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How to Brine Meats at Home | Brining Basic Recipe and Tips

Chef Dan Catanio , On March 25, 2023

Brine is a saltwater solution that uses the ratio of 1 cup of kosher salt + desired herbs and spices to one gallon of water.

Brining meats is a technique to inject moisture and flavor in mostly tougher pieces of meat to increase tenderness and add flavor. Brining meat is great for pork chops, beef shanks, lamb shanks, and chicken breast – mostly lean cuts of meat that would otherwise dry out quickly before being cooked over intense heat like that of a BBQ or grill. In a meat brining solution the cuts of meat are completely submerged in the liquid and the consistency of the brine is quite watery, nowhere near as thick as a marinade recipe.

Definition: The brine technique is a process of preserving, flavoring, and injecting moisture in meats by soaking them in a saltwater solution.

Ingredients Needed for our Fortified Meat Brine

Tools For This Protein Pancake Recipe from scratch.

Simmer Your Brine to Mix Flavors. Cool Down. Then Submerge Meats in Brine.

    *Basic Brine:

  • Water 1 gallon
  • Kosher Salt – 1 Cup
  • **Fortified Brine:

  • Liquid Smoke – 1 teaspoon
  • Pickling spice – 1 teaspoon
  • Crushed chili pepper – 1/2 tsp
  • Bay leaf – 8 leaves
  • Orange pepper seasoning – 1 teaspoon
  • Brown sugar – 1 cup
  • Tajin spice – 1 teaspoon

*The basic brine is a salt and water mixture that adds moisture to your protein when submerged in it.

**The fortified basic brine also impars flavor to your meat since you are adding herbs and spices to the basic brine.

Instructions for How to Brine Meats:

  1. Place all the brining ingredients into pot
  2. Bring the brine to a simmer for 10-15 minutes
  3. Allow the brine to cool in the refrigerator.
  4. Place your meat (pork chops, beef shank…) in a container completely submerged by the brine solution.
  5. Allow the fresh meat cuts to soak in the brine solution for 6-8 hours. The brine penetrates the meat and causes the muscle fibers to break down, resulting in a more tender and juicy product. The salt in the brine also acts as a preservative, extending the shelf life of the meats.

After your meats are brined place them on the bbq over an open flame and enjoy with your sides of choice.

Video of how to make this brine recipe:

In this video Chef Dan shows you how to make this brine recipe. Chef Dan also covers the do’s and don’ts of making a brine recipe.

Notes about making a brine for meats

Heating the meat brine allows flavors to mix: When combining your spices to form a brine bring the water to a simmer to mix the flavors together well.

Allow the brine to cool: If you add the brine to the meat make sure the liquid is not hot, or it will boil your meats. The brine should be allowed to cool off before submerging the pieces of meat in the brine solution.

Do not brine for too long: Since brine is a salty solution brining for too long will make your meats overly salty.

Keep the correct water to salt ratio for brining: As a guideline the salt to water ratio of a brine solution should be 1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water.

Chef Dan Catanio

A Culinary Institute of America graduate from the 1990s, Chef Dan began his career as a saucier at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan under the Hilton Corporation. Over the years, he has held key positions such as Corporate Executive Chef Director at 5-star restaurants, country clubs, and Indian Casino Resorts.