My 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Better Chicken Breasts—It's "Liquid Gold"

I found the perfect use for an ingredient that normally gets thrown away. It makes chicken breasts exceptionally tender and flavorful.

My 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Better Chicken Breasts—It's "Liquid Gold"
cooked seasoned chicken breast in a cast iron skillet
Simply Recipes / Getty Images

During all three of my pregnancies, I had one craving: Greek salad. I probably tried every takeout Greek salad in the Tri-State area, determined to find one that met my lofty standards. Since no restaurant option was cutting it, I took matters into my own hands—I bought Greek feta in brine from Costco along with Kalamata olives, and my Greek salad game had never been stronger.

As I purchased more and more feta, I got curious about all that brine I was dumping down the drain for months. I decided to experiment—I threw a few chicken breasts into feta brine before grilling them. The chicken was impossibly juicy and tender. I couldn’t believe chicken breast could taste that good! I'm never throwing out feta brine again.

How To Use Feta Brine as a Marinade

Now I always save my feta brine to use as my go-to chicken marinade. I add a little olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and fresh oregano for optimal flavor, but the brine alone works wonders for lean meat like chicken breasts. (I prefer it with chicken, but it also works nicely with lamb, taming the gamey flavor a bit.)

An overnight marinade is optimal, but even an hour in the brine will add a ton of flavor and moisture to the meat. It doesn't get any easier than this—the payoff is huge!

Once you’ve marinated your chicken, simply remove it from the brine (and discard leftover brine), pat it dry, and cook it using your preferred method. My favorite way is to grill it, which takes six to seven minutes per side on medium heat on the grill.

Sliced baked chicken breast on a plate with a salad, and in the surroundings, a casserole dish with more baked chicken, a small saucer with lemon slices, another serving of chicken and salad on a plate, a sage kitchen towel, and a glass of water
Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Don't Toss the Brine Even If You Only Have a Little Left

My household goes through a lot of feta. My oldest will eat it straight from the brine as a snack, and I love to have it in the fridge to throw together a quick meal like shakshuka or pasta salad. It adds such a lovely umami note to anything it touches, and I find the deeply savory flavor and soft texture particularly appealing in salads.

Whenever I'm done eating all that cheese, I keep the brine in the fridge, even if it's just a little bit, until I'm ready to use it. You can keep it in your fridge up to the best-by date even if that is long after the cheese is gone. Alternatively, you can freeze the brine for longer storage and thaw it when you are ready to use it.