Pickle Chicken

Every time we finish a jar of pickles, I do a happy dance. Tod makes the most delicious fried chicken with the leftover brine. We call it Pickle Chicken.

To be honest, it’s a riff on J Kenji Alt’s Buttermilk Brined Southern Fried Chicken recipe, but with pickle brine substituting for the milk marinade.

Pickle Chicken

makes about 6 pieces


2 boneless chicken thighs, skin-on
1 cup or more of pickle brine

Spice mix:
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano or mixed herbs
1/4 tsp spicy pepper powder (cayenne, etc)

Wet mix:
1 Tbs spice mix
1/2 cup milk or butter milk
1 egg
1 tsp Kosher salt

Dry mix:
remaining spice mix
3/4 cup cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder


Cut the thighs into serving sized pieces. Submerge the chicken in the brine for 4-18 hours. Whatever works with your schedule.

Mix the spices together. You’ll use some in the wet mix and some in the dry mix.

Whisk together the wet mix ingredients. Remove the chicken from the brine and plunge into the wet mix. Let sit while you prepare the dry mix and oil.

Prepare the dry mix in a large bowl. Add a couple spoons of the wet mix to dampen the flour. This helps the coating stick.

Heat the oil to 180C in a wok or pan large enough to fry all the pieces at once.

Bread the chicken by pulling each piece from the wet mix, shaking off excess liquid, and dropping the chicken into the dry mix. Make sure each piece is lightly coated with dry mix, before adding the next piece to the bowl. Then coat thickly with the dry mix; liquid from all the pieces will allow you to pat the dry mix onto the chicken effectively.

Set a timer for four minutes. Place the chicken into the hot oil and leave it to fry. To keep the breading in place, do not turn until the timer goes off. Then carefully turn the pieces and fry another 4 – 6 minutes. A thermometer inserted into the meat should read 65C.

Remove from the fryer, drain on a rack and serve right away.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.