Fun with Brine

by Kevin H. on June 26, 2014 · 3 comments

Whole Chicken 5


I like getting creative with brines – it’s the first step in adding flavor to your meat.  So I add herbs, spices, sweetness, other liquids…whatever I feel like that day.  Here is a list of liquids I add on a regular basis:

Apple Juice, Orange Juice, Cider, Coke, Sprite, Beer, Worcester, Wine, Chicken Stock, Beef Stock, Italian Dressing.


Again, it just depends on what flavor I’m going for that day.  The last time I did chicken thighs my brine was:

1/2 gallon water
1/2 gallon mix of applejuice, coke, sprite, white wine.
1 cup kosher salt
1 tbs pepper
sprig of fresh thyme and rosemary

(reduce quantities based on amount of meat)

My brine for turkey’s last Thanksgiving was:

3/4 gallon water
1/8 gallon apple juice
1 can sprite
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbs pepper corns
sprig fresh thyme and sage

Again, it just depends on what flavors you want to penetrate.  I’ve used hot sauce in brine and it makes for a delicious Cajun chicken.

Here is a list of herbs, spices and sweets I tend to add:

Brown sugar, white sugar, Honey, pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic, onion, cinnamon, and rub.

How much of these dry ingredients?  As a general rule, no more than a tablespoon of any one herb.  Remember, the flavor really will penetrate the meat during this process, so the more you add, the more the meat will take on that particular flavor.

One note:  Be careful not to over salt your meat after brining.  That would be doubling up on the salt and may be overload. And always remember to rinse the meat thoroughly after brining, before cooking.

Have fun with it!  Throughout the site you will see specific brining recipes for specific meats, but if you start with water, salt, some type of sweet and maybe a bit of pepper or another spice – you’re in good shape.

Leave a Comment

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan M. June 27, 2015 at 8:03 pm

Hi Kevin,
Love your recipes! I was lucky enough to attend the Dierbergs class you hosted a couple years ago and after loving the food you made and getting your great advice, I talked my husband into getting a smoker. We make several of your recipes on a regular basis! (We are trying the Championship Ribs and turkey tenderloin tomorrow!). Anyway, I was looking for your advice on brining. I think brining is great, but I hate the rinsing part. Especially with chicken. I just feel like my sink and everything around it are becoming contaminated! I was wondering how you rinse your meat, just in the sink or do you do it a different way? Just wondering if you have any special tricks. Thanks so much!


Kevin July 1, 2015 at 6:47 am

Hi Susan! Thanks so much for reaching out – how cool that you got a smoker! The one trick I do when rinsing from brine is utilizing the ziploc bag. I open it just a couple inches and carefully pour the brine down the drain. Then I fill the bag with cool water and dump that out. Repeat until you’re satisfied with the rinsing. This method allows you to control the flow of the liquid – but it obviously only works when using bags for brining. Hope that helps – enjoy smoking!


Susan M. July 2, 2015 at 1:03 am

Thanks so much Kevin! I will definitely give that a try next time. By the way, I made your Bacon Wrapped Turkey Tenderloin and Championship Ribs last weekend – they were amazing. My guests couldn’t stop talking about how good they were. Thanks for the great recipes and advice!


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