Can You Brine Frozen Chicken? And What Is Brining?

There are so many ways to cook chicken. But if you’re getting ready to crank up your grill, how do you brine the chicken? Brining the chicken before smoking helps keep it juicy and flavorful. There are also endless ways to prepare the chicken before you grill it. Brining is a very popular method of preparing chicken but can seem somewhat intimidating. Read on to find out exactly what it is and how you can use it.

Can You Brine Frozen Chicken?

You can brine a frozen chicken. It obviously won’t be as quick a process as brining already thawed meat. It works much the same way as brining already thawed chicken. Prepare your solution like you normally would and put the frozen chicken into it. Let it sit for a couple of hours or overnight covered in the refrigerator.

can you brine frozen chicken

What Is Brining?

Brining is a salt and water mixture. You can add other ingredients like herbs and spices for added flavor as well. Many people also add sugar to the brine to add another layer of flavor to the meat. You can brine different kinds of meats, including chicken and turkey. 

To brine chicken, you combine the salt and water to create a simple solution and place the meat in it to soak. Brining is a known method used to help preserve foods such as cheeses, fish, meats, and vegetables to a varying degree. 

Why Brine Chicken?

Brining your meat helps keep the meat juicy. When you grill meat, it tends to lose juices, and if you aren’t careful, the meat can become dry. With brining, you are soaking the meat so that when it cooks and loses the juices, it has extra juice soaked in to make up for it.

Brining also helps dissolve some of the meat’s fibers, providing you with a more tender and juicier piece of meat. The solution that the meat soaks up keeps the meat juicy, and the salt that gets soaked in adds flavor as well. Any additional spices or herbs that you add in also add extra flavor to the meat. 

Another benefit of brining the meat is that it is incredibly easy. The ease of preparing the brine and adding it to the chicken makes it an especially appealing method for those busy weeknights when you need a quick but healthy meal.

What Kinds of Meat Can You Brine?

Because the point of brining is to keep the meat juicy and flavorful, the best kinds of meat to brine are the lean ones. The lean ones don’t have as much fat to help keep the flavor in, so the brine does that for them. Lean meats best for brining include chicken breast and thighs, turkey (even whole turkeys), and different cuts of pork. Shrimp can also be brined before preparing. 

What Meats Should You Not Brine?

There aren’t technically any meats you shouldn’t brine. There are just meats that will not really benefit from it at all flavor-wise. These meats are on the fattier side, and the fat provides the flavor anyway. These meats include lamb and beef. They can be cooked and served rarer, which adds to the taste and juiciness, so brining won’t add to the meat.

When you’re grilling beef or lamb, a dry brining method is best, and salting them directly before putting them on the grill. 

How Do You Brine Already Thawed Chicken?

Brining already thawed chicken is easy and quick. You can do it in as short amount a time as fifteen minutes or let it take as long as six hours. 

Just put the saltwater solution into a bowl and then add the chicken. Now is also the time to add anything else you would like to the brine. This includes herbs and spices or even sugar. 

You can let it sit just like that for as little as fifteen minutes before you grill it. You can also prepare the solution earlier in the day and add the chicken. Cover and let it sit in the refrigerator. Chicken breast can sit up to six hours, and chicken wings can sit up to two days.

However, if you are brining an entire chicken, it will need more than six hours to brine. A whole chicken will need to sit in the brine for a minimum of twelve hours and a maximum of two days.

When you are ready to cook it, you do have one more step to do. Remove your chicken from the salt water solution and rinse it off with cold water. This will remove any excess salt that didn’t get soaked into the chicken. Pat it dry after rinsing with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture.

Can You Thaw Frozen Chicken In Brine?

how long to brine chicken
Brining time will vary depending on the thickness and cut of the chicken.

The answer is yes. This process is very similar to brining frozen chicken. While the meat is thawing, prepare your brine. You can put the meat in while it is all the way frozen and leave it to thaw covered in the refrigerator, or you can put the meat in closer to being all the way thawed out. 

Either way, as the meat thaws, it will start to soak in the saltwater solution. Once it is all the way thawed and you are ready to cook it, make sure you rinse off the excess salt and pat dry the excess water.

Overall, brining is an effortless way to add flavor and moisture to your chicken, among other meats. The extra salt and water lock in the juices and flavors, while anything extra you add will also add more flavor to the meat. 

You can make the brine ahead of time and let the chicken sit in it until you are ready to grill it. This makes meal prepping a delicious meal extra easy, especially on those busy weeknights!

Can You Over Brine?

If you leave the meat in the brine too long, it will result in an oversalted bird. If this happens, you might be able to get some of the salt out by soaking the meat in cold water. When chicken or other meats are brined for too long (as in days), it can make the meat mushy and cause protein denaturing, which will make the meat useless. 

How Long To Brine Chicken?

Brining times will vary, depending on the thickness of the meat. As mentioned, a whole chicken can take up to 12 hours and up to two days. Chicken breasts and thighs usually take about 15-30 minutes. 

If you’re brining cornish hens, it will take about at least two hours to brine them completely.


Brining chicken can make the difference between a tasty, juicy grilled piece of meat. It is harder to overcook brined chicken, as it has more juices than unbrined meat.  

You can brine several types of meats, not just chicken.  

Ensure you don’t brine the meat too long. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an oversalted bird, which will be useless to use.

There are several different brining recipes online you can follow. 

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