Difference Between Brine And Marinade (Plus 2 Super Simple Recipes)

Every home chef must understand the difference between brine and marinade.

Failing to properly incorporate these steps could result in dry and bland meat.

So if you want to be a grill master in your neighborhood, read carefully to learn about brine and marinade.

What’s The Difference Between Marinade And Brine?

The difference between marinating and brining is, that marinating meat adds flavoring (with the use of oil and aromatics) whereas brining is for adding moisture to the meat by using a water and salt solution.

What a Brine?

If you like your meat to be nice and juicy, you should learn how to properly brine it. In the simplest terms, this means salting the meat before cooking it.

The salt will break down the muscle proteins which makes room for the saltwater to soak into the muscle fibers and retain more liquid.

A brine will soak into the piece of meat, adding salty flavor and locking in extra moisture. This is good for lean meats, such as chicken breasts or turkey

The two classic brine methods are the wet method and the dry method. 

Wet Brining

Wet brining meat in a mixture of salt and water is probably the most popular brine method. Adding spices and seasoning to the salty solution will add extra flavor to the meat.

The salt content and any other flavors present will enhance the flavorful meat. While this method sounds easy, it may not be the best method.

Dry Brining

Many backyard cooks prefer dry brining because it is less wasteful and can even be easier than wet brining. 

Dry brining is less wasteful because it doesn’t require liquid. Simply sprinkle the salt onto the meat.

The downfall of brining this way is that some cuts of meat have extra nooks and crannies. For instance, sprinkling a dry brine equally all over a turkey may present some struggles.

Marinade

Many people think that marinade makes the meat juicier. In reality, it just allows the additional flavor to seep into the final product.

However, most marinades only soak into the outer edge of the meat. This means that every bite will release delicious flavors, but the original flavor of the meat will still stand out.

Acid breaks down muscle proteins, allowing room for the solution to soak into the muscle fibers. This is why most marinades include an acidic component, such as citrus juice. 

A good marinade will provide a complex flavor. Many people might include fruit juice, brown sugar, salad dressing, or their favorite spices in a marinade.

Since the meat doesn’t soak up a marinade as well as it soaks up a brine, it is better to marinate smaller cuts of meat.

Pork chops or small cuts of chicken are the perfect candidates for a delicious marinade sauce.

When To Brine Or Marinade

If you still aren’t sure whether to brine or marinate, remember to consider the size of the meat. For larger pieces, brine is the better choice.

Another way to decide is based on the ingredients you have in the kitchen. If you only have meat and table salt, then you have everything you need for a dry brined meat.

Even if your ingredients might not sound like desirable flavors for a marinade, don’t be afraid to experiment. You never know what combination of flavors will be your new favorite recipe!

Food Safety While Bringing And Marinating

Whether you decide to go with brine or marinade, remember to refrigerate the meat until it’s time to cook it. This will prevent harmful bacteria growth.

Meat left at room temperature is the perfect environment for bacteria. To prevent even minimal bacterial growth, the cook should also limit the length of time raw meat spends in the refrigerator.

Learning everything necessary to cook yummy meat may seem daunting. Fortunately, anyone can improve their skills with regular practice!

Do you prefer brining or marinating?

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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