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What’s the key to succulent poultry when cooking at high temperatures or smoking? Chicken brine. A good chicken brine should be something that every outdoor cook has in their recipe file.

This chicken brine recipe is super simple to make and will help you create delicious, moist chicken on the grill or smoker. We used chicken thighs for this demonstration but can be modified for any chicken.

Ingredients for chicken brine.
A chicken brine adds so much great flavor and moisture to grilled and smoked chicken.

What is the purpose of chicken brine?

A chicken brine not only adds flavor to the meat, but it also helps keep the meat moist as it cooks. Using a brine does mean having to start your meal hours in advance, but it makes such a difference. If you’re tired of dried-out chicken, I highly recommend that you use a brine recipe.

But, if you want to skip this process altogether, and looking for a quick marinade, then I would recommend using my easy chicken marinade recipe.

Can you make chicken brine ahead of time?

Yes. You do not want to add the brine to the chicken too far in advance, but you can make it ahead of time. I would recommend not adding your fresh herbs until you add the chicken to the brine, but the other ingredients will be fine if you make the brine a day in advance.

Can you use this brine for grilled or smoked chicken?

Yes. You can use this chicken brine whether you are smoking or grilling any types of chicken. The fresh herbs may burn if placed in direct contact with the heat, so you’ll want to be careful of that.

grilled chicken thighs

What are the ingredients to make chicken brine?

The ingredients for this brine recipe are so simple. To get the best flavor, I highly recommend sticking with fresh herbs rather than dried.

chicken brine ingredients
The ingredients you should have on hand in your kitchen.
  • Fresh thyme 
  • Oregano 
  • Brown sugar 
  • Water 
  • Apple cider or apple juice 
  • Apple cider vinegar 
  • Soy sauce 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Black pepper 
chicken brine recipe
Mix the chicken brine ingredients together

How do you make chicken brine?

To make this chicken brine, you simply have to mix all the ingredients except for the fresh herbs until the brown sugar dissolves and then allow to cool.

Brine and chicken in zip tie bag
Add the herbs to the bag with the chicken and then add the rest of the brine.

When you get ready to brine the chicken, add the herbs to the bag along with the chicken.

Chicken in bag with brine.
Brine your chicken for 8 to 24 hours.

I used this chicken brine in my Traeger Chicken Thighs recipe, and they turned out to be the most flavorful, tender, and juicy chicken thighs I have made! Make sure you to check it out.

Traeger chicken thighs recipe

Other recipes you can use this Chicken Brine Recipe in:

Chicken Brine Recipe

This chicken brine recipe is super simple to make and will help you create delicious, moist chicken on the grill or smoker.
4.58 from 7 votes
Print Pin
Course: Marinade, Seasoning
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken brine
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 393kcal
Author: Mark Rogers


  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 sprigs fresh oregano
  • ¼ cup brown sugar optional
  • 1 cup boiling water to dissolve the brown sugar and salt
  • ¾ cup apple cider or apple juice
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  • Add all the brining ingredients to a medium-sized bowl.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  • Add chicken thighs to a large zip top bag and pour brining solution over the thighs.
  • Seal bag and place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.


Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 10247mg | Potassium: 697mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 72g | Vitamin A: 665IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 377mg | Iron: 10mg

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