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Wet brining vs. dry brining chicken

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  • Lost in China
    Charter Member
    • Mar 2015
    • 409
    • Wenzhou, China
    • 22" Weber kettle
      Slow 'N Sear
      Hovergrill
      Maverick 732
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    Wet brining vs. dry brining chicken

    When I first started reading this site, I learned to brine my chicken before cooking it. This was a big revelation and was one of the things that took my chicken to above average. At that time, I had just read the wet brining recipes, which called for salt and sugar in equal amounts, and a soak for several hours or overnight. As usual, I didn't know what I was doing, the first time I did it I let the boiling water cool just enough to not cook the chicken, and then put the whole thing in the fridge. Nearly broke my refrigeration unit trying to cool that big heat mass, the temp inside the fridge was 70F. After learning to let the water to cool to room temperature before refrigerating, I then discovered dry brining. This is much less mess, but harder to do for some reason. I find it's very easy to oversalt this way. Nonetheless I've kept at it and I think I've figured it out.

    Last week's cookout was a great success with the kind of chicken I was looking for. Moist, crisp skin (at first anyway), nice color, not oversalted, and a perfect level of smoke. BUT I find I miss the succulent nature of the wet brined chicken. It was kind of like biting into an aloe vera, a toothy outer cuticle and moist inner flesh. Like KFC's chicken. The dry brined chicken is great, but is more like bundles of string-flesh. I'm sorry, I lack the culinary vocabulary to adequately express the concept of what I'm trying to say.

    I haven't seen any difference being made between wet and dry brining, as far as taste goes. From Meathead's article on dry brining: "Since discovering it I almost never wet brine anymore." He calls the process of making the meat succulent "denaturing" and doesn't make any difference between wet and dry. An another article, he says "But I've gotta tell you, I no longer wet brine anything. It is a lot of work, a waste of ingredients, and it just dilutes the meat flavor."

    Is there any difference between wet and dry brining regarding the taste and texture of the chicken?
  • Nate
    Charter Member
    • Apr 2015
    • 3813
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    #2
    I'm sure meathead and doc blonder would have something to say on this but in both cases I most always dry brine... i don't feel like there is a huge enough difference that the average joe and palate could tell the difference.....

    i personally think doing a dry brine i a lot less of a pain in the butt than wet brine... but that is me... I'm sure others may differ in their opinion and a few may agree.... best of luck...

    Comment

    • Nuke em
      Club Member
      • Jun 2016
      • 746
      • Nj

      #3
      Let's expand a lil. What if ya wet brined it then turned around and rinsed it off then applied a dry brine to it. That way you would get both worlds. Of course you would have to adjust for the salt issue. I always just dry brine. Alot easier and less mess indeed. Both doc and meathead says wet brine does not penetrate much at all. Except for corned beef and pastrami. I tend to agree

      Comment

      • Huskee
        Pit Boss
        • May 2014
        • 14685
        • central MI, USA
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        #4
        I prefer wet brining chicken pieces and pork chops/loin chops and loins. For pork I use 1 gal water and 1C table salt, soak chops for an hour. For chicken I use that plus I add 1 C white sugar, soak also 1 hr. It definitely wastes more salt & sugar doing that, since most goes down the drain when you're done. I find it a worthy tradeoff, especially for chicken pieces. Yum!

        I've done side by side cooks and I notice a more moist end product, on both, when I've wet brined. It's not night & day different- subtle, but noticeable in a side by side.

        EDIT: Jon brings up a good point. ALWAYS cold water. Cold tap water and even ice cubes. Then put it in the fridge.

        Comment

        • Jon Solberg
          Former Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 4872

          #5
          Im with Huskee on the. I prefer wet brine chicken and chop. I have no issue with dry brine on these meats. I will do that if I have no prep time.

          Remember not to drop you chicken in warm brine. Make sure it's a safe temp : )

          Comment

          • Meathead
            BBQ Whisperer, Mythbuster
            • May 2014
            • 1264
            • Chicago area
            • Remember, no rules in the bedroom or kitchen
              Meathead

            #6
            Sounds like time for an experiment. Do one of each and then do a blind tasting with some friends.

            Comment

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