How to Neutralize Salty Meat

Whether you add too much salt by accident or intent, salty meat is never a good thing. The sodium in salt can put your health at risk and the taste can ruin your meal. While neutralizing salty meat is possible, it can be a challenge. Cured meat that uses salt as part of the curing process poses another challenge. Depending on the type of meat, the process you use to neutralize salt can occur before or during cooking.

Grilled meat on a chopping board and a glass of wine. (Image: azfotoru/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Rinse fresh cured meat, such as ham, or meat that was soaked in a salt brine solution under cold running water before cooking. A thorough rinsing removes excess salt on the surface of the meat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels before cooking the meat.

Step 2

Soak cured or naturally salty meat in a large pot of cold water to help remove excess salt if you plan to cook the meat in your oven or on your grill. The time it takes to neutralize the salt by removal depends on the weight and degree of saltiness. Soak smaller or less salty cuts for 6 to 12 hours and large or very salty cuts for up to 72 hours. Drain and replace the soaking water every 4 to 6 hours regardless of how long you soak the meat.

Step 3

Mix white sugar and cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio, starting with 1 tsp. of each. Add this mixture to cooking liquid when you are stewing or braising meat or sprinkle it on already cooked meat.

Step 4

Add acidic ingredients, such as wine or citrus juice, to change the pH of cooking liquid to neutralize salt. Another option is to use acidic ingredients to make gravy that you can pour over salty meat slices before serving.

Things You'll Need

  • Stockpot or Dutch oven

  • Sugar

  • Cider vinegar

  • Wine or citrus juice


There is only so much you can do to neutralize salty meat. If a heavy hand is the reason for salty meat, you may find it necessary to cut off and discard the portion receiving too much salt.

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