Recipes > All-Purpose Brine

All Purpose Brine


Use this all-purpose brine to add flavor and juiciness to chicken, turkey and pork loin.
  • Serves: 4 to 6
  • Active Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Views: 81,628
  • Success Rating: 99% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Preparing the Brine

Preparing the Brine
  • 1 to 2 tsp juniper berries (optional)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns (or white)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 to 6 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp table salt (or 30 g of any other salt)
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 cups COLD water (or ice water)


To prepare the brine, place one cup of water into a small pot and bring to a simmer. Add the salt and sugar and stir to dissolve.

Smash the whole clove of garlic and add it to the pot. Press the juniper berries to release their aroma. Add the berries, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let steep for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Before using the brine, add the 3 remaining cups of cold water (including ice, if needed). For food safety, the brine must be very cold before the meat can be added.

Depending on the amount of meat you are brining, you will likely have to multiply this recipe.

Chef's Notes

As a general rule, it takes about one hour per pound of meat for the brine to effectively penetrate the meat.

Since this is a low-salt solution brine, larger pieces of meat (such as whole chickens, turkeys or large pork loins) can be brined over night without becoming too salty.

This recipe makes 1 L/qt of brine. If you need more, simply multiply the amounts.


  • Charles B
    Charles B
    makes 4cups double if necessary
  • Nikki F
    Nikki F
    Tripled this recipe to brine 2 3 lbs chickens. It was a tiny bit short of covering them so I threw in some extra salt to make up for the extra cup and a half of water I used.
  • Carmen P
    Carmen P
  • Dean O
    Dean O
    Once i was ashamed to admit i defrost chicken in water when i am in a hurry. after seeing the brinding method I used frozen chicken and brined it for the chicken parmigian. It was great.
  • Attila B
    Attila B
    I've made the brining liquid a day before in the evening and stored in the refrigerator. Next day I put about 1 kg chicken breast to brine for 30 minutes. After that I take out the chicken and dried it with towel paper and started to fry them. (Of course, I left them a bit air dry too.) The color and the juiciness of the chicken was great but it felt a bit un-salty. Should I have seasoned with salt the chicken breast in addition to brining before frying them? Or should I have kept them for longer period to brine? Actually, this is a generic question. Is seasoning necessary when you brine meat or brining should do it if properly done?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    This is a low-salt brine. The chicken breasts will benefit from a quick soak for 30 minutes, but it is still a good idea to lightly season the meat with some salt (and pepper, if desired). You can make the brine saltier next time and soak the breasts for 30 minutes; however, go even lighter on the salt just before cooking. Basically, you'll always want to season just a bit before cooking. Keep on brining. You'll find the best concentration to suit your tastes and time frame. Happy Cooking!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    This is a good question. Yes you should season the meat even when you brine. The only thing you have to keep in mind is, how strong your brining solution was. Sometimes I do a strong brine 60 gr. salt to every liter/quart of water and I just know that I need to light on the salt when I go to season. Brining does take some practice, not the technique itself, but finding what amount of salt/time and then seasoning afterwards works best for you. Did you make a "standard/low salt" brine (30 gr per lt)? If so, you may need to brine the chicken breasts just a bit longer next time, or do a bit higher solution (45gr per lt). I might just suggest doing it again as you did it but this time make sure to season the chicken with salt and pepper before you cook it. Then you will be able to judge for yourself, if the brining solutions or times need to be adjusted, for the next time. Hope this helps! Remember every great cook has done things a million times, which is why they know what they are doing - so keep up the good work!
  • Attila B
    Attila B
    Thanks a lot for both of you for the advice. Yes, I have down the 30 g salt per lt exactly as the recipe describes above. Definitely, I will try seasoning the meat after brining and play around with brining time too... :)
  • Cancelled
    This was a fantastic introduction to using a brine technique! I tried it with 2 chicken breasts tonight and it was a good and noticeable difference from the normal pan cooked chicken method (also learned on Rouxbe) I have recently been using. I have learned so much in a short period of time with Rouxbe. Thanks for the great information!
  • Leslie W
    Leslie W
    Do people only brine chicken? Or are their other meats that are excellent when brined?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Actually we do cover this in the lesson, it's in topic 3 "why lean meats are brined", but feel free to check out the full lesson. Cheers!
  • Dee P
    Dee P
    Hi, I think brining is a great way to produce juicy results! What I wanted to know is what the results would be if you brined a pork tenderloin and then marinated it for about 24 hrs. I'm thinking off the top of my head that the result would probably be good if there was salt control in the marinade. Am I on the right track? I need an answer soon because I'm having a dinner party tomorrow and that is my plan. Thanks!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Feel free to give it a try. It is not essential to do both. It all depends on the marinade. I would not add salt to the marinade on top of a brine. You don't want to overpower the flavor of the meat - just enhance it. Good luck!
  • Dee P
    Dee P
    Thanks Dawn will let you know!
  • Oliver T
    Oliver T
    If I bought a beef with a low connective tissue, can I brine it?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    For info on this see the lesson called "How to Brine", in particular topic 2 which talks about brining lean meats. There is also a text drilldown attached to that topic that you might find helpful called "What to Brine". This goes into a bit more detail regarding beef etc. Cheers!
  • Cheryal F
    Cheryal F
    how much meat will the basic recipe brine if you only do 1 quart
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    1 quart of brine should be sufficient for 1 pound of meat; but it's better to work backwards as shown in the lesson on How to Brine. First determine how much brine you need to make by submerging the meat in water and measuring how much you'll need. This will ensure you'll have the correct amount. Cheers!
  • Susan E
    Susan E
    Could I make a brine and put in a frozen whole chicken for overnight? Sue
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Ideally, it is better to brine meats once they are thawed as this will produce the most consistent results; however, I have been known to brine frozen chickens overnight (I usually go for a low brine solution in this case). I have always been happy with the results. Utimately, the best way to test this is to brine 2 birds, one frozen one thawed and see if you notice a difference. Hope this helps. Cheers!
  • Bryan L
    Bryan L
    I am going to brine some wings for Super Bowl before I roast them. I want to have them completely dry before prepping them, so my question is about timing. Because this is a low salt brine (and even though the pieces are small) I thought I would brine over night, pat dry and place in the refrigerator over night on a baking sheet to completely dry, and then cook and serve on the third day. Is it OK to leave them in the refrigerator over night exposed on the baking sheet? My refrigerator is pretty much odor free.
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Not sure that you need to brine chicken wings. Brining is generally more useful and/or noticeable when brining lean cuts of more neutral tasting meats, such as chicken breasts and pork tenderloin. Wings are usually marinated rather than brined (search "wings" on Rouxbe for a couple of examples). If however you still want to brine the wings I am not sure that you would want to brine them for 24 hours. This just seems like it might be a bit too long as wings are so small. To answer your question about letting them dry out in the refrigerator, I think this would be fine. I might check them after 8 hours or so just to make sure they are not totally drying out though. Hope this helps. Have fun at the super bowl party. Sounds like it will be a yummy one. Cheers!
  • Bryan L
    Bryan L
    Thanks Dawn, I actually ended up brining (10 hrs) a few breasts for Saturday night dinner and grilling on the BBQ - absolutely the best ever! It's always difficult to grill boneless/skinless breasts without drying them out, but these came out perfectly. Great grill marks, moist meat, and great (mild) smoky flavor. I still brined the wings, but only for a few hours. They were totally amazing, but I'm not sure how much was because of the brine. They were the most moist I can ever recall, but again I can't say whether it was because of the brine or just that I got some especially fresh wings from my butcher. Ha-ha, isn't half of the wing "white" meat? The bottom line is that everything came out great, I tried some new things, and am encouraged to try more. I am (truly) approaching Rouxbe as if I had returned to school, and am enjoying the challenge and rewards. I am very much impressed with the quality of the site AND the genuine care and encouragement expressed by the faculty. Cheers indeed!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Good for you for getting in there and experimenting Bryan. That's what cooking is all about. We are glad to hear that you are enjoying the school but most importantly we are really glad to hear that you are taking your studies seriously and practicing...that's where the real learning comes in. Keep up the great work. Cheers!
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    Hey Guys, I attempted to brine pork chops cut from the bone today. My question is whether the brining time formula remains the same even for smaller cuts as taking the pork out of the brine after 20 mins for a 200g portion just seemed like I wasn't doing it justice. 20 mins just doesn't seem very long for anything to happen. Maybe its just first time jitters but I was wondering if there is a minimum. Also, I had to rush out to work and didn't get to cook them so I've dried them and put them in the fridge. Will I need to brine them at all again tomorrow to touch them up or should I just go ahead and bread & cook them? One last thing... I was wondering about whether or not brining and marinading ever get used in conjunction. I know I'd have to avoid saltiness in the marinade. Thanks! :)
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    It was 20 mins for a 133g portion
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    When it comes to brining, the times are generally the same for smaller cuts. That being said, it is important to test the times out to see what works for you. If you are using a low-salt solution then you may get away with a longer brining time. To know if 20 minutes even makes a difference I recommend testing the theory out. One day cook two chops, one brined, one unbrined that way you will see the power that brining truly has. To me it makes a difference, but it always important to test these things out for yourself. You may find that just seasoning the meat (and of course buying good meat to begin with) will make just as big a difference as only brining it for 20 minutes. As for brining a second time, this is not generally done. Once something is brined, it is brined. And as for "whether or not brining and marinating ever get used in conjunction" the answer is no. It is really not necessary to do both. Just pick one or the other and then be sure to not overcook whatever it is you are making and you should be good to go. Also, there is an entire lesson in the Cooking School on Brining that you may want to check out. Cheers!
  • Rakisha S
    Rakisha S
    I tried my hand at brining for the first time and am glad to say my guests and I were pretty much pleased with the results. The turkey was indeed very plump and super moist. The only problem I encountered was that the wings were much too salty. For the first time there was no fight over who would get the last wing, it was totally inedible. Is this a typical mistake encountered by a first time briner? I thought of cutting off the wings prior to putting the turkey in the brine next time so that I could remove them a bit earlier than the rest of the body. Do you have any other suggestions as to how to ensure an even brine with the wings attached?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    First off, let me say, good job on your first brine! Yeah, to you!! :-) You ask, "Is this a typical mistake encountered by a first time briner?" my answer would be yes it has happened to the best of us. You are correct in thinking that perhaps next time you might cut of the wings and brine them for less time (as they are so much smaller). Alternatively, you could brine the whole turkey using either a bit less salt (refer to the lesson on lower brine solution) or you could simply brine the turkey for less time. It's really up to you, this is where experimenting to see what works best for you comes into play. Hope this helps. Cheers!
  • Debra R
    Debra R
    Just made basic brine and realized I made too much. Was wondering if I could freeze the unused portion?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Yes, if you have the space in your freezer, you could freeze any unused brine. Cheers!
  • Echo S
    Echo S
    I'm making roasting chicken for dinner Tuesday, and the only time I have for brining is either Sunday really late at night or Monday morning. If I brine it on Monday around 9, and take it out on Tuesday probably near noon, will it be too long? at this point I'm not sure how big my bird is (but probably not too big). Thanks a lot for your help!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Depending on how strong the brine is and how big the chicken is, it might be okay. You may want to watch the Brining lesson again just to get a refresher as well. Cheers!
  • Layla J
    Layla J
    can add different herbs cause it's hard to find fresh thyme in my country or even berries
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    Hi Layla. Yes. You can use another herb. Rosemary or marjoram would be great here if you have access to those. You can skip the juniper berries and add some extra peppercorns, bay and even coriander seeds. Enjoy. Lauren
  • Peter C
    Peter C
    Hi all, I have a houseful of people and I like to cook two whole chickens on the weekend, so we can toss it in salads, pastas etc. throughout the week. I just used this recipe for the 1st time, and def some lessons learned about how different pieces retain different salt contents (wings and breasts are def on the salty side). Here's my question: will brining give me a couple extra days of 'shelf life', if I wait to roast the chickens until 2- 3 days after brining? This would be super helpful, as I sometimes end up throwing some chicken away by the end of the week because its no longer good. Hope that's not a silly question, somehow seemed logical to me that the additional salt might add a preservation factor. Thanks
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    Peter, a quick look at the literature says 'no', brining should not be used to extend the shelf life of poultry because the brine falls short of the 10% salinity considered appropriate for the preservation of food. ~Eric
  • Sunnie S
    Sunnie S
    Fantastic (and very easy to make) brine! Imparted amazing flavor to my whole chicken (after soaking overnight + 5 hours of air drying in the fridge). Loved it and will be using time and time again!
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Sunnie: Many people also use brine for turkey, which you may also want to think about. Sounds as though you enjoyed the end results of using brine very much. No need for brine kits with this recipe...Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Char

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