Skip to main content

Basic Brine

Science of Food Recipe
Basic Brine
Basic Brine

Ensure that your meat is moist and tasty by adding salt and water before you cook it.

Total time: 5 minutes active, 0.5–24 hours passive

  • Table salt
  • Water
  • Meat (Leaner meats like chicken and pork will benefit the most.)
To do and notice

Determine the volume of brine you’ll need to completely submerge the meat you’re preparing (a whole turkey, for example, will need much more brine than, say, pork chops). Place that volume of water in a container large enough to hold the brine and the meat.

Add 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of water you used and mix until the salt is completely dissolved. For example, if you are using 1 gallon (16 cups) of water, add 16 tablespoons (1 cup) of salt.

Place the meat in the brine and put the whole container in the refrigerator. If it doesn’t fit, place it in an ice chest filled with ice.

The length of time the brine takes to enter the meat depends on the meat’s thickness. Let it soak for 2–3 hours per inch of thickness.

When you’re ready to cook, rinse the brine off the meat, pat it dry, and prepare as desired.

What's going on?

Brining is the process of salt and water diffusing into meat before cooking to add flavor and moisture. The time diffusion takes depends on salt concentration and the thickness of the meat it has to penetrate. Feel free to play around with higher concentrations of salt if you’re short on time, and lower concentrations if you’re prepping far in advance.

Note that different salts have different densities. If you’re using kosher salt or something other than table salt, it’s safer to make the brine using a weight ratio. To do this, use 17 grams of any kind of salt for every cup of water.