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Karry Hosford Photo by: Karry Hosford

Lemon Tarragon-Brined Whole Chicken

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.

Cooking Light JUNE 2004

  • Yield: 5 servings (serving size: about 4 ounces)


  • 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


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.

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

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°.

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

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 246
  • Calories from fat: 31%
  • Fat: 8.4g
  • Saturated fat: 2.3g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 3.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.9g
  • Protein: 37g
  • Carbohydrate: 3.3g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Cholesterol: 109mg
  • Iron: 1.8mg
  • Sodium: 1505mg
  • Calcium: 29mg

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Lemon Tarragon-Brined Whole Chicken Recipe