The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat. Ever.

The grill is not always kind to our lean, reliable friend: the skinless, boneless breast. But this recipe unlocks the secrets of juicy, flavorful meat with minimal work. Infused with zing from a relatively quick brining and coated in a fragrant blend of spices, this chicken gets a sexy finish with a drizzle of Moroccan Dipping Sauce.

Secret #1: Brining

You will think it’s not necessary. You will think it sounds too fussy. But I guarantee you won’t regret it if you do it. If you’re short on time, you can just salt & pepper the chicken, but the magic just might be in the waiting for the brining step.

Chicken & Brining Ingredients:
  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 8 cups water

  • 3 tablespoons salt

  • 2 garlic cloves, whole

  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut aminos or homemade substitute

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Brining Directions:

Put water in a large ziplock bag and add the salt, garlic, coconut aminos, bay leaf, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns. Let the salt dissolve.


Add the chicken breasts to the bag. This will look gross; ignore it.


Put the bag in the fridge and forget about it for 2 hours.


Remove the bag from the fridge; ignore that it looks even grosser.


Rinse the chicken well. Think about something else as you do this so as not to notice that you’re holding raw chicken.


Place in a sieve to drain/dry while you move on to Secret #2.

Secret #2: Spice Blend

There are commercial blends out there, and there are certainly other things you can mix together, but this one is a crowd-pleaser. Promise! This makes enough for about 2-2.5 lbs. of chicken—tastes good on pork, too. (Also makes a nice sprinkle for sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and acorn squash.)

Spice Blend Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon curry powder

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Spice Blend Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a fork. Preheat a gas grill on high heat, with the lid closed, about 10 minutes.


Coat the chicken pieces with the mixture; massage and pat it on lovingly. You want the pieces pretty densely coated.


Place the chicken smooth side down on the preheated grill, close the lid, and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes with the lid closed, until the chicken is browned and cooked through.

Note: If you roll the meat in the mixture, you need to throw away any remaining spice blend. Don’t re-use it on vegetables or think you can save it for later. It’s once and done when raw chicken is involved.

Secret #3: Moroccan Dipping Sauce

Kinda like salad dressing, this is also very good drizzled on raw cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and onions. It really makes the chicken sing. It’s also great way to get an extra dose of healthy fats.

Moroccan Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1 medium clove garlic, crushed

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked)

  • pinch cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro or parsley

  • salt & pepper to taste

Moroccan Dipping Sauce Directions:

Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and salt & pepper together in a small bowl. Inhale and rejoice that you have a nose.


Gradually whisk in the oil, then stir in the fresh chopped herbs.


Serve at room temperature.

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  • thisislifeinaustin says:

    I love your notes on brining–like to think about something else so you don't notice you're holding raw chicken–I can't STAND touching raw chicken.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi, I purchase a box of no latex gloves from Sam’s club or Costco and use these gloves for anything gross or smelly. I even wear them when mincing garlic so my hands don’t smell for a week after. I hope this helps :o)

      • Bon says:

        My brother and his wife -both professional chefs- do the same thing.

        Of course, when I am at their house while they’re cooking I cannot help but tease them.
        “Two by two, hands of blue.”

        Of course, this MIGHT be because I am huge freaking geek.

      • Joan says:

        Try rubbing your fingers on stainless steel ( sink , or stainless knife )
        To remove garlic smell . Works great !

      • Kelly says:

        The secret to getting rid of any smell (fish, garlic, anything that will stay on your hands for days on end) is to rub your hands thoroughly in coffee grounds, wash them off your hands, then wash your hands with hand soap. Your hands will not smell fishy, garlicky, etc. at all.

        • Wendy says:

          I make homemade lye soap and I have an unscented one I make for a friend of mine who works on cars (stinky car parts) and another friend who is a cook (stinky meats and other strong scents.) It was sort of an accidental discovery… I used the coffee grounds just for color and texture but it turns out it’s great for smells too. So you get your de-stink and your soap all in one!

  • Jill P. says:

    How do you cook it after the brine??

    • billboss says:

      See Step 3 – Secret #2 (which states): “3. Place the chicken smooth side down on the preheated grill, close the lid, and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes with the lid closed, until the chicken is browned and cooked through.”

  • Melicious says:

    Jeez. I seem to have omitted a key step: after brining and adding spice mixture, GRILL the chicken. Sorry!

    You can also bake it in the oven… 400 degrees, about 15-20 minutes.

  • Andi says:

    Oh chickie I am LOVING your food blog.

    I just noticed your brine uses TABLE SALT! Bleaughghghghgh… it is poison woman.

    Use unrefind sea salt. Your bod needs those minerals – table salt depletes your body of so much.

    Sea salt & eating pasture fed/pill-free animals and gluten-free & dairy-free has changed my life.

    Take a peek at this book.

    • Vance says:

      You are not actually eating the table salt, you are only using it as a brine. The salt dissolves in the bring solution and you rinse the chicke off to remove it.

      • streever says:

        You still *should* use kosher salt: ideally, some of it is penetrating the chicken and flavoring it, and kosher salt tastes better & is without additives! (Also, you’re orthodox jewish friends can eat it, so there you go :) )

        • Freeman says:

          Actually, Kosher salt should probably be called “Koshering” salt. It’s optimized for taking the blood out of fresh meat. There are no special requirements for purity or source, nor does using non-Kosher salt make otherwise Kosher food ritually unclean.

          I use sea salt because it tastes better. Alessi sells a kosher sea salt if you want the best of both worlds.

    • Helen says:

      Hey Aldi…..can ya tell I am a new-beeee to Pinterest given your post is dated Jan 2010:) :) But I hope you get this as have always wondered about Kosher. I have never used it, but your comments really grabbed my attention. I’zzzz scared now, given I toooo use table salt. OK, my question (sorry) do you us the exact same quanity of Kosher salt to regular table salt ?? Is it the same as sea salt granules as they seem way way saltier than the same qty of reg salt. Wow that was hard to explain :) :)

    • Katy says:

      Hi, this looks really wonderful and I’m planning to make your week one of pre cook foods to kick off my first whole39-tha k you. I am unable to eat spicy spices like chile, red pepper flakes, etc. pepper is about as wild as I can get. I also have to avoid high acid foods like tomatoes (with exception of yellow home grown in moderation) and regrettably lemon, orange, pineapple, grapefruit and any other citrus or high acid fruit you can come up with. A splash that has been cooked for a very long time might be ok- but the sauce would be a train wreck for me. I have to also be spare w the vinegar as well (but not quite as scary). Do you have any other ideas for rubbing the chicken? Any ideas how I can work around and still make your sauces without the citrus? The safest fruit for me are pears and blueberries not that helps ;( thank you for spelling it out for me in a doable template – one more notch on your belt of people who might have spent another month thinking about it instead of starting this week thanks to you. Ty

      • Since this recipe really relies on the spices and citrus to make it taste good, I don’t recommend that you rely on this one for your Whole30. I think you’ll be a lot happier and better off if you start with recipes that are designed for your dietary limitations. Recipes that follow the AIP (autoimmune protocol) will probably work much better for you.

        Mickey Trescott of Autoimmune Paleo has excellent recipes and a wonderful cookbook –>

        Having said that, if you really want to try this recipe, you can do the brine with just salt and pepper; the chicken will still get the benefits of the brining process. For the rub, focus on herbs instead of spices: dried oregano, basil, parsley would be good, along with garlic. For the dipping sauce, same advice: omit the acids and the spices you can’t have, and just go with oil and herbs.

        My cookbooks Well Fed 2 also includes very explicit instructions for how to make about 80% of the recipes compliant with the AIP, and all of those are also Whole30 approved.

        Hope this helps!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Andi, thanks for pointing that out! My eating habits are still evolving as I learn more. I'm going to update the recipe and take your advice and invest in quality salt.

  • George says:

    Wow, I just tried this and it's amazing! Thanks Mel!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, George! Glad you like it! I was just thinking last night, as I was grilling chicken thighs, that I haven't made these chix breasts in a while… next week!

  • Anna says:

    Thanks for introducing me to brining. Quite possibly the moistest boneless, skinless, chicken breast I've ever head. I have always heard about brining but thought it was super complicated. Easy.

    P.S. I love your blog.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Anna! I'm so glad you like the brining trick. It's a good one, for sure! And thanks for the P.S. You're very kind.

  • Karen says:

    I'm just starting out on this whole Paleo thing, and I can only tell you one thing. Thank you. I worried about what I would eat, and after reading your recipes and blog, I dont worry about that anymore. And oh, dear gawd, I made your chicken and dipping sauce. I weep with joy.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Karen, congratulations on trying the dino-chow way! I'm so glad that you're finding my blog helpful. Your comment reminded me that I haven't made this chicken and dipping sauce in a while, and I need to remedy that! I'm planning a big diet clean-up in October, so I'll be with you — re-visiting recipes to keep myself on track!

  • Brandy says:

    LOVE. This chicken is awesome. I make it like every week. This has become a new staple in our house. I was just wondering what I was going to do now that the weather is getting a little too cold for grilling. I may still brave it anyway, because I like food cooked over a fire, but I may try the baking thing you mentioned above. Love. Did I say love? Love. This chicken makes me so happy.

    • Randi says:

      I made this tonight and baked it in the oven at 350 degrees. 10 minutes, then I flipped it and basted with the sauce. Baked another 12 minutes. Served with asparagus and Greek cucumber salad (couscous for hubby). Perfection!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Brandy! I'm SO glad you like it and that it's keeping you happy and healthy. You can totally make the chicken in the oven; easy-peasy.

    I'm just about to post a new meatball recipe that I'm lovin' on right now. Did I say love? LOVE!

  • Kelly says:

    Thanks for another awesome recipe! I've got this in the works right now and had a question about the dipping sauce. Is there salt missing from the ingredient list for it? You mention salt in the directions, but I don't see it in the ingredient list. Thanks for the clarification. And, as always, love your blog. :)

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Kelly, good eye! Hmmm… yes. It looks like the ingredients list is missing the salt! It should be a pinch or so, to taste. Hope you enjoy(ed) it!

  • Melanie says:

    Made this tonight for the second time and it was ever BETTER! Yowza this one's a keeper.. sooo yummy! Excited for leftovers tomorrow.. I revel in biting into each tasty morsel coated with dipping sauce mmm mmmm mmmmm!

    • Joanne says:

      Made this recipe for the first time and it is delicious! It’s a super hot day and I didn’t fire up the grill. Just followed all the steps and cooked the brine soaked spice-coated chicken breasts on the stove. Got rave reviews. I’m trying many recipes in WELL FED and they’re all so tasty. I just got WELL FED 2 and can hardly wait to try some more recipes. Thank you, Melissa, for such tasty food.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Melanie –> You're so sweet to let me know you like it… thank you!

  • Laura says:

    I served this chicken over a bed butter lettuce, red onions, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. I topped it with a homemade dressing of cucumbers and sour cream which I made in the magic bullet– I know the sour cream is not paleo, but not sure how to substitute for it?? The end result was a delicious greek salad– spicy with the cool cucumber dressing. Delicious!! The entire family–husband and three kids LOVE this. Thank you for this recipe

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Laura –> That sounds yummy! If you want to try making a paleo version of the dressing, replace the sour cream with homemade mayo (recipe here: ) mixed with a little lemon juice, the cucumbers, parsley, and oregano.

  • Angela P says:

    This chicken truly is out of this world! I have a question about the dipping sauce: is it ok to store it at room temperature, or should it be kept in the fridge?


  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Angela P! On the day you make it, it's OK to leave the dipping sauce at room temperature. But for storing, I'd pop it in the fridge. It might solidify a bit, so just let it come to room temp before eating for subsequent meals. Enjoy!

  • Angela P says:

    Thanks! I'm making this chicken today for the big game, but sticking a skewer in each piece so it is "chicken on a stick" and thus finger food. :-) But you better believe I am making extra so I have some for lunches this week!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    What is better than meat on a stick?!

  • morten_g says:

    I made this and while it was the most moist, tender chicken I ever had I thought it was too salty. I may have screwed up some of the conversions since I'm a metric man livin' in a metric world but I am quite sensitive to salt. I made it for the folks and neither of them thought it was too salty but my bathroom did agree with me.

    I did brine it for 3 hours instead of 2 but I don't think that should have any influence. Does anyone know whether it's still good with half the salt?

  • Melanie says:

    @Morten – I felt the same about the salt so the second time, (being metric too and all) I poured a liter of water into the ziploc and added half the salt and it was way more to my taste!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, guys! I haven't had a problem with the chicken tasting too salty — but I like salt. I also use sea salt, which is slightly less salty tasting than other kinds… and I think there's a lot of variance among the saltiness of sea salts, too. Tricky stuff!

    Morten — I don't think you can go wrong my reducing the salt. The goal of the brining is to add flavor, so you should definitely feel confident adjusting according to your tastebuds. And no, it won't taste saltier if you brine it for slightly longer than the two hours.

  • Raccro says:

    Seriously yummy chicken – have even recommended to various non-paleo peeps as well worth a try.

  • Cathy says:

    Awesome recipes! Loving your website! I just did a Whole30 and trying to stick to this way of eating…your website and recipes have been a big help, so thanks! Question about brining: any reason you can’t leave the chicken in the brine all day? Say, start it in the morning to save some time in the evening?

    • Mel says:

      Hi, Cathy.

      The chicken will get too salty and the texture will get a little weird if you brine it for much longer than two hours.

      However, you can brine it a day in advance for two hours, then remove it from the liquid, pat it dry, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. Then just follow the spice blend instructions, etc.

  • A-D says:

    very late stumbling into your blog – FANTASTIC – and I am much enjoying the recipes – considering trying a slight variation of this using the pressure cooker… *fingers crossed*



    • Mel says:

      I’m glad you found me! Good luck with the recipe in the pressure cooker — it should work great. Be sure to let me know how it goes!

  • Susan says:

    Great recipe. Really great. Can’t wait to make it again and serve with avocados.

  • Ronesshia says:


    The brining is the key! Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Steffen says:

    Truely AWESOME! The whole table could have given a standing O.

  • Danielle says:

    Love Love Love your website, your recipes, your writing! Are you originally from PA/Lehigh Valley? Noticed the Lehigh Valley Dairy sign in the background of the restaurant pic. Greetings from Philly (burbs).

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Danielle! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. Yes! I’m originally from Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, and my parents still live in Schuylkill Haven. That restaurant photo is taken along Route 61 in Sch. Haven. Small world, right?

  • Tia says:

    Oh wow this chicken was AWESOME….so awesome in fact we had it two nights running.
    Have tried 4 recipes so far and LOVED all of them.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for letting me know you like it, Tia! I retested and revised the recipe for the cookbook, and it’s even better. So glad you’re enjoying my recipes. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Scott says:

    I know where that is:)

  • Sharon says:

    This recipe won we a grilling contest at my church cookout. It was delicious. Thank you!

  • Rose says:

    -first of all, braising chicken breasts is a genius method! I can’t believe how easy yet unknown this has been in my world for the last 26 years. I’ve told all my friends and family.
    -second, great spice-coated chicken with a delicious sauce. Users beware: my bf was so impressed by the moistness, that he continued to forget to use the dipping sauce.
    -lastly, I had a lot of chicken leftovers, so I’m going to use the remainder for your chicken coconut curry recipe since the spices are similar/the same. thanks, Mel! can’t wait for my birthday package to come in the mail any day now– EAT WELL cookbook, yahoo!

  • Sara says:

    I made the version of this recipe that’s in your book, which includes using coconut oil in the spice rub. I found this made coating the chicken difficult – the first couple of pieces were fine, but the cold chicken was making the melted coconut oil harden and by the end it was just a solid spice mass I was trying to stick on the chicken. 😛 It was still delicious, but next time I might try the oil-less method, unless you have some advice?

    • Mel says:

      The easiest way to coat the chicken is to toss it in a bowl. Yes, the coconut oil can start to solidify, but it still coats the chicken. If you leave out the fat, the chicken doesn’t get as brown on the grill. Hope this helps!

  • CK says:

    Enjoyed this chicken for dinner. My 4 and 7 year old loved it! I wanted to cry, they NEVER ask for seconds on chicken breasts. Thanks for the awesome recipes.

  • ashley says:

    Im going to try this ck dish tonight. i get so bored with ck and needed a recipe to spice things up thanks. About the salt you can also use Himalayan salt it contains 84 minerals, balances bodys PH and much more. google it for more info. also if your staying strick on paleo no legumes(beans) at all. :-) thanks again and keep up heathy eating.

  • Michele says:

    Someone on Facebook linked to this recipe and I gave it a try tonight. IT WAS DELICIOUS! Thanks so much and now I can see I have a number of other paleo recipes to try! Awesome work

  • Marni L says:

    SO YUMMY!!!! Love the recipe, definitely will make this again!

  • kim says:

    I just found your blog, can’t remember what first drew me here, I’ve spent DAYS reading through all of your stuff. I am new to the paleo scene (but, very excited as it already gels with my habits!). You are an inspiration, in both your writing and confidence. I need to gain weight, have battled eating disorders all my life (I’m now 36), and you have helped shine the light on the path for me. You are beautiful and strong, rock on, girl!
    By the way, made this last night for myself and the husband….we both LOVED it! I love the spice rub, can’t wait to try it on veggies! And, brining is going to be my go to method in the future for chciken breasts, first time ever that I cooked cb’s on the grill and they weren’t dry! WHOOP!

    • Mel says:

      KIM! I’m so glad you found me… and thrilled that you’re working your way through past posts.

      Good on you for working to feel comfortable with your body and eating habits. It’s lifelong work, but it’s good work and it definitely gets easier (and then harder, and then easier :-)

      Thank you for your sweet compliments — very kind of you to take the time to comment.

      I hope you and your husband continue to enjoy the recipes. Keep me posted on how you’re doing!

  • Christina says:

    I made this last night from your book – Oh. My. God. SO good. Seriously the best chicken I’ve ever eaten. The house still smells like it today and I wish I hadn’t let my husband take all the leftovers to work, because i’m craving some now. I made the Moroccan dipping sauce to go with it, and that was delicious on it! I can’t wait to make it again. I’m thinking about thawing some chicken right now!

  • liese says:

    Instead of the Coconut oil would you suggest Ghee or Olive oil? I’ve a friend who is allergic to C.O. and… ya know i kinda like my friend…lol

    also what cuts of chicken would you use for this?
    skinless? What do you use?

    • Mel says:

      Great question! You can always substitute ghee for coconut oil in all of my recipes, and they’ll work just great. It’s not recommended to use olive oil at high temperatures because it oxidizes, so when cooking, it’s best to use a saturated fat like coconut oil, ghee, lard, or tallow.

      I usually use chicken breasts, but thighs work great, and so do pork chops.

  • Debbie says:

    This was fabulous!! I used a whole bone in cut up chicken and it was perfect. Made several recipes from your book yesterday and every one of them was a hit – so many great recipes I have yet to try (PS success on the home made mayo the first try thanks to your guidance!)

  • Liese says:

    I made it! And it was awesome!
    But had a laugh when I saw this and the book recipe are different.
    Oh crap I said.
    Oh well made due. Didn’t have the whole spices. ‘cept for the peppercorns.

    • Mel says:

      This recipe is really, really good and was my first attempt at this recipe. The one in Well Fed was re-tested and got some tweaks to make it a little tastier.

      But they’re both yummo!

  • SophieE says:

    This chicken is fantabulous!! I’m so not even a chicken person and especially not a breast person (I haven’t made chicken for probably 3 months and I havent cooked with breast since pre-paleo schnitzel) but maannnnn this is good stuff!! I actually only made it because my sister just gave birth and I wanted to bring her food and she’s a chicken person and I saw this recipe yesterday (I have your book- why have I continuously skimmed over this?)

    You must have a mouth of heat resistant insulation though because I halved the amount of chili powder and still needed a glass of water nearby that kept getting refilled. Next time I’ll only use half TBS.

    I can’t get over how tender and moist and flavorful this was for a chicken breast!

    My oldest sister and I have a thing where whenever I saw I have a new recipe that’s good we laugh and say “theclothesmakethegirl” because it almost invariably is a recipe from you plus we find your blog name so arbitrary that it’s funny.

  • SophieE says:

    I thought I should add that I made this in the oven and that I subbed the curry powder for 1/3 (nonspicy) garam masala and 2/3 turmeric because the curry powder that my sister brought home had “wheat meal” as the third ingredient- bane of my existence.

    Anyway, it was delicious with these subs and I’d probably do it the same way again. Like every day of my life.

    Looked at the well fed version of this recipe- seems like more of a hassle to make even though I’m sure the flavors are great. One day maybe.

  • Rachel says:

    Today was my third batch of the chicken. I think I must have brined it longer the first time or used different salt as I think I have come to prefer it on the saltier side.

    The spices we get from the Indian Market in Singapore must be hotter than in the states because oh man, this chicken sets my mouth on fire each time I make it. I tweaked the measurements a bit last time, but even still it was hot. Sadly we don’t have a grill or an oven, so I have been doing it in the cast iron pan and it works out well.

    Cheers and many thanks for all of your recipes and helping me to change my life and body!

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  • Kasey says:

    Fabulous recipe! The brining really makes a difference, and the spices were delicious. I’m excited to try more of your recipes. Thanks for the great site :-)

  • Kat says:

    This chicken was certainly as promised – and so versatile!

    I diced some of the chicken in a salad with diced sweet potato and apple mixed with a little lemon juice and EVOO. That was fab.

    This morning, I had some of the leftover salad scrambled with 2 eggs and topped with…wait for it…strawberries. It was awesome and actually very (unintentionally) french toast-y.

    The spice rub for the chicken really works in and adds dimension to so many dishes! Thank you for this!

  • Makeda says:

    I made this tonight and it was INCREDIBLE. I made several so will have left overs for the next couple of days and I’m pretty excited about that. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • Sandra says:

    Hi! I just came across your web site and the recipe for the Best Chicken you will ever eat and wondered if you have ever tried it with Chicken Thighs instead of breasts. I have a fridge full of chicken thighs at the moment so wondered if that switch would work as well.
    This food looks so awesome. I can’t wait to try it all! Great work!

    • Mel says:

      Thighs will work great, and BONUS! You can skip the brining step if you want because the higher fat content in the thighs means they stay pretty juicy and tender on the grill.

  • Amber says:

    New Whole 30’er here. Can we be friends!? I’m so excited about this recipe! I botched it the first time by adding salt to the rub – didn’t realize how much of the brine would soak into the chicken. I scraped most of the seasoning off – still awesome. Made it again this weekend with boneless skinless chicken thighs – shut-your-face!! I’ve eaten on this almost every meal since! My husband who’s pretty much a salt/pepper/garlic kind of guy loves it too. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

    • Mel says:

      We are friends in 3-2-1… done! YAY!

      Yes, the brining does add flavor, so no salt needed in the spice rub. Glad you’ve been enjoying it since. Happy cooking to you!

  • Melanie says:

    Can I do this with a whole chicken??

  • Marie says:

    This was incredible, I ate and ate and licked my plate and went back for more and then licked my plate again :) That dip is amazing, this will be one of my go to recipes from now on! Oh, and I don’t have a grill so I used my rotisserie, it turned out perfectly.

    • Mel says:

      Right on! Glad you enjoyed it! The brining really makes it taste great… yay!

      • Marie says:

        I’ve made it at least 6 times since the first and it’s always awesome, this is the only way I make chicken now… I wonder if I’ll ever get tired of it? I doubt it :) I take the leftovers, if there are any, dump a bunch of the dip on top and put it in a storage dish to take to the gym, for after workout protein, the next day, it’s delicious cold too!

  • Kerry says:

    I just died laughing reading Marie’s post above about the plate licking after eating…twice! That is EXACTLY what happened in this house today when I made this. Brining the breasts do make for an exceptionally tasty and moist chicken. Hard to go wrong when you follow the techniques tested by Cook’s Illustrated. I did grind and make my own spice mix with a lot more spices than the recipe called for. (I like using recipes as a template rather than an absolute.) I baked the breasts on a rack at 300 degrees for about 30 mins. (I like low and slow.) And you were right with the vinaigrette making the dish “sing.” The addition of the lemony acidic element was exactly the yin to the yang. Beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Lacey says:

    OMG!!! loved your chicken it was so good, did everything you said thank you so much. The sauce is amazying will never forget that. Paired the chicken with diced sweet potatoes, onions and pineapple with cinnamon paprika garlic salt and pepper. so good spicy and sweet all on the same plate and all whole30 approved:)

  • Willa says:

    thank you for sharing this recipe with us at no cost. I agree, it is the best-tasting chicken ever. I had great success coating brined chicken pieces in a plastic bag a la Shake-n-Bake style. I baked the bone-in meat at 400 for 40 minutes. WOW! And, ofcourse, I made the Moroccan dipping sauce. Still can’t believe how yummy this tastes. Left-over sauce was delish on beets, ground beef and squash. Thanks and good luck with your cook book.

  • Aja Perrin says:

    Mine was WAY too salty – BUT – I didn’t read the notes on your using sea salt till afterward, AND I only did 1/2 the amounts of water and salt, but ONE chicken breast – and it was cut in 1/2 – so maybe it sucked up an inordinate amount of salt.
    And, it was too spicy for my six year old, but I just washed it off afterward (yuck yes, but it worked) and he ate it.
    I WILL try this again with a quarter of the salt because it was JUICY! and I think it will be good with a few tweaks for smaller portions

  • Shannon says:

    I must say, that was some of the best ever chicken that I have ever made! Thanks!! I’m loving your recipes and can’t wait for your book to arrive!

  • Rachel says:

    Mel, this is utterly amazing! Our family made it for our Rosh Ha’Shanah dinner, and everyone loved it. I just made it again and it’s fantastic!

    Are there other spice blends that would work on the chicken? I’m just thinking about making it for some friends who don’t like spicy foods. I mean, I could take out the pepper, but wouldn’t you have to make it up with more of something else in the blend?

    • Mel says:

      Try this:
      2 tablespoons ground cumin
      1 tablespoon curry powder
      1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
      1 tablespoon ground allspice
      1/2 tablespoon black pepper
      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

      It should still be flavorful, but won’t be as hot.

  • Heather says:

    This recipe rocks! My hubby and I have made it a couple of times and loved it, but finally today our super picky one year-old, who throws all his meat to the dog, ate half a chicken breast! Maybe tomorrow the dog will get a nice feast for lunch, but at least for tonight I am doing the happy dance. It’s the little things that make us happy – like this chicken recipe! :o)

  • OMG I made this last night with the herb sauce. SO EFFING DELICIOUS AND TENDER!! My husband was like what is that smell?? Mmm mm mmmmm. Why did I not know about brining? Oh and that amazing spice rub and herb sauce. I want to bathe in it. The only thing I’d do is cut back on the salt/omit salt. I served this with a spinach salad with cucumbers and tangerine segments with the sauce as a dressing on the salad and the chicken. YUM! Thanks for changing my chicken-making ways. Can’t wait to serve this to a dinner party crowd. Paleo never tasted so good!

  • Stephanie says:

    Made this last night for dinner and served over sautéed cabbage, carrots, onions and celery. So delicious! The family gobbled it up. Thanks for the awesome new dinner recipe!

  • Tara says:

    Just ordered Well Fed from Amazon. I can’t wait til it comes in! I have a SMALL kitchen and no grill. What cooking method do you recommend for the chicken? Should I make the investment in a George Foreman or Cuisinart grill?

    • Mel says:

      If you don’t want to buy a grill — although a grill pan would be an inexpensive investment with big dividends! — you can either cook the chicken in a sauté pan (brown it on both sides, the cover ’til it’s cooked through) or in the oven: 375 for 15-20 minutes.

  • Stephanie says:

    I just finshed making this chicken and just as everyone has wrote…. This chicken is delicious and moist. i will forever brine my chicken. I think i may have did something wrong when it comes to the dipping sauce. The oil is more prominent than any other spice. Is there a way to correct this or should I throw it out and make the dipping sauce again with less oil?

    Thanks so much for your help! Your website has become such a gem over the past few days (I found reviews for your cookbook on amazon through a late night find and I’m so happy I did). I cant wait to get the cookbook in the mail in a few days.

    • Mel says:

      If you think the dipping sauce is too oily, just add more lemon juice until it has the flavor and consistency you want. Start with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and add a little bit at a time after that until you like the way it tastes.

      Happy cooking and eating! Enjoy Well Fed!

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for such a quick response! I really appreciate the tip. I’m sure I will enjoy well fed….I’ve alreday tried four of your recipes already. Thank you for all you do!

  • Anne says:

    Do you use boneless, skinless breasts? Looks that way in the pic, but I thought people usually brined a bird with skin on it. Also, when you said to grill with flat side down, I imagine the boney side is up. Sorry if I missed this somewhere.

    • Mel says:

      I used boneless, skinless breasts — and bringing is great for any chicken, really. Brining really, REALLY helps with breasts because they can so easily get too dry.

      You can use bone-in chicken if you’d like, but you’ll need to increase the cooking time. And yes, when grilling, I like to start with the smooth side of the chicken facing down — whether boneless or bone in.

      Hope this helps.

  • Mary says:

    I was trying to make the brine from your cookbook. Where oh where do you find cumin seeds?? I am sure that I could leave them out, but I can be a little OCD about using the same as the recipe. Thanks for a great cookbook!

    • Mel says:

      I order them online from Penzeys — but I think Whole Foods probably carries them both in the spice aisle and in the bulk section. Your chicken will not suffer if you just leave them out; I promise.

  • Pauly Dean says:

    can you use beer in the brining process?

  • Elizabeth says:

    This may be a silly question, but how much chicken do you use in the brining step? I’m guessing that it’s more than one chicken breast, but I don’t have the cooking experience to eyeball the amounts of water and salt and figure out whether that’s meant for 2 chicken breasts or 4, or what. Thanks!

  • Kris says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. Grilled chicken can be so bland and dry, but this was fantastic! Made a great snack all week, and was perfect for quick meals. LOVE it!

    P.S. – Well Fed is fantastic, keep doing what you do lady!! :)

    • Mel says:

      I’m really glad you liked it — the brining really saves the day. Thanks for taking the time to share your Well Fed love; very cool of you!

  • Stephanie says:

    I hope you’re not sick of hearing how awesome this chicken is. I am a reasonable cook but have never been able to cook chicken breasts well (always dry/bland). Everyone in the family loves this chicken. I brine a whole package of chicken, rinse then freeze individually so I can spice then cook what I need. This has become a staple lunch for my 15 month old twins! Keep up the great work.

    • Mel says:

      I will never get tired of knowing people like this recipe. I’m so glad you like it — and pre-brining before freezing is a great idea!

  • marissa says:

    just made this. it was insane. amazing. i will probably be brining lots of chicken every sunday for my weekly lunches. and dinners. :) and i love the idea of freezing a bunch of pre-brined chicken to use when needed. so smart! so glad i found you!

  • Tara says:

    Made this chicken tonight and it is fabulous! It should be illegal to bake chicken without brining it first. Thanks for the delicious recipes.

  • RedMama says:

    This really is the best chicken ever. Like a lot of the comments, I’m a decent cook. Never considered brining chicken. WOW! I’m so blown away. Thanks for all the tips. Getting your cookbook tomorrow for V-day. THANKS!

  • Troy Duran says:

    That WAS great! Thank you!

  • Lauren says:

    Can’t wait to make this…saw in a previous comment you said it’d be yummy on pork..I’m thinking boneless pork chops…what do you think? What time & temp do you suggest? Really love you’re blog & you’ve been a great resource for my Whole 30 journey…many thanks!

  • Gentrie says:

    Was wondering if I could try this on a George Foreman grill? It sounds great and I am always looking for chicken recipes for my hubby! I have no idea what paleo is but read it in other comments…is this some sort of diet? Thanks for the recipe!

  • Christine N says:

    You are just like me, raw chicken is so gross I can hardly stand to cook it. However it’s so good when it’s done that I endure the grossness!!!! Can’t wait to try your recipe. Pinning it now!!!

  • Amy says:

    Oh my goodness this was yummy! Thank you! Will def make again!

  • Melly says:

    I know I’m way late to the game on this one, but just came across your site from the Whole30 forum. This looks delicious! Is there anything I could substitute for the curry in the spice rub (or omit it)? I hate being “that” person, but curry is the one spice I just don’t care for, no matter how many ways or times I try it. The dipping sauce looks divine!

    • Mel says:

      Glad you found me! Hope you like the recipe.

      Just leave the curry powder out of the spice rub — it will still taste great. Enjoy!

  • Nick Archer says:

    Hi Mel
    Greetings from Australia, I just made your chicken recipe. I don’t know if its the best ever in the world only because I haven’t tried them all yet, I can tell you it is the best so far by a long way. I modified it a little by cutting back on the chilli I grow my own and it will remove the enamel from you’re teeth if you don’t use it sparingly, it turned out I got it spot on. I served it with yellow rice which my wife agreed was a perfect combination. It now goes straight into my recipe book along with the best of the best. I would love to send you a photo of the meal someday, many thanks to you. We visited the U.S.A last year and loved every moment we have only seen the states down to Los Angeles but hope to see the rest next year. Please give Smudge a cuddle from us. Nick

    • Mel says:

      Hello, Australia! Glad you liked this recipe — and now I want to try your teeth-stripping chilis!

      Smudge enjoyed her cuddle from down under 😉

  • Steph says:

    I totally agree! Was damn tasty and the bestest part was that I had almost all the ingredients on hand (and suitable substitutes for what I didn’t). ZOMG was very yummy – I was worried as I let it brine (using the brine recipe in your book) for about 4-5 hours rather than just 2… SO YUM! And the dipping sauce makes a fabu salad dressing, too.

  • Kat says:

    Mel, can the dipping sauce be made ahead of time? Also, how long will it be good in the frig?

  • Rodney says:

    Not sure what went wrong but cooking the breast at the temperature and times listed internal temperature was 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

    • Rodney says:

      I will have to say that even though the time was incorrect for me (breast probably too thick) I would have to say that the chicken was outstanding and possibly the best I ever ate. Thank you for a great meal!!

  • Tasha says:

    Can I brine over night? Will it hurt to do it longer?

    • Mel says:

      I’ve heard from people who brined overnight with no problem. I usually keep the brining time shorter so the chicken doesn’t get mushy — but you can’t “ruin” the recipe by brining longer than listed above.

  • Cara says:

    My boyfriend and I made this for dinner tonight and we were honestly freaking out the whole time we were eating it because it was so good.
    Thank you for such an amazing recipe!

  • Lauren says:

    Another rave review! I have made the chicken in the past, but tonight I happened to have all the ingredients for the dipping sauce on hand! It’s delightful! I made this dish to serve with my (finally ready!) Moroccan preserved lemons ala Jenni at Nourished Kitchen– woohoo! I highly recommend adding the touch. So delicious!

  • Paul says:

    I made this back in January and have some chicken brining in the fridge for tomorrow night. It is definitely the most moist chicken I’ve ever had. I love the flavor of the spices and can’t get enough of the dipping sauce. My kids and their friends loved it too.

  • Teresa says:

    Made this last night and it truly IS the best chicken I have ever eaten! The only problem is that BF ate today’s lunch out of the fridge in the middle of the night. But at least he was nice enough to wake me up to say how delicious it was!

    • Mel says:

      I’m really glad you both liked it so much — even if that turned your BF into a lunch thief. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it!

  • Tasha Bird says:

    Is there any reason why I couldn’t use a bowl or a plastic reusable container to do the brining in? I hate wasting those plastic bags. I’m trying to reduce the amount of plastic I use and throw away.
    Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      You can use any glass or plastic container — be sure to cover it and make sure the chicken is surrounded by the water… it needs to be submersed.

  • Thomas says:

    I had my doubts about this recipe but wow! It really was awesome. I wasn’t sure about the curry and East African spices but it works so well. Thank you for posting this. What a great share!!!

  • Love, love, love the Moroccan Dipping Sauce!!! It was so good, I ate it with a spoon!!! I cut down the salt in the brine because of comments on it being too salty and it was good but I will brine it exactly like the recipe next time!

    The chicken was so tender and juicy and had a little kick to it I think from the chili powder in the spice blend. Yummy!

  • Lisa says:

    In the brining step, shouldn’t there be a step 1.5 where you add the spices to the bag? The instructions only mention the water, salt & chicken.

    Looks delicious though. Can’t wait to try it out.

  • Lisa says:

    Also – the ingredient list calls for 8 cups of water and 3 T salt. But the instructions list 1 quart of water (32 oz = 4 cups) and 1/4 C salt. Can you clarify the proportions and quantities?

  • Mel says:

    Sorry about that, everyone! I was copying and pasting from my cookbook manuscript to update this page, and missed those things. It’s corrected now and the recipe above is good-to-go. Enjoy!

  • Diane says:

    Made this tonight with bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on grilled in charcoal. I did not brine the thighs, but the rub was absolutely the best! Excellent chicken!

  • Betsy says:

    I want to make this tonight for dinner. I have about an hour to brine. Is that enough time or should I try it when I have more time to brine?


    • Mel says:

      That should work fine. A little longer is better, but it will still help with taste and tenderness.

      • Betsy says:

        Thanks so much for getting back to me. It’s been brining for 1 hr 20 mins now. Trying to hold off as long as possible.

        I have everything else prepped and ready to go. Can’t wait!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I was looking for something interesting to liven up my boring chicken… Wow did I come to the right place! Absolutely the best chicken I’ve ever eaten. My backyard smelled like i had travelled to an exotic land. Thanks!!

  • Lisa from Phoenix says:

    I found your incredible book through paleoOMG … and so glad I did. I have tried a number of your recipes and I must say this chicken is to die for. I bought a cast iron skillet and cooked the chicken in the oven instead of grilling … truned out incredible. The most moist and tasty treat .. looking forward to breakfast ! :) Thank you for sharing your knowledge and cooking skill! Cheers,

  • michele b. says:

    So I may have to brine chicken breasts every time I cook them! We eat chicken relatively often, but a lot of the time we feel like it’s a little too, well, chicken-y. These, however, came out moist, delicious, and literally fork-tender. Great dressing, too – I put it on not only the chicken, but also sliced tomato, cucumber & avocado for a tasty meal my whole family enjoyed. Thanks!

  • Gloria says:

    I want to try this out but here in Sweden we don’t have coconut aminos, can I replace it with something? Coconut water/oil/milk??

    • Mel says:

      Coconut aminos are a non-soy replacement for soy sauce. If you want to keep it paleo, just skip the coconut aminos. If you don’t mind eating a little soy, you can use soy sauce instead. Either way, it will taste great.

  • Yvonne says:

    Oh my! This recipe is incredible – thank you!!!

  • Veronica says:

    I recently purchased “Well Fed”. And have been so pleased! This recipe specifically has gotten me lots of praise from my family, chicken is no longer boring!
    Thanks so much!!!

  • Kim H. says:

    I come back to the chicken time and time again, though I have gone back to the basics for my non-spice loving kids/hubby and after the brining just used salt/pepper/garlic powder. For mama though I definitely make the dipping sauce. I hadn’t made it in awhile but did tonight and forgot that I could basically eat it by the spoonful ;). I have loved all your recipes from well-fed I have tried and can’t wait for Well-fed 2!

    • Mel says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by and let me know you’re enjoying the recipes. We’re excited about Well Fed 2, too!

  • Kathryn says:

    Just grilled up about 4 lbs of “the best chicken” and it never disappoints!! Was worried that brining it over night would be detrimental (I was too tired to cook it last night), but it was as yummy as ever – just maybe a bit more salty.

    Cheers y’all!!

  • Portia Boesen says:

    I’m definately going to try this recipe after reading all the good comments – sounds great! would like to know what coconut aminos are, don’t know if I can buy it in my country, can i just use ordanary coconut if I cant find? Thanks.

    • Mel says:

      Coconut aminos are a replacement for soy sauce. They’re made from coconut and are compliant with the paleo diet because they contain no gluten and no soy.

      You can order them online, or if you can’t get your hands on them, you can just omit them from the recipe… or replace them with gluten-free soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos, but then the recipe isn’t strictly paleo.

  • Barry says:

    I’m new to brining and looking forward to making this for my company this weekend.
    if im using kosher salt how much should I use? thanks, B

    • Mel says:

      Hmmm… I’m not sure. I always use iodized sea salt. I’m pretty sure kosher salt is the same quantity as sea salt, but I’m not totally sure.

  • Barry says:

    one more question, sorry
    I cant find Coconut Aminos, if I want to replace with light soy sauce how much should I use?
    also whole coriander seed, what can I replace with?

  • Rebecca says:

    Oh my I just made and ate this. It was Awesome!! I left the chicken in the brine for like 8 hrs whilst at work. Was super tender.

    I made the dipping sauce too was sooooo good.

  • Joanna says:

    I purchased “well fed” and my partner challenged me to make 50 recipes … I have had the best time EVER! Every time I make a recipe my daughter (11) and my partner both say “This is restaurant worthy good!” the taste is just exquisite! The herbs and spices – delightful! This chicken recipe was well worth the brine time and the dipping sauce I wanted to drink! DELISH! Thanks for all you do! I love it!

  • Celina says:

    Hi, I love this chicken and I don’t normally like chicken at all.

    One question: in a pinch what’s the shortest amount of time you can brine the chicken?


  • Mel (too!) says:

    OH…..MY…..GAWD. This chicken is amazing. It started thunder storming when I was making the spice blend but I powered thru and grilled in the rain and am so very glad I did. Cannot wait to make this for my family and friends. Merci beaucoup!!

  • Pia says:

    SOOOO GOOD!!!!! This recipe alone is worth getting your book (the whole entire book is pretty awesome :) ) I’ve never made chicken this tender. Thank you!!!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I tried to read through the comments, but there are so many. I apologize if I missed this. I am getting ready to put my chicken in the oven, however, I used the last of my cumin for the rub. I am planning on making the sauce, but alas no cumin. Should I sub something else, leave it out, or skip it altogether. Just wondering how important the cumin is to this particular recipe :-). Thanks for your feedback.

    • Mel says:

      You can make the Moroccan Dipping Sauce without cumin, and it will still taste really good. The paprika, lemon, and herbs are really important, and they’ll take good care of you.

  • kara says:

    An you brine for longer? Like, prep the brine the night before, throw the chicken in 8am, start cooking 5pm?

  • JM says:

    Jusr tried this – really good ! thx for the recipe. BTW, you’re looking hot in your profile pic !

  • Kelley says:

    I’m on my second day of clean eating and this recipe has knocked my socks off! I omitted the brine, used chicken thighs & cooked this in the crock pot on low for 6 hours. The sauce was such a nice complement to the spiced chicken. Thank you for the recipe! I’ll be using this again and again and again.

  • Kristy says:

    Yum! Thanks for a great recipe. I was a bit worried it would be too spicy for my family, but they devoured it. My 3 little boys kept asking for more chicken. The dipping sauce makes this recipe!

    Thanks again!

  • Jennifer G says:

    I made this last night and cooked it on lump charcoal grill. OM Ymmy!! The chicken was unbelievably tender. My 16-yr old daughter, who thinks anything cooked with spices other than salt is too spicy, had 2 pieces. I can’t wait to make this again. BTW – I LOVE your cookbook.

  • Margie says:

    This was amazing! I’ve looked at brining before, never tried it. I will be doing that again. And the spice rub, also amazing. Baked in the oven, 20 minutes at 400. Even when I warmed up leftovers, still very, very moist and very, very tasty.

  • Kristine in Santa Barbara says:

    Really, the recipe is as good as the name implies. :) The first time I made it, during our first Whole30 in June, we thought outdoor gas grills were for other people. I baked the breasts in the oven and they were just delicious. Fast forward 90 days of no grains, no dairy and no legumes and hardly any eating out: gas grilling has won us over (and added $600 to our credit card). Tonight’s chicken, that is brining as I write, goes on the grill. I think you quoted Dave as saying he was “lifetime tired” of chicken breasts? I was almost there. This recipe saved me! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on successfully changing your eating habits… YAY!

      The awesome thing about this recipe is that once you get the bringing thing, you can really change up the flavors. Have fun playing around with it! Thanks for letting me know you like it!

  • Harri says:

    I’ve been using the Well Fed version of this recipe for a year. It really is the best chicken, ever. I add some habanero powder to spice things further.

    Thank you for the excellent recipe!

  • Jess says:

    I gave up on the chicken breast years ago. I have looked at this recipe for about TWO years and thought, I should try that. HOLY CRAP!!!!!! First off, it was WICKED EASY! Second: AMAZING flavor and texture… the breasts are back, baby!!!!

  • Amy says:

    where do you stand on brining kosher chicken? its already spent a lot of time in contact with salt. I hate to add more salt to it!

  • SugarBaybee says:

    Wish me luck……About to make this in a couple of hours for Sunday dinner!*fingers crossed*

  • Chance Bunger says:

    Made this a few nights ago – I really like how crispy it turns out! The ladies said it was just a tad to peppery – definitely not sure where the comments on too salty came from, I didn’t get that at all. I’m kind of thinking that this same thing might work well with a pork tenderloin!

  • Brian says:

    I love pretty much ALL your recipes. How much of the brining ingredients should I use for a 6-7 lb. whole organic roaster?

    Thanks & keep up the kick ass job!!


    • Mel says:

      For a whole chicken, you should probably double the ingredients listed above, so you’re using a gallon of water. That should allow you to cover the whole bird.

  • Tiffany says:

    Awesome! Best ever. Love the spice blend and dipping sauce. Can u recommend some other recipes I’d like!!!!

  • michele b. says:

    This is one of our staples, but I have to ask…any tried & true spice blends I can use to “mix it up” a bit? We’d love to keep the basic idea, but introduce different flavors from time to time for variety (mostly for my husband, really, I think the kids and I still get a little giddy every time we eat this chicken). But variety is the spice of life, right? Any recommendations?

    • Mel says:

      Ras el Hanout would be really good in place of the spices recommended above — and will taste great with the dipping sauce.

      If you want to move away from that dipping sauce, too, the Jerk Seasoning in Well Fed 2 would be awesome — and there are LOTS of sauce ideas in WF2 that will go with the Jerk Seasoning.

  • Littledrumr says:

    I got a deep fryer for Christmas :/ My kids want to know what I’m deep frying tonight…I think I’ll surprise them and make this chicken instead!! Sounds WAY better than anything that can come out of a deep fryer (hoping they gave me the gift receipt for it, I’ll have to look).

    Love your site!!

    • Mel says:

      I actually bought a Fry Daddy this year so I could make grain-free fried dough balls. My husband and I each ate three and then we were done. We are eating wimps now 😉

  • Jill says:

    I love your book and I just tried this recipe today! All 3 of my kids, my husband and I LOVE it!! We have devoured all of it!

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m making this right now and have everything except coconut aminos. what is that ( i’ll have to look it up) can I sub something else? thanks!

  • Lisa says:

    Best ever. Seriously. Thank you so much!!

  • Cindy says:

    I just bought both your cookbooks. I didn’t even know you had a blog. I just searched “best Paleo cookbooks” and your books came up in my search. I read through the first cookbook last night which is how I found your blog. I just made “the best chicken you will ever eat”. It is soo good! I will be making my grilled chicken breasts this way from now on. I can’t wait to cook my way through your books. I’m new to Paleo and this was the first recipe I tried. Really really good. Thank you!

  • Christine B. says:

    I just started my second Whole 30 today and by dinnertime, I was already dying for something different. I made your Moroccan dipping sauce and drizzled it over brussel sprouts. WOW…did that sauce ever make them super delicious! The chicken is on the menu tomorrow for sure. Thanks so much!

  • Shannon says:

    HI! I love your recipes. We started Whole30 on Monday and doing good so far. I cooked several of your recipes in preparation and they are all delicious. I’m thinking about trying this yummy looking chicken but don’t have whole coriander, cumin or black pepper. I have them all ground. Could I use that instead? What should the ratio be?

    • I think your best bet would be to skip the whole spices in the brine — just use the salt, water, and whatever other ingredients you have on hand from the list, then use the spice blend on the chicken as advised. It will work great!

  • Melissa says:

    I was just wondering in the Moroccan Dipping Sauce what can be substituted for the garlic in your opinion as I can’t eat it due to the fact that I have Hashimoto’s and garlic is just one of the many things on the “do not eat” list. What in your opinion would substitute nicely and taste as well (even if it’s a spice) to give it the same kind of oomph garlic gives food? I really miss garlic and onions….even sweet potatoes. ugghh lol Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      For this dressing, there’s really no substitute for the garlic. To increase the kick, maybe up the cayenne to 1/4 teaspoon, and if you can eat chives, add 1-2 tablespoons chopped chives. But really, this will be great as is, even if you omit the garlic.

  • Kristin says:

    Hi there – We’ve made this chicken from your cookbook a bunch of times and we absolutely love it. I just linked it for a friend and while making it, she called me to ask questions. I started talking about the coconut oil/spice mixture and she was all “Wait…what coconut oil?”

    Why does the book version mix the spice blend with coconut oil but this version doesn’t?

    • Mel says:

      This was the original version and when I wrote the cookbooks, I re-tested everything and made some minor changes. The book version includes a little coconut oil with the spice rub to help “bloom” the spices. It doesn’t dramatically change the taste, just adds a little fat to add a little bit more flavor.

  • Claire says:

    I was bit dubious of best ever claim, but I had never attempted anything like this before and WOW!! Quote from my husband “best meal yet!” Bit spicy for my kids and I only put 1/2 teaspoon of chilli power instead of 1 tablespoon, you must be hard core!
    The Moroccan dressing was amazing! put it on everything we had grilled courgette and bell peppers and sautéed bokchoy. I’m slowly working my way through your top 15 recipes :)

  • Kathleen Gill says:

    Hi! I am on Day 2 of Whole 30 from your site- Thank you so much for the step-by-step prepping-in-advance guide- I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it! About the Moroccan Dipping Sauce- it tastes great- May I leave it out on the counter for the week, or do I need to refrigerate it?

    • Mel says:

      The Moroccan Dipping Sauces needs to be stored in the fridge. FYI… any dressing made with olive oil and herb/spices should be refrigerated.

  • Dale says:

    This was one of the most delicious dinners we had ever had this evening. How can one say thank you?

    So I leave you with magic colors the song that we had played while we ate this evening.:)

    • Mel says:

      That is SUPER fun! Thank you so much for sharing! Those visuals… stunning. And I LOVE that precision, Vidal Sassoon haircut. That’s what I want on my noggin.

  • Deanna says:

    This is my SECOND time making the chicken…my house smells AMAZING and my husband is so excited to come home from work :-D. I’ve made it in the oven both times — perfect. It’s been so nice to have a *tasty* way to make chicken indoors! I grill whenever possible…but this spice mixture kind of makes me think it would make a big mess of the grill…anyone want to weigh in on this?

  • Anna says:

    Can’t wait to try this… Is brining for more than 2 hours a bad thing?

    • Mel says:

      Not really… I’ve brined overnight and the only issue is that the texture of the chicken can get a little weird — almost too tender… a little mushy.

      But 4 or 6 hours isn’t bad.

  • Owen says:

    oh my gosh. Just made this tonight and it seriously rocked my face off. In the not too distance past, when i had a face, i had some huge questions about this. Mel, can you help?

    First off, both for this recipe and for your cumin carrots (which these two recipes might be my two favorites) i have experienced a huge problem. When i create the spice mixture and add it the coconut oil to mix it in, sometimes it clumps really badly. What’s weirder is sometimes it doesn’t. but i was soooo sad making the chicken tonight because not nearly enough of the mixture ended up on the chicken as it just clumped all together. What causes that? how can I avoid it? And probably the best question, what can i do if it DOES clump to try to get it back to nice? it looked really good in the bowl and not clumpy at all.

    You still with me? second question has to do with grill times and internal temperature. I did the times you suggested and was checked them with my handy dandy new thermapen. The thermapen book suggests 165 as the temp for chicken, but none of my pieces were anywhere near that after the time you had. So i cooked them a bit longer, checked them again and it still wasn’t up there. So i cut into them and they looked cooked through, so I took them off. Do you recommend using a instant read pen? while most of the chicken came out great there was a thick piece that i put back on because it didn’t get cooked well enough. curious to know your thoughts.

    and please, keep rocking.

    • Mel says:

      I’m really glad you like this recipe — sorry you no longer have a face. That must kinda suck 😉

      The clumpiness: That happens because the warm coconut oil meets cold food and turns solid. The way to avoid it is to let the chicken (or veg) warm up a bit before applying the oil-spice mixture. If it clumps, you can pop the whole shebang in the microwave for, like, 30 seconds or so until it smooths out. Because coconut oil is saturated, there’s no way to avoid it getting clump when it cools against the chicken — but liquid oils can’t stand up to the heat of the grill or oven.

      Cooking the chicken: My grill gets SCORCHING hot because it’s hot here in Texas. I usually don’t use a thermometer because I cook everything on my grill until it’s ridiculously well done. I like my chicken dry; I know that’s weird. Anyway, for you… use your thermometer so you feel comfortable about the safety issue… and if you have chicken that’s much thicker at one end, bash it will a rolling pin a few times to thin it out before grilling.

      • Owen says:

        I can’t believe how fast your reply. it’s ridiculous. Thank you for your response too!

        Do i understand right that If i start putting the mixture on the chicken or carrots and the dreaded clumping happens, i can just put the plate with mixture and meat/veggies in the microwave quickly to get it all smooth again?

        from now on i’ll try to let things come up to temperature a bit more before trying to apply stuff. It may have been that i just rinsed the chicken in cold water before i added the stuff.

    • Owen says:

      to be clear about above i made the recipe from well fed 1, not the version on here

  • Susan says:

    Is the Whole30 diet really expensive to do? Plus where do you get some of your ingredients, like coconut aminos? I am a mother of five and would love to have all the kids on this. Seems all they ever want is something quick. Kinda on tight budget, but I feel like I am doing them a disservice buying cheap food that I can afford. News flash, good healthy food can be expensive!

  • Susan says:

    One more thing. We have a lot of allergies, (nature and food)and I know this may help. My youngest daughter (10) and I both have asthma and alleries. Oldest son (17)allergic to tree nuts and youngest son (13) allergic to shellfish. My 2 other daughters (15 and 14) acne that is treated with medicine. Husband would just like to lose weight.

  • Kay says:

    I want to cook this! But I have a very basic problem and that is that I am without a grill. I have an oven with a broiler but it’s one of those that has one line of flame down the middle so I’m not sure how to translate the recipe. Is there a basic way to translate this recipe for “no grills allowed” NYC apartment dwellers with ovens??? Many thanks!

  • pguidry says:

    I cook it in a similar oven all the time. How long does it take to cook chicken breast in your oven? Do you have other recipes for cooking chicken breast? I always look one of those up and use those cooking times. Also, lookup what temp chicken is done at and use a thermometer.

  • Kay says:

    Thank you both! I’ll let you know how apartment dweller chicken goes. :)

    • robin says:

      Hi! I was looking for a good brine recipe and found your blog. I have lived in southern California for the last 35 years or so, but that photo looked familiar. At first I thought it was maybe a chain restaurant, but when I looked closer I realized that I used to drive be that place when I was a child.
      I was born and raised in pottsville. Small world on these internets!

      • Mel says:

        That is amazing! Hello, sorta-neighbor! Have you been back to that part of PA recently? I just went to visit my family — it’s still very much the same in many ways.

  • I admit, I was a skeptic. After resisting for over a year of owning Well Fed I finally broke down and made The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat and ohhh my!
    I love it.

  • Monica says:

    Do you have a salad recipe that you might of added this chicken to…thinking of slicing it and putting it on a salad with the Moroccan dipping sauce as the dressing????

    • Mel says:

      The Moroccan dipping sauce is awesome as dressing — you are totally on the right track!

      A simple green salad is really good: butter lettuce, red onion, avocado, cucumber. I like to slice the veggies and chicken really thin… yum. Enjoy!

  • Monica says:

    Thanks …that is exactly what I was thinking but maybe a little red or hello pepper too…Yum…will let you know how it turns out…it turns out I am going to brine my chicken over night ..hopefully it turns out ok.

  • Jean says:

    This recipe sounds like just what I needed – my chicken breasts always turn out dry (I have a tendency to overcook! Quick question – I’m having a hard time finding whole coriander seeds. Would I be able to get by with ground coriander. I’m in the middle of my 1st Whole30 and a little new to all these spices…but loving it!

  • Karen says:

    I am almost done with my whole30- going to make it a whole60…. Your recipe books have been my saving grace :). I finally made “best chicken ever” with the Moroccan dipping sauce. Omg…. That’s all I can say about that.

    Because of the spiciness, I was looking for some “cooler” veg to go with it. I had just bought a spiralizer and wanted to play with that too. I ended up spiralizing a couple of cucumbers, adding chopped blanched asparagus, then adding a big old spoonful of the dipping sauce and mixing it up. Delicious! Such a compliment to the chicken!

    Thanks for all your hard work and inspiration!

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on Whole60-ing! I always keep going,too… feels so good! I’m really glad you’re enjoying the recipes. And your salad with the dipping sauce sounds delicious!

  • Grant says:

    I’m just now putting the chicken in the fridge with the brine. This is my fourth time making it and I love it. Just wanted to drop a comment and let you know. I usually buy a whole chicken fryer, about 4 1/2 pounds, and use this recipe on it. I also let the chicken sit for around 24 hours. Then I Google the roasting time based on the weight of the chicken.

    Also highly recommended, toss some vegetables underneath when roasting. I have used cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, and red onions and they really soak up the flavor, too.

    Great chicken. Haven’t made the sauce yet but I’ll give it a shot this time.

  • Mr Mike says:

    thank you for great recipe but what is recommended internal temp

  • Kristin O says:

    Wow. That’s all I can really say. This chicken is sooooooooo good! I live in India and don’t have substitutes for soy sauce, and no access to coconut aminos, or sesame oil, so I used one part balsamic, one part coconut oil, and two parts fish sauce for the brine and it turned out perfectly. My dinner guests loved it and couldn’t stop talking about the flavor. It was cool because they could see that eating healthy is actually delicious and doesn’t need to always be a green salad and bland! Thanks for sharing your awesome recipes!

  • Kat says:


  • Karen says:

    I wanted to prep this for a camping weekend. Could I brine and spice the chicken and then freeze it for the weekend’s camping trip? Do you think this would still work to keep it moist and tender?
    Thanks for all the great recipes,

  • Jamie says:

    This chicken is great!!

    Here is another great recipe for chicken. Or just add the butter step to your recipe. AMAZZZZZING

  • Jenna says:

    This recipe looks fabulous. I pinned it, of course. I have everything thing I need to start the brine and chicken. I am on my 10th day of my first Whole30. Woohoo.

    Question – is there a printer friendly version of this recipe and I am just missing it? Thanks for the awesome blog. SO INSPIRING!

    • Congratulations on Day 10! That’s awesome. We don’t have printer-friendly versions of our recipes… yet. We’re re-doing our web site right now, and will have lovely, printable recipes soon. Sorry about that! Happy Whole30-ing!

    • Pia says:

      @Jenna – this works on my computer – just highlight the part you want to print, right click, and select ‘print’. No need for a built-in printer-friendly thing on the site! Nice and clean and easy and stuff.

  • Pia says:

    I just finished my first Whole30 – too bad I found your book/blog on like day 25! Now, thanks to you, I’m armed for the next forever.

    This chicken is FANTASTIC! And topping it with the Moroccan dipping sauce is like adding an incredible cloud of whipped cream to an already outrageous mountain of ice cream. It’s THAT GOOD.

  • jeanne says:

    The first dozen or so times I made this recipe I baked it in the oven, since I don’t have a barbecue. It’s always been delicious and one of my heavy rotation recipes. Then the Chicken Gods smiled down upon me. I FOUND a square cast iron grill pan near my apartment complex’s dumpster. It was rusty and unseasoned; I can only imagine how frustrated the former owner must have been… but too bad, it’s mine now! I scrubbed it thoroughly and seasoned it with coconut oil in the oven (my upstairs neighbors must have been thrilled with the smoke), and it’s just The.Best.Pan.Ever. The first time I cooked TBCYWEE on it, I nearly wept with joy. And yowza it was juicy, with grill stripes that made me dance.

    Properly Grilled Chicken – it’s what’s for dinner!

  • KatKins says:

    Oh My Life … I’ve recently discovered Paleo living and your blog. I tried this recipe last week… it was gorjusss. Whilst I’m normally good at making a juicy chicken breast – this was something different. The breasts stayed in the brine for much longer as we had tennis practice after school for my daughter …it was sooo good. Thank you

  • Shavonne says:

    Greetings!! I made this the other day and it was absolutely relish..thank you for sharing. I have a question why do you use whole spices as opposed to crushed ones?

    • The whole spices are easier to manage for the brine and have a more intense flavor. You *could* try ground spices but I’d recommend wrapping them in cheesecloth, like a teabag or the water-logged spices will stick to the chicken. But the flavor will not be as intense with pre-ground.

  • Judith says:

    I really love your Moroccan Dipping Sauce. I haven’t made it as often as I would like, because I hate wasting the cilantro and parsley. I just don’t make enough dishes to use it before it goes bad. However, I found a way to freeze the fresh herbs after processing them with olive oil in a food processor. I just spread the mixture flat and freeze in a ziplock bag. Then when I need it, I just break off what I need and it thaws super fast. And best of all it stays green and doesn’t turn black. I just made your sauce tonight with the frozen cilantro and parsley and it was great, just like fresh. I am even going to freeze a combination of cilantro and parsley together. Now I can make all your amazing recipes with fresh/frozen herbs. Thanks again for your great recipes. I have both of your books and they are well worn.

  • Suzi says:

    I had a Fabulous Females party with 29 lady friends and this was a big hit. Just made it again tonight and thought I may have ruined it as I was doing the weekend cook-up in prep for a Whole30 starting tomorrow and COMPLETELY FORGOT the chicken was brining. I can safely say it will survive 12 hours in it’s salty spa. I was out of cumin (gasp!) so used Taaza from Meghana Foods and it was delish. Love both cookbooks. It makes me smile that you are in Austin. I lived there 8 years. Most missed, ACL Festival, from the first one through 9 years. And Uchi.

    • I’m so glad everyone liked this recipe. Running out of cumin must have been scary — sorry you had to go through that! 😉

      I’m not in Austin anymore! We moved to Vermont, and we’re loving it. The cold weather and snow and farmer’s markets and outdoorsy-ness are awesome.

  • Sarika says:

    Can you substitute turkey breast for this recipe ??

  • Paul Cleary says:

    I experienced two issues making this dish:

    1. I had a problem evenly spreading the sauce on the brined chicken. The chicken was cold, so the sauce congealed pretty quickly. Any tips?

    2. It took a lot longer to grill these than in the directions. The chicken breasts I used were rather thick. Should I slice them in half first?

    BTW, the Moroccan Dipping Sauce might be the best thing I have tried in a while. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!


    • 1. Yes, the fat hitting the cold chicken can be tricky. You can either let your chicken warm up a bit at room temp or just not worry about it. The fat melts during grilling and coats the chicken anyway

      2. They’ll stay juicier if you keep them thick. You might brown them at the higher temp, then reduce the heat a bit to let them cook through.

    • 1. Yes, the fat hitting the cold chicken can be tricky. You can either bring the chicken to room temp or just not worry about it. WHen the chicken gets hot on the grill, the fat coats it anyway.

      2. Thicker means more tender, so try browning each side, then reducing the heat on the grill until it’s cooked through.

  • Amanda says:

    This looks so fabulous – but I have a quesrion. For the brining step, can you leave the chicken in the water mixture for more than 2 hours? This seems to me like a step I would like to do in the morning before work, through it in the fridge, and then cook when I get home. But not sure if I can leave the chicken in the mixture for eight hours, or if it will be too salty. Would love your help!

    PS I’m new to Whole 30 and found your website via the It Starts With Food book, and have made several of your recipes. They have all been amazing so far. Thanks!

    • Yes, I’ve heard from others that they brined while at work or even overnight and that it worked great. I wouldn’t leave it for more than 8-10 hours because the texture might get weird. Happy Whole30-ing!

      • You can always brine or marinate meats longer; it just doesn’t do anything. The solutions only penetrate about a millimeter, and obviously the salt concentration will not increase beyond that of the brine.

        Basically, marinating is done in about 20 minutes. All the recipes that say to do it forever are pulling your leg.

        (See Harold McGee’s excellent books for more details on this)

  • David Sarnowski says:

    I do not have access to a grill. what is the best way to bake chicken in the oven? Should I put it on a cookie sheet warren in this?what is the best way to bake chicken in the oven? Should I put it on a cookie sheet or in a dish?

    • Cover a baking sheet with foil (for easy clean up). Bake in a 400F oven for 15-25 minutes. You want the chicken lightly browned and cooked through, but not dry. You could also use a glass baking dish, if you prefer.

      • David Sarnowski says:

        Melissa, thank you. I really appreciate your books and taking the time to respond to me. I just started the Paleo process and your insight has been invaluable. I will let you know how the chicken turns out.

  • Elyse says:

    Thank you for your recipes! I am on day 26 of my first Whole30 and have been relying heavily on your site (and referring lots of people to it). I made this last night and I’m excited for leftovers, but wondering how you recommend reheating it.

    • Congratulations on Whole30-ing! To reheat, I usually cut up the leftover chicken and saute with some veggies, then drizzle with the Moroccan Dipping Sauce. If you want to keep it whole, you can either wrap it in foil and reheat in the oven, nuke in the microwave (loosely covered in BPA-free container), or place in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of water and steam until hot.

  • Julia Smith says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Here we are six years after the original post, and I cannot express how grateful I am for this recipe, found just a few days ago. I’m not a very good cook, although I try many new recipes, yet most of the time my four year old twins don’t eat any dinner and I make them PBNJ or something. My husband, not prone to complain, finally tells me he doesn’t always enjoy my cooking. Tonight, one boy asked for seconds, after a whole chicken tender, and halfway through the second thigh, my husband said we should do this again. My other boy ate every morsel. This is, by far, the best chicken I’ve ever made. And, yes, I brined it and made the sauce. I only used paprika instead of chili or cayenne because we like milder spice. I could kiss you. This is some beautiful chicken. Of hundreds of recipes, I’ve never written to thank the author. THANK YOU.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know you liked it! This is one of my most popular recipes, and I’m so glad that you and your family enjoyed it, too. Happy cooking to you!

  • Susan Lerner says:

    I bought enough chicken for both this recipe (the best chicken…) and your Mediterranean chopped chicken salad. Can I brine all the chicken the same way for both recipes?

    Thank you.

  • Susan Lerner says:

    I went and brined all my chicken and did use the other portion for the Mediterranean chopped chicken salad. I don’t think I will ever prepare chicken breast any other way. Absolutely fantastic.

  • Stacy says:

    This was so delicious!!! So flavourful. Question though…I left the chicken to brine more like 5 hours. Does this make the chicken saltier?

  • AliCT says:

    Has anyone tried this on a whole chicken instead of boneless skinless? Would be happy to skin it beforehand (to make Chicken Crackling for me since hubby hates the skin….I know, he’s insane) so the spices meld and the skin doesn’t get rubbery in the brine
    just curious…

    • It should work just fine! If you leave the chicken whole, you’ll need about 1 gallon water and 1/2 – 3/4 cup salt, then multiply the rest of the brining ingredients by 1.5

      • AliCT says:

        This worked out amazingly! The presentation was beautiful as well on the whole chicken. I spatchcocked beforehand and then quartered it after cooking and the beautiful crust on the outside was to die for. With the green Moroccan sauce over the top it was a dream! Another hit in the T household!

  • Jen says:

    My husband and I have been desperately trying to make a chicken breast at home that isn’t dry, and FINALLY we’ve succeeded, thanks to you! We completely love this recipe exactly as written. Perfect!

  • Margaret lewis says:

    My question is. Do you beat the chicken or do you leave it. I always use a wooden meat mallet so what would you suggest. Just didnt want it to dry out.

  • Stacey Shears says:

    I just made it last night and it came out really good, awesome recipe!

  • Lori says:

    I just made this last night with the dipping sauce and it was delicious!! I had to omit the coconut aminos from the brine to make it SCD legal but it still turned out great! I let it sit for 4 hours instead of the 2. I can’t tell you how hard it has been for me to find recipes with flavor that work with SCD. It’s probably because I am still learning to see what works for me. Thanks so much!!

    • I’m not totally familiar with the SCD, but I glanced at the food list… most of my recipes should be work or ALMOST work. If you have questions about substitutions and omissions, feel free to post on the blog or email me, and I’ll help you out!

      • Lori says:

        Thanks!! I will definitely be pinging you! :-) I should have also clarified that I need to also respect foods that are Gastroparesis-friendly and Low in FODMAP. I can’t do any raw foods or most vegetables and for now I am omitting pork and beef until my gut heals.

  • Lorain says:

    Hello Im searching for a brine that Does NOT use salt as Im 50 yrs old been cooking since I was 9 have been married for 30+ years and have NEVER EVER used salt. a box hasnt been in my house my kids& husband learned to eat without it Period- no exceptions . Well i caved made a salt/ sugar brine but even rinsing it Very Well I could taste the salt. could you help? i want moist juicy boneless chicken breats ( not rubber) fixed on my charcoal grill. ps I should also tell you I dont use any form of pepper or hot spices. thanks lorain

  • Jamie says:

    Can this brine and seasoning be used when cooking a small whole chicken in a crock pot?

  • Noelene says:

    My second attempt. Just lovely. Moist and flavoursome. The kitchen was filled with really spicy hot aromas but the flavours were spicy but mild. So many ways to use this. Thank you so much

  • Kathy says:

    I’m new to Paleo and this seemed like something my picky husband would try.

    It was awesome – the brine step seemed a bit of a pain at first, but I’ve adopted a measure everything at one time and dump into a large zip-lock bag and it works for me.

    Best of all – my husband has requested that I make this again and again.

    Next time I am going to double the spice blend and keep it in a jar – great stuff.

    Thank you for helping me on this journey!


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