Dry brining chicken?

I always try to dry brine chicken ahead of time because I think the taste is much better. Usually I use a Santa Maria style rub which works great. I recently bought some Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Blend and thought I’d try it on chicken. But it contains lime juice powder and citric acid. Would these tend to make the chicken mushy - a sort of ceviche effect? Has anyone tried this? Thanks!

I don’t have a clue but I’m here to see some responses. Regular salt water brine works great and then you rub the bird down. What kind of different results are you looking for?

I’m looking for my usual good results. I’m just concerned that using a seasoning that has citric acid and lime powder will result in a mushy texture which I don’t want. I’m curious to see what others have experienced.

I am interested to hear some results too.

I’ve made some amazing chicken dishes with acidic fruit and I’ve wrecked a bunch as well. As for a dry rub, I’m here to learn more and I hope we can all make some nice dishes from the knowledge on here :slight_smile:

You should be fine.

For tandoori chicken, the first marinade is chilli powder, lime juice, and salt (then there’s a second - long - marinade with yogurt).


I mostly dry brine chicken from 1 to 4 hours . Whatever is on hand . Salt etc… I one who can’t stand lime . So I wouldn’t know . Best guess. Fish mushy , chicken no .

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Always wet brine with salt/sugar/water.
Rinsed then marinade, very often will use an acidic component such as white wine, lemon, pineapple or lime juices, but will say 1/4 cup for a 3 or 4 pound bird. Never find the texture of the bird changes, but the kitchen does get a nice aroma.


You could always try it on a couple thighs or breasts as an experiment. I wouldn’t want to ruin a whole bird and be left without a good dinner if it went south.

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Rather than texture, I’m trying to get my arms around lime-chicken. Maybe something in the way of a nuoc cham flavoring? But lime powder sets off an alarm. I use Tajin seasoning on fruit but even it has a metallic edge to it.

On second thought, isn’t this simply TJ’s branding of Tajin? I personally don’t think I’d go there with a roasting chicken.

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If I do it, I’ll report back. And I assume this is another example of TJ’s taking something that already exists and making it seem like their own!


I’d incorporate Saregama’s good thinking re flavor direction.

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I’ve added lemon zest to my dry brines before (I’ve been adding it to my mix for my Thanksgiving turkey) and it’s never affected the quality of the meat. I’m not sure how much acid would be in the fresh zest vs what is in your mix. I would guess that it shouldn’t be enough to alter the texture; my turkey (left to brine for 2-3 days) has always turned out fine and the lemon zest imparts a wonderful aroma too!

If you’re doing a chicken with a much smaller amount of brine, and for only a few hours, then I think you should be safe.


Isn’t brine a salt water solution? Would “rub” be a better term for what were are looking at here?


I prefer TJ’s to Tajin - less salty / more chilli-lime flavor

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Maybe squeeze some fresh lime over the dish when finished cooking.

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Never tried one that contains lime juice powder and citric acid, and don’t know if these tend to make the chicken mushy - a sort of , but I always dry brine my chicken breasts, 6-12 , maybe 24 hours, usually adding a spice rub.

So I chickened out (no pun intended!) and just roasted it with my usual Santa Maria rub/dry brine, also a big sliced up onion which really added to it. I sprinkled on the TJ’s chile lime seasoning after. It was great! Thanks for all your thoughts.


We dry brine as well but then I read this and got interested in the unique wet brine add’l steps.

It seems strange to me that he doesn’t mention “dry brining” at all, unless I’m missing it, nor does he mention Judy Rodgers/ LA Times or Kenji’s adding herbs to a dry brine. I would be hard pressed to go back to a brine without comparing it to a dry brine with herbs and spices.

LA Times in 2013

" But what about adding flavors? Especially for readers used to marinades and wet-brining, the whole “deep pure flavor” thing can seem a bit austere. What about adding different herbs or spices to the salt?

To find out, I rubbed a turkey breast with a mixture of salt ground with minced fresh rosemary and grated lemon zest. Yup again, great flavor, with just a hint of rosemary suffusing the breast meat. The lemon zest was barely detectable.

Just to be sure the flavor had really penetrated the meat and wasn’t just coating the surface, I cut some very wide slices, getting as much of the center of the muscle as I could, then tasted that by itself. The rosemary flavor was definitely there.

Aromatic options

I e-mailed Rodgers, to ask if she’d ever played with seasoning her salted meats. The answer was immediate and enthusiastic.

“YES! Salting early is a great trick on its own,” she wrote back, “but it has another virtue that should get more attention. Add aromatics to the salt. It’s a very big deal. A killer combo is black pepper and thyme on chicken or rabbit. Black pepper on steak makes the best pepper steak.

“In my testing, the approach works best when whatever aromatics you’re using are crushed just before combining with the salt and then rubbing on the meat.”"

I make these pork chops often, usually adding a Berbere mix with the salt and sugar.

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