To brine or not to brine chickens

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by mr clean, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Will they be dry if I don't? Never brined anything before and make killer chicken on the grill. I don't use water. Just a teracota flower pot bottom on top of waterpan . Using a WSM Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  2. Hello.  I know this isn't a yes no answer but I never brine.  Many folks here do brine.  I have never had the chicken turn out dry. Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  3. dan - firecraft

    dan - firecraft Smoke Blower

    I don't brine anymore really. Putting a nice coating of kosher salt and lightly covering overnight has done the trick! Stays very juicy and doesn't taste "waterlogged".
  4. jerseydrew

    jerseydrew Smoking Fanatic

    i like a short brine. it isn't needed but does keep the chicken more moist if you are cooking at 300 degrees. if i am doing pieces i brine for about an hour. whole chicken 3-4 hours. any more than that and it does start to taste water logged or if you are smoking at 225 then brine isn't needed. 
  5. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    No disrespect intended to Mr. Clean, but this is one of those questions along the lines of "Which is better, blondes or brunettes?". I suggest you do some research and form your own opinion. There is no "magic method" that will produce the perfect bird. Everyone has their own method, from Dan's dry brine to Danny's no brine, to my injection, cure and brine method. If I have the time, I brine. If not, I've been known to take a bird directly from the package to the smoker. Can I tell a difference? Probably a little, but they're all good. The fun part has been trying several different methods and forming my own opinions. What I'd suggest to you is find a sale and get 3 chickens. Do one straight out of the package, no brine, no rub, just a little salt. The other 2 do one with a dry brine and one with a wet brine. See which one you like.

    Oh and by the way, after years of intensive research I can honestly tell you that redheads are far superior to both blondes and brunettes in every way. :)
  6. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Brine is never needed and will turn out dripping wet if you cook good and hot.  I spatchcock and cook 350, natural or enhanced it doesn't matter and they're always juicy...dripping juicy

    I do occasionally inject with a creole butter...very very tasty.     As far as rub goes i season on both sides when i spatch...sometimes under the skin also and it comes out 5 stars. 
  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

     All Natural non enhanced bird..  350 NO BRINE!

    I just don't get when people say lower temps you don't need brine but higher temps you do....It's actually more the opposite.     One thing is chicken needs little smoke and secondly hot temps like 350 cook the chicken faster before moisture evaporates.

    Lower temps give moisture a longer time to dry out.      Hope that helps. 
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  8. Thanks for the replies! I usually do chicken on the old Smokey grill. When it wears out it will be on my weber kettle. If going high temp I spray it with vinegar,oil,and water Everytime I turn it when its still hot. One to one and a half chunks of hickory about the size of a pool ball with charcoal. I had a guy at work digging a few prices out of the trash because he said it was the best chicken he ever ate lol. It was in a bag but two days in the fridge is about all I will keep chicken.Three for pork. Im funny about it. Maybe four for beef but that's pushing it. I was just wanting to try some low and slow.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  9. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I like to brine my chicken if I have time (and am not being lazy lol), I can add some great flavors that penetrate deep into the meat that way. Also I get a much moister bird both in the white and dark meat.

    As for cooking temps, I prefer low and slow, I have tried both and had good results with both, but with low and slow it is just melt in your mouth tender. I usually give the skin to the dogs, but if you want to cook low and slow and crisp up the skin you can just toss it on a hot grill or under the oven broiler for a few minutes to crisp the skin. My favorite now-a-days is to cook whole chickens for "pulled chicken" - basically low and slow and then slide all the meat off the carcas and save it for all kinds of other dishes.

    Heres a couple of picks from my last whole birds.....

  10. dan - firecraft

    dan - firecraft Smoke Blower

    I agree 100%.....experiment and see which you like best!
  11. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    White meat becomes much more forgiving when you brine, plus the denatured protein has a smoother texture when you brine. It isn't necessary but we prefer brined.
  12. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    <Chuckles> you guys just looking to start a discussion aren't ya.....LOL

    You smoke a nekkid chicken. THEN when mastered you start learning new flavor modifiers, rubs, injections, brines, Herbs, spices, fruits, berries, daikons & turnips and all the different tastes of those from different regions. Then you combine them, then hone those flavors till they so completely envelope your mouth that you need to start figuring out ribs, then butts, and brisket, and wild game, then butchering and curing, different smokes, smoker types.

    When its all said and done you come back to the Nekkid chicken and wonder to yourself why you couldn't see it sooner, why you thought you could improve upon it's perfect flavor. But you have had years of fun and bringing smiles to friends and family and making strangers friends. Its not about being the best, its about the enjoyment and the stories you gather along the way.

    There is no one right way, there is only the way you did it today.
    jefespurg likes this.
  13. like most people say there is no one way I sometimes brine my chicken other times rub and sometimes just toss them in a smoker and let the smoke do it all try new things that's part of the fun I the other day had 15lbs of chicken 2 whole and a lot of hind quarters,  since I had just moved I didn't have a lot of my smokeing stuff ready so I did a coffee brine gave the birds a slight coffee tast
  14. I have tried just about every method throughout the years.  I started by injecting and using a dry rub which worked well. I butterballed for a few years.  I now do a brine for a short amount of time, about 2 - 3 hours.  I like to use brown sugar and kosher salt in my brine, along with a few other spices.  Make sure you pat your chicken completely dry before applying any rub and putting in on the smoker.

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  15. Very well said, Foam !!!!  Ernie
  16. Just my personal choice is to brine. I have injected and brined as well as injected and rub, and just brined. All turned out good but the brined smoke was better IMO.  I had an experience once where I bought the chicken, washed and trimmed it and used a little rub and smoked it. So from the store to the smoker on that one time.  Not sure if I did something wrong but other than no brine, I didn't change a thing. The chicken turned out dry, looked and felt like a piece of rubber! Flavor wise, it was good but chewy. I never rushed a smoke from then on. I prefer to brine! Just my 2 cents worth !
  17. The way I see it, brining, injecting, marinating and other such methods are all tools we have for bringing more flavor into the bird.

    Sometimes I use the brine to give some salt or spiciness deep into the meat to go better with side dishes or condiments. Usually for not longer than a couple hours with chicken... it really doesn't need that much time to absorb a good amount of flavor.

    If I had an old chicken (say a retired laying hen) I probably brine to help tenderize what could be a pretty tough bird. Personally, I prefer old chickens... I think they have more flavor than even the fancy cage-free ones that have never heard a cross word in their lives. But that is getting off-topic.

    On the other hand, if I am doing beer-can chicken or putting it on a rack or whatever with a pan of water under it while its on the heat, I usually use those liquids to help my chicken's flavor along without going to the additional effort of a brine. You can get a big boost in flavor by putting a cut-up dried pepper or some dried spices into your steam bath. If I'm feeling particularly fancy I'll put star anise or some allspice berries in there for that flavor that no one will be able to guess.

    I didn't like injecting; I found it awkward and my results were not in line with how much effort was involved, versus simply soaking the bird in brine. You might have different results,

    However, I have had good results with vacuum-brining, where you seal your bird parts in vacuum-tight bags with one of those thingies in a pint of brine for a half-hour. Though you need to experiment with it to get your salt levels right, or such was my experience.

    Lots of times, though... I just salt and pepper that chickie, stick an onion in the cavity and keep it over a 350F fire until the breasts are to temp. Simple and delicious!

    Foamheart knows his stuff in that there is no 'right' way, only the way you do it today.
  18. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Brine...brine...brine...I cook competitions and use a mixture of brining and injecting for my chicken, but the one sure fire way of getting flavor and retaining moisture is to brine.  I add a couple of packets of my favorite marinade to my brine mixture to really get some good flavor into the meat, especially the breast.  Not to mention it's a lot less messy than injecting.
    Last edited: May 1, 2014

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