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10 Must-have Marinades, Brines and Barbecue Rubs

All-purpose Brine for Smoked Meats

Brines are well-known for making meats more tender and succulent, and this all-purpose brine for smoked meats lives up to that reputation. The recipe comes from Stephan Pyles' cookbook "The New Texas Cuisine" and is especially fitting if you're smoking a large amount of meat. Once you let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours, it will be better prepared to be smoked and less likely to dry out. Brines tend to be quite salty, so you can always use less salt if you prefer. You may enjoy experimenting with using more of one ingredient, such as sugar or bay leaves, to adjust the flavor to suit your palate.


  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 cup kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (the equivalent of 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder


Put all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow mixture to simmer for five minutes. Cover the pot and cool the mixture to room temperature. Once cooled, add the meat and soak it for 24 hours in the fridge.