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Apple-Brined Chicken Thighs

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. Brining chicken thighs give them great flavor.—Kathy Rairigh, Milford, Indiana
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. + chilling Bake: 55 min.
  • Makes
    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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Place beans and apples in a greased roasting pan. Drain chicken; place in prepared pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 40 minutes.
  • 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.
Nutrition Facts
2 chicken thighs with 3/4 cup bean mixture : 580 calories, 32g fat (8g saturated fat), 163mg cholesterol, 201mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate (21g sugars, 4g fiber), 47g protein.

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  • Tammy
    Dec 26, 2020

    This was so good! I didn’t have any cider or juice, but I had apples, so I sliced up 6 apples and added a bottle of white wind to the brine recipe. I also didn’t have any green beans, so I substituted with broccoli. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but it was really great! I will use this recipe again and am looking forward to trying it without substitutions next time.

  • Summy
    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. :)

  • pegbob1750
    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. :-)

  • snagcat1995
    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.

  • realestateroxy
    Sep 19, 2012

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

  • Dianne2706
    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.

  • Peggywyly
    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!

  • sabrina_m_haynes
    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.

  • melodious88
    Feb 21, 2011

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

  • dbadair
    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.