Brining - A MUST for great tasting poultry

16 February, 2014


Brining is the process of soaking meat in salt, sugar, and season solution to make it more flavorful and juicy. There is a very logical and scientific reason for why this works, but I'll spare you my attempt to explain the details. (If you are really interested in the details, check out Alton Brown's explanation on the science behind brining) While this technique works on any lean meat (pork, turkey, chicken, and fish), I generally only brine when cooking poultry. It's a basic technique, and will result in a MUCH better final product. 

Many recipes call for "cooking" a brine to dissolve the ingredients. However, I've had good success by just adding my ingredients directly to cold water. If you are cooking your recipe, make sure that the brine is chilled before adding the chicken. Also, make sure the meat is completely submerged in the liquid. You can use any non-reactive container such as a ziplock bag or a plastic container. I prefer to use a small food grade buckets with a lid. The 2 gallon version holds 2 chickens, won't tip over, and is easy to clean up. 

Add the basic ingredients to your container, fill with about 2 quarts of water, stir frequently until salt and sugar are dissolved, add chicken, and place in the refrigerator. Brine times depend on the size of poultry you are cooking. (Some sample times are listed below) When you are done brining, it's VERY important to rinse the poultry extremely well before prepping the bird for cooking. The brine liquid needs to be removed or you will have a very salty tasting meal. 


Basic Brine Recipe

1 cup Kosher Salt

1 cup Brown Sugar

2 Quarts Water


Some alternate ingredients

2 cups Pineapple juice

1 cup garlic powder

1 cup apple juice

Pepper, Jalapeño powder, cayenne pepper, molasses, honey




Basic Brine Times

Whole Turkey: 12 - 14 hours

Whole Chicken: 6- 8 hours

Chicken Breasts: 2 hours

Chicken Thighs: 1.5 hours

Chicken Wings: no need to brine



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