Brined Barbecue Chicken is the juiciest and most flavorful way to grill up a chicken dinner.
Have I ever mentioned that chicken is our dog’s favorite food?
Have I ever mentioned that our dog’s name is Waffles?
Chicken. And Waffles. A million heart-eyed emojis.
We try not to feed Waffles human-food most of the time. This rule stems from the fact that I did NOT have this rule with our cat, Delilah. As a result, one day shortly after rescuing Delilah, she was sniffing at my grilled cheese sandwich, and I chortled to myself, “Sure, cat, go ahead and sniff. Everyone KNOWS cats don’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches! Har har har!” She then literally grabbed the sandwich out of my hand (WITH HER VERY SHARP TEETH), and the rest is history. She knows her carbs. She begs way more than any dog I’ve ever met. We weren’t going to make the same mistake with Waffles. But from time to time when Waffles has had an upset stomach, our vet recommended feeding her plain chicken breast.
Loves it. LOVES IT. If only we, as humans, appreciated plain chicken breast as much as Waffles does.
But, truth be told, there are many better ways to eat chicken that Waffles will never learn.
Like brined barbecue chicken.
This stuff would blow her little mind. Poor thing.
But you, lucky reader, can try it! And trust me, this will blow your mind as well. After making this recipe, it’s really hard for me to grill chicken any other way. The brine makes the meat super flavorful and incredibly juicy.
I know some people worry that a brine might make meat too salty. But with this recipe, there’s no cause for concern. The meat gets perfectly seasoned, but that’s it, no more and no less. I have a salt-loving palate, so when this chicken tasted good to me, I asked myself – and Ross – would this be TOO salty for other people? Ross reassured me that he loved it too. And Ross is brutally honest about cooking. And not nearly as salt-loving as I am.
The other thing the salt does is retain moisture in the meat. You know how you (and by “you” I mean “I”) feel a little puffy after a big salty meal? Chicken is the same. When it absorbs the salt, it holds onto its juices. So while plain chicken breast may taste a little dry and a little meh after grilling (I mean, not to Waffles, but to humans), BRINED chicken breast tastes moist and phenomenal.
And then you add barbecue sauce to your brined chicken and things just get out of control.
I use my mom’s “secret” barbecue sauce. It’s easy, it’s adjustable, and it’s darn delicious. The sauce is a little spicy, but combined with a mouthful of juicy chicken, it’s my kind of heaven. (If you’re not in the mood to make your own sauce, you can certainly use your favorite brand.)
This chicken goes really well with a salad. Especially a baby potato salad with bacon vinaigrette. Or, you know, one with lettuce. That’s cool too.
Just do me a favor and don’t tell Waffles how good this is. Let her eat her plain chicken breast in peace.
SPECIAL GIVEAWAY NEWS!
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- 3-4 pounds of chicken pieces, whatever kind you prefer. I like to do a mix of breasts, thighs, and drumsticks. I also recommend removing the skin - it doesn't get crispy with the brining method, and the fat from the skin can cause flare-ups on the grill. But you can leave it on if you prefer.
- 8 cups water
- 5 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 batch of Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce (two batches if you want extra sauce for dipping). You can substitute with your favorite bottled brand in a pinch.
- Heat 4 cups of water until hot but not boiling. I usually microwave it in a large glass measuring container, or I heat it up in an electric kettle. Pour the hot water into a large bowl.
- Add the salt to the hot water and stir until mostly dissolved. Add the remaining four cups water and let cool to room temperature.
- Now, you can either add the chicken to the pot of water, or you can combine the chicken and water in a large ziplock bag. Either way, make sure the chicken is fully submerged in the water.
- Refrigerate the chicken in the water for about 6 hours. (An hour more or less won't hurt it.) Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook it, drain the water, and set aside the chicken. Do not add extra seasoning - you're already good with the brine!
- Spray your grill (charcoal and gas are both fine) with nonstick cooking spray and preheat, leaving an area of indirect heat. Grill the chicken over medium, indirect heat for about 10-12 minutes, then flip and continue grilling for another 12-15.
- Brush the chicken with barbecue sauce and continue cooking. Every 5-7 minutes, flip the chicken and add a little more sauce, for an additional 15 minutes or so. The chicken is done when a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees.
- Remove the chicken from the grill when done and serve. Extra sauce for dipping is optional but delicious.