If you're looking to keep your chicken moist, consider brining your meat before you cook it. Brine chicken thighs in a mixture of salt water with added sweetening agents and fresh or dried herbs, or add some spices for a kick. You can also use a brine for chicken breast, or other cuts of this meat.
Read more: Skinless Chicken Thigh Nutrition Information
Chicken Brine Recipe
Select a suitable container in which to brine the chicken thighs. A glass or plastic food-safe dish or container is best, but a stainless steel pot works, too.
Don't use copper, aluminum or other reactive cookware, as they can be damaged by the salt or other acidic component you might use for brining.
The vessel must be large enough to hold all the chicken thighs you're brining and to immerse them completely in water. It also has to fit in your refrigerator.
Choose Your Liquids
Water is the standard brine base. Use it alone or mix it with an equal amount of another liquid that imparts a desirable flavor into the chicken thighs. Consider the flavors in the recipe you're preparing and choose something complementary.
Options include wine, vinegar, tea, beer, broth, stock or juice. Vinegar, wine, beer, broth and stock work well for chicken thighs; if using juice or tea, consider that they sometimes impart an unpleasant flavor that could impact your finished dish.
Your vessel should contain enough liquid to cover the chicken thighs. Your brine ratio should be 3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water.
Salt and Flavoring to Liquids
It isn't brine without salt. For the best flavor, the USDA recommends using table salt, also called sodium chloride. Add 3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water.
To add more flavor to your chicken thighs, use complementary seasonings in the brine. Start with a sweetening agent to balance the salt.
Sugar and brown sugar are fine, but other options, such as maple syrup, molasses or honey add more depth of flavor. Match the salt quantity or use a little less.
Fresh or dried herbs and spices work in brine, too. Include some called for in the recipe you're following or pick a traditional seasoning or two such as basil, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, rosemary, garlic, garlic or onion powder.
For kick, a spicy chili pepper powder will do the trick, but don't overdo it. A good rule of thumb is to add seasonings to taste, but always taste prior to adding the raw chicken.
Soak the Chicken
Once your brine is prepared, drop in the chicken thighs. If you didn't use enough liquid to completely submerse them, add more as needed.
Put the soaking poultry into the refrigerator at least overnight. The chicken thighs can remain in the refrigerator for up to 3 days after being thawed, or if you purchased them fresh, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Use the chicken brine recipe in your favorite dish — omit the salt — but be aware that brined chicken may cook more quickly, so test your dish often while cooking.
To reduce risk of harmful bacterial growth, cook chicken thighs to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as advised by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.