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Apple-Brined Chicken Thighs Recipe

Apple-Brined Chicken Thighs Recipe

“I love the flavor of chicken baked with apples, and when I had a bumper crop of green beans, I wanted to include them, too. This recipe is the tasty result.” —Kathy Rairigh, Milford, Indiana
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. + chilling Bake: 55 min. YIELD:5 servings


  • 3 cups apple cider or juice
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 medium lemon, sliced
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 10 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3-3/4 pounds)
  • One 2-gallon resealable plastic bag
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 3 medium tart apples, cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • 1. In a Dutch oven, combine the cider, onion, lemon, rosemary sprigs, salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until salt and brown sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in water. Cool brine to room temperature.
  • 2. Place chicken in the 2-gallon resealable plastic bag. Carefully pour cooled brine into bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible; seal bag and turn to coat. Place in a roasting pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning occasionally.
  • 3. Place beans and apples in a greased roasting pan. Drain chicken; place in prepared pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 40 minutes.
  • 4. Combine the minced rosemary, oil, pepper and remaining brown sugar; sprinkle over chicken. Bake 15-25 minutes longer or until a thermometer reads 170°-175° and beans are tender. Yield: 5 servings.

Nutritional Facts

2 chicken thighs with 3/4 cup bean mixture equals 580 calories, 32 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 163 mg cholesterol, 201 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 47 g protein.

Reviews for Apple-Brined Chicken Thighs

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Reviewed Nov. 7, 2013

"I only used the brine for this recipe. I brined skinless chicken thighs for 6 hours. I didn't have rosemary (though I love it), so I substituted about a tablespoon of beau monde seasoning. I also use organic bay leaves. I don't typically buy organic foods, but the organic bay leaves are so fresh, and impart a wonderful flavor in anything that I cook. I put the chicken thighs in my smoker for about 3 hours. They were moist, tender, delicious...with a delicate apple flavor.

Tonight I'm going to brine some thick pork chops over night and put them in my smoker. This time I'm using fresh rosemary, a wee bit more salt, and I pricked the pork all over. Oh, and I think maybe my chicken had more apple flavor because I used frozen apple juice and only added 2/3 of the water recommended. And, for smoker enthusiasts, I used mesquite chips, though I also have some Jack Daniels chips that are wonderful, but I misplaced them in the throes of moving. :)"

Reviewed Sep. 27, 2013

"Loved this recipe. Did make a few changes tho. We don't like rosemary so we substituted with 1 tsp of thyme. Also no fresh lemons so used I 2 1/2 tbs of lemon juice and no peppercorns so I used 1 1/2 tsp of black pepper. I didn't cook it with any veggies only the apples for fear that the veggie flavor would get into the chicken and the kids would have issues. So I just served veggies on the side and my kids ate it with no complaints. :-)"

Reviewed Sep. 14, 2013

"Did the recipe neglect to remove the salt by rinsing under cold running water? I can't imagine why you would leave all of that salt in the chicken. Just a thought."

Reviewed Sep. 19, 2012

"This did not work out at all for me. I might however try the brine out again but on a rotisserie"

Reviewed Nov. 25, 2011

"I love this brine. I have used it on pork and chicken and it adds so much flavor that you don't even need anything else."

Reviewed Oct. 30, 2011

"Loved it. May brine longer next time. The green beans and apples were very good but would also like to try other vegies. Not hard to make but start early!"

Reviewed Feb. 27, 2011

"not hard to make, but not worth any of the effort, couldn't taste the apple juice past all of the salt."

Reviewed Feb. 21, 2011

"We grilled the chicken instead of baking it, and it was great!"

Reviewed Sep. 27, 2010

"I will definitely marinate the thighs longer next time I make this. It was very good but I felt like it would have had more flavor with a longer marinade time."

Reviewed Sep. 19, 2010

"This was delicious! I saved the recipe for fall, with in season apples and end of season green beans and yum, top notch. The chicken was moist and flavorful and I agree that the recipe was easier than it seems although you do have to start earlier than usual, so probably a weekend meal."

Reviewed Jul. 30, 2010

"I cannot begin to explain how delicious this dish was. I had family in town visiting, and I saw this recipe in a recent issue and thought it would be good to make while they were in town. I doubled this batch (about 16 thighs), but still used only one onion & one lemon for the brine. For the veggies, the fresh green beans in my produce section looked anemic, so I picked up a 12 oz bag of frozen beans then supplemented with some broccoli, carrots, and snow peas. Also, we pan seared the thighs before we put them in the oven. Then after they were seared, we baked them with the veggies for 20 minutes, then put on the brown sugar, oil, pepper, and rosemary paste and baked them for about another 15 minutes more. We felt like they needed some firming up, and the pre-bake pan searing did just the trick. That paste made the chicken so nice and crusty and sweet, and the vegetables... oh the vegetables. They were so sweet and tasty. I will most definitely make this a staple in my kitchen."

Reviewed Jun. 6, 2010

"This seems like it would be alot of work to make, but seriously, the hardest part was cleaning the chicken. It tasted wonderful."

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Wine Pairings

Light-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a light-bodied white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.