The 1-Ingredient Secret to Juicy Chicken Breasts|Recipes Spots

  • on August 14, 2023
The 1-Ingredient Secret to Juicy Chicken Breasts

A fork tucking into slices of grilled chicken breast on a plate
Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

The boneless skinless chicken breast is synonymous with fast dinner, and with good reason! You can turn it into so many meals relatively quickly, but there is one slight problem. Boneless skinless chicken breasts don’t have a ton of flavor, and because they are so lean they can dry out quickly if you overcook them. 

Never fear! There is a tried and true method you can quickly use to turn your plain chicken breasts into juicy, tender stars of dinner. And it’s lurking in our otherwise unassuming recipe for grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Why A Brine Makes For Juicy Chicken

The secret is to quick brine your chicken breasts!  When you quick brine chicken breasts, a little meat osmosis happens and some of the salt moves into the chicken. Not only does this flavor the chicken, but it also helps the chicken retain juices while cooking, giving you a juicier final product. 

There is a word of caution with this trick. If you over-brine the chicken, you’ll end up with some kind of cured chicken with an odd texture, which isn’t great. So don’t let the chicken breasts sit in the brine for more than 30 minutes, which is probably time you could use to prepare other parts of your meal. 

How To Make A Brine For Chicken Breasts

A brine is simply a mixture of water and salt to get a solution with a certain percent of salt. Of course, you could add other spices or flavors to the brine (personally I sometimes like to add lemon slices to mine), but at its most basic a brine is just salt and water.

The amounts of salt and water are very important here so don’t stray from them. For 4 cups of cold water, you’ll want to add 33 grams of salt. This works out to different volumes depending on the type of salt you are using. For Diamond brand kosher salt, it’ll be 1/4 cup of salt, for Morton Kosher salt it will work out to 2 tablespoons of salt, or you could use 1 1/2 tablespoons of fine sea salt.

Stir the salt into the water until it’s completely dissolved. Feel free to double this brine recipe if you need more liquid to cover your chicken completely.

Chicken breasts in a glass bowl to show how to cook chicken breast.
Eliezer Martinez

How To Cook Brined Chicken Breasts

Once you have your brined chicken, the best way to cook them is to dry them off, oil them lightly, and grill them (a grill pan works, too). Be sure to check out our grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts recipe for more instructions on how to finish these off. 

Try this method and you’ll never worry about dried out or bland  chicken breasts again! 

What Readers Have to Say About This Technique

“Such a simple ‘no-brainer’ made my grilled chicken a huge success.” – Jon

“It was my first time brining the chicken. It came out so juicy and delicious that my fiancé said she’ll definitely marry me now! Thank you! It was totally worth it!” – Ryan

“I always wondered what I was doing wrong with chicken breasts…not brining! This recipe is perfect. We grill many at a time because it’s SO good! Especially a great base to add any seasonings you choose…teriyaki, spicy, lemon pepper, etc. Endless! Thank you!” – Alexandra

“Pickle juice is a great alternative to use as a brine option as well. Use it all the time and makes for deliriously moist chicken.” – Chris P.

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