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Lemon Tarragon-Brined Whole Chicken

Karry Hosford
Yield 5 servings (serving size: about 4 ounces)
This chicken is best when cooked indirectly on a grill, but you can also roast it in an oven. Fresh tarragon has a brighter flavor than dried, but you can use a third the amount of dried if fresh is unavailable. Toss any leftover chicken with tarragon-flavored mayonnaise for a salad.


  • 7 cups water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 8 tarragon sprigs
  • 1 cup kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 1 (4 1/2-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided

Nutrition Information

  • calories 246
  • caloriesfromfat 31 %
  • fat 8.4 g
  • satfat 2.3 g
  • monofat 3.1 g
  • polyfat 1.9 g
  • protein 37 g
  • carbohydrate 3.3 g
  • fiber 0.1 g
  • cholesterol 109 mg
  • iron 1.8 mg
  • sodium 1505 mg
  • calcium 29 mg

How to Make It

  1. Combine 1 cup water, rind, and tarragon sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Place in a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add remaining 6 cups water, salt, and sugar, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Place salt mixture in a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Add the ice and chicken; seal. Refrigerate 3 hours, turning bag occasionally. Remove chicken from bag; discard brine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.

  2. Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to medium and leaving one side with no heat.

  3. Sprinkle cavity of chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped tarragon and 1 teaspoon pepper. Lightly coat outside of chicken with cooking spray. Rub the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped tarragon and 1 teaspoon pepper evenly over outside of chicken. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray over unheated side. Close lid; grill 15 minutes. Brush chicken with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Close lid; grill an additional 30 minutes. Brush with remaining lemon juice. Close lid; grill 15 minutes or until thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 180°.

  4. Place chicken on a platter; cover with foil. Let stand for 15 minutes. Discard the skin.