Brined for 24-hours in a lemon-garlic salt rub, this oven-roasted chicken recipe is simple, yet deeply flavorful. With a little preparation and some space in your refrigerator, you’ll be impressing all of your dinner guests with this deliciously juicy dry brined chicken.
If you’ve never dry brined a chicken before, you’re not alone. It’s a technique that isn’t often used by home cooks, but it absolutely should be.
Dry brining only takes 10 minutes of preparation and results in the most succulent, juicy, and flavorful chicken imaginable. It really is so simple and easy.
And while I recommend a 24-hour brine time in this recipe, you can actually let your chicken brine for up to 72 hours. This affords you some flexibility when it comes to planning dinners throughout the week.
For this recipe, I chose to roast the chicken low and slow at 350°F. Since the skin is air-dried in the refrigerator while brining, it still gets perfectly crispy. But, roasting the chicken at a lower temperature helps the chicken breasts stay moist while the rest of the chicken cooks through.
So, if you’re ready to try this delicious lemon-garlic dry brined roast chicken, keep reading to learn everything you need to know to recreate it at home.
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The Science of Dry Brining
Dry brining is the process of thoroughly salting meat with a flavored salt rub for several hours, up to several days, prior to cooking. While dry brining is similar to wet brining, a technique in which you soak the meat in a salt solution, I prefer dry brining for the ease and convenience.
Brining helps with two very important things: flavor and moisture.
Unlike when you salt your chicken just before cooking it, brining allows the salt to penetrate all the way down to the bone. The reason this happens is due to osmosis and diffusion.
The salt sitting on the surface of the meat draws water out (osmosis). Then, as the salt dissolves, both the water and the salt are drawn back into the meat (diffusion). The result is a deeply flavorful, well-seasoned bird.
As the salt is drawn into the meat, it also denatures the protein structure in the muscle fibers. In doing so, it allows the muscle fibers to hold onto more water as they cook, leading to a tenderized, juicy chicken.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Simple- If you’ve ever thought making a perfectly roasted chicken seemed too complicated, this recipe will change your mind. The dry brine does most of the hard work for you, keeping the chicken moist and flavorful. All you need is a little patience and some space in your refrigerator.
- Foolproof Flavor- Since we brine the chicken for 24 hours, the salt, lemon, and garlic can season the meat all the way down to the bone. Everyone will be wondering how on earth you made such a flavorful chicken, even before adding any gravy!
- Juicy- Again, the magic bullet here is the dry brine. The chicken stays nice and juicy thanks to the salt denaturing the proteins in the meat, allowing it to hold onto more moisture.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Whole Chicken- I like to stick with a 4-5 pound chicken, which is enough to feed myself and my fiancé dinner and give us plenty of leftovers for the week.
- Kosher Salt- When dry brining meat, it’s important to reach for the kosher salt instead of regular table salt. The larger-sized crystals in kosher salt don’t clump up, meaning you’ll be able to evenly coat your chicken with the brine mixture.
- Lemon Zest- One of my favorite ingredients, lemon zest brings a bright, citrusy flavor to the dry brine. Lemon zest is packed with lemon oil, which means intense lemon flavor is infused into the chicken meat.
- Garlic- Another flavor that I think goes extremely well with chicken is garlic. Grating the garlic allows it to mix well with the rest of the brine ingredients.
- Black Pepper- I love the little kick that black pepper adds to the brine. Freshly cracked is best.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this oven-roasted dry brined chicken.
Step 1: Make the dry brine. In a small mixing bowl, combine the kosher salt, lemon zest, grated garlic, and black pepper. Set aside.
Step 2: Prepare the chicken. Prepare the chicken by removing any giblets and/or neck pieces that may be located inside the cavity. Pat the chicken dry, both inside and out, and place it onto a roasting rack. Alternately, you can use a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet or aluminum foil balls placed inside the bottom of an oven-safe pan.
Step 3: Dry brine the chicken. Rub the lemon-garlic salt mixture all over the chicken, including inside the cavity and under the breast skin. Place the chicken, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 24-hours.
Step 4. Stuff and truss the chicken. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the chicken approximately 20 minutes before roasting. Stuff the cavity with aromatics such as a quartered lemon, whole garlic cloves, sprigs of thyme and rosemary, or large chunks of onion. Truss the chicken with kitchen twine.
Step 5. Roast the chicken. Place the chicken in the preheated oven and roast for 1-½ to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F. Cooking a stuffed chicken low and slow at 350°F helps keep it moist and juicy.
Additions and Substitutions
Here are a few ways you can jazz up your oven-roasted dry brined chicken.
- Thyme- Few herbs go better with a roasted chicken than thyme. Thyme also works well with lemon and garlic. If I have it on hand, I’ll often add a few springs-worth of fresh thyme leaves to my dry brine mixture.
- Rosemary & Sage- Both quintessential herbs in poultry seasoning, rosemary and sage have strong fall vibes. I associate poultry seasoning with Thanksgiving so, if you’re making this dry brined roasted chicken for the holidays, these herbs would be a perfect addition.
- Olive Oil or Melted Butter- The dry brine and the aromatics stuffed inside the cavity keep the chicken moist and juicy, which means I don’t use any additional fat in this recipe. However, if you want extra crispy skin or just love the flavor of oil or butter on your chicken, drizzle a little on prior to roasting.
- Turkey- While this recipe is written for chicken, you can certainly use it for turkey, too! Depending on the size of your turkey, you may need double or triple the amount of dry brine. With the addition of some thyme, sage, and rosemary, this is my favorite way to make a Thanksgiving turkey.
- Other Meats- Dry brining isn’t just for poultry. You can actually dry brine many types of meat including pork chops, steak, and seafood.
- Orange Zest- Not a fan of lemon? No problem. Orange zest would work just as nicely here.
- Garlic Powder- If you don’t have any fresh garlic on hand, garlic powder will do the trick. Just used one teaspoon of garlic powder in place of 4 cloves.
What to Serve with an Oven-Roasted Dry Brined Chicken
- Garlic Mashed Red Skin Potatoes
- Crispy Honey-Chipotle Brussels Sprouts
- Herbed Potato Salad
- Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- 4 Ingredient Potato Soup
- Air Fryer Cherry Tomatoes
- Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Ancient Grain Salad
- Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
Storage and Reheating
- Refrigerator- Cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I recommend separating the chicken meat from the bone prior to storing. You can make bone broth from the carcass immediately or freeze the bones to make stock later.
- Freezer- If you’re not going to eat all of the chicken within 3-4 days, freeze it! If stored in a freezer safe bag or container, chicken can be frozen for up to one year.
How to Reheat
- From Refrigerator- Chicken removed from the bone is best reheated in a skillet on the stovetop. Add just a bit of water or broth to the pan and simmer until hot. Bone-in chicken can be reheated in an oven preheated to 400°F for 15 minutes. For convenience, you can also microwave the leftover chicken or eat it cold straight from the refrigerator.
- From Freezer- For best results, you’ll want to thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight. However, you can also reheat frozen chicken that has been removed from the bone right on the stovetop. Just simmer the chicken in a little water or broth until hot.
How to Use Up Leftover Roasted Chicken
Leftover roasted chicken is an amazing and versatile protein to have on hand for meal prepping. In fact, I recommend making two dry brined chickens if you have the space in your refrigerator. This way, you’ll be able to come up with all kinds of delicious meals to eat throughout the week.
Here are a few ways you can use up your leftover roasted chicken:
- Chicken Salad (can be used on sandwiches, wraps, and leafy green salads)
- Quesadillas, Tacos, Burritos, Nachos, or Enchiladas
- Soups (chicken noodle, chicken tortilla, white chicken chili, etc.)
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
- Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- Chicken Alfredo Pasta
Sustainability Tip: Wait! Don’t toss those bones. Make a batch of chicken stock to keep in your freezer for delicious homemade soup anytime you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can dry brine a chicken for as little as one hour prior to roasting. However, the longer you can let the chicken brine, the better the flavor and moisture retention will be. You can dry brine a chicken for up to 72 hours prior to cooking.
No, do not rinse the dry brine off of your chicken. Doing so will moisten the surface of the chicken, leading to less crispy skin. We want the surface of the skin to be nice and dry when the chicken goes in the oven. There is no need to worry about the chicken being overly salty. The process of diffusion evenly distributes the salt throughout the meat.
While there are various opinions on this topic, I do believe that dry brining is better for a few reasons. First, dry brining results in better surface browning because the skin does not become waterlogged in a salt solution. Second, the meat itself is more flavorful after being dry brined since it is not bloated with excess water. Finally, dry brining is more convenient because it takes up less space in the refrigerator.
You May Also Like
- Dutch Oven Chicken Noodle Soup
- Braised Chicken Breast with Vegetables
- Creamy Bolognese Sauce
- Turkey Smash Burgers
Lemon-Garlic Dry Brined Chicken
For the Lemon-Garlic Dry Brine
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon black pepper freshly cracked
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic grated
For the Roasted Chicken
- 1 (4-5 pound) whole chicken
- 1 whole lemon quartered
- 4-5 cloves garlic crushed
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the kosher salt, lemon zest, grated garlic, and black pepper. Set aside.2 tablespoons kosher salt, ½ tablespoon black pepper, Zest from 1 lemon, 2 cloves garlic
- Prepare the chicken by removing any giblets and/or neck pieces that may be located inside the cavity. Pat the chicken dry, both inside and out, and place it onto a roasting rack. Alternately, you can use a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet or aluminum foil balls placed inside the bottom of an oven-proof pan.1 (4-5 pound) whole chicken
- Rub the lemon-garlic salt mixture all over the chicken, including inside the cavity and under the breast skin. Place the chicken, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 24-hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the chicken approximately 20 minutes before roasting. Stuff the cavity with aromatics such as a quartered lemon, whole garlic cloves, sprigs of thyme and rosemary, or large chunks of onion. Truss the chicken with kitchen twine.1 whole lemon, 4-5 cloves garlic
- Place the chicken in the preheated oven and roast for 1-½ to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F.
Did you try this recipe?
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