Pickle Juice Chicken Marinade

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Tangy, salty, and slightly spicy, this marinade will take your chicken game to the next level.

close up view of chicken with pickles

Pickle Juice Chicken Marinade

This budget-friendly recipe will earn a spot in your permanent rotation. Try it with fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, and more.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Marinating time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Serving Size 6 servings

Equipment

  • Large bag or dish

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups dill pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce I used Franks Red Hot
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

Instructions 

  • Make marinade. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the pickle juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, hot sauce and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
    bowl with pickle juice marinade ingredients.
  • Soak chicken. Add the chicken thighs to a 2” deep baking dish, pour the pickle juice mixture over the chicken making sure the marinade completely covers the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or up to 4 hours.
    glass dish with marinating chicken
  • Remove from fridge. Remove the marinated chicken from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Cook. Heat your grill or cast iron skillet or grill to high heat. Brush the grill or cast iron with olive oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any excess. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side or until the center of the chicken reads 165℉ with an instant read thermometer. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.
    grill pan cooking chicken
  • Serve. Serve with rice and garnish with pickles, lemons and fresh parsley. Enjoy!
    marinated chicken on plate.

Notes

This marinade can be used for any cut of chicken. Whole chicken, chicken breast, drumsticks or wings.
Double or triple the recipe accordingly to completely cover whatever chicken you are marinating.
The marinated chicken can be used for grilled, fried or roasted chicken.
Add more hot sauce and cayenne pepper for an extra kick.
If roasting a whole chicken, pat dry the chicken after marinating before roasting.
Fresh dill can be used as a garnish as well.
I don’t recommend marinating the chicken any longer than 6 hours, as the acidity will break down the meat and give it an unpleasant texture.
grilled chicken on plate with pickles and garnish.

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Easy peasy: With a prep time of just 5 minutes and a simple ingredients list, this recipe is super user-friendly. Just mix, marinate, and you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll!
  • Versatile: This marinade works with any cut of chicken, and you can grill, roast, or even fry the chicken afterward. Talk about flexibility! You can also adjust the heat to your liking. More cayenne? Sure! Not a fan of spice? Dial it down.
  • Tender, juicy chicken: The acidic pickle juice does double duty as a flavor enhancer and a tenderizer, ensuring your chicken is juicy and tender every time.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients on marble counter
  • Dill pickle juice (if you make your own pickles, all the better!)
  • Light brown sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot, or your personal favorite)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs

And don’t forget the essentials for serving:

  • Rice
  • Pickles
  • Lemons
  • Fresh parsley

🍴Instructions

Step One: mix

bowl with pickle juice marinade ingredients.

Grab yourself a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk together your dill pickle juice, brown sugar, sea salt, black pepper, hot sauce, and cayenne pepper. This mix is going to be the star of the show, giving your chicken a bath in tangy, sweet, and spicy goodness. Once everything is mixed well, just set it aside for a moment.

Step Two: marinate

glass dish with marinating chicken

Now, it’s time for the chicken to take the plunge. Arrange your chicken thighs in a 2” deep baking dish. Then, pour the pickle juice marinade over the chicken, making sure it’s completely covered. Now it’s soaking time! Pop the dish in the fridge for 1-2 hours or up to 4 hours if you want to maximize those flavors. Remember, longer isn’t better in this case – you don’t want the acid in the pickle juice turning your chicken mushy.

Once the chicken has had its flavor-infusing chill time, take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This is a key step because it helps the chicken cook more evenly when it hits the heat. It’s a little trick that’s well worth the extra few minutes!

Step three: cook

grill pan cooking chicken

Heat up your grill or cast iron skillet to high heat. Brush it with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Then, take your marinated chicken, shake off any excess marinade, and get it on the grill or in the pan. You’re looking at about 4-5 minutes per side or until the center of the chicken hits 165℉ on an instant-read thermometer. And remember, let your cooked chicken rest for about 5 minutes before digging in. This allows the juices to redistribute, keeping your chicken nice and juicy.

Step Four: serve

marinated chicken on plate.

Serve your chicken alongside some rice and garnish with pickles, lemon slices, and fresh parsley for that extra pop of flavor and color.

🥫 Storage instructions

If you’ve got some leftover cooked chicken, just pop it in an airtight container, and into the fridge it goes! It should stay tasty for up to 4 days. To reheat, you can use the microwave, but for the best texture, warm it up in the oven or in a skillet over medium heat until it’s heated through.

🔍 FAQs

Can I use a different type of pickle juice?

The recipe calls for dill pickle juice, but feel free to use what you have on hand. Just remember, the flavor of your pickle juice will impact the overall flavor of the marinade. Bread and butter pickle juice, for example, is sweeter and will result in a sweeter marinade.

Can I skip the hot sauce and cayenne pepper?

While these ingredients add a kick, they aren’t essential. The pickle juice will still impart lots of flavors, so don’t worry about your chicken being bland.

I don’t have a grill or cast iron skillet. Can I still make this recipe?

You can bake the chicken in an oven preheated to 400℉ for about 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165℉. You could also cook it in a regular skillet over medium-high heat. The cooking method is flexible!

Can I make the marinade in advance?

You can whisk up this marinade and store it in the fridge a day or two ahead of time. When you’re ready to use it, give it another good whisk to ensure everything’s combined, and you’re good to go!

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Choose your chicken wisely: This recipe works with any cut of chicken, but boneless skinless thighs are a great choice because they’re more forgiving and stay juicy even if slightly overcooked. If you prefer chicken breasts, just keep a closer eye on them to prevent drying out.
  • Get the right heat: Whether you’re grilling or cooking on the stovetop, make sure your cooking surface is hot before you add the chicken. This will help you get a nice sear on the outside and seal in the juices.
  • Take your time: Don’t rush the marinating process. The chicken needs at least 1-2 hours to absorb all those wonderful flavors. But remember, don’t marinate longer than 6 hours or the texture of the chicken may become too soft.
  • Room temperature is key: Let your chicken sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you cook it. This ensures the chicken cooks evenly and helps you avoid a charred outside with a raw inside.
  • Check the temperature: Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure your chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165℉. This way you’re sure it’s done, but not overdone.
  • Rest before serving: Let your cooked chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute, keeping your chicken moist and flavorful.
  • Experiment with flavors: Feel free to play around with the marinade. Add more heat, introduce some garlic, swap out the dill pickle juice for another variety – make it your own!

📘 more easy chicken Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

  • Fluffy white rice: This is a classic pair for a reason. The rice soaks up any extra sauce and complements the tanginess of the chicken.
  • Grilled vegetables: Think bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, or asparagus. Grilling veggies brings out their sweetness, which balances out the tangy chicken perfectly.
  • Fresh salad: A simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing would provide a nice, light contrast to the marinated chicken.
  • Corn on the cob: Add a little butter and sprinkle some of the spices you used in the marinade for a side that’s bursting with flavor.
  • Coleslaw: This cool, creamy side is a classic partner for anything tangy and spicy. Plus, you’ve already got the pickle vibe going on!
  • Potato salad: A hearty potato salad can stand up to the strong flavors in the marinated chicken and makes for a filling meal. (Try my favorite potato salad recipe!)
Pickle Juice Chicken Marinade
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