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Sep 9, 2007 10:31 AM

Does brining chicken make a big difference?

I like to make a roast chicken on the weekends. Until I found this website, I never heard about brining a chicken you were about to roast. I've never done this before. How do you do it, and what ingredients/amounts/timing do you use? Is there that much of a difference in taste? I'd be willing to give it a try if I knew what I was doing and if it make the chicken tast that much better.

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  1. Yes, it will make your chicken taste that much better.

    The most basic brine is just saltwater. (Half a cup to one cup of salt per gallon of water.) Dissolve the salt, submerge the bird in the brine for an hour, then dry and roast. It will be much juicier and flavorful than an unbrined bird.

    Of course, a brine can also bring extra flavors to the party. Try using diluted fruit juice instead of water. Spice it up using crushed peppercorns, allspice berries, juniper berries, dried chiles, star anise, or whatever else sounds good. Just make sure you've got the salt in there and that the flavorants are water-soluble. Osmosis will carry the flavored liquid into the meat.

    This last week I served my family a chicken that hadn't been brined. Everybody was polite, but they made it pretty clear that the bird wasn't up to the usual standard. Next time there isn't time for brining, we're having burgers.

    6 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      Hi, just want to piggyback on this post. Does it work for small birds like cornish hen? And does the brining time matter? Is there such a thing as "too much brining" (too long)?

      Thanks in advance!

      1. re: kobetobiko

        Bigger birds, longer brining. A whole turkey should soak 4 hours to overnight.

        Presumably an over-brined bird would be too salty, but you could adjust for that by reducing the amount of salt in the brine.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          Thanks! I will try to brine my cornish hen next time!

          1. re: alanbarnes

            I've actually brined my turkeys for up to 4 days. Surprisingly not overly salty (brined in salt water, apple cider vinegar, apples, onions, parsley, and whatever else looked good).

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Yep. I brine overnight. I use around 2 tablespoons salt (plus 2 or 3 tablespoons chilli powder and a tablespoon or two of black pepper - boiled together for a couple or three minutes to bring out the flavours of the chilli powder and pepper) in about 3 or 4 cups of water to cover one chicken

            2. re: kobetobiko

              An overbrined bird might be mushy.

          2. I brine chicken all the time....even chicken pieces like thighs and breasts. And, you'll definately want to brine your Thanksgiving turkey. Brining not only seasons the meat, it keeps the meat moist as it roasts/cooks. The formula I use is 1 cup kosher salt per 1 gal. water. You can change the ratio, depending on how long the chicken will be in the brine. Use kosher salt, not table salt. Table salt would make the chicken too salty. And be sure and rinse the chicken after it comes out of the brine to get rid of the excess salt. I usually brine a whole chicken for at least 4 hours, and even overnight.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cookingschool

              You can bring with either table or kosher salt. Table salt won't make it too salty in and of itself. Just use 1/3 to 1/2 less table salt.

              Table salt has smaller crystals so more of it fits in a measuring cup.

              Also, sugar enhances the savory taste of the brine. So try adding about 1/2 as much brown sugar as you do salt.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                But don't used iodized table salt unless you want that special "Morton Girl" flavor in your chicken.

            2. Brining is a great way to prepare poultry. Just make sure the chicken you're buying isn't "enhanced." This will be somewhere on the label, most likely in small letters. What it means is that saltwater has already been added to the chicken. Then, you don't want to brine.

              1. I brined a roast chicken for the first time a few weeks ago and it definitely was a notch up my usual roast. Juicier and more flavorful and not much harder to do than my usual roast.


                1. I always brine . . . for roasted chicken, roasted turkey and also fried chicken. It gives you a much moister bird. But you must make sure that you rinse the bird thoroughly after removing from the brine so that you do not end up with overly salty chicken/turkey.