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If you want the taste and crispiness of fried chicken, but aren’t thrilled with the idea of actually deep frying your meal here’s a tasty alternative: oven baked crispy chicken from one of our favorite food bloggers, Marin Mama Cooks. The chicken is packed with flavor thanks to the brine (good to know: you’ll need to plan ahead to make this as the chicken requires 3-4 hours to brine before baking). So if you have the time to plan ahead this recipe is a sure winner. Check it out below!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
6 chicken drumsticks and 2 thighs (bone-in, skin-on) or 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks – see my above note on chicken quantities – You can use any combination of chicken pieces for this recipe, even bone-in, skin on breasts. We just prefer the darker meat, as it has more protein and way more flavor.
3 tablespoons sea salt – Don’t use table salt! Table salt contains iodine, which doesn’t work with brining.
1 tablespoon honey – honey adds a depth of flavor
1-2 quarts warm/room temp water – you want enough water to cover all of the chicken
For the breading:

1 cup almond meal flour – I used Bob’s Red Mill
2 teaspoons celtic sea salt – I love this brand as it’s unrefined and chock-full of minerals
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast – I love this brand from Bragg
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
In a large (large enough to hold all the water and chicken) stainless steel or glass bowl, (don’t use plastic) whisk together 3 tablespoons sea salt, 1 tablespoon honey and 2 quarts warm water to create a brine.

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Method:
1. Place chicken drumsticks and thighs into the brine, cover, and transfer to the refrigerator. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Make sure that there is enough water to submerge the chicken, if not, add more water.

2. When the chicken is finished brining, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Take out the chicken drumsticks and thighs and pat each piece of chicken throughly dry with a paper towel. Drying the chicken drumsticks and thighs will keep your chicken from getting soggy.

4. In a shallow bowl, gently whisk together the almond meal, seal salt, nutritional yeast, thyme, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Dredge the chicken drumsticks and thighs in the seasoned breading until well-coated on all sides. Arrange them presentation side down in a single layer on the baking sheet.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn over each drumstick and thigh, and then increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Increasing the oven’s temperature to 425 helps to ensure a crispy skin.

Note: If your chicken is finished cooking, but not browned to your liking, then you can place the chicken under your boiler for a few minutes to brown up the skin.

NOTE: Baking times vary as chicken cuts vary in size. My chicken cuts were on the smaller side, so my total baking time was roughly 30 minutes. Don’t worry if you overcook the meat, brined dark meat chicken is very forgiving and still tastes great even if it’s overcooked!

Have you tried brining meat before? We love this method! Tell us your thoughts below!

Recipe and photo courtesy of Jacquelyn of Marin Mama Cooks. Visit her website for more tasty kid-friendly recipes.