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To dry brine or not, that's my question

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  • jitsntricks
    Former Member
    • Aug 2020
    • 2
    • Tri-Cities, Washington

    To dry brine or not, that's my question

    Do you guys dry brine a pork butt over night before the smoke, or not? Do you notice much of a difference with this size of meat? Just curious before I put in a possible unnecessary effort in dry brining. I typically add some of the juices from the wrap, maybe a little Carolina vinegar sauce, and a little rub to the pulled pork and it always comes out fantastic.

    Just wondering what you all do since I know that dry brining tri tip has taken it to another level flavor wise.
  • Donw
    Club Member
    • Jul 2017
    • 3135

    I dry brine every pork butt and for that matter all pork cuts at least overnight. It does make a difference in the moisture of the pork itself. There are articles here on the site and other sites that go into the mechanics of why it works.


    • jitsntricks
      jitsntricks commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks! Do you trim much of the fat off or just let the salt penetrate that?
      I'm aware of the articles on this site. It's actually where I learned of dry brining and how it works and ultimately changed how I prepare my tri tip.
      All the other learning resources I've use for BBQ (youtube mainly) never really talk about dry brining pork. I wonder why that is.
      Looks like I'll be tossing this butt in the freezer until next weekend as I was too lazy to brine it last night lol.

    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      If I can’t let it brine for 24 hours, at least, then I just salt it right before I put it on.
  • Donw
    Club Member
    • Jul 2017
    • 3135

    Answering your question with what I do, I trim most external fat down to a minimum or right off. IMHO the meat itself contains all the fat I need to produce a good product and it also doesn’t allow the salt to penetrate the meat during brining. I also don’t need to separate out big chunks of fat from the meat when I’m pulling or chopping.


    • jitsntricks
      jitsntricks commented
      Editing a comment
      Awesome, thanks for the tips
  • smokin fool
    Club Member
    • Apr 2019
    • 1872
    • Mississauga, Ont

    I’ve never dry brined a pork butt.
    Outta the fridge, dry rub it and into the grate.
    Personal preference thing.
    Guess the right answer depends on which side of the fence your on


    • Mr. Bones
      Mr. Bones commented
      Editing a comment
      Yup. Do what makes ya feel good...

      Several hours later, yer still gonna have delicious pulled pork.

    • Parkin
      Parkin commented
      Editing a comment
      I've done it both way and personally prefer not brined...my family all loves it brined.
  • Dadof3Illinois
    Club Member
    • Jul 2017
    • 879
    • Southeast Illinois

    For me, I haven’t seen a big difference in dry brining or not on large cuts of pork. As far as trimming a pork butt...I’ll trim all the thick hard fat off because it doesn’t render out as easily, but don’t worry too much about the soft fat.


    • jitsntricks
      jitsntricks commented
      Editing a comment
      What about ribs? Have you brined those? I'm thinking if those are brined, probably would only need a few hours or so

    • Parkin
      Parkin commented
      Editing a comment
      I tend to notice it a lot more on a smaller pieces like, 1/2 a butt vs an 8-10 pounder.
  • Dadof3Illinois
    Club Member
    • Jul 2017
    • 879
    • Southeast Illinois

    jitsntricks I have, and on thinner pork cuts I think it makes a difference but it seems more often than not I forget to thaw my ribs in time to do a proper brine. Nobody seems to complain when they eat so I’ll assume they taste good.
    I’ll dry brine beef and I’m a believer that it makes a difference, especially on steaks.


    • Attjack
      Club Member
      • Aug 2017
      • 4094
      • Primo XL
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      I always dry brine and feel like it makes a significant difference. I definitely dry brine ribs too.
      Last edited by Attjack; August 24, 2020, 12:24 PM.


      • HawkerXP
        Club Member
        • Jul 2016
        • 5669
        • Virginia
        • 2 Weber Performers, 1 kettle, 1 Smoky Joe and a PBC
          Dot and Chef Alarm with probes
          Slo n Sear
          Cold beer

        I'll dry brine a butt two days in advance if I can. I do not brine wibs. I put the rub on first thing in the morning of the cook, our rib rub has salt. so, I guess I do brine wibs.


        • ecowper
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 3360
          • Maple Valley, WA
          • Grill = Hasty-Bake Gourmet Dual Finish
            Smoke = Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5"

            Thermometer = FireBoard FBX11 with 2 ambient and 6 meat probes
            Thermometer = Maverick ET732
            Thermometer = ThermoWorks Chef Alarm
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            PID Controller = Fireboard Drive + Auber 20 CFM Fan

            Favorite cook = Tri-Tip for the grill, whole packer brisket for the smoker
            Favorite wine = a good Bordeaux with steak, a good Syrah with pork, or a nice bottle of Champagne or California sparkling wine
            Favorite beer = Sam Adams Boston Lager or Shiner Bock
            Favorite whisky = Lagavulin 16 year old single malt

            Best Cookbooks - Meathead's "The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", Chris Lilly's "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book", Aaron Franklin's "Franklin BBQ"

            Eric Cowperthwaite aka ecowper

          No matter what sort of cut of meat I'm prepping to grill or smoke, I always do several things IF POSSIBLE. Time constraints may cause issues, especially with dry brining. I have, at times, literally picked up a pork butt at the store, hit it with some salt and rub, and then gone straight onto the smoker.

          - Dry brine with 1/2 tsp kosher salt per pound for at least 1 hour. Preferably 24 hours. On large cuts of meat (Pork butt, for example) if I can't go 24 hours, I don't bother with the dry brine.

          - Trim fat and silverskin aggressively. I get all of that off the surface that I can. It interferes with dry brine, rub, and bark formation. In addition, most people trim the surface fat off their serving. So, you basically lose the rub and bark you spent so much time on. I have never noticed that surface fat does some miraculous basting or something, so I just trim it right down to the meat.

          - Keep the meat as cold as possible right until it goes on the grill/smoker. I basically take it from the fridge to the counter, hit it with my rub/seasoning, and then straight to the cooker. You get far more/better smoke flavor in my experience doing this. Letting it sit on the counter and warm up just means you are putting the meat into the danger zone for bacteria formation, without any significant impact on cooking that I have ever found.


          • Spinaker
            Spinaker commented
            Editing a comment
            Yep! I second that. Too much surface fat and people jsut get rid of it when they eat, there goes your rub and bark!

          • jitsntricks
            jitsntricks commented
            Editing a comment
            Great tips! Thanks! I'm definitely going to brine this bad boy for at least a day.
        • Spinaker
          • Nov 2014
          • 10681
          • Land of Tonka
          • John "J R"
            Instagram: JRBowlsby
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            Minnesota/ United States of America

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            Dexter 12" Brisket Sword
            Next Major Purchase
            Lone Star Grillz 24 X 48 Offset

          I dry brine if I have the time. I always to make time to do it though.


          • Hidohebhi
            Club Member
            • Jan 2020
            • 5

            I always dry brine based on the teachings of Mr Meathead and I've never been disappointed. Just remember to not add salt to your rub.


            • jitsntricks
              jitsntricks commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks. looks like the consensus is in favor of dry brining. Looks like I'll be doing a lot more of that. Also, do you wrap in plastic or just stick it uncovered in the fridge?

            • ecowper
              ecowper commented
              Editing a comment
              jitsntricks stick it in the fridge uncovered. Put it on a cookie rack in a cookie tray if you can. Let’s air circulate around the meat. Works better IMHO
          • Hidohebhi
            Club Member
            • Jan 2020
            • 5

            I have a fridge in the garage we use for overflow and meat so I leave it uncovered on a baking pan.


            • smokenoob
              Club Member
              • Dec 2017
              • 1031
              • Gulf Breeze, Florida

              I dry brine cause I was told to in a science book


              • ecowper
                ecowper commented
                Editing a comment
                Something about BBQ science or sumpin
            • Rocinante
              Club Member
              • Dec 2019
              • 117
              • Knoxville, TN

              I find myself always applying a rub, which contains a lower salt content to all my meats the night before, providing no time constraints get in the way. I can see where the liquid working its way back into the meat on a big piece like a Butt may not get all that deep, but for ribs, steaks and just about anything else, a rub the night before is my usual game plan. I will place the meat on a cooling rack on a baking sheet and let rest naked in the fridge.




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