This smoked chicken brine is great for marinating chicken legs, thighs, breasts, or a whole bird. Then smoke, bake or grill your meat. If you loved our smoked turkey dry rub this is a great one too.
Smoked chicken marinade is great. An easy way to add a ton of flavor as it sits for a few hours. Then we love to cook it as a Traeger recipe but it can be used for any other method too. Not only does it add flavor but moisture too. (affiliate links present)
Chicken Brine for Smoking
Whether you’re making baked chicken leg quarters or smoking on your grill this makes them just so good! You can whisk your favorite flavors you love in with some beef broth and soak, or use our measurements below. I will say we love sweet and savory together in all the things.
I do love all of our dry rub recipes too but those don’t add extra tenderness into your meats. This does. You will want a few hours set aside before you cook your pieces for the best results. You can’t rush this. If you are in a crunch for time you could leave in overnight if you needed to, it’s versatile.
Brine Chicken Thighs
This isn’t specific to smoked chicken recipes or one particular part of the bird either. We do really love chicken thigh recipes though y’all. Dark meat is already more moist, if you buy skin on bone-in they are usually the cheapest cuts at the meat counter, and they’re just delicious.
If you are smoking chicken thighs specifically make the brine recipe below and then once it has soaked for a while, go for it.
- 8 c water or broth even
- 1/2 c kosher salt
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- Dry sage
- 1.5 tsp marjoram
- Whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
Marinade for Chicken Wings
If you love grilling or cooking air fryer wings marinated this is a great one to choose. It doesn’t take nearly as long for wing marinade to start working since they don’t have much meat on the bone which is nice. Leave naked, spray with olive oil and let the outsides get crispy this way.
Chicken Brine for Grilling
Now you will need to have your protein defrosted or fresh for this to work. If you wanted to bake frozen chicken breasts right out of the freezer this won’t work. Makes sense since it can’t get soaked in if the whole thing is rock hard to begin with.
- In a quart jar or medium bowl, create brining solution by mixing together water, salt, and 1⁄2 cup brown sugar.
- Mix to combine. Set aside.
- Submerge chicken before smoking in a casserole dish.
- Pour brine over meat. Add fresh herbs and spices on top.
- Cover casserole pan with foil and place in refrigerator for 5 hours, up to 12 hours.
- When done use paper towels to pat dry the skin before you cook the chicken
- If you want to subdue the punch, rinse chicken (we don’t)
Then you can decide how you want to cook them, chicken quarters smoked is best. If you have lots of kiddos in the house their favorite will likely be baked chicken legs. Simple and delicious. You don’t need a sauce on the outside since there is already tons of flavor but if you really feel like you must then go for both.
Many times kids need barbecue sauce or ketchup on anything before they will put it into their mouths so I get it. My husband and I don’t need anything beyond this though.
If you wanted to smoke beer can chicken you could start with this. You would likely need to make this x4 or so so that the whole bird is submerged. Make sure you have a pot that is large enough, and room in your fridge for it to sit for a good 5-6 hours too. Cooked low and slow once this is done is just TO DIE FOR.
Want to use this for a few recipes throughout the week? Make a double batch, use one to bake chicken leg quarters and then save the other in a mason jar. Keep that in the fridge for 1-2 days, shake it up when you are ready and try another cut after that with this. The flavors won’t change but with white meat vs. dark it does taste different.
Decide which you like the best of all. Adjust things to your liking. Love a little spicy chicken marinade? Go ahead and add 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes into the mix to amp things up a bit y’all. Want a punch of citrus in the mix? Add lemon pepper to your next batch of marinade, adjust and tweak it next time too if you like.
How Long Can I Marinate Chicken in the Fridge
Realistically you can keep it in there for up to 2 days!! I have never gone beyond 24 hours, 5 hours is minimum. If I am making air fryer marinated chicken and don’t have overnight I just set them in there around lunch time and we’re set for dinner. I love this method because you get really crispy skin with tender meat.
Grilled Chicken Marinade
You could save a bit of this at the beginning and use it as a bit of a sauce at the end too. Just set about 1 cup aside and warm over medium heat when you’re ready to eat. Allow to sugars to dissolve and then pour it over your smoked chicken drumsticks to make extra juicy. Jump to the recipe card below and get started on our smoked chicken brine recipe here.
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
Smoked Chicken Brine
- In a quart jar or medium bowl, create brine by mixing together water, salt, and 1⁄2 cup brown sugar. Mix to combine. Set aside.
- Place chicken in a casserole dish. Pour brine over meat. Add spices on top. Cover casserole pan with foil and place in refrigerator for 5 hours.