The Secret to Chick-fil-A’s Super-Juicy Chicken Is in Your Pantry

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

There’s a lot to love about chicken breast. The low fat content keeps it lean, nourishing, and nutritious. It’s easy to cook, and hugely versatile.

But because this meat is so lean, on its own, it lacks in the flavor department. All it needs is a boost from the outside. One of the easiest way to pile on the flavor is with a single ingredient that’s sitting in your pantry or fridge. I hope you’re ready for juicy, flavorful chicken.

It’s not a special sauce, and it won’t be found on the spice rack. Instead, the secret to the best chicken breast you’ll ever cook is the juice in your jar of pickles. That’s right — the punchy, zesty liquid you probably don’t give a second thought to after finishing off the jar. Earlier I shared my tip for saving pickle juice, and this is one of the smartest way you can use it.

This zesty liquid has a punchy flavor with plenty of spices — some of which transfer to the meat to really liven up its flavor. What also makes pickle juice such a terrific brine is what it does for the texture of the chicken. Because of the low fat content, chicken breast has the potential to quickly dry out when overcooked. Brining it in this salty solution — even just for an hour — tenderizes the meat, keeping it succulent and super juicy.

We’ve talked about the importance of brining with other lean meat, like pork chops and turkey — well, the same principle applies here. A basic brine is essentially just a salt and water solution, with the option to add more flavorings. It works by breaking down some of the muscle tissue and helping the meat to draw in moisture. Pickle juice fits that bill for a brining solution because of its sodium content. The added pickle flavors make it a one-stop solution for better chicken breast.

If the flavor of the brine alone is a little too pungent for you, just cut it with a little milk. You’ll still get the benefits of a super-moist, tender, and flavorful chicken — just with a milder taste.

But don’t just take it from me — this is the (not-so-secret) secret that’s fueled the love affair so many people have with Chick-fil-A. It’s the pickle brine! Well before being fried to perfection, the chicken breasts are brined with pickle juice for super-juicy, tender meat. People go wild for this chicken. Waiting on seemingly endless lines, and driving for miles on miles to get their hands on it.

So whether you grill, fry, bake, or roast it, brine your chicken breast with pickle juice before cooking and you’ll be able to skip the lines for dinner.