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Pickle-Brined Keto Fried Chicken

This Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken is crispy with tender, flavorful chicken. Skip the pickle brine and it will still taste amazing!

This Keto Fried Chicken? I think it’s our favorite keto recipe to date. And we’ve made a LOT of keto recipes.

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear and some garlic mustard aioli.

IS FRIED CHICKEN KETO?

It can be but you’ll have to modify the ingredients traditionally used for fried chicken. Flour is out as are most of the breadings used. Finely crushed pork rinds are a commonly used replacement for breading which would be delicious on this keto fried chicken. That was my initial plan until someone told me that Whey Protein Isolate (affiliate link) can also be used.

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear.

I love using whey protein in my shakes and drinks but I was skeptical as to how it would work as a breading. I like a breading that’s on the thicker side and it has to be crispy. But the idea was too intriguing to pass up, so I gave it a go.

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear and some garlic mustard aioli.

It worked so well that I didn’t even try the pork rinds. The coating is thin but it turns out that I really like it that way. It’s still crispy and doesn’t overwhelm the chicken. I use chicken thighs which are thinner than breasts so the thinner coating works really well here.

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear and some garlic mustard aioli.

I’d been mulling recipe ideas for keto fried chicken around in my head for months before the idea of brining it first in pickle juice hit me. Pickle brined chicken is nothing new, but since pickles and pickle juice are so closely tied to the keto diet, it seemed like a perfect match.

HOW LONG TO BRINE CHICKEN IN PICKLE JUICE?

I recommend brining your chicken in pickle juice for anywhere from 8-24 hours. I opt for 24 hours because that length of time gives my keto fried chicken a nice pickle flavor. You may prefer less pickle flavor, however, so you can always start with 8 hours and go up from there. You can even skip the brining entirely if you’re not into the pickle thing. Or make a batch both ways and see which you like best.

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear and some garlic mustard aioli.

HOW TO MAKE KETO FRIED CHICKEN?

Making keto fried chicken is really simple. Although I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe, you can use bone-in chicken thighs and/or breasts with skin if you prefer. Everything in the recipe will be the same, except I should note that you put the skin side of your chicken down first when cooking. But I can’t recommend using boneless, skinless chicken thighs enough! They cook quickly, stay nice and juicy and are easier to eat.

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear.

After brining, you’ll drain off the pickle juice and pat your chicken dry. I like to cut each thigh into 2-3 pieces, but that’s entirely up to you. Dredge each piece in a mixture of beaten egg, mayo, dijon, salt, and pepper, then again in the Whey Protein Isolate (or finely crushed pork rinds if you prefer). Fry in hot avocado oil (or another oil with a high smoke point) until browned and crispy. That’s it! So simple and you will love the flavor!

More delicious Keto recipes:

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear.

Pickle-Brined Keto Fried Chicken

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken is crispy with tender, flavorful chicken. Skip the pickle brine and it will still taste amazing!

Ingredients

  • 3 lb chicken thighs,, boneless and skinless
  • 2 cups pickle juice,, from a jar of pickles
  • 2 large eggs,, beaten
  • 1 heaping tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 cup whey protein isolate, (or 1-2 cups finely crushed pork rinds)
  • 2 cups avocado oil

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in a large, resealable plastic bag. Pour pickle juice over chicken and place in refrigerator. Marinate for 8-24 hours, depending on how much pickle flavor you want your chicken to have (I go for the full 24)!
  2. Drain chicken and discard pickle juice. Pat chicken dry and cut into 2-3 pieces each, if desired. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
  3. Mix together eggs, mayo, dijon, salt and pepper, then toss the chicken in the mixture, taking care to make sure it's entirely coated. 
  4. Preheat the oil in a large, deep skillet until shimmering. Working quickly, dredge each piece of chicken in whey protein (or pork rinds) and place in the oil. Cook until both sides are well-browned and chicken is cooked through, turning just once.
  5. Drain cooked chicken pieces on paper towels. Serve with your favorite sauce. We like the Garlic Mustard Aioli from Trader Joe's (or make your own) or a good, homemade ranch dressing. Be happy that you can eat yummy things like this on a keto "diet"! :)
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 453Saturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 281mgSodium: 1669mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gProtein: 53g
Kristy Bernardo
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Wednesday 20th of January 2021

[…] Pickle-Brined Keto Fried Chicken […]

shanna

Thursday 23rd of January 2020

Can this be cooked in the air fryer? I hate frying in oil.

Kristy Bernardo

Thursday 23rd of January 2020

I haven't tried it but I don't see why not!

Alan Phelan

Friday 19th of July 2019

How much is a serving

Miranda

Tuesday 22nd of January 2019

WOW this looks so amazing. I can almost taste it :) Have you ever tried using spicy pickle brine? I wonder if that would be good

Kristy

Tuesday 22nd of January 2019

Miranda, I actually have! I was disappointed that it really didn't add much spice though. You could barely tell a difference. I thought I might try one from a jar of pickled jalapeños next time. Let me know if you try it, would love to hear what you think! -Kristy

Shawn

Tuesday 30th of October 2018

Oil Temp? Cooking time? You forgot the actual cooking instructions...

Kristy

Tuesday 30th of October 2018

"Preheat the oil in a large, deep skillet until shimmering. Working quickly, dredge each piece of chicken in whey protein (or pork rinds) and place in the oil. Cook until both sides are well-browned and chicken is cooked through, turning just once."

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