The Ingredient That Will Change Your Fried Chicken Forever

Comfort food is easy to love, isn't it? These dishes feel like a warm hug — from homey meatloaf and buttery mashed potatoes to gooey brownies and chocolate chunk cookies. They often remind us of our childhoods. Of course, the most comforting food of all is fried chicken. In its most perfect of iterations, it's piping hot, juicy, tender, and has a perfectly crisp, well-seasoned, non-greasy crust.

In its most basic preparation, fried chicken features cut-up poultry dredged in seasoned flour and fried in plenty of hot fat, according to Allrecipes. But for enterprising home cooks and professional chefs alike, this method is just a template — an invitation to fancy up fried chicken with "secret" ingredients such as mustard for richness, blends of herbs and spices for a kick, cornstarch for extra crunch, and a variety of brines ranging from the classic buttermilk to lemon.

According to Serious Eats, brining the chicken before frying adds flavor and juiciness to the meat and can take your dish to the next level. And there's one brine ingredient in particular that will make your fried chicken irresistible. Try it if you dare.

It's pickle juice!

If you enjoy the salty, sour tang of pickles and you love fried chicken, listen up. Adding a splash of pickle juice to a fried chicken brine can help infuse the poultry with the same tangy flavor you enjoy. It also helps tenderize the meat. We previously shared burger chef Chris Kronner's recipe for pickle-brined fried chicken, and we love the juicy, crispy-fried bird it turns out.

In the recipe, Kronner makes a brine of equal parts pickle juice and buttermilk, another classic brine ingredient beloved by fried chicken cooks everywhere. As explained by Food & Wine, dill pickle juice, which contains sugar, helps infuse the meat with a subtle sweetness and tanginess. The site's brine recipe also calls for buttermilk, hot sauce, and salt.

Brining your chicken in pickle juice is a win-win because you can serve pickles alongside the finished dish, which will make cutting through the richness and oiliness of the chicken easy. There's a reason why you often find pickle slices on fried chicken sandwiches.