A chicken does not have to be brined but brining will provide juicier and more flavorful meat. Brining solutions vary in the amount of salt that is used according to a person's preference in saltiness. They can vary from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of kosher salt used per quart of water. The more salt that is used the quicker the brining time, but it will also result in the outside layers of meat being very salty. Using a less salty solution and longer brining time will result in a more even seasoning through all layers to the bone. The brining mixture and the chicken are placed in a large pot and stored in the refrigerator during the brining process. When using 1/4 cup of salt per quart of water, the chicken is left to soak for approximately one hour per pound. Before brining, be sure that the chicken was not already brined when it was purchased.
It is also common for sugar to be added in amounts equal to the salt, so when 1/4 cup salt is added per quart, then 1/4 cup of sugar is also added. Sugar, in the brining solution, will add flavor to the chicken and will improve the natural caramelized flavor that occurs when the meat is grilled or fried. When roasting, if the pan drippings are going to be used for making gravy, adding sugar to the brining solution may result in gravy that is too sweet.