How to Clean Chicken With Salt Like a Pro

A raw chicken on a cutting board

Table of Contents

Cleaning chicken with salt is an age-old practice that not only ensures your poultry is safe to eat, but also enhances its flavor. This method is a favorite among professional chefs and home cooks alike. In this guide, we will walk you through the process step by step, and provide you with tips and tricks to make the most out of this simple yet effective cleaning method.

Why Clean Chicken with Salt?

Before we delve into the how-to, let’s first understand why we clean chicken with salt. Salt, specifically kosher or sea salt, has natural antibacterial properties that can help kill off any potential bacteria on the chicken’s surface. It’s a natural, chemical-free way to ensure your chicken is safe to eat.

Additionally, salt helps to tenderize the chicken, breaking down the proteins in the meat and resulting in a juicier, more flavorful dish. This process, known as brining, is a common practice in many professional kitchens.

What You’ll Need

Before you start, gather the following items:

  • Chicken
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Cold water
  • A clean sink or large bowl
  • Paper towels

It’s important to note that the type of salt you use matters. Table salt is not recommended as it can be too harsh and over-salt your chicken. Kosher or sea salt is preferred due to their larger grain size and milder flavor.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Chicken with Salt

Step 1: Prepare Your Chicken

Remove the chicken from its packaging and discard any giblets or extras that may be inside the cavity. Place the chicken in a clean sink or large bowl.

It’s important to handle raw chicken with care to prevent cross-contamination. Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw chicken, and be sure to clean any surfaces or utensils that come into contact with it.

Step 2: Rinse the Chicken

Rinse the chicken under cold running water. Be sure to rinse both the outside and the inside cavity. This initial rinse helps to remove any loose debris or residue from the chicken.

While rinsing, be mindful of splashing water to avoid spreading bacteria around your kitchen. It’s best to keep the water pressure low to minimize splashing.

Step 3: Apply the Salt

Generously sprinkle kosher or sea salt all over the chicken, both inside and out. Be sure to cover all areas, including any nooks and crannies. The salt should be evenly distributed across the chicken’s surface.

The amount of salt you use will depend on the size of your chicken, but a good rule of thumb is to use about 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 pounds of chicken.

Step 4: Let the Chicken Sit

Once the chicken is fully salted, let it sit for about 15-20 minutes. This allows the salt to penetrate the meat and start the brining process.

While the chicken is sitting, you can prepare any other ingredients you’ll be using for your dish. Just be sure to keep an eye on the time so you don’t over-brine your chicken.

Step 5: Rinse Again

After the chicken has sat for the appropriate amount of time, rinse it again under cold running water. This second rinse removes any excess salt and leaves you with a clean, brined chicken ready for cooking.

Again, be mindful of splashing water during this step to prevent cross-contamination.

Step 6: Dry the Chicken

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. This helps to remove any remaining water or salt on the chicken’s surface, and also helps to ensure a crispy skin if you’re roasting or frying the chicken.

Once the chicken is dry, it’s ready to be cooked. You can proceed with your recipe as directed.

Additional Tips and Tricks

While the process of cleaning chicken with salt is fairly straightforward, there are a few additional tips and tricks that can help you achieve the best results.

  • For a deeper clean, you can add a bit of vinegar to the water during the first rinse. Vinegar is another natural antibacterial agent that can help to further clean the chicken.
  • If you’re planning to marinate your chicken, you can add some of the marinade ingredients to the salt rub. This will help to infuse the chicken with flavor from the inside out.
  • For a quicker clean, you can dissolve the salt in water and soak the chicken in the saltwater solution for about 15 minutes. This method, known as wet brining, is a quicker but equally effective alternative to dry brining.

Remember, the goal of cleaning chicken with salt is not just to clean it, but also to enhance its flavor and texture. By following these steps and tips, you can ensure your chicken is not only safe to eat, but also deliciously tender and flavorful.


Cleaning chicken with salt is a simple yet effective method that can greatly improve the quality of your poultry dishes. It’s a technique that’s easy to master, and once you’ve tried it, you may never go back to simply rinsing your chicken under water. So why not give it a try? You might just find that it takes your chicken dishes to a whole new level of deliciousness.

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