Lynne Brine Time Guide © 2005 Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All rights reserved.

Brining is a dynamite way to plump up lean or tough meats and poultry. It makes fish juicier. You cover the food with salted (and flavored, if you'd like) cold water, refrigerate it and, after a time, you are ready to cook.

The big hitch is that people are brining too long, to the point of over-salted, spongy, pickle-like dishes. You sidestep the problem by brining according to the thickness of the meat, no matter which brine recipe you are using.

Brining Times:

  • Pork chops, chicken breasts, or meats about one inch thick: 45 minutes to 4 hours.

  • Fish: Its structure is delicate so brine no more than 1 1/2 hours.

  • Whole chicken and Cornish hens: 4 to 8 hours, depending on size.

  • Turkey (12 to 18 pounds): 2 days.

  • Roasts: Figure 1 1/2 to 2 hours per inch of thickness.


  • Be sure liquid is ice cold when the food goes into it.

  • Always brine in the refrigerator.

  • When seasoning a brine, overdo it. For instance, for 2 quarts of brine you would want 1/2 cup hot chile powder; or 10 big cloves garlic, crushed; or 2 cups of fresh basil.