Brine for Chicken Thighs {Competition BBQ Tips!}

Competition Brine for Chicken Thighs

This is a mix of brine & marinade for chicken thighs and is pretty close to how I prepare my chicken thighs for competition (hint, hint).

What Makes This Brine Great for Chicken Thighs?

In bbq competitions you really need to make the flavors extraordinary and using the basic salt & sugar brine gets boring.  The flavor profile from this brine is more complex than a standard brine and pairing Italian dressing with chicken is one of the best known tricks in the competition barbecue scene.

Another difference between this recipe and a standard brine is that the salt concentration is twice as high. The high salt concentration lets you get the benefits of brining much faster.

How to Make This Brine

This brine contains:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tbls black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.  This step will extract as much flavor as possible from the garlic and other ingredients in the Italian dressing.

Place the brine in the refrigerator and make sure it has completely cooled before use.

How to Use The Brine

Place the chicken thighs into the brine.

Refrigerate the chicken as it brines for one hour.

Remove the thighs from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Season the thighs with your favorite rub and proceed with our competition smoked chicken thigh recipe.


Smoked Turkey Brine Recipe

Brine for Chicken Thighs

Soak those thighs!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 10 kcal


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup Italian Dressing
  • 1/4 cup Kosher/Sea Salt
  • 1 tbs black pepper


  • Combine all ingredients in pot and bring to boil. Let this cool to room temperature.
  • Place chicken in brine.
  • Refrigerate chicken in brine for one hour.
  • Remove chicken from brine and rinse thoroughly with water.
Keyword Brine for Chicken Thighs

4 thoughts on “Brine for Chicken Thighs {Competition BBQ Tips!}

    1. I haven’t tried injecting a brine but my gut reaction says it would make things too salty. Maybe cut it in half with apple juice first??

  1. Trying this brinade tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed the smoked Boston butt recipe on this site so I figured I would give this one a go. Thanks and will let you know how it turns out!

  2. I love this website, my first comment here was on the Smoked Whole Chicken article and every comment there echoes my opinion that if you want to make arguably the most delicious BBQ of your life, make that bird. What about those times, though, that you don’t want to smoke an entire chicken on low heat for hours? This marinade/brine is the answer to that! I marinated several whole boneless skinless chicken breasts overnight and cut them to make shish kabobs alongside steak. Absolutely delicious! 10/10, I will continue to explore and cook from here! Only thing that will make the night better is a big W for Mizzou!

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