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Brined Grilled Chicken Breasts with Red Chile Oil

Scott Phillips

Servings: six.

This brine not only keeps the chicken moist, but the sugar in it helps the chicken brown nicely on the grill.


For the chicken:

  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (preferably organic), tenders reserved for another use

For the chile oil:

  • 1 Tbs. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbs. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 3-4 dried New Mexico or Anaheim chiles
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced and mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. red wine vinegar, or to taste

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size with 1 Tbs. oil
  • Calories (kcal) : 300
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 180
  • Fat (g): 20
  • Saturated Fat (g): 3
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13
  • Cholesterol (mg): 75
  • Sodium (mg): 300
  • Carbohydrates (g): 2
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 27


Brine the chicken:

  • In a large bowl, combine 2 cups boiling water with the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Let cool completely. Add the chicken breasts, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Make the chile oil:

  • In a medium skillet, lightly toast the cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind the seeds to a powder in an electric spice grinder and transfer to a medium bowl. In the same skillet, toast the chiles over medium heat, pressing on them with a spatula, until fragrant and darker in spots, about 1 minute per side. Remove the stems and seeds and grind in the spice grinder—you’ll need 3 Tbs. ground chile. Add the ground chile, cayenne, garlic, and 1 tsp. salt to the ground spices, and then stir in the oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt or vinegar if necessary. Stir before using.

Grill the chicken:

  • Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire. While the grill heats, remove the chicken from the brine, pat dry with paper towels, and let sit at room temperature.
  • Toss the chicken with 2 Tbs. of the chile oil. Grill the chicken without moving until golden brown grill marks form, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Holding your knife at an angle, cut the breasts crosswise into 1/2 -inch-thick slices and let cool to room temperature. Serve with the remaining chile oil on the side.

Make Ahead Tips

The chile oil can be made up to several hours in advance, or up to a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

The chicken can be grilled up to 6 hours in advance. Refrigerate and return to room temperature for serving.


Rate or Review

Reviews (11 reviews)

  • tchunter | 08/14/2021

    This is an amazing menu. I made it again tonight after a few years, and so good. We halved everything for two people.

  • BlackyEmily | 07/21/2018

    Why are people posting reviews when they are not making the recipe as written. I don't care what changes anyone made because they don't have the right ingredients! R-e-e-ally annoying!

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