These brined chicken thighs yield tender juicy meat infused with a seasoned soy sauce blend resting under shatteringly crisp skin. Because let's be honest, no one enjoys rubbery skin.
This flavorful family dinner is crafted in an easy three-step cooking process to ensure maximum flavor in every bite. First, the chicken is brined, then seared to crisp the skin, and finally baked at a high temperature to lock in the juices underneath each crispy bite!
What is a chicken brine?
There is no better way to infuse seasoning and flavor into meat than soaking it in a brine. Brining chicken meat involves creating a salty flavor-infused liquid that the raw chicken soaks in for at least a few hours. The salty solution quickly penetrates the meat during the brining process, locking in juices and flavor that remain even after it is cooked. Additionally, you won’t even need to add seasoning to the chicken skin; the brine will ensure it is delectably salty and crisp!
- Chicken thighs - Other chicken pieces, like chicken breasts or drumsticks, or even a whole chicken can also be substituted.
- Cooking Oil
- Kosher Salt - It is important to use kosher salt, not table salt. See the note below.
- Kikkoman Soy Sauce - To maintain the right salt balance, use regular soy sauce rather than low sodium.
- Sugar - Brown sugar can also be substituted.
- Black Peppercorns
- Garlic cloves
Important tip: I specifically recommend using Morton Kosher Salt for this recipe. Why? Different brands of kosher salt have different-sized grains which can affect how salty the brine is. Using Morton kosher salt will ensure your recipe turns out identical to mine.
How to Brine Chicken
The first step to brining chicken thighs is to create the wet brine. To do so, add the cold water, soy sauce salt, sugar, garlic, and black pepper to a medium saucepan. Turn the burner to medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for ten minutes, or until the sugar and salt has fully dissolved into the chicken brine solution.
Next, it is important to let the salty brine fully cool down to at least room temperature. You don't want to put raw chicken in a hot brine or it will start cooking the meat. Once the brine is completely cool the chicken thighs can be added and soaked for two hours. I recommend using a large resealable plastic bag.
Tip: To cool the brine faster you can use less water when cooking the brine and replace it with an equal amount of ice to cool off the hot liquid quicker.
I don’t recommend extending the brining time over two hours. Yes, it will add more flavor to the meat, but it will also get really salty. Chicken thighs naturally have a lot of flavor, the main purpose of this brine for this chicken recipe is to season the meat and help it crisp while cooking!
How to cook brined chicken thighs
To get the most flavor out of your chicken thighs I recommend first searing them in a large skillet, skin side down, with some olive oil, to crisp up the skin prior to baking. Cook until the skin begins to turn golden brown and crispy. Taking the time to do this extra step will pay huge dividends!
While the skin sears, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. This extra high heat will further crisp the skin as it bakes, ensuring it is shatteringly crispy when you take a bite. Set your chicken thighs on a rimmed baking pan and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on how large the thighs are), or until the meat reaches 165 degrees.
What to serve with chicken thighs?
You have a delicious chicken dinner ready to feed the family, but you need side dishes too! Try any of these delicious options:
- Roasted Potatoes and Onions
- Parmesan Roasted Carrots
- Lemon Parmesan Green Beans
- Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower
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Brined Chicken Thighs
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup Kosher Salt
- 4 cups Water
- ½ cup Kikkoman Soy
- 4 tbsp Sugar
- 14 Black Peppercorns
- 2 cloves Garlic crushed
- Combine all brine ingredients into a saucepan and boil for 10 minutes, or until dissolved.
- Remove saucepan from heat and let cool completely. (It can be placed in refrigerator or freezer for faster cool down)
- Once the brine has cooled pour it into a food safe bag. Add the chicken thighs and seal bag tightly. Place everything in the refrigerator and brine chicken thighs for two hours.
- Remove the chicken andd discard brine after two hours.. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towel.
- Heat oil in a skillet and add chicken thighs, skin side down, and sear on medium high heat for roughly 8 minutes, or until skin has crisped and browned.
- Place chicken, skin side up on baking sheet, or oven safe skillet drained of oil, and bake in preheated 450 degree oven for ~10-15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Let meat rest for 5 minutes while it cools, and serve.
This recipe was originally published February 24, 2016 on FoxValleyFoodie.com.