Morton Tender Quick: A Complete Guide

Introduction to Tender Quick

Understanding Tender Quick

Morton Tender Quick is more than just a seasoning; it’s a journey through time and taste. Originating from the reputable Morton Salt Company, this product has etched its place in the annals of meat curing history. Offering a unique blend of salts, sugar, and curing agents, Tender Quick has revolutionized the way we cure meats, infusing them with flavor and preserving them for extended enjoyment.

History and Manufacturer

Founded in 1848, Morton Salt has been a beacon of quality and innovation in the salt industry. Their foray into the world of meat curing brought about the creation of Tender Quick, a product that stands testament to their commitment to excellence. This curing salt, with its distinctive blend and consistent results, has garnered a loyal following among culinary aficionados.

Composition and Features

Composition of Tender Quick

Delving into the essence of Morton Tender Quick, we uncover a harmonious blend of essential curing ingredients. At its base, a mix of salt and sugar lays the groundwork. Yet, the real game-changers are sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, each constituting 0.5% of the mixture. These components are indispensable, not only for preservation but also for infusing a distinct flavor into cured meats. Furthermore, propylene glycol plays a dual role. Firstly, it ensures the mixture remains easy to handle. Secondly, it stabilizes the curing agents, guaranteeing consistent results. For enthusiasts venturing into home curing, understanding this unique composition is crucial. It reveals the science behind how Tender Quick effectively transforms meats.

Features and Benefits

The allure of Morton Tender Quick extends beyond its composition to its remarkable features and benefits. The balanced mix of salt and sugar, alongside curing agents, elevates the flavor profile of meats, surpassing traditional salt-only cures. Moreover, this blend aids in moisture retention, resulting in juicier and more delectable meats. Additionally, its versatility is a significant advantage. Tender Quick is apt for a wide array of meats, ranging from poultry to fish, making it a versatile choice for various culinary experiments. Crucially, the inclusion of sodium nitrite and nitrate enhances safety by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. Thus, Tender Quick emerges as a reliable and easy-to-use solution for both amateur and professional cooks. It deftly balances flavor enhancement with safety, making it an indispensable tool in the art of meat curing.

Morton Tender Quick

Comparison with Other Curing Salts

Tender Quick vs Other Curing Salts

In the world of curing salts, Morton Tender Quick uniquely positions itself against Prague Powder and Insta Cure. Each of these salts brings unique properties and applications to the table.

Prague Powder often serves in the long-term curing of meats. It acts slowly, imparting a distinct flavor and a pinkish hue. Its primary components include salt and sodium nitrite, crucial for preventing food poisoning during the meat curing process.

Insta Cure stands out with its higher sodium nitrite concentration compared to Tender Quick. This high concentration delivers a pronounced salty and tangy flavor, enhancing the taste of cured meats significantly.

Tender Quick combines salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate, offering versatility. It suits quick curing of smaller meat cuts and appeals to home cooks for its user-friendliness. Tender Quick not only cures but also seasons meats, adding a rich blend of flavors.

Usage Differences

The ways to use these curing salts also differ. Cooks apply Tender Quick directly to meat, much like a seasoning. This straightforward application makes it a favorite for home curing projects. It works with various meats and achieves effective curing in relatively short periods.

On the other hand, cooks use Prague Powder and Insta Cure mainly in specific methods, like brine making. These salts demand precise measurements and suit controlled, longer curing processes.

While Prague Powder and Insta Cure specialize in particular applications, Tender Quick offers a broad range of uses. This versatility makes it a practical and accessible choice for both amateur and professional curing projects.

Application and Usage

How to Use Tender Quick

Utilizing Morton Tender Quick for meat curing involves a series of simple yet crucial steps. Here’s a comprehensive guide to ensure you harness its full potential:

  1. Selecting the Meat: Firstly, choose your preferred meat – be it pork, beef, poultry, or fish. Tender Quick is versatile and effective across various meat types.
  2. Preparing the Meat: Secondly, clean and, if necessary, trim the meat. This step is essential for achieving an even cure.
  3. Applying Tender Quick: Then, evenly sprinkle Tender Quick over the meat’s surface, ensuring every part is adequately covered.
  4. Curing Time: Next, place the meat in a suitable container. The duration of curing typically depends on the meat’s thickness, averaging about 12 hours per inch.
  5. Refrigeration is Key: During curing, it’s imperative to refrigerate the meat. This ensures safety and enhances the curing process.
  6. Rinsing Post-Cure: After the curing period, rinse the meat under cold water to remove excess salt.
  7. Ready for Cooking or Smoking: Now, the meat is prepared for either cooking or smoking, based on your recipe choice.
  8. Proper Storage: Finally, if not used immediately, store the cured meat in a refrigerator or freezer, adhering to food safety standards.

Dosage and Proportions

Achieving the right balance in curing is pivotal. Generally, use one tablespoon of Tender Quick per pound of meat. This dosage ensures effective curing without overwhelming the meat’s natural flavors. For brine curing, a ratio of one cup of Tender Quick to four cups of water is recommended. This proportion works well for most meats, striking a balance that is crucial for an even curing process. Always tailor the proportions to your specific recipe for optimal results.

Culinary Applications

Tender Quick in Cooking

Morton Tender Quick is not just a curing salt; it’s a versatile ingredient that can transform your cooking. This unique blend of salts, sugar, and curing agents lends itself to a variety of culinary applications. Its use extends beyond curing meats; it can also be used to season and enhance the flavors of different dishes.

One popular use of Tender Quick is in making homemade sausages, where it contributes to both the preservation and the flavor of the sausage. It’s also commonly used in curing bacon, giving it that perfect balance of saltiness and sweetness, along with a pink hue that is characteristic of cured meats.

Additionally, Tender Quick can be used in brining solutions for poultry, enhancing the moisture and flavor of chicken or turkey. It’s particularly useful for holiday cooking, where brined turkey or chicken becomes the centerpiece of the meal.

Recipes and Techniques

When it comes to recipes and techniques involving Tender Quick, the possibilities are vast. For instance, in curing a brisket for corned beef, Tender Quick serves as a crucial ingredient. The brisket is typically rubbed with a blend of Tender Quick, sugar, and various spices, then left to cure for several days. This process infuses the brisket with rich flavors and a tender texture, ideal for corned beef dishes.

Another recipe where Tender Quick shines is in the preparation of homemade jerky. The meat, often beef or venison, is sliced, seasoned with a mix of Tender Quick and other spices, and then dried. This method not only preserves the meat but also imparts a savory, slightly spiced flavor.

In addition to these, Tender Quick is also useful in creating flavorful rubs for barbecued meats. Whether you’re smoking ribs or grilling chicken, a rub made with Tender Quick can add depth and complexity to the meat’s flavor profile.

Remember, when using Tender Quick in cooking, it’s important to follow the recommended proportions to achieve the desired flavor and texture. The versatility of Tender Quick makes it a valuable addition to any culinary enthusiast’s kitchen.

Morton Tender Quick

Safety and Health Considerations

Safety Guidelines

When using curing salts like Morton Tender Quick, safety is paramount. These salts contain sodium nitrite and nitrate, which are essential for preventing the growth of harmful bacteria, especially Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium responsible for botulism. However, it’s crucial to use curing salts according to prescribed guidelines.

First and foremost, always measure accurately. Using too much can lead to excessively high nitrate and nitrite levels, which are not safe for consumption. It’s also important to store curing salts away from regular cooking salts to avoid confusion and accidental misuse.

When handling curing salts, wearing gloves is advisable to prevent skin irritation. Additionally, curing should always take place in a controlled environment, typically in the refrigerator, to maintain a safe temperature and prevent bacterial growth.

Health Implications

Sodium nitrite and nitrate, key components in Tender Quick, play a vital role in curing, but their health implications must be understood. While they effectively preserve meats and maintain color, overconsumption of these compounds can be a health concern. Studies have linked excessive intake of nitrates and nitrites to certain health issues, including an increased risk of certain types of cancers.

However, it’s also important to note that the human body naturally converts nitrates from vegetables into nitrites. In fact, dietary sources like vegetables contribute significantly more to our nitrite intake than cured meats.

To minimize risks, it’s crucial to adhere to recommended usage levels of curing salts in cooking and curing processes. Consuming a balanced diet with a variety of foods can also help mitigate potential health risks associated with nitrate and nitrite consumption.

Availability and Purchasing Options

Where to Buy Tender Quick

Morton Tender Quick is widely available and easy to purchase. You can find it in many grocery stores, especially those with a well-stocked baking or spices section. For those who prefer online shopping, Tender Quick is readily available on e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Walmart. Additionally, specialty cooking stores and butcher shops often carry this product, given its specific use in meat curing. When looking for Tender Quick, it’s a good idea to check both in-store and online options to find the best availability.

Cost Considerations

When considering the cost and value of Tender Quick, it’s important to note that it is generally an affordable option for meat curing. The price may vary slightly depending on the retailer, but it typically offers good value for the quantity and quality provided. In comparison to other curing salts like Prague Powder or Insta Cure, Tender Quick often stands out for its versatility and ease of use, which can justify any minor price differences. For home cooks and professionals alike, investing in Tender Quick is a cost-effective way to delve into the world of meat curing without compromising on quality.

Alternatives and Substitutes

Alternatives to Tender Quick

While Morton Tender Quick is a popular choice for meat curing, there are several alternatives and substitutes available. One commonly used substitute is Prague Powder, also known as pink curing salt. It is used for similar purposes but is more specialized for certain types of curing processes. There are also other commercially available curing salts like Insta Cure and Sel Rose, which can be used in place of Tender Quick for specific types of meat curing.

For those who prefer natural or less processed options, sea salt and kosher salt can be used for basic curing, though they lack the preserving agents found in Tender Quick. Another alternative is using a combination of salt, sugar, and a source of nitrates or nitrites, like celery powder, which is often used in “naturally cured” meats.

Homemade Mixes

Creating a homemade alternative to Tender Quick is possible and can be done by combining basic curing ingredients. A simple mix can be made using table salt and sugar in a ratio that mimics the saltiness and sweetness of Tender Quick. For the curing aspect, adding a nitrate or nitrite source is essential. This can be something like celery juice or powder, which contains natural nitrates. However, it’s important to note that achieving the precise and safe levels of nitrates/nitrites found in commercial products like Tender Quick can be challenging at home.

Morton Tender Quick


Inquiries about Morton Tender Quick often focus on its usage, safety, and storage. Here are answers to some common questions:

  1. What is Morton Tender Quick?
    • Morton Tender Quick is a mix designed for quick curing of meat, poultry, and game. It contains salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate, ensuring a fast cure and imparting a distinctive pink color and flavor.
  2. How do you use Morton Tender Quick for curing meats?
    • Apply Tender Quick evenly over your meat’s surface, using about one tablespoon per pound. Cure the meat in the refrigerator for 12 hours per inch of thickness. After curing, rinse the meat and proceed with cooking or smoking.
  3. Can you use Morton Tender Quick for all types of meat?
    • Yes, Tender Quick works well for various meats like pork, beef, poultry, and fish, especially for smaller cuts like pork chops and spareribs.
  4. Is Morton Tender Quick safe to consume?
    • Tender Quick is safe when you use it according to recommended proportions. This avoids excessive intake of nitrates and nitrites.
  5. Where can I buy Morton Tender Quick?
    • You can find Tender Quick in many grocery stores, specialty cooking stores, butcher shops, and on online platforms such as Amazon and Walmart.
  6. How should you store Morton Tender Quick?
    • Store Tender Quick in a cool, dry place, separate from regular cooking salts to prevent confusion. Ensure it’s away from direct sunlight and moisture.
  7. What are alternatives to Morton Tender Quick?
    • You can use alternatives like Prague Powder, Insta Cure, or natural options such as sea salt, kosher salt, and celery powder. However, these might not replicate Tender Quick’s exact flavor and preservation qualities.


Morton Tender Quick emerges as a versatile and user-friendly solution in the world of meat curing. Its unique blend of salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate makes it ideal for various culinary applications, from curing meats to enhancing flavors. While safety is a key consideration when using Tender Quick, adhering to recommended guidelines ensures both delicious and safe outcomes. Its widespread availability and affordability add to its appeal. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cooking enthusiast, Tender Quick offers a gateway to explore the art of meat curing, blending tradition with convenience.


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