available, I would love to hear it.

  11. Can’t rate this yet but I have my chicken defrosting now and will brine it later today to throw it on the smoker tomorrow! So excited to try this entire recipe from brine to rub to the smoke!
    Will update once I’ve consumed it!

  12. Good day (no, I’m not an Aussie).

    In our area (California), there are 2 major suppliers of kosher salt: Morton’s and Diamond Crystal. Unfortunately, though the formulation is similar, the coarseness is not. Seems that Morton’s is a lot finer.

    Which did you use for the “1/2 cup kosher salt” measure? I’ve had bad experiences with too-salty brines in the past, and would rather not repeat the mistake.

    Many thanks,

      1. Many thanks for the clarification.

        I’m glad that I asked, as I use Morton’s, since that’s what our local Safeway stocks. Well, when I’m not using Maldon Sea Salt, but that just confuses things.

        Made a fine rotisserie chicken (non brined) last night, using a Farberware rotisserie that is probably twice your age. Got it at a garage sale for $20. Looks like it was hardly used. I’m sure that the next (brined) chicken will be much better.