Olive-Brined Chicken Thighs

My girlfriend recently told me about her tried-and-true recipe for fried chicken, which begins with marinating chicken in pickle juice. I have been so intrigued by that and curious about the flavor the juice imparts. She’s promised me to make it when I visit next time, and I can’t wait.

I started thinking about pickle juice when I was perusing my jarred items in my refrigerator the other day (doesn’t everyone do that?!!) and I saw a jar of brine saved from olives. I do this for my son-in-law, who is the dirty martini drinker of the family.

My mind went from olive juice to chicken, as in, marinate chicken in the brine, and then follow my friend’s second step which is to marinate with buttermilk.

I have 3 friends who swear by marinating chicken in buttermilk, and it’s a popular Samin Nosrat recipe as well. There’s something about the acid in the buttermilk that tenderizes the chicken, whether you’re planning on frying or roasting or whatever.

So, this is what happened with my olive brine and buttermilk experiment.

Olive Brine, and Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Thighs

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2 1/2 pounds total
Salt and pepper
12 ounces olive brine
12 ounces buttermilk
Garlic pepper
Olive oil

Place the thighs in a baking dish or ziploc bag. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive brine and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Remove from the brine and pat dry on paper towels. Place in another baking dish or ziploc bag, and fill with buttermilk. Refrigerate for another 24 hours.

Remove the chicken thighs to paper towels to drain.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while the thighs warm up a bit.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a baking dish that will comfortably fit the thighs. Season them with garlic pepper. Right before baking, drizzle some olive oil over the chicken thighs.

Bake until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F. This took my oven approximately 25 minutes. If you want more browning, use the broiler for a few minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven, and place the chicken on a serving platter. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic pepper, if desired.

I made some carrot and pea fritters to pair with the chicken, mostly for some color and texture.

I mixed together 75% crème fraiche and 25% Kewpie mayonnaise for a creamy condiment. A little Sriracha was tempting, but I decided to keep everything mild in order to highlight the chicken.

Have you ever tried Remoulade in a tube? It is excellent.

No condiment is really necessary. I just like condiments.

The chicken was super moist, and tasted just like olives. It doesn’t look like much, but wow.

I didn’t realize the olive brine would impart so much flavor!

The marinated chicken could have also been grilled.

I’m certainly convinced about what buttermilk does for chicken as a marinade. But I also like olive brine’s part in this chicken. Next time? Pickle juice!

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. sallybr May 29, 2020 at 7:02 AM - Reply

    love everything about this recipe, goes into my folder to TRY SOON!

    • chef mimi May 29, 2020 at 7:28 AM - Reply

      It was really fun to make!

  2. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen May 29, 2020 at 7:45 AM - Reply

    What wonderful inspiration! I love it when those idea just pop into the head. You hold a mostly used up jar of olives and wham! New recipe is born. Brilliant!

    • chef mimi May 29, 2020 at 5:05 PM - Reply

      That is fun, right?!! Although I already had the pickle juice idea in my head. Good good chicken.

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen May 30, 2020 at 8:31 AM

        I actually use pickle juice a lot! I use it in vinaigrettes for salads and to make quick pickles for dinner. I love slicing a purple a really thin and letting it steep for a day in pickle juice. I will have to experiment with my olive brine now!

  3. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats May 29, 2020 at 1:39 PM - Reply

    Interesting! I mostly go for either lemon juice or buttermilk, but will keep this in mind for next time, as I’m a big fan of olives! :)

    • chef mimi May 29, 2020 at 5:04 PM - Reply

      I was shocked at how olive-y the chicken was. The buttermilk part was wonderful, too.

  4. Kim Bultman May 29, 2020 at 2:33 PM - Reply

    Sounds yummy, Mimi! I “save” pickle/olive juice, too. Thanks for your post/recipe sharing what to do with ’em!

    • chef mimi May 29, 2020 at 5:03 PM - Reply

      For martinis? Or something else?

  5. Mary May 29, 2020 at 3:05 PM - Reply

    How interesting Mimi. I am regretting all that Olive juice I have poured away down the sink!! Never knew I could do wonderful things with it.
    What about pickled onion juice? Would that be a possibility as well?
    I shall look at pickle juice in a whole different way in the future.
    Thanks Mimi, my husband is groaning at the thought of future half empty jars of pickle juice lining up in the fridge!!! :))

    • chef mimi May 29, 2020 at 5:03 PM - Reply

      I have pickled cornichons that come with onions, so that would be fun to try. Husband who don’t cook need to stop groaning!!!

  6. Mary May 29, 2020 at 3:11 PM - Reply

    I just noticed the olive juice you showed us in your article were marinated in Dry Vermouth. I now understand why your chicken tasted so good. I am going to get some bulk olives and do some marinating of my own. They sound wonderful!!! :))

    • chef mimi May 29, 2020 at 5:01 PM - Reply

      You know, I just noticed that on the label after I took the photo. Do you think it made a difference?!! Whatever it was in the brine, it was so good.

  7. jenniferguerrero1 May 29, 2020 at 6:38 PM - Reply

    What a cool idea! I love pickle-brined chicken. I’m totally going to try the olive brine! Love it, Mimi!

    • chef mimi May 29, 2020 at 7:24 PM - Reply

      So you co pickle brine too?!! Funny, I’ve only heard about this from one friend!

  8. David Scott Allen May 29, 2020 at 11:45 PM - Reply

    I love the way your mind works, Mimi! I use buttermilk a lot to marinate chicken — have been doing it since college! A waiter at one of my favorite restaurants told me (under duress) that was how they did their chicken, which was fabulous (coated in sesame seeds). I’ve always said it pays to flirt with one’s server!

    • chef mimi May 30, 2020 at 8:04 AM - Reply

      Good to know! Except that I’m beyond the flirtatious stage!!! I’d probably scare them 😬

  9. chezlerevefrancais May 31, 2020 at 4:21 AM - Reply

    Love the idea of marinating in the olive brine and I’ve heard of using buttermilk for chicken but normally use plain yogurt, as it’s easier to get hold of. The flavour sound amazing Mimi!

    • chef mimi June 3, 2020 at 10:01 AM - Reply

      Thanks! I wonder if buttermilk and yogurt have the same acidity? I have no idea…. but it sure works well!

  10. Jeff the Chef May 31, 2020 at 11:52 AM - Reply

    That’s very interesting, and so are those fritters!

    • chef mimi June 3, 2020 at 10:02 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Jeff!

  11. Laura May 31, 2020 at 4:07 PM - Reply

    I love marinating chicken in buttermilk plus hot sauce! This seems like a great idea! I love the idea of pickle juice! I may give that a try! Love your recipe, Mimi! I’d have never considered olive brine!

    • chef mimi June 1, 2020 at 11:44 AM - Reply

      Oh, that sounds good!

  12. StefanGourmet June 1, 2020 at 9:53 AM - Reply

    Very interesting experiment!

    • chef mimi June 1, 2020 at 11:43 AM - Reply

      It was fun!

  13. Ron June 2, 2020 at 6:26 AM - Reply

    A double marinate, brilliant Mimi. I used to use buttermilk for marinating and baking a lot, but we can’t get cultured buttermilk here. But, when it comes to olive brine that’s no problem, I always have some lurking around in the fridge. This sounds to be a great way to add flavor to chicken thighs.

    • chef mimi June 2, 2020 at 6:37 AM - Reply

      Thanks! I couldn’t believe how much the chicken tasted like olives, so I might try doing the brine marinade only!

  14. Healthy World Cuisine June 2, 2020 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    Love this idea of using the olive liquid as a brine for your chicken. I bet it made you chicken thighs taste amazing. We love kewpie mayo too. After living in Japan, nothing else comes close… LOL How’s your arm healing coming along?

    • chef mimi June 2, 2020 at 11:07 AM - Reply

      Yeah, Kewpie is amazing! I get my cast off in two days. Really excited to have a new thumb!

  15. cookingontheweekends June 2, 2020 at 11:48 PM - Reply

    Mimi, I can’t wait to try this! I’m going to make it later this week. :-) ~Valentina

    • chef mimi June 3, 2020 at 10:02 AM - Reply

      It was so good. My husband loved it, too, which is funny cause he thinks he hates olives 😬

  16. 2pots2cook June 3, 2020 at 2:21 AM - Reply

    Absolutely must do ! I have never used buttermilk and olive brine to marinate chicken. Thank you so much Mimi !

    • chef mimi June 3, 2020 at 10:03 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome! It was fun trying it out.

  17. kitchenriffs June 3, 2020 at 9:26 AM - Reply

    So clever! And creative. Love olives and chicken, and you’ve taken that pairing to a new (and different!) level. Good stuff — thanks/

    • chef mimi June 3, 2020 at 10:04 AM - Reply

      It worked out so well! Next time I’ll just use buttermilk, since the Queen has made it so popular. (Samin Nosrat.)

  18. David @ Spiced June 8, 2020 at 7:19 AM - Reply

    What a fun idea…and a great way to avoid pouring out the extra olive brine! I personally use buttermilk, but this is a fun twist for sure. The only difference is I might have to put these on the grill!

    • chef mimi June 8, 2020 at 7:24 AM - Reply

      Yeah, and they’d definitely have a bit more color. When I made this recipe it was too cold out! We’ve had a weird spring, but summer is definitely arrived.

  19. sippitysup June 8, 2020 at 1:49 PM - Reply

    I can certainly see what a wonderful brine it would make. GREG

    • chef mimi June 9, 2020 at 6:40 AM - Reply

      It does make sense, doesn’t it?!!

  20. Conor Bofin June 11, 2020 at 3:35 AM - Reply

    Great experiment Mimi. You have me thinking….

    • chef mimi June 11, 2020 at 6:33 AM - Reply

      I know! It was really interesting!

  21. Jack & Barbra Donachy June 12, 2020 at 11:25 AM - Reply

    I have wondered for years what to do with that salty olive jar juice. This sounds great… and might work well with white-meated fish as well.

    • chef mimi June 12, 2020 at 1:33 PM - Reply

      Oh good! And don’t forget dirty martinis… (I don’t like martinis personally.) I wonder if the brine would quickly cook the fish? A good experiment!

  22. Linger June 17, 2020 at 4:24 PM - Reply

    I definitely swear by a buttermilk brine for chicken as well. And now you have me curious about the olive brine. I can’t imagine how flavorful and tender this chicken must have turned out. Such a wonderful post. Thanks!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2020 at 5:13 PM - Reply

      The chicken looked pretty anemic, but i just wanted to see what the marinades would do. Pretty interesting!

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