How to Brine Meat

Brining meat in advance is a matter of personal preference. It offers extra insurance against the risk of ending up with dry, stringy, or rubbery meat during cooking. Despite the extra steps involved, the effort is worthwhile at preventing mealtime disappointments. Even if the brining steps or timing are not followed precisely, the meat still benefits from a good wash in saltwater, helping to remove any unwanted smells and impurities. 

Steps on how to brine meat

Step 1: Measure out enough water to fully submerge meat.

Step 2: Use 1 tbsp. kosher salt for every 1 cup of water.
Morton Salt [1][2] outlines a standard brining ratio and salt conversion table on their site. Kosher salt, with its larger crystals, is easier to observe dissolving in water compared to table salt. If using table salt, adjust the brining ratio to 2.4 teaspoons of table salt per cup of water.  

Step 3: Dissolve salt in the water and chill the water. There are different ways to dissolve salt. 
Option 1: Pour salt into filtered, cold water and stir vigorously until dissolved. 
Option 2 (preferred, official method): Simmer filtered water on the stove for a few minutes to dissolve the salt, then chill the water to 40F in the refrigerator before adding the meat. Maintaining the meat at 40F is crucial to preventing bacterial growth. 

Step 4: Submerge the meat in brine.
Soak the meat for 2-3 hours per every inch of thickness [4] in the refrigerator. For example, shrimp can brine from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on its thickness, while wings might require 1.5-2 hours.

Step 5: Remove the meat from the brine and pat dry before cooking!

Notes for brining meat

  • Avoid brining the meat if you plan to deep fry.
  • Cut the amount of brining salt down by 1/2 if your meat will brine for more than 4-5 hours to prevent it from becoming overly salty.
  • Though optional, consider adding sugar, seasonings, and herbs, such as coriander seeds, mustard seeds, rosemary, thyme, parsley, lemons, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves, etc. for extra flavor.

More informational references

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