margarita_brined_chicken-square So you hear all the time about brining big things like whole turkeys and chickens, but did you know that you can also brine small cuts of meat like pork tenderloins and chicken pieces? It’s true. It’s a great way to get a lot of flavor and moisture into the meat quickly.

Now…I’m not a drinker. In fact, when I was adapting this recipe, I was kind of hilariously aware of how naïve I am when it comes to matters of liquor–is tequila naturally sweet? Is it bitter? I dunno, but I do know that if I were a drinker, I would probably really like margaritas. I really like margarita-flavored stuff. Jelly Bellies? Yes. Virgin margaritas? You bet. Chicken that’s been soaking in a margarita brine? Absolutely.

I love boneless skinless chicken thighs because they are juicier and more flavorful than breasts and they naturally come in smaller portions, and really, if you trim the excess fat, they’re easy to fit into a healthy diet. If you don’t love the idea of chicken thighs, though (or you just want to use something else), you could throw in some bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, some peeled and deveined shrimp, or a pork tenderloin.

To get the brine started, you’ll need some kosher salt, water, and brown sugar.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water, brown sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt is dissolved, then remove from heat.

Add in some cold water, orange juice, limeade (or tequila…yes, I realize that those two are in no way the same thing),

margarita brined chicken flavors

lime zest, orange zest, and peppercorns.


Place the chicken thighs

boneless skinless chicken thighs

in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, then pour the brine mixture over the chicken. Seal and refrigerate for 6-12 hours.

brining chicken thighs

When ready to cook, preheat an outdoor grill. Remove the chicken thighs from the brine, rinse lightly, and pat dry with a paper towel. Brush with extra-virgin olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper. Adjust the heat settings on the grill to medium and place the chicken thighs on the grill. Place the halved citrus, cut-side down, on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes per side (the chicken…you don’t need to turn the fruit.).

When done cooking, transfer the chicken to a plate and carefully transfer the grilled fruit. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then squeeze the juice of the fruit over the chicken and serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

Margarita Brined Chicken from Our Best Bites


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