Poultry · Recipes

Lemon-Tarragon Brine for Roasted Chicken

This chicken is to die for!  If you treat this with extra tender loving care, this plump little creature will satisfy you unlike any other has satisfied you before.  Erotic?  I think so.

If you’ve never brined anything before… shame on you!  Once you brine, you never go back.  Unless of course you marinate the hell out of something.  But that’s a different story.  Brining usually consists of a ton of salt, water, and a ton of fresh herbs.  Your thirsty bird soaks the heck out of this amazing combination and BAM!  You have a juicier, more flavorful chicken.

I can’t express how important trussing your bird is to the entire process.  Do this.  Here is a great tutorial by the wonderful Alton Brown on how and why you should truss.  Note that I trussed my chicken but I’m still not the best at it and wrapped the string in the wrong place… eh, it gets the job done.

I usually roast my bird on a bed of potatoes and veggies in a cast iron skillet.  This way my chicken is elevated away from the bottom of my pan and my veggies simmer in the chicken fat and end up being really flavorful after everything is said and done with.  I put the potatoes and top it with chicken first, roast for a half an hour, then add the carrots.  I have this weird issue with soggy vegetables… but that’s just me.

I got this recipe from Mister Michael Ruhlman.  With a name like that, you know it’s going to be good.  This guy knows his stuff!

Lemon-Tarragon Brine for Roasted Chicken

Prep Time: 23 hours

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 24 hours

Yields: 1 Amazingly Juicy Chicken


  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 large bunch fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 large bunch tarragon, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 10 or so ice cubes


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan, bring to a simmer, remove the pan from heat and cover to let the ingredients steep. Add the ice to cool down the brine (if you're not in a hurry, you can measure out 40 ounces of water instead of 30 and omit the ice).
  2. To brine your chicken, put it in a large plastic bag, pour in the brine. Press as much air out of the bag as possible and twist and tie off your bag so that no air is touching your bird. Put the bag in a large bowl and refrigerate it for 8 to 24 hours, turning the bird a couple of times to ensure all surfaces are receiving the brine.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine at least an hour and up to two days before cooking it (discard the brine). Rinse the bird, pat it dry, and stuff the bird with a few lemon wedges. Gently wedge your fingers between the skin and the meat of the breast and stuff with a few tabs of butter and extra fresh herbs if you desire. These will melt while the bird is roasting and sink deep into your white meat breast. Truss and roast the chicken at 400 degrees F for about an hour (for a 3-4 pound chicken), legs toward the back of the oven. Time will vary depending on the size of your bird. If your skin is getting too dark too quickly, lower heat to 375 degrees F. Your cooking time will be longer, but your skin will still be a beautiful golden brown.
  4. Your bird is cooked when the drumstick of the bird has loosened enough that it wiggles easily when you touch it. You should also stab the thigh of the bird with a small knife to see if the juices run clear. If you have a meat thermometer, insert it into the inner thigh area between the thigh and the drumstick being careful not to touch bone. The internal temperature should be at 165 degrees F.
  5. Allow the chicken to rest for 20 minutes, cut into pieces and serve.


Save your bones for amazing chicken stock!


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