Brining is a brilliant cooking method using salt, a flavor-enhancing substance, together with other seasonings to bring out the best tastes in meat. There are many ways to brine a chicken. What is the best method for your liking? How long to brine chicken? Continue reading all the insights below to make that perfect brined chicken for your family and friends.
Have You Considered All The Brining Options?
The three most popular methods of brining chicken are: wet brine, dry brine and buttermilk brine. Let’s take a quick look at them:
This is basically submerging a whole chicken into a large enough pot or cooking vessel that contains salted water (and sometimes other spices or ingredients) for seasoning. This method takes the longest cooking time compared to the other two and is used by professional chefs because it produces the most flavorful chicken.
This is the same as wet brine but with no water, meaning there’s no need to soak a whole chicken into a big liquid pot. This method is less complicated than wet brine and suitable for those who want crispy chicken.
This means brining chicken in a mixture of pepper, buttermilk and salt. The method is suitable for those who want to brine their chicken in the easiest way but still get a unique flavor.
How Long to Brine Chicken?
The first thing you need to know is that there is no definitive answer to this question. How long to brine chicken depends on a lot of factors, such as the brining methods, the thickness of chicken, the salinity of water, your time allowance and individual’s preferences in taste.
There is a standard time length for each brining method, but you should not follow it too strictly if you do not like the taste. Feel free to do experiments and whatever you think it will produce the meat quality that pleases you most.
How Thickness and Salinity Affect your Brining Time
For a good start, learn how thickness and salinity affect your brining time right below:
Bear in mind these recommended brining time settings for the thickness of your chicken:
- Brine about 30 minutes for 1/2” thickness
- Brine about 1 hour for 1” thickness
- Brine about 3 hours for 2” thickness
- Brine about 8 hours for 3” thickness
If you are just starting out with little experiences for the first time, you should not brine much longer than the recommended time frames above because you may end up with overly salty meat. After the first experiments, you can adjust the brining time according to your preference.
As the basic science of brining goes, salt will penetrate chicken meat to enhance flavors. We know from the specifications above that the thicker the meat is, the more brining time is required. Similarly, the more salt there is in water or any brining solution without water, the less brining time it takes. If you soak your chicken in more salt than the recommended amount, you may have to reduce the standard brining time to avoid overly salty meat.
It can be challenging to figure out how much salt you should put in your brining mixture because there are different kinds of salt on the market. Here is some science. Salt is in a crystal form. For the normal table salt, the crystals are different in size from those of kosher salt. Large crystals break down in contact with water easily but it is harder for them to do the same on meat surface. And vice versa for smaller crystals. It is best to choose salt by comparing the weight of different kinds.
The standard requirement for a basic brine is 10 ounces of salt for 1 water gallon. For table salt, 1 cup is 10 ounces in weight. But if you use kosher salt, you have to use 2 cups because 1 kosher salt cup weighs only 5 ounces.
So, if you use only 1 cup of kosher salt, you may have to brine for a longer time than recommended. When you read any recipes, make sure you know what kind of salt they are referring to.
How Brining Methods Affect your Brining Time
For more specific instructions, below are the recommended time frames for 3 brining methods:
A wet brine takes at least 8 hours up to 24 hours for chicken that has been broken down into pieces. For an entire chicken, it takes at least 12 hours up to 24 hours. It is not recommended to wet brine longer than 24 hours.
This method takes the most time, but the extended period of brining helps to enrich flavors even more and produce high-quality juicy, moist meat.
Your dry brine should be in a refrigerator for at least 4 to 6 hours. After taking it out, rinse the chicken dry and leave the chicken exposed to the room temperature for about 30 minutes.
For this method, you only need about 3 to 4 hours of brining. Buttermilk brining is quicker to do and highly recommended for frying.
Remember that you MUST keep the brine package at a temperature of under 40 degrees F (or 4.4 degrees C) throughout your brining for the sake of food preservation.
I know there are many things to watch out, but don’t be afraid. Cooking is supposed to bring you joy, so nothing to worry. Just take small steps, follow the basic guide and try again if the first meal is not what you expect.
Hopefully, you will have your right answer to the question how long to brine chicken. Enjoy your cooking time and share your achievement with your lovers! If you have any other question, leave it in the box below. If you like our post, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends.