How long to Brine?

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Jul 2, 2007
Crossroads, Tx
I've searched these forums and Deejay's site, and have found conflicting information about how long to brine chicken quarters. I will be brining 10lbs of chicken. About how long should I leave the chicken in the brine? Thanks again for your help.

I usually go overnight, but I've heard that the MINIMUM you want to brine is 4 hours. I don't think you really can brine something for *too* long, because once the osmosis process is balanced out, the process stops - and after that point you're really just marinating I guess - but I could be wrong about that and would love to be set straight if anyone knows better.
No, this is correct. Only, after the osmosis stops, it's just soaking in water. At that point would be a good time to put it in marinade, the meat should soak it up.
I've never tired brining, butit sems that it would take a looong time for the solution to penetrate the meat entirely.

BTW, does anyone have experience with brining bags? Seems like that would be the only option for me considering fridge space.
Smokin' for Life has a good rule of thumb. You Can use zip lock bags for parts.
I just checked Debi's web page for brining and it said that for chicken pieces the brining time is 1 1/2 hours. I hope this doesn't come to late.
Overnight will work fine! I think I said 4 to 6 hours. I can't find anything where I typed 1.5 hours. If I did tell me where so I can fix it! You won't get much brine in 1.5 hours.

Don't forget to rinse!
I just slow smoked (Grill with charcoal and mesquite and hickory chunks) a 4.7Lbs. chicken. It ended up too salty. I'd like to know what I did wrong.

Now, the chicken is FANTASTIC tasting; just a bit too salty. Are brined chickens NOTICEABLY salty?

Here's what I did. I defrost said chicken, until I could butterfly it. I did the 'cut the spine out, and pulled the breast bone out' bit. I then mixed 3oz of sea salt, 4oz of the 'kid with the umbrella' salt, and .5oz of garlic salt and .5oz of onion salt for a total of 1 cup of salt. I then added about 1Tabls. of poultry seasoning. I heated 1 quart of water to a boil, and added the salt. I stirred until it was melted. I added it to the container. Then, I added 3 quarts of cold tap water, and then added the butterflied chicken. I brined it for about 20 hours. I rinsed it off, two or three times, about 3-4 minutes total. I added it to the BBQ on the far left side, and far right side a bunch of charcoal and mesquite and hickory wood chunks set on the lowest setting. They lasted for the full 4 hours of cooking at around 260 degree temp. When the chicken hit 172 degrees, I pulled it off the grill, waited 30 minutes and cut it up. It was too salty, but smokey good! We ate it, but man, was our mouths salty!

What did I do wrong?

Didn't rinse the chicken well enough? Too much salt to the brine?
Bringing does add noticable salt especially if you don't normally use salt like me. Rinse it real well. I find whenever I brine overnight it's more salty then if I leave it for a just few hours. The thicker the meat the more time it takes to get more salty. Make sure to rinse with plenty of cold water but don't soak the poultry.

Looks like everything yo add for spice was also a salt - that probably helped push it over the edge! You you always use less salt next time too. That's not a problem.
I've HAD to leave birds brining for more than 20 hours before I was able to get 'em in the smoker, and never had an overly salty taste. If you had a gallon of water ...... a cup of Kosher salt is not too much. Did you add any other spices or herbs? Your really missing out if you didnt ..... I always use some sort of sugar when brining. Usually brown sugar, and molasas ....... abunch of pepper, real garlic, chunks of onion, a full beer, etc ...... Dont hold back on adding flavor to your brine, it doesnt have to only be salt, the salt will bring all the other flavors in the bird with it! Brining makes a juicy, flavorful bird ....... dont give up on it!
The last smoke I did (my first one actually) I had 4 birds that I halved and brined in a big stew pot. I left them in the brine from 8p till around noon the next day. Here's what I used:
1 Gal water
1 Cup Kosher salt
1 Cup sugar
1 TBS Garlic Powder
1 TBS Onion Powder
1/2 TBS cracked black pepper

The rub I put on the chicken before cooking is a poultry rub from McCormick (grill mates?) and it turned out awesome. I was afraid that the rub would make the birds salty but it didn't at all.

I'd say that the brining process definitely had a positive outcome on why my birds were so juicy!
Fantastic responses, guys. Thanks!

Yeah, I guess 20 hours was too long. I guess I didn't rinse it well enough. I guess I used too much salt for my taste. It was good, though. The fam ate it up!

I figured .5oz of garlic salt was equal to regular salt, but I guess not. Ditto for the onion salt. From now on, it's 2oz of sea salt, and 2oz of table salt.

The seasoning (poultry) I used has no added salt. Just the usual poultry seasonings mixed together in powder form. It was good, but next time, I'll mix it up with other seasonings.

Next time, I'll bring some 'spice' to the brine. Like, paprika, chili powder, jalapeño (chipotle) powder. I'll also stick to garlic and/or onion powder instead of salt.

I like "Lemon Pepper" chicken, but lemon is not good as a marinade or brine because the acid cooks the chicken. I don't want to try it, but have any of you? I figure, a lemon, pepper and butter mop during the smoking process?

Oh, the skin was crisp, and tasty, but I usually don't eat it. But, I had a small piece and it was GOOOOOOOOOD!
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