Melissa Elsmo

My mom was beloved for making pickled pork chops when I was a kid…I am talking chops covered with hot sliced pickles. It was a mighty odd meal, but our whole family loved it. So naturally, as an adult, I am drawn to any recipe concept that brings a little pickle to the party.

Pickle brined chicken is all the rage right now and I thought I should give it a whirl. There are pan fried, deep fried and baked versions, but I thought I would take my dilly chicken straight to my charcoal grill. I thought mesquite smoke and and a touch of BBQ sauce would complement the subtle the pickle flavor in the dish.

When you pull the last pickle from the jar save the juice and put it to use!


Pickle Brined Chicken (serves 6-8)


  • 6-8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 
  • 1 quart (give or take) leftover pickle juice
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse black pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 Cup BBQ sauce


Place the chicken thighs in a large plastic container. Add the black pepper to the pickle juice and pour over the chicken thighs. Seal the container and refrigerate 6 hours or up to 12 hours, turning the chicken once halfway through brining. 

Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect direct grilling (I used a mesquite charcoal). While coals ash over prepare the chicken.

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin side up on the cool side of the grill.  Cover the grill and allow the chicken to cook for 25 minutes. Remove the lid, add a few charcoal briquettes to hold the temperature. Flip the chicken and cover again. Allow the chicken to cook for an additional 20-30 minutes or until internal temp reaches about 175 degrees.

Move the chicken closer to the fire and brush lightly with BBQ sauce on both sides. Allow the sugars in the sauce to caramelize slightly without scorching. Remove from grill and allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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