Brining your poultry, whether it be chicken, turkey, or other types of lean meat has long been one of the secrets of top chefs and restaurants alike. Brining your lean meats is an excellent way to keep your poultry from drying out during the cooking process. A quick chicken brine also adds flavor, and moisture, and helps to tenderize your lean meats that are being baked, grilled, or even deep-fried.
What Is A Brine?
At the very minimum, a brine is simply soaking your chicken or other poultry in a saltwater solution for up to 12 hours and in some cases even longer. You can add in fresh herbs such as rosemary, bay leaves, and spices like black pepper or any other of your favorite seasonings.
You can even add a little sugar to the mixture. This is a great way to help the chicken have crispy skin. The cool part about this is when you do a wet brine solution with fresh herbs and spices, the chicken pieces or poultry you are brining absorb those flavors as well.
Why Should I Brine My Meat?
For best results, brining is a good practice to get into no matter what style of cooking you are doing. It creates a juicy, moist, and flavorful meat.
If you are baking, roasting, grilling, smoking, and even deep-frying, your poultry can benefit from a quick brine. Brining also helps the muscle fibers to break down. As the chicken soaks, it is helping create a more juicy tender chicken or piece of meat.
There are two basic methods that you can use when brining poultry or any other lean meat:
Dry Brining: A dry brine is where you cover the meat in salt and herbs. Similar to how salt-cured ham is made.
Wet Brining: This is where you mix water and salt along with sugar, fresh herbs, and spices then soak the meat in this brine solution. This is the method we are going to be using in this quick chicken brine recipe.
In this recipe, we are covering wet brine and just sharing the very basic salt brine. From there you can add fresh herbs spices, and even vegetables if wish.
Recipe Ingredient-What you will need to make this Quick Chicken Brine recipe:
Large Pot or Other large container
You will need a very large pot or a plastic container. If you just have a few split bone-in chicken breasts, the pot will not need to be as large. If you are doing a whole turkey, obviously you will need something larger.
If you don’t have a large pot, I found these brine bags that you can get from Amazon. What is neat about them is you can find a food-grade 2-gallon bucket and use the liner inside of it.
A good place to get buckets for free or cheap is to check at your local grocery store or Sam’s Club in the bakery section. Just ask them if they have any icing buckets. After a little cleaning, you have a nice food-grade bucket for brining or other food storage needs!
You will need salt to make the brine. I recommend using 1 cup per gallon of water. You can use kosher or Sea Salt. I would recommend staying away from Ionized salt as it may impart some other flavors you wouldn’t want. If you are concerned about your salt intake, you can always use less salt.
If you have access to filtered, well, distilled or spring water, that is the best to use. If you have chlorinated tap water, fill up your stock pot the night before and let it set out. This will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water since it is a gas and is lighter than the water.
If you don’t have time to do this or access to the other mentioned ones, it isn’t a huge deal, but to get the best flavor possible, this is the best practice. Also, I suggest only filling your container up halfway this way once you add your meat in it doesn’t overfill the container.
Step 1: Wash all of the chicken pieces or meat that you are going to brine.
Step 2: Fill up your pot about halfway with cold water, measuring the water as you put it in so you will know how much you have put in the pot. That way you will know how much salt to add.
Step 3: Add 1 cup of salt per gallon of water.
Step 4: Stir the salt in the water until it has dissolved. If you want a quick way to do this, you can add a few cups of water to a small pot. Heat it on medium heat until the salt has dissolved, then add it to the rest of the water in the larger container.
Step 5: Place the chicken pieces or other meat into the pot or container.
Step 6: Soak for up to 12 hours for best results.
Step 7: After the soak time, remove the chicken pieces or other meat from the container and pat dry with paper towels or allow to drip dry on a cooling rack over a sheet pan.
Note: Some methods will refer to soaking the chicken at room temperature. This may be ok but I tend to err on the side of caution. I always soak mine in the refrigerator and that is what I recommend.
How Long Does It Take for a Wet Brine?
At a minimum, you can soak the chicken in the quick chicken brine for up to 4 hours. If you are doing a whole chicken, I recommend 12 to 24 hours. A whole turkey can brine for 12 to 48 hours. A good rule of thumb is the larger the amount of meat, the longer you want to brine it.
Should I rinse off the meat after brining?
No, don’t rinse off the meat. Instead, you can pat it dry with a paper towel, allow it to drip dry on a cooling rack, or place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to allow it to dry. The main thing to remember is we want the surface of the chicken to be dry before cooking.
Can I reduce the amount of salt in the quick chicken brine recipe?
Yes, you can reduce the amount of salt.
Can I add fresh herbs and spices to the brine solution?
Yes, this is a great way to flavor the meat.
How many cups of water will I need?
This recipe calls for 1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water. There are 16 cups in 1 gallon of water. Simply stated, you will need 16 cups for every cup of salt. If you are using a large container, it is likely you will need more than 1 gallon of water. My suggestion is to fill your container up half full, then add in your meat. This way it will not overfill.
How To Make A Quick Chicken Brine Recipe (Simple and Easy)
- 1 Large Container Stock pot, a food grade bucket, or other plastic container will work.
- 1 cup Salt Kosher salt or Sea Salt is the best to use for this application
- 1 gallon water
- This quick chicken brine recipe calls for 1 cup of salt per gallon of water. You will most likly need more than 1 gallon of water. You want to cover your chicken pieces completely. If you use 4 gallons of water, you will use 4 cups of salt and so on.
- Step 1: Wash all of the chicken pieces or meat that you are going to brine.
- Step 2: Fill up your pot about halfway with cold water, measuring the water as you put it in so you will know how much you have put in the pot.
- Step 3: Add 1 cup of salt per gallon of water.1 cup Salt, 1 gallon water
- Step 4: Step 4: Stir the salt in the water until it has dissolved. If you want a quick way to do this, you can add a few cups of water to a small pot. Heat it on medium heat until the salt has dissolved, then add it to the rest of the water in the larger container.1 cup Salt
- Step 5: Place the chicken pieces or other meat into the pot or container.
- Step 6: Soak for up to 12 hours.
- Step 7: After the soak time, remove the chicken pieces or other meat from the container and pat dry with paper towels or allow to drip dry on a cooling rack over a sheet pan.
Want to see an awesome recipe where I use this quick chicken brine recipe? Try this Roasted Whole Chicken Breasts Recipe (Juicy Cajun Style).
Also, try these delicious recipes as well: