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Basic Brine for Seafood, Poultry, and Pork

Photo: Iain Bagwell
Prep time 2 mins
Cook time 3 mins
Cool time 1 hr
Total time 1 hr, 5 mins
Yield Makes 2 1/2 quarts
Brining is a technique that submerges food in a salt solution to prevent moisture loss during cooking, creating succulent, juicy bites. Use our Basic Brine for fish and shrimp, or for white meat, such as chicken, turkey, or pork chops. 


  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 3 bay leaves

How to Make It

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes or until salt and sugar dissolve. Cool completely.

  2. Submerge meat in brine, weighing down with a plate to keep it covered, if necessary. Thin fish, such as flounder, should sit in brine only 10 minutes to 1 hour; thick fish, such as salmon, 1 hour; chicken pieces, 2 hours; and pork, 4 hours. Large meats, such as whole turkey, should brine 12 to 24 hours.

  3. Rinse meat to remove any surface salt, if necessary. Cook as desired.