How to Make Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken

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Anna Hezel

If you eat a lot of pickles, chances are you find yourself at the sink every few months, pouring another jar of brine down the drain before tossing the jar in the recycling bin. But keep that pickle juice around, and it just might come in handy for more than the occasional ill-advised pickleback. Because it has vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, garlic, and other spices already infused into it, pickle juice functions as a great pre-made marinade, and its acidity goes perfectly with the buttermilk coating of fried chicken. The end result is a thick, spicy, crunchy golden crust with juicy meat offset by a light dill pickle coolness.

This chicken can be made a few hours before eating, so make a batch to take to the beach, and eat it with pickles, slaw, and a few cold beers. You can serve it with hot sauce, spicy honey, blue cheese, or your favorite barbecue sauce. Or, just eat it plain. Either way, you'll want plenty of napkins.

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Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken

Makes 4-6 servings


  • 8 chicken drumsticks or breasts
  • 3 cups of pickle brine (or a mixture of pickle brine and cider vinegar if you don’t have enough of the brine on hand)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 quart of vegetable oil


  1. Place chicken and pickle brine in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Mix flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Pour buttermilk into another large bowl. Set a cooling rack over a backing sheet.
  3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Remove each piece from the brine, one by one, shaking off the excess brine, dipping into the buttermilk until completely covered, and then dipping into the flour mixture until completely covered. Set the floured pieces of chicken on the rack set over the baking sheet. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet or wide pot until it reaches 350 degrees. Once the oil is hot enough, gently set two or three pieces of the chicken into the oil. Cook for 6 minutes, and then flip onto the other side using a pair of metal tongs. Cook for another 6 minutes, and then check with a meat thermometer. If the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees, remove from the oil and set on a clean cooling rack set over a baking sheet.

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