How to Brine

Brine 101


What is a Brine?

A brine is a mix of salt, liquid (usually water) and flavourings. When foods are submerged in a brine, some of their cells break down, allowing water and more salt to easily get inside. If meats are being brined, the salt can then help prevent the muscles from contracting and squeezing out the water during cooking.


When to Brine?

  • ​When you want flavour added to your food
  • When you want lean foods tenderized
  • When you want something to come out juicy after being cooked
  • When you have time and want to do something special


What to Brine?

  • ​Whole turkey or turkey pieces
  • Pork chops and economical roasts
  • Economical beef steaks or roasts
  • Whole chicken or chicken pieces
  • Corn on the cob
  • Root vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes, celery root, etc.)
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Other relatively lean foods



  • ​You will need to make enough brine to completely cover the food. Sometimes, you may need to weigh food down with a plate and a jar of water on it to submerge the food completely.
  • Only use the type of salt called for in the recipe to avoid measuring too much or too little salt.
  • Do not pierce meat to allow brines to penetrate farther into the meat unless you plan on cooking it to medium (160°F) or above.
  • Be sure to brine for only the recommended length of time to avoid over-tenderizing meats.
  • When brining for long periods of time, make sure that your food is refrigerated or in a cooler with ice packs (switch the ice packs out regularly).
  • If your recipe calls for it, rinse brine off with cold water and pat it dry. Some brine recipes have less salt and do not need this step.
  • Food-safe food containers must be washed inside and out with hot soapy water before using. See below for food-safe container ideas:


Safe Unsafe

Cambros or large food-safe containers

Garbage bags or cans, or non-food-safe containers/bags

Food-safe plastic buckets

5-gallon utility buckets from hardware stores


Clean laundry detergent or pet food buckets

Heavy-duty zip-lock plastic bags, turkey roasting bags, or other food-safe bags

HDPE white plastic containers of unknown food grade status

Unchipped, good condition enamel canner

Chipped or damaged enamel canner

Glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowls

Aluminum pots or bowls

Non-food-safe plastic buckets lined with a food-safe bag

Food grade containers that have ever been used to store non-food items

Stainless steel or anodized aluminum pots (use with caution)

Any non-food-safe containers (unless lining with a food-safe bag)