Pickle Brined Fried Chicken with Whole-Grain Batter

You’re settling into a long-ass flight to Australia. At best, your plan is to watch a few in-flight movies and catch some of those awkward, unfulfilling, neck-craning zzz’s. However, the one truth you hold is that you’ll be disconnected from the world for the next 14+ hours- no wifi, no mindless phone scrolling, no email catch-up sessions. BUT THEN…

Pickle Brined Fried Chicken // www.WithTheGrains.com

Then, the the pilot announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are happy to announce we can now offer you wifi access during the flight.” The crowd goes WILD! The seatbelt light flashes, the flight attendants deliver another unappreciated performance, and then… the wifi fails. Suddenly, something no-one had mere minutes ago ushers in a widespread feeling of devastation. 

Pickle Brined Fried Chicken // www.WithTheGrains.com

I stole that anecdote from Tony Robbins because firstly, I have yet to make that flight to Australia (but oh how I long for that journey!), and secondly, because I can’t stop thinking about why he referenced that anecdote (watch his interview here). The name of the game here is “expectations.” They ruin us. We expect too much, and any shortcomings propel us into disappointment.

However, if we approached situations… or life in general with appreciation, the mere reframing can change everything. This does not mean expect nothing and give up. In the interview, Robinson also says we should hold ourselves to higher standards and demand more form ourselves. “Expect Less. Appreciate More. Hold Myself Accountable.” New mantras, left and right!

Pickle Brined Fried Chicken // www.WithTheGrains.com

On the outside, this fried chicken looks like a normal batch of fried chicken, but beneath that crispy, whole-grain crust is the flavor of pickles! It’s an unexpected bonus to this recipe. Keep that pickle brine a secret, and the lack of expectations will lead to extra appreciation from your dinner guests (unless your guests don’t like pickles, in which case, haters gonna hate, and why are you friends in the first place?). The bonus bonus is you can use leftover liquid from store-bought [organic] pickles to make this recipe, so it’s a case of Waste Not, Want Not

Bon Appétit! 

Quelcy Signature

Pickle Brined Fried Chicken with Whole Grain Batter
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit 
Servings: 6

About This Recipe: Inspired by a sandwich I ate here, this fried chicken has a crunchy, whole grain, batter and a pickle flavor in every bite. As a way to conserve more, I used leftover liquid from a jar of store-bought, organic pickles, but you can also experiment making your own brine. Serve with my Whole Grain Zucchini Cornbread. Plus, it’s fried in a healthier oil, so dig in!



4 cups water
1 cup pickle juice (leftover from a jar of pickles)
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Fresh dill, to taste (use the dill flowers too if you grow your own)


8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 3 lb.), halved, quartered if large

Safflower oil (for frying; about 10 cups, organic/non-gmo)
2 cups organic buttermilk
2 cups white whole wheat flour
Kosher salt

For Serving

flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
hot sauce (for serving)
Hemp seed hearts or sesame seeds


Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot or resealable bag. Add the chicken to the brine, and chill 3 hours. Remove chicken from brine, scraping off seeds, cover, and chill until ready to fry.

Fit a large pot with thermometer and pour in oil to measure 2”. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°.

Meanwhile, place buttermilk in a large bowl. Place flour in another large bowl; season with kosher salt. Working in batches, coat chicken in buttermilk, then dredge in flour, dipping your fingers in buttermilk as you pack flour on to help create moistened, shaggy bits (the makings of a super-crisp crust); transfer to a baking sheet.

Working in batches and returning oil to 350° between batches, fry chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and chicken is cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet.

Drizzle chicken with honey; sprinkle with sea salt and hemp seeds. Serve with hot sauce alongside.


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