Brined herb-rubbed chicken is moist and flavorful

Brined Herb-Rubbed Chicken

Brined herb-rubbed chicken, roasted breast-side down, March 2013

Roasting a whole chicken can dry it out, and chicken can be bland on its own. To make the meat moist and flavorful, soak it in an apple cider brine for a few hours, give it a good herb rub, put a cut-up lemon inside, and roast it breast side down.

Roasted this way the breast skin won’t be crispy and, as you can see from the photo, the bird looks unusual right out of the oven. The trade-off is that the breast meat will be wonderfully moist.

For the rub, crush dried rosemary in your hand, or use a coffee grinder. If you do use a grinder, brush it out well first!

I didn’t add salt to the rub because the brine infuses salt into the meat.

Brined and Herb-Rubbed Roast Chicken
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
  • 2 to 4 quarts water
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 4- to 5-pound chicken, whole
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crumbled or ground fine
  1. Place 2 quarts of water in a large stock pot. Add salt and stir to dissolve. Stir in cider. Rinse chicken and place in pot. If desired, place giblets in pot as well; or just set aside to use in broth later. If necessary, add more water to cover chicken. Cover pot and place in refrigerator or cold place. Allow to brine for 4 hours or longer.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In a small container, mix thyme and rosemary.
  4. Remove chicken from pot and discard brine. Place chicken in a roasting pan. Rub inside and out with rosemary-thyme mixture. Place cut-up lemon inside chicken. Tent chicken with a sheet of foil.
  5. Begin to baste when juices start to collect in the pan, usually after 45 minutes to an hour, or longer. Then baste about every 15 minutes. Begin to check the temperature (in the thickest part of the dark meat) around the time of the second basting.
  6. Roast for a total of 2 to 3 hours or until temperature of the dark meat reaches 170°F. Remove from oven and allow to rest, tented, for 10 to 15 minutes, before carving. If the meat still looks a little pink in places, don't worry. As long as the meat has reached the right temperature, is tender and pulling away from the bones easily, and the juices are clear, it is safe to eat. The brining process can produce some pink coloring.
  7. To carve: (1) Turn breast side up and remove lemon quarters from inside the chicken. (2) With a large knife cut through the skin between the leg and body. (3) Cut down through the hip joint, removing entire leg from body. (3) Place leg, skin side down, on a flat surface and cut through the joint between the drumstick and thigh. Repeat with the other leg. (4) Make a long cut horizontally under the base of the chicken. (5) Holding the chicken with a fork near the top of the breast bone, make a vertical-to-angled cut along the breastbone to meet the horizontal cut. Remove breast and slice it, if desired. Repeat with the other side. (6) Bend the wing away from the body and use a knife to cut it away. Remove tip of wing if desired. Repeat with other wing.
  8. For delicious, flavorful broth, place the carcass and giblets in a slow cooker or a pot with water to cover on low (in slow cooker) or at a simmer (on stove) for several hours to overnight. Strain broth into a container and refrigerate, skimming off the fat layer when it solidifies. Then use or freeze for use in soups or sauces.
Serving size: (based on 4-pound chicken, 6 servings) Calories: 466; Fat: 9g; Saturated fat: 3g; Carbohydrates: 2g; Sugar: 1g; Sodium: 967mg; Fiber: 1g; Protein: 88g; Cholesterol: 233mg.


Shared at:


Pin It

2 Responses to “Brined herb-rubbed chicken is moist and flavorful”

  1. This looks wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday 🙂 I’ve pinned it.

Leave a Comment

Rate this recipe: