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How Much Sodium Is in Brined Food?

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2014

We sent cooked samples of food that we brined to an independent lab for sodium analysis.

There are a number of foods that we typically soak in a saltwater solution, or brine, before cooking. The salt in the brine doesn’t just season the food; in the case of meat, poultry, and fish, it improves juiciness and tenderness. It also helps dried beans cook faster and gives them a creamier texture and more tender skin. That said, we’ve often wondered just how much sodium ends up in brined food. To find out, we sent cooked samples of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boneless center-cut pork chops, skinless salmon fillets, and black beans that we brined for our standard recommended times to an independent lab for sodium analysis. We also analyzed plain water–soaked samples so that we could then subtract any naturally occurring sodium. Here’s how much sodium brining adds to each food. (Note: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 milligrams daily for people under 51 and less than 1,500 milligrams for those 51 and older.)

6 Ounces Cooked Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast

  • BRINING FORMULA: 2 quarts water, 1/4 cup salt, 1 hour
  • ADDED SODIUM: 270 milligrams
  • SALT EQUIVALENT: Less than 1/8 teaspoon

6 Ounces Cooked Boneless, Center-Cut Pork Chop

  • BRINING FORMULA: 2 quarts water, 1/4 cup salt, 1 hour
  • ADDED SODIUM: 218 milligrams
  • SALT EQUIVALENT: Less than 1/8 teaspoon

6 Ounces Cooked Skinless Salmon Fillet

  • BRINING FORMULA: 2 quarts water, 5 tablespoons salt, 15 minutes
  • ADDED SODIUM: 173 milligrams
  • SALT EQUIVALENT: Just over 1/16 teaspoon

3 Ounces (1/2 Cup) Cooked Black Beans

  • BRINING FORMULA: 2 quarts water, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, 24 hours
  • ADDED SODIUM: 52 milligrams
  • SALT EQUIVALENT: Less than 1/32 teaspoon