How to Brine Chicken Breast

March 6, 2024   40 Comments

Do you know how to brine chicken breast? It is like magic!

How to Brine Chicken Breast

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

3.5 from 89 reviews

Makes 7 breasts
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Total time: 20 min + 30 minutes brine

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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.

Nutrition Facts

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

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The Easiest Whole Chicken Recipe

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Hi Lisa,

I feel like the pre-seasoned / brined meats you buy at the supermarket are always too salty. Does this taste salty? The 234 mg of sodium doesn't seem too bad.



Good idea to bake up a bunch of these for dinners during the work week, and to add to my lunch salads!

Going to give this a try. This morning I actually took out boneless chicken breast to make for dinner.

Thanks for posting..

@Maria - I do know what you are talking about. Sometimes manufacturers even inject the brine. This is for a short period of time so it has the effect but not the saltiness of the packaged stuff.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Thanks for your question!!

Brining is a great idea, though I find it unnecessary when cooking poultry in my convection oven, which produces surprisingly moist meats (in less time) virtually always!

Snack Girl, have you tried/noticed any difference in the end result if you REFRIGERATE the poultry while brining, which other recipes I've seen suggest??

I normally brine or I marinate the chicken before I cook it.

Where do you find 4 ounce chicken breasts? I have looked, since most recipes call for them, and none of the stores in my area carry them. I always have to buy the huge ones and cut them up, but that makes some recipes impossible - like one I found for stuffed chicken breast. Sigh.

Dear Snack Girl,

We love your blog dearly, but please please please take out the part about "until the chicken is no longer pink". The only reliable way to insure food is cooked to a safe temp is to measure it- not to check color. Color is never an indicator of safety! Btw, there is a wonderful photo on the Internet (which I have no idea how to link to) of 2 burgers side by side, where the one which is pink in the middle has been cooked to a safe internal temp, whereas the one which 'looks' well-done (i.e. brown all through) is still not up to the recommended temp. I threw that example in purely to illustrate that it is possible, not to mention delicious, to cook something all the way to the # recommended to be non-risky on the thermometer, but that the color of the food means absolutely nothing.

Thanks for reading; going to try your chicken now(but with my totally easy & quick thermometer)!

I cook my chicken breasts in the oven at 400, i grease bottom of pan with olive oil, season breasts with whatever spices, take a piece of parchment paper, oil the side you will put touching the chicken, stick in oven starting at 20 minutes. I have a thermometer in the biggest one to ensure cooked through. I have never had a dry chick breast again. The psrhment acts like the skin and prevents the chicken from drying out. By the way i use Kinders Buttery Steakhouse organic seasoning and it is delish...a little salty so dont use too much. I eat these everyday! Yum

I've had good luck with poaching chicken breasts, then freezing for later use. Do you think there is any point in brining before poaching?

Thanks so much for the recipe, just what I was looking for! The store-bought rotisserie chickens have been disappointing lately. My home baked ones usually taste like shoe leather. Does the salt need to be kosher? I only have regular.

@Naomi - I have changed the post due to your comment. Thank you!

@Patti - I found them individual wrapped in the "natural" meat section. don't know why they are there -maybe you could find them frozen.

@Jane - I don't think brining before poaching would make sense because you are already cooking in liquid.

@Bridget - Do use kosher salt! It has a larger grain and is the right salt for brining. I think it has different properties than table salt.

Thanks so much for the feedback and questions!

I have brined pork, never chicken. I will try this. Thank you.

Hi Patti. I buy my chicken breasts from GFS stores. They come in 5 pound bags - frozen - but it's the only chicken I can find anymore that's generally a consistent size. They run around 4 oz each piece.

I grilled the chicken! Delicious!!

This is brilliant! Yes, I've brined before, mostly whole birds though. V8 slap for not thinking of this for making juicy chicken breasts! I might play around with your recipe and add whatever aromatics are on hand [smashed garlic, bay leaves, smashed peppercorns, rosemary, etc. Do you think it would be ok to defrost chicken breasts, in brine, in fridge overnight?

My usual method for juicy CB is: s/p, 2-3 bay leaves each and cover with sliced onions, foil dish, bake 350deg 30 mins. I got this recipe from a local chef who made a stand-out chicken salad! I always heard if the juices run clear, its cooked safely but now I think I'll start using my meat


Thanks Kathy and SG! Your comments only confirm that it is harder and harder to find smaller chicken breasts!

When weighing chicken [or any meat] for weight loss, isn't it done after cooking?

I always did so during my many years of dieting with success (nowadays I can closely eyeball 4oz). It never ceases to amaze me how almost everyone I know can eat half to full pound of meat at a time. That, I suppose, comes from weighing and measuring, :)

I just tried this today and the chicken turned out very moist and good. I used 2 larger breasts and just baked a little longer. I sliced the chicken to top 4 lunch salads. Thanks!

I marinade boneless chicken breasts in low fat plain yogurt or sour cream, about 3 hours. I salt and pepper them before putting them in yogurt. Then I grill them like normal. I like it better than brine, the chicken is moist and almost silky.

I am making stuffed chicken rollatini using chicken breasts.I am not sure if i should brine the chicken and then when i am ready to cook it, if i should stuff the chicken and bake it right away. After i brine it can i refrigerate it before i bake it. Any suggestions?

Lisa, try a quick dry brining method: generously sprinkle your chicken (or any other meat, for that matters) with salt up to 3-4 days before you plan to cook it. Wrap loosely and leave in the refrigerator until ready to cook. This very simple step will change the way you cook meat.

Patti -- if you want to stuff (roll up) a chicken breast but it's too thick, take a fillet knife and slice it in half and/or pound it with a meat tenderizer until it's the thickness you wish. When stuffed and rolled, hold together with a toothpick or two; remove the picks when plating.

This post came at just the right time, as I was eating (reluctantly) yet another tough, tasteless chicken breast for lunch. Thank you. I also appreciate the other ideas for moist, flavorful chicken. Heidi mentioned brining pork. Would that brine recipe be as same as for the chicken?

I have used your brining chicken recipe since the first time I saw it on your site. I LOVE it!

Sometimes for fun I switch up my spices for the "rub" portion. It comes out moist and yummy. Have even cut the kosher salt by half, added a tsp or so of the rub to the water and it came out just as moist. Thanks for making cooking and baking good things fun!

Kudos to your video too!!!

No. I (I Learned It From The Internet) Steam a 1 Lb. Breast Covered 2/3 With Water for 14 minutes. Then I Cut It Into 8 Slices. As One Of The Websights said "It Cuts Like Butter".

I prepared this for Fathers Day and my son and dil couldn't believe how good it was. Brining some now to freeze.

Is there a brine mix (ie: less salt / more sugar etc) that allows for an OVERNIGHT chicken breast brine that won't make it too salty? Wouldn't using much less salt in the brine allow it to sit overnight without making it too salty? It just makes it easier for me to put them in the brine the night before and they're ready for the next morning.

@Roger - I have brined a whole turkey over night. I think the problem with chicken breast is that it is small - so it would soak up too much of the salt and would become too salty. Bigger slices of meat can stand the overnight treatment. Thank you for your question.

In Kosher meat provider the meat you buy will be already salted, so adding salt is wound to injury. Basically, leaving the chicken breasts in a bowl of water for whatever time you want in the fridge, does wonders to softening them. If you want to also season them, anything goes, especially some olive oil, thyme, and most important, garlic. Put paprika just a little for color, or you can add curcumin powder for a more colorul result.

Lisa darling you rock as always! I do 1-hour wet brining on tiny chickens and they’re out of this world. I’ve starts live-streaming on Instagram. Watch me? Love you much.

U can get smaller chicken breast from halal meat shops as Iv always got my chicken breasts sliced unless I specifically ask for full chicken breast for stuffed chicken.

I read an article (forget which one) for brining and I forget how much salt I had to use, had not brined before & found the amt of salt I used was way too much, but if I do not have Kosher salt can I use Himilayan salt. I want to cook chicken 2night. Thanx.

Two chicken breasts are enough for dinner for me and my wife.

My question is how to save and use the leftover cooked chicken breast?

Thanks for your recipe that I'm going to try it.


Would the boneless breasts come out just as tender and juicy if I cooked them in my slow cooker ?

Thanks !

Great recipe. I had never used brine before. My husband's first comment was how moist and tasty the chicken was.

I was wondering if this would work if putting chicken pieces in crock pot

Quick and easy I will definitely use this on a regular basis. Thank you

I’m not trying to start anything, but kosher salt is basically indistinguishable from table salt when dissolved. The larger flakes help when used as a seasoning to keep the salt from completely spreading over your food, but if you’re dissolving it, you’re just using more expensive salt. Just use the same weight of regular salt for a brine (or soup, or anything in which the salt will dissolve).

NEVER rinse your chicken! You're just splashing bacteria all over the place.

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