Pickles: They’re not just for cheeseburgers and pregnant ladies anymore. Welcome to the dawn of a new era where you experience the tanginess you love from pickles as they infuse flavor and juiciness as YOU’VE NEVER BEFORE HAD IN CHICKEN. Rich, juicy, tangy pickle brine chicken your family will LOVE!
The Next-Level Pickle Pairing.
One time, I ate an entire jar of pickles. Legit. I was seven years old. I remember it clearly, stampeding through the kitchen one bright summer day looking for a snack. I tugged open the door to the fridge, and there it was, in all its tangy glory: a full jar of pickles that practically had my name on it. And I’ll have you know I suffered no gastrointestinal consequences whatsoever, but I learned something super important from that experience…
Pickles and I are meant to be.
Fortunately, my culinary skills have increased since first grade, and I’ve incorporated my love of pickles into many recipes, sharing the love with my family and online friends. And now, I proudly present to you…
Pickle. Brine. Chicken.
Think of this recipe as the grown-up version of eating your very own full jar of pickles.
This is one of our family’s absolute favorite recipes. Something about that pickle-y tang. It also doesn’t hurt that this little gem uses the most basic cooking techniques–the oven does most of the work for you. You can’t go wrong! Let’s get into it.
Pickle Brine Chicken Ingredient Notes
This recipe uses simple ingredients to infuse crazy amounts of flavor into the chicken and sauce–so kick those feet up and serve dinner like a boss with these tricks:
The Chicken Brine.
This chicken brine recipe is SIMPLE. Literally 1 ingredient: pickle juice. Now, I’ve tested this pickle brine chicken with a few different types of pickle juice:
- Mt Olive pickles, which are sugar free.
- Famous Dave’s signature spicy, which are spicy and contain sugar (in the way of high fructose corn syrup).
Which did we prefer? Famous Dave’s. The spicy/sweet combo really infuses the chicken, adding loads more flavor to the sauce. You can grab a jar at Walmart or on Amazon. But, if you’re like me, and aren’t a fan of its ingredient list, Vlassic, or Mt Olive are also amazing.
Our pickle brine chicken sauce is a combination of braised vegetables, white wine, bay leaves, plus chicken juices and broth. As mentioned before, the pickle juice you use plays a big role in the flavor of the sauce.
Here’s what you should know about the other our sauce ingredients:
- Wine. You want a dry variety such as sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or a riesling.
- Xanthan gum. You’ll notice we add xanthan gum at the very end. This is my favorite way to thicken soups and sauces, as it has a cleaner flavor, and is stronger at thickening compared to flour. (Cook’s Illustrated agrees!) If you don’t have xanthan gum, you can make a roux with 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of flour.
- Clumping + xanthan gum. One thing to mention before you dive in: xanthan gum clumps easily. So when adding it, the technique is important. You want to sprinkle it over the surface of your sauce while whisking at the same time until it has completely dissolved.
To turn this into a complete meal, we’ll serve our pickle brine chicken over a bed of sauteed kale, cooked in pancetta fat. Because low carb dinners (all dinners for that matter) are always better with a little pancetta.
Commonly asked Questions
- What is brine? Chicken brine infuses the chicken with flavor while protecting it from being overcooked (as is easy to do with lean protein like chicken)–keeping the final product tender and juicy. A basic brine is typically made of salt and sugar dissolved in water. Today (for this pickle brine chicken recipe) it’s made of pickle juice.
- How do I brine chicken thighs? Toss your thighs in a resealable bag, add the pickle juice, seal, and refrigerate. Easy as that.
- How long should you brine chicken? How long to brine chicken will depend on the chicken brine you’re using. For this pickle brine chicken, I suggest brining for at least 12 hours to infuse the ultimate amount of flavor.
- Why do we broil the chicken? To get SUPER crispy chicken skin! This added texture will bring our chicken and pickle dish to the next level. When broiling the chicken, it’s important to make sure the skin side is up.
- How do I cut carbs in pickle brine chicken? The sauce adds most of the carbs to this recipe–but the truth is, we aren’t eating the carrots, celery, and onion–rather, their flavors are INFUSED in the sauce. For this reason, the nutritional information of this recipe isn’t 100% accurate. That said, there isn’t a more accurate way to calculate. So keep this in mind if you’re worried about the carbs in this recipe.
If you happen to have any leftovers (we rarely do…) you’ve gotta use them to make a chicken sandwich. We use my low carb hamburger buns for this (feel free to use whatever buns you have). It’s great with a garlic aoili.
- Make it spicy. You can use spicy pickles to infuse some heat, but if you really want to crank it up, try adding red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or tabasco to the sauce.
- Use different cuts of chicken. Pickle juice makes a fabulous chicken breast brine as well–just be sure to use skin-on chicken breast and adjust your braise time accordingly.
- Swap the low carb vegetables. I wouldn’t change the veggies used in the sauce–but if you’d like to swap kale for another green, then go for it. Swiss chard, spinach, even broccolini would be delish.
- Fry your chicken. Although you won’t get the delectable sauce, pickle juice is my favorite fried chicken brine. Check out my low carb fried chicken for instructions.
Pickle Brine ChickenPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 6 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
- 2 cups pickle juice (note 1)
- 4 ounces pancetta
- 2 bunches kale
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Brine chicken. Add chicken thighs and pickle juice (note 1) to a large resealable plastic bag. Press out any air, seal, and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours. (I like to nestle my bag inside a large bowl).
- Saute. Preheat oven to 425 F. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large dutch oven, or oven-safe pan. Once shimmering, add the celery, carrots, and onions. Saute until softened (about 8 minutes). Add wine (note 2) , bay leaves, and peppercorns -- stir to combine. Add the chicken broth and chicken thighs (skin side down), making sure to fully submerge the thighs.
- Braise. Bring liquid to a boil, then turn off the heat of the stove. Place dutch oven in the preheated oven (without a lid), and bake for 40 minutes. Once braised, remove from the oven, and crank the oven heat to broil.
- Sauce. Set cooked chicken thighs aside on a plate. Strain the sauce using a mesh strainer nestled inside a large bowl. Discard the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, and peppercorn. Pour strained sauce into a small saucepan and bring to an aggressive simmer. Sprinkle xanthan gum (note 4) over the top while whisking at the same time to ensure it doesn't clump. Whisk until it fully dissolves into the liquid. Allow the sauce to simmer until it thickens to your liking (for me this was about 10 minutes), then keep warm while we cook the veggies.
- Broil. Return chicken thighs, skin side up, to the dutch oven and broil until the skin becomes golden and crispy -- should be about 5 minutes, but you'll want to watch carefully, as they can burn easily at this temp. Once golden, remove from the oven and set aside on a plate. Tent with tin foil and allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes.
- Saute. Once cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to wipe clean the dutch oven. Add pancetta and saute for 4 minutes. Add the kale and garlic, season with salt. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing, until tender and the pancetta is crispy, about 5 minutes.
- Plating. Spoon the kale onto plates and top with the chicken thighs. Drizzle sauce over your chicken and serve right away. Enjoy!
Fans Also Made These Low Carb Recipes:
- Pickle juice. This recipe has been testing with both Mt Olive (sugar-free) and Famous Dave's spicy chips (sugar added). We preferred the complexity the sweet/spicy pickles added to this dish. You can grab them on Amazon.
- Dry white wines include sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or a riesling.
- Why xanthan gum? It helps thicken soups and sauces with a cleaner flavor (than flour).
- The technique when adding xanthan gum is important, as you don't want it to clump. Be sure to lightly sprinkle on top, while whisking the liquid until everything dissolves.
- If you don't have xanthan gum, you can make a roux with 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of flour.
- Carbs in this recipe: The nutritional information for this recipe isn't totally accurate, as we aren't eating the onion, carrot, and celery, rather, they are infusing our sauce. Sorry, I wish there was a better way for me to calculate!