Chris Cooks

10-Minute Salt & Vinegar Chicken

July 24, 2015  —  Written by Chris 

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Life is busy. I barely even have time to write this post, and you’re probably deciding right now whether or not you have time to read it. Well if you do,  you’ll thank me forever for it because this is one of the fastest and most delicious chicken dishes you’ll ever come across.

I actually heard about this salt & vinegar chicken (different from the salt & vinegar wings in the “Chris Loves Wings” book) from my older brother and it sounded intriguing, because he said there were only three ingredients – salt, vinegar, and chicken. That seemed a bit too simple for me, so I added a fourth – brown sugar. But the best part about this recipe is it only needs a 10-minute soak in the vinegar solution before cooking! So fast, and seriously flavorful. Here it is:

Chris Loves Julia - Salt & Vinegar Chicken

• 4 portions of bone-in, skin on chicken (thighs, wings, legs, or breast). I used 4 split chicken breasts.
• about 2.5 cups apple cider vinegar
• about 1/3 cup salt
• about 1/4 cup (not packed down) brown sugar

The measurements on this one are forgiving, so it will all be ok if it’s not exact. All you do is mix the vinegar, salt and sugar together until it’s all dissolved, then pour it over the chicken until it’s covered. Let it sit for 10 minutes with the skin sides down.

Chris Loves Julia - Salt & Vinegar Chicken

I cooked mine on the grill, because I freaking love the grill, but you could probably cook this in the oven as well. For grilling, as soon as you get the chicken covered in the brine, turn the grill on high and let it heat for 10 minutes. If using charcoal, you’ll want to heat the coals beforehand.

See, most brines I use are a solution of water, salt and acid (like lemon juice or vinegar). Because this one is so concentrated (no water – all vinegar), it starts to penetrate the meat very quickly. You have decent flavor at only 5 minutes. Optimal at 10. 20 minutes starts to get a little strong. So you want to make sure however you’re going to cook this, you’ll be ready to remove it from the brine around the 10 minute mark.

Another thing I always talk about when grilling, especially in my books, is to oil the food, not the grill. Generally, that’s how I roll, but with this dish you don’t want to rinse off any of the brine, but oil and water/vinegar don’t mix, so you can’t just put oil on it or it won’t stick. So with this dish, I oil the grill, and I do it like so:

Chris Loves Julia - Salt & Vinegar Chicken

Use a clean, old wash cloth that you don’t care about, squirt it with oil and rub it on your hot grill. That will help keep the meat from sticking when you take it straight from the brine and put it on the grill. Cook until done (white meat, 163 degrees internal temp and let it rest for 10 minutes; dark meat, 175 and let it rest for 10 minutes).

Chris Loves Julia - Salt & Vinegar Chicken

I for real want to issue you a challenge, and I want you to take it seriously. Make this chicken sometime this weekend. Seriously, I want you to trust me on this and try it. I’m always trying to tell people that they don’t have to listen to food writers who just get crazy with things and make everything so complicated. You don’t need to feel overwhelmed when you cook, and this chicken is proof. Make it and come back and tell me your thoughts. I’d love to hear them. :)

Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

10-Minute Salt & Vinegar Chicken

Quick and delicious, I really think you'll love it.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 portions of bone-in skin on chicken
  • about 2.5 cups cider vinegar
  • about 1/3 cup salt
  • about 1/4 cup brown sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat your grill.
  • Make the brine by combining the vinegar, salt and sugar until dissolved. Pour the brine over the chicken until covered and let the chicken sit in the brine, skin side down, for 10 minutes.
  • Using an old rag dipped in cooking oil, rub your grill grate with cooking oil to prevent sticking.
  • Take the chicken from the brine and put it straight on the grill, skin side down first. Flip over at 5 minutes, cook until almost done, and flip to finish for another 5 minutes with the skin side down.

What do you think?

  1. Kim says:

    5 stars
    I never thought I would like chicken soaked in vinegar but I gave this a chance and I have to say I was not disappointed, this is such a simple recipe and so very delicious the only thing I do different is I boil my chicken for a little bit before soaking just so I know that it is cooked all the way through.. thanks for a great recipe.

  2. Chanelle Martin says:

    5 stars
    Quick and easy recipe. It was delicious grilled on the BBQ.

  3. Kapua says:

    5 stars
    I wanted chicken and I like the vinegar\salt chicken wings a deli makes here – I bought drumsticks…I’m hungry!

    Stupid me…should have looked for a recipe before I went shopping…I don’t have brown sugar…going to use white sugar…probably won’t be as tasty as the brown sugar would…but it’s 2:30am in Hawaii and I’m going to do this in my air fryer. Hoping this will be a delicious experiment!!

  4. Melissa says:

    What is the best temperature to bake this in the over? Currently without a grill, but would love to try this recipe!

  5. SHIRLEY says:

    I use this brine (w/ Bragg’s apple cider) on chicken drumsticks then coat w/W-Sonoma’s Potlatch and cook them in the oven on my Circulon Pan and POW!

  6. David H. says:

    Wow, this looks mouth watering.

    Definitely going to give it a try tomorrow when we have the family over.

  7. Mac says:

    Woaaaa! Great!I am currently doing some research and found exactly what I was looing for.

  8. When reducing crown molding with best miter saw the molding will certainly rest level on the saw table for these cuts. An easy way to examine is to take your framing square and also utilize it as your wall and also ceiling and also location your molding in the square.

  9. Callie says:

    I made these, but they had a lot of vinegar… Other wise this would probably of been delicious

  10. Al says:

    I made this a couple days ago using boneless, skinless chicken thighs and baked them in the oven. It was delicious, a definite make again meal.

  11. Lindsey says:

    Absolutely delicious recipe, Chris! I’ve made this twice and the flavor is wonderful. We roast this in the oven and potatoes along with it, and the potatoes pick up the flavor. We love it – thanks for sharing!

    • Chris says:

      Brilliant! Potatoes and vinegar are so good together, imo. I bet it would be awesome using malt vinegar – once I have my kitchen back I’m gonna give that a try. :)

  12. Jennifer says:

    Long time reader, first time commenting. I’ve made this chicken TWICE and it is AMAZING! Thank you so much for my now ‘go to’ chicken recipe. My husband loved it too and it helps us eat a healthy dinner :) Of course my 4 year old declared it ‘too sweet’..no idea where she comes from..

  13. Joanna says:

    Made it. SO good. Thanks!!

  14. Mark.C says:

    Oh my god. I’m hungry now. I can not wait to enjoy it. Look really delicious.

  15. Jaimie Meinsen says:

    Chris, I finally got a chance to make this recipe tonight – it was AMAZING. We had the grilled chicken over caesar salad, and it was perfect! We’ll definitely be cooking it again! Can’t wait to try the next recipe!!! Thanks for sharing :)

  16. cp says:

    Hi, Chris. Looks delicious. Do you think I could substitute regular vinegar or does it have to be cider vinegar? What could I substitute instead? Thanks!

    • Jaimie Meinsen says:

      CP, I ran out of cider vinegar so I had to resort to regular vinegar for the last 3/4 of a cup – tasted delicious!

      • cp says:

        Thanks, Jamie. I went ahead and used regular vinegar. It was very moist, the kids loved it!

    • Chris says:

      Great input from Jaimie, and it sounds like you gave it a try anyway. I’ve made it with regular vinegar, malt vinegar, red wine vinegar. It always tastes just slightly different, but is always good. :)

  17. Meggan S. says:

    Tried this last night and it was so good! Thank you! My husband (who does most of the cooking and has gotten chicken cooking to an art), was SUPER impressed!

    We ate ours southwest style in a salad topped with roasted corn, black beans and a chipotle dressing. So good!

  18. Jamie says:

    Thanks for the recipe Chris! I’ve already made it twice since you posted. I can’t believe how flavorful and delicious my chicken thighs turned out! :)

  19. Meagan Briggs says:

    Ok ok ok, these ladies convinced me! I’m gonna try it this week.

    What do you like pairing this chicken with?

    • Missy says:

      Thanks for the response and feedback! Although I do all the “indoor cooking,” it was the first time I stole the grill from my hubby, so I’ll have to keep practicing. We just pulled off the charred skins, and the chicken was great. So, no great harm done. Just looking to keep refining my techniques. Thanks for all you guys do for your readers!

    • Chris says:

      Salad, roasted potatoes, broccoli and cheese, cilantro-lime rice. The world is your oyster. :)

  20. Missy says:

    Thanks for the great recipe! Made it on Monday night for a quick weeknight grilling session. I think I had the grill too hot, though, as the skin on my chicken thighs ended up on fire in a few places… What temp would you recommend the grill be showing? Thanks!

    • Chris says:

      That’s a tricky question, Missy, and a good one. I never (and I really do mean “never”) pay attention to the temperature gauges on grills because they’re rarely accurate. It really requires a bit of intuition on how high you turn the grill, and you should adjust your temperature frequently while cooking. The balance is between getting it cooked on the inside but not drying it out, and getting it crisp on the outside without burning it. For smaller pieces of meat, the inside will cook faster so you can have the temperature up higher to get a sear before it’s time to take it off. Larger pieces, like split breasts or thighs, require a bit more time, so it’s a good idea to keep the heat in check. That said, it’s also a good idea to utilize the bony sides for longer cooking, because those sides won’t burn as easily. I actually wrote a post specifically about grilling chicken thighs here: https://www.chrislovesjulia.com/2014/05/my-review-of-the-char-broil-tru-infrared-gourmet-series-plus-my-go-to-recipe-for-grilled-chicken-thighs.html – this post shows timing and when to flip etc..

      I hope this helps, Missy! Let me know if you have any other questions or if none of this made sense, haha.

      • Missy says:

        Thanks for the response and feedback! Although I do all the “indoor cooking,” it was the first time I stole the grill from my hubby, so I’ll have to keep practicing. We just pulled off the charred skins, and the chicken was great. So, no great harm done. Just looking to keep refining my techniques. Thanks for all you guys do for your readers!

  21. amy says:

    made this tonight with boneless chicken. It was so quick and easy. Thanks for sharing! Full of flavour!

  22. Jess says:

    Another great recipe, Chris. Keep them coming! We made this on our smoker. Delish.

  23. Claire says:

    We just had this for a quick Sunday dinner and it did not disappoint! We ended up using boneless, skinless chicken tenders which probably made them even more flavourful since there was more surface area to soak up the brine! We have always tried to find a simple way to cook chicken that can be added to other meals (chicken Caesar) without success. We look forward to trying these with other meal ideas. Perfect timing and thanks for sharing!

    • Chris says:

      So glad you liked it, Claire. And the tenders, great idea. Once cooked they could be used for so many things, I think I’ll try that myself. :)

  24. Jenny Park says:

    We made this last night and it was super yummy! We did add about four cups of water and marinated it almost an hour just because I didn’t read the directions that you need to use it 10 minutes after marianting and I needed to stall haha! Also we did chicken thighs and legs so it was easy for our mob of kiddos (5) to gobble it up. And they cleaned their plates! Even the baby who is just starting to eat solid foods gobbled up her little bits and banged the tray of her high hair for more. So it is going into our family favorite recipe book to be used often! Delicious! Thanks!!!

  25. Christy says:

    I’ve never tried one of your recipes but I can’t resist a challenge. This was simple and delicious. Everyone enjoyed it, especially the 5 and 3 year old. Thanks!!!

  26. Beth says:

    Chris,
    This sounds great! If you were to prepare it in the oven instead, for how long would you bake it and at what temperature?

    • Chris says:

      I haven’t made this chicken in the oven, but if I were going to and I were using bone-in, skin on split chicken breasts, I would set the oven to 375 and put an empty pan in the oven as it preheats. Once the oven comes to temperature, keep letting the pan heat, for maybe another 5-10 minutes. Quickly take the pan out of the oven and close it (to prevent heat loss). Add 1-2 Tbsp of cooking oil to the pan and spread it around, then add the chicken straight from the brine, skin side up. Slide back in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, then check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Once it reaches an internal temp of 160, then turn on the broiler to high and crisp the skin for a couple minutes. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.

      I hope this helps, Beth! Be sure to come back and let me know how it went. :)

  27. Ami says:

    My husband and I made this for dinner last night. Whoa, you weren’t kidding—delicious. We’ll be adding it to our regular rotation and maybe trying some different vinegar/salt combinations. :)

  28. Andrea says:

    I will accept your challenge. Only, I don’t have brown sugar, so I will either go without, or substitute honey.

    Love your recipes! I have made several and shared several with other family! Keep it up!

  29. Carol says:

    Challenge accepted! I’ll let you know how it goes!

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