Easy & Tasty Brine for Chicken Wings

Brined chicken wings
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This brine for chicken wings is the secret to making super tender and tasty wings at home. Brining chicken wings before cooking them leads to super tender, delicious wings.

I love to grill chicken wings, but they often turn out a little dry when you cook them over an open flame without brining them first. This leads to the need to slather them with copious amounts of BBQ sauce. While I love homemade BBQ sauce, I don’t love dry wings.

Brining chicken wings

There no reason for dry chicken wings when you use this brine first. You can brine the chicken wings ahead of time and have them ready to go for your barbecue.

The brine adds an extra layer of flavor that makes grilled chicken wings truly irresistible. Plus, it’s super easy to do, so why not!

>> Looking for a great side to serve with these wings? Try this Fennel & Courgette Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts.

Why Brine Chicken Wings?

It might seem like brining chicken wings before cooking them is an extraneous step that just takes more time. But there is a good reason to take the extra time to brine chicken.

Brine is made up of sugar, salt and water. The sugar and salt breakdown the protein in the chicken meat that allows it to take on moisture and flavor from the brine. This keeps the meat from seizing up and expelling moisture while cooking, so they turn out juicy and flavorful as opposed to dry and bland.

This extra step isn’t necessary when using an Instant Pot or baking chicken wings, where they don’t have the propensity to dry out. But when you’re cooking over an open flame on a barbecue or in a smoker, they really are so much better when brined.

How to Brine Chicken Wings

1. Prepare the Brine

The first step is to prepare the brine. You can mix up the brine in a ziplock bag to make things simple. This is my preferred method. You can also mix up the brine in a lidded container or in a large bowl that can be covered with plastic wrap. What you’ll need:

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Soy Sauce
  • Optional seasonings: black pepper, oregano, garlic, thyme, rosemary

Mix up the brine, making sure the sugar and salt are fully dissolved before adding the chicken.

Brine for chicken wings

2. Add the Chicken

Put the chicken into the brine so that it is fully covered by the liquid. I use a ziplock bag that is large enough for my chicken and the brine (usually a 1qt bag is big enough), then I place the bag into a bowl so it doesn’t accidentally break open in the refrigerator.

If you use a bowl, be sure to cover it with plastic wrap. Place the brining chicken in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours.

brining chicken wings

3. Prepare the Chicken for Cooking

Once the time is up, remove the chicken wings from the brine and discard the rest of the brine. Rinse the wings and pat them dry with a paper towel. This helps them get crispy on the outside.

4. Cooking the Chicken Wings

There are many ways you can cook your chicken wings. Feel free to use the method you prefer most. They can be cooked on an outdoor grill, deep fried, or baked in the oven. 

My preferred method is either grilling or baking, to cut down on the oil. If you have an air fryer, that would be a great way to get the fried texture on the wings without the oil.

prepared chicken wings

To Sauce or Not to Sauce

I like sauce on my chicken wings. However, the whole purpose of the brine is to give the chicken wings extra flavor, so I want to stress that you don’t need to add any sauce to these chicken wings. They hold up on their own.

However, if you’re a sauce lover like me, you might want to slather your wings in this bourbon bbq sauce, or in a simple sweet and sour sauce (like pictured below).

» If you love chicken wings, you could also try our BBQ Baked Chicken Wings recipe or these delicious Sweet & Spicy Korean Chicken Wings.

Brined chicken wings

Looking for a side to serve with these chicken wings? Here are a few options:

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Brined chicken wings

Brine for Chicken Wings

This easy brine for chicken wings produces tender and flavorful chicken wings.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Brining Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Author: Laura

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 pounds chicken wings

Instructions

  • Mix together the first four ingredients until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the chicken, making sure the brine fully covers the chicken. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the brine. Discard the brine. Rinse the chicken wings under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Cook following your preferred method.

Notes

You can add one or more of these optional seasonings to the brine. Just add 1 tsp of black pepper, oregano, garlic, thyme, or rosemary.
You can brine the wings as little as two hours, but it’s best to brine for longer. 8 hours is a good time to aim for. Mix up the brine in the morning before work and it will be done by the time you get home to cook dinner.

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brined chicken wings

2 thoughts on “Easy & Tasty Brine for Chicken Wings

    • Laura says:

      You can absolutely apply a rub after brining. The rub can give the wings a nice crispy exterior and additional flavor. Be sure to try our dry rub recipe!

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