This is our recipe and step-by-step guide for how to brine meat!
The Benefits of Wet Brining
Brine your meats hours before you grill or smoke to ensure that your meal will not be dry and flavorless. I tend to find wet brining works best for more lean meats such as chicken, turkey, pork chops, and white fish. Wet brining is also a great way to incorporate other spices to the protein and experiment with various flavors.
However, the most important part of wet brining is the sugar/salt-to-water ratio. You’ll want to keep that fairly consistent to get a brine that isn’t too bitter. Other than that, you can add all sorts of herbs and spices to the brine.
This recipe is for a large portion of brine. I like to make a large batch and save for multiple meals but feel free to alter if you are working with limited space or smaller cuts of meat.
Table of Contents
- Stock Pot (5 Quarts or larger)
- Another large pot
- Food safe container
Step 1: Prepare Ingredients
Prepare all the ingredients. Cut the onion into quarter chunks and remove the skin. Cut a head of garlic in half. Wash 2 lemons and cut in half.
Put all ingredients in a large stock pot and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
TIP: If you are using the Quick Cooling Method, cut the water down by 2 quarts. Then add about 3 quarts of ice cubes after straining in Step 3.
Step 2: Cook the Brine at a Simmer
Bring the water (with the ingredients in the pot) to a boil then reduce heat down to a simmer. Let mixture simmer for 30 minutes.
The reason for heating the brine is to make sure that all the sugar and salt are dissolved properly. Also, heating the brine gets more oils and flavors out of the aromatics/ingredients.
Don’t cook for longer than 30 minutes as the wet brine can get too bitter.
Step 3: Strain & Cool the Brine
Turn off the heat and strain the brine into another pot. Let the brine cool to room temperature before using. If you are in a hurry, you can use the quick cooling method with ice.
Quick Cooling Method: Add ice after straining if you want to use immediately. To not dilute the brine, cut the water by 2 quarts at the beginning then add about 3 quarts of ice cubes after straining.
Storing Brine: Once at room temp you can store the brine in a food safe container or containers in your fridge. The brine can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Step 4: Apply Brine to Meat
Simply place the meat you want to wet brine into a food safe container and add the brine. It’s important to only add the brine once at room temperature or chilled from being stored in the refrigerator. Never apply a hot or warm brine to cold proteins.
Step 5: Let It Soak [Time Chart for Different Proteins]
Cover the container and let it soak in the fridge for between 1 to 12 hours before cooking. Check out the time chart below for how long to wet brine different proteins. A good general rule of thumb is not to exceed 12 hours because it can get a little too intense.
|Protein||Approximate Time to Wet Brine|
|Rule of Thumb||1 Hour per Pound|
|Chicken||Pieces: 1 Hour|
Whole: 4-12 Hours
|Beef||Steak: 20-40 Minutes|
|Turkey||Pieces: 1 Hour|
Whole: 4-12 hours
|Pork||Chops: 30 Mins |
Whole Loin: 2-12 Hours
|Fish||Filets: 20-30 mins |
Whole Fish 1-3 Hours
Step 6: Remove Meat & Cook
After the meat has soaked in brine for the desire time, simply remove the protein and start cooking!
Brines are only good for single time use. Discard the wet brine after each use.
What does a wet brine do?
Wet brining ensures that your proteins will not be dry and flavorless after grilling or smoking. Brining tends to work best for more lean meats such as chicken, turkey, pork chops, and white fish. Wet brining is also a good way to incorporate other spices and experiment with various flavors.
How long does a brine last?
Wet brine can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Store in an air tight container when possible. NEVER reuse a brine as this can transfer bacteria between foods. Discard a brine after each use.
How long to wet brine?
Soak in the fridge for 1 to 12 hours before cooking. Try not to exceed 12 hours because it can get a little too intense. A general rule of thumb is to brine for 1 hour for every pound.
Can I use a hot brine for meat/proteins?
No, you should never apply a hot/warm brine to cold proteins. Allow the brine to cool before using. If you are in a hurry, reduce the water you add while preparing the brine and add ice when done to cool the brine quickly.