6 Easy Brine Recipes

Marinating meat in a salt water solution leads to juicy, flavorful results.

Want to lock in moisture and add deep, complex flavor to your meats? Experiment with brining, a simple technique that involves marinating your ingredients in a mixture of salt, water, and oftentimes other spices or flavoring agents. To get started, read these tips and tricks on how to brine properly. Then, try the recipes below for pork and lamb.

Basic Flavor Brine

Courtesy of The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells ($40, amazon.com)
Makes enough for 4 pork chops; for larger cuts, such as pork loin roasts, double or triple the recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Directions

  1. Stir together the water, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Stir in the ice and any other flavorings and cool the brine to 45°F or lower.
  2. Place 4 pork chops in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the flavor brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remove the chops, discard the flavor brine, and pat the chops dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 2 days.

Caribbean Flavor Brine

Courtesy of The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells ($40, amazon.com)
Makes enough for 4 pork chops; for larger cuts, such as pork loin roasts, double or triple the recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon unsulfured molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Directions

  1. Stir together the water (and any other liquid ingredients), salt, and sugar until dissolved. Stir in the ice and any other flavorings and cool the brine to 45°F or lower.
  2. Place 4 pork chops in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the flavor brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remove the chops, discard the flavor brine, and pat the chops dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 2 days.

Kentucky Flavor Brine

Courtesy of The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells ($40, amazon.com)
Makes enough for 4 pork chops; for larger cuts, such as pork loin roasts, double or triple the recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ cups water
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 3 tablespoons sorghum molasses, Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup, or unsulfured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Stir together the water (and any other liquid ingredients), salt, and sugar until dissolved. Stir in the ice and any other flavorings and cool the brine to 45°F or lower.
  2. Place 4 pork chops in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the flavor brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remove the chops, discard the flavor brine, and pat the chops dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 2 days.

Stout and Malt Flavor Brine

Courtesy of The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells ($40, amazon.com)
Makes enough for 4 pork chops; for larger cuts, such as pork loin roasts, double or triple the recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup Guinness or other stout
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 3 tablespoons malt syrup or real maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon A.1. Steak Sauce
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Directions

  1. Stir together the water (and any other liquid ingredients), salt, and sugar until dissolved. Stir in the ice and any other flavorings and cool the brine to 45°F or lower.
  2. Place 4 pork chops in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the flavor brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remove the chops, discard the flavor brine, and pat the chops dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 2 days.

Turkish Flavor Brine

Courtesy of The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells ($40, amazon.com)
Makes enough for 4 pork chops; for larger cuts, such as pork loin roasts, double or triple the recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses or cherry syrup
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Directions

  1. Stir together the water (and any other liquid ingredients), salt, and sugar until dissolved. Stir in the ice and any other flavorings and cool the brine to 45°F or lower.
  2. Place 4 pork chops in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the flavor brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remove the chops, discard the flavor brine, and pat the chops dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 2 days.

Lamb Pot Roast

Courtesy of Chef-Instructor Chris Gesualdi, Institute of Culinary Education, New York City
Serves 4

Basic Brine Ingredients

  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ bunch thyme
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley stems
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 ¾ pounds top round lamb, for brining

Directions

  1. Bring all ingredients together in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cool, and then brine the lamb overnight.

Pot Roast Ingredients

  • 1¾ pounds top round lamb, brined overnight
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups small dice onion
  • 1 cup small dice carrot
  • 1 cup small dice celery
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 small sachet d’epice (fill a small square of cheesecloth with 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf, 6-8 whole peppercorns, and 2-3 parsley stems)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 6 cups brown veal stock or beef stock
  • *optional 6 cups tomato sauce or tomato puree

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Pat the meat dry. Heat the canola oil over medium heat; brown the meat well on all sides and reserve. Add the onion, carrot and celery and a pinch of salt. Caramelize slightly. Add the garlic, and cook another 15 to 30 seconds. Add the sachet, wine and stock (and optional tomato sauce). Bring to a boil, cover, and cook in a 350º F oven (or an oven that will maintain a simmer). Cook until tender, about 2½ hours.