How to Brine Meat

Brining meat before cooking yields a juicy and flavorful result. It's especially important for cooking white meats, which cannot be cooked to temperature (unlike red meats, which can be served rarer for a juicier result).


  • Meat
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Optional flavorings: Citrus juice, dried herbs, spices, red wine vinegar, dried mint, flavored Butter , cracked black pepper, cloves, star anise, bay leaf, mustard seed, coriander seed, Cajun seasoning. Whatever flavor you add to brine will permeate the meat.


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    Prepare a mixture of three parts salt and one part sugar. The salt may be kosher or sea salt. The sugar can be any white crystal sugar, but not 10X or confectioner's sugar.
  2. Image titled Brine Meat Step 2
    Dissolve the sugar/salt mixture in water. The salt to water ratio should be 1:16—for every gallon of water you should have a cup of salt. [1]. Make enough of the mixture to comfortable cover the meat you wish to brine.
  3. Image titled Brine Meat Step 3
    Add any flavorings you wish. Sharp liquids (vinegars and citrus juices), whole seeds, and dried herbs and spices work especially well. Thicker liquids such as honey, oil and some sauces will impart fewer flavors unless boiled (see step 4, substep 1). This is also the case with fresh herbs.
  4. Image titled Brine Meat Step 4
    Submerge the meat in brine.
  5. Image titled Brine Meat Step 5
    Store it in a refrigerator or other cooler space. Cuts of pork, wild game, and larger poultry, such as turkey, can be brined anywhere from 4-12 hours; smaller cuts and birds should be brined for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
    • If your brine is extensively flavored, or if you do not plan to brine the meat for long, consider bringing the mixture to a fast boil and cooling before starting the brine. This is especially effective for chicken and smaller poultry because brining them for too long will cause the meat to break down.


  • Adding liquid smoke to your brine mixture will give you a very nice faux-barbecue flavor. This works very well with chicken and pork.
  • For an outstanding flavored brine add a tablespoon each of cloves, star anise, mustard seed, coriander seed, peppercorns, as well as bay leaf and a cinnamon stick. Bring brine to boil and simmer for a half hour and let cool before adding meat.
  • For small cuts, such as turkey, chicken breasts, or pork tenderloins/chops, consider brining for as short as 45-90 minutes.
  • The best flavored brines are often the simplest. Citrus juice and dried mint will add a nice Mediterranean flavor to chicken, while cracked black pepper and red wine vinegar provide a rich French flair.
  • Always rinse meat well and dry it before cooking.
  • The difference in tenderness of your meat will make the use of an even an unflavored brine well worth your time.
  • Fatty meats such as beef are generally not suitable for brining. Brining works best with pork, turkey and chicken.
  • Keep a basic mixture of sugar and salt on hand in a resealable container.
  • Replace all, or part of the sugar with honey or brown sugar.


  • Make sure to completely cool your heated brine before using.
  • Watch your food closely while cooking it, especially if barbecuing or grilling it. Brining adds sugar to the meat and can cause it to burn prematurely.

Things You'll Need

  • Refrigerator

Article Info

Categories: Meat