Food Guide

Find Out Which Is Better for Your Chicken: Brine or Marinade?

You are probably wondering what the difference is between brining and marinating.

Well, both have their pros and cons, and this article will help you figure out how these methods affect the taste and texture of your chicken so that you can opt for your favorite one.

What does brine chicken mean?

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Chicken that has been brined before cooking will noticeably have a flavorful taste and juicy texture.

So what exactly is brining?

Brine chicken refers to an old-fashioned way of cooking poultry in salted water.

It means your chicken (usually the whole bird) is completely soaked in a salty water solution before cooking.

The method originated in Europe and America during wartime when food was rationed and scarce.

A brining solution can also be made with sugar, spices, and herbs besides salt and water for a more complex flavor.

To start, use lukewarm water to easily dissolve the salt and sugar, then place the bowl of brine into the fridge or put in some ice cubes to make sure it is cold before adding your chicken.

This is to get rid of bacteria created during brining chicken.

Although it might take a little effort, the result is gonna be worth it.

You can have the perfect chicken dish that is extremely tender and juicy but never bland.

One thing to keep in mind is that brining chicken will be more suitable to work on the whole bird because individual cuts will absorb a lot more spices, which can make your dish too salty and high in sodium.

What does marinate chicken mean?

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Marinating chicken is a great way to add flavor and depth to your favorite dishes.

It is nearly a must-do step before cooking chicken so that you won’t end up with a tasteless dish.

It can also help keep the meat moist if the chicken is cooked in the oven or on the grill.

While there are many ways to marinate chicken, you will need a marinade liquid that often consists of an acidic like vinegar, citrus juice (lemon or lime), or even yogurt, buttermilk, oil for coating the meat, and salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice to enhance the flavor.

Each ingredient has its own benefit.

The acidity helps tenderize the meat, the oil will lock the moisture inside the chicken while cooking, and spices make your chicken more flavorful after being cooked.

This technique is perfect for cut-up chicken because you can easily marinade several small cuts in a ziplock bag.

Marinating chicken takes hours, or even overnight.

Therefore, just do it a night ahead and let it sit in the fridge, then you have the perfect chicken ready to be cooked the next day.

The result will be completely juicy and flavorful meat.

What are the differences between brining chicken vs marinating chicken?

Brining and marinating are two different methods to prepare chicken before cooking.

Below are the typical differences between these two techniques: 

 ComparisonBrine chickenMarinate chicken
MethodSoaking chicken in a brining solution that consists of salt, water, and/or sugar, herbsMarinate chicken in a liquid of acidic (vinegar/ citrus juice/ buttermilk/ yogurt), oil or fat, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and herbs (personal preference)
What cut to applyThe whole chicken is more suitable for the brining techniqueOften cut-up chicken
EquipmentA big bowl or a pot to soak up the whole birdA ziplock bag
TimeAt least 12 hours, or overnightAt least four hours, or overnight
CostLower because of the simple ingredients neededHigher because you will need more ingredients

What are the similarities between marinating chicken vs brining chicken?

There are also some similarities between these two marinating techniques, as listed below:

1. Brining chicken and marinating chicken are meant to keep the meat moist and flavorful when cooked

Brining and marinating share the same purpose that helps chicken taste more flavorful and avoids drying out the meat while cooking.

Therefore, although these methods require some ingredients with your time and effort, the result is totally worth it.

You will never end up with a bland or chewy chicken dish.

2. Brined chicken and marinated chicken take less time to cook

Another similarity between brine chicken and marinate chicken is that they also help lessen the cooking time.

The reason is a brining solution and marinade liquid have chemically “cooked” the chicken, just like when you curing other kinds of meat, so it will take less time to literally cook the chicken over the heat.

Which one is better?

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Product ImageAromasong Turkey Brine, Hot & Spicy, For Wet & Dry Brining, 2 Lb. 100%...Wild Garden Ready-To-Use Marinade, Chicken Shawarma Seasoning,...
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Whether you are looking to try something new, or are unsure which one of these methods is best for your particular foods, the answer may be found in this article.

We hope that it has given you some insight into what brining and marinating can do for chicken so that you can make an informed decision about how to cook up a delicious meal without drying out the chicken or serving a tasteless dish to your family.

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Emily W.

Emily Wong is an Asian-American food writer the founder of With nearly 8 years of experience, she has a passion for making cooking accessible to everyone and sharing her personal experiences with food. Emily's vision for is to create a community of food lovers who are passionate about cooking, eating, and sharing their experiences with others. Read my story
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