Morton Tender Quick Ultimate Meat Cure

cured meat selection
Morton Tender Quick is a fast-curing salt mix perfect for meat, fish, poultry, and game and perfect for at-home curing in the kitchen. This product gives your meat a pink hue and allows the natural flavor to shine through. It is a great and easy-to-use product for your curing, pickling, and preservative needs.

Over the last few years, many people have spent more time at home and in the kitchen. If you’re anything like me, you are getting better at cooking and more interested in food preparation. Morton Tender Quick allows for curing meat and is so versatile that it should always be kept at home.

What is Morton Tender Quick?

Morton Tender Quick is a fast-curing mix that allows you to cure meat, poultry, and game in the comfort of your own home. The product imparts a tasty cured flavor and a characteristic pink color to meats. It is particularly suitable for small cuts of meat, such as pork chops, spare ribs, and poultry.

Morton Tender Quick bag
Morton Tender Quick

Besides salt, Morton Tender Quick mix also contains sugar, sodium nitrate, and curing agents which contribute to the development of color and flavor, as well as propylene glycol to keep the mixture uniform. The Morton Tender Quick product is not a meat tenderizer.

How to Use Morton Tender Quick

For each pound of meat, apply one tablespoon (1/2 ounce) of Tender Quick, and rub it thoroughly into the meat. Refrigerate at 36-40 degrees F for 4-8 hours to cure, up to 24 hours for thicker cuts. Place in a clean, food-grade plastic bag, seal the bag tightly, and place in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours to cure. To make a wet brine, add one cup of Tender Quick® to four cups of water.

Please note that this curing salt should only be used at the rate specified in the formulation or recipe. If it is used at higher levels, the results may be inconsistent, the cured meats may be too salty, and the finished products may be unsatisfactory. It is not possible to substitute curing salts for regular salt in other recipes.

What Meats Can You Cure Using Morton Tender Quick?

You can use Morton Tender Quick on the following:

  • Cured meat
  • fish
  • game
  • poultry
  • meat
  • sablefish
  • salmon
  • shad

What Meats Should You Avoid Using with Morton Tender Quick?

Morton Tender Quick is not recommended for use with pork belly or bacon. In light of the varying fat contents of individual cuts, curing times for these items may vary considerably.

Morton Tender Quick vs Pink Salt

Morton Tender Quick meat cure is a mixture of natural salt as well as other ingredients that is used to preserve food, especially meats. Pink curing salt, while also a good choice for curing salt, is slightly different in its makeup.


The Morton Tender Quick salt contains natural sodium nitrate and sodium chloride. Combining these elements enhances the flavor and color of meat and gives the dish a pinkish hue.

Although both options are gluten-free, the ingredients in Pink Salt differ. The sodium nitrite of Pink Salt is 6.25. Since it cannot be used as natural salt, it should only be used for curing meat.


It is not safe to use Morton Tender Quick in bacon. In addition, there are USDA guidelines regarding the use of curing salts in commercial food products. These restrictions are due to sodium nitrate. You can use this product in the recommended amounts in your own home but they shouldn’t be used in restaurants or commercial establishments.

Pink salt, on the other hand, is recommended for use in restaurant kitchens. It is safe to use pink salt on many types of meats, including bacon, beef, fish, beef, and sausages.

Pink salt in bowls and spoons
Pink salt

How Long Does Morton Tender Quick Last?

For optimal performance of the ingredients that cure meat, the shelf life for this product is 3 years.

What is the Difference Between Morton Tender Quick and Cure #1?

Cure #1 is different in many ways from Morton Tender Quick. The following comprehensive overview of both products highlights the key differences which include how the product is used, the cost, availability, flavor, and ingredients.

Cure #1 (Prague Powder)

Cure #1 is also called Prague Powder interchangeably, and it is used for wet curing meat, poultry, and fish.


Insta Cure #1 is commonly found in specialty food stores and butcher shops. You can also order it online from Amazon.


Insta Cure #1 costs $10.49 per pound, which is enough to cure 480 pounds of meat at a cost of fewer than 2 cents per pound.


There are two main ingredients in Insta Cure #1, 6.25% sodium nitrite, as well as Erythrosine, which is also known as Red No. 3, a pink food dye.

Uses of Cure #1

This is a curing salt designed for use in short saltwater cures.

The product is not a seasoning salt and should not be used directly on meat or other foods.

Directions to use Cure #1

A level teaspoon of InstaCure #1 is all that is required to cure meat, poultry, sausages, and fish. For every gallon of water, add fifteen level teaspoons of InstaCure.

Flavor of Cure #1

Unlike Morton Tender Quick and salt, Insta Cure #1 contains sodium nitrite at a much higher concentration.

Bag of Cure #1
Cure #1

Morton Tender Quick

It only takes a pinch or two of Morton Tender Quick to give meats a cured flavor and pink color. It is ideal for small cuts of meat, such as pork chops, chicken, turkey, and spare ribs.

It has been a staple for many years, and it is far more versatile than most people realize.


Since 1848, Morton Tender Quick has been sold in stores throughout the country.


On Amazon, Morton Tender Quick is available for just around $10 for two pounds. You will have enough Tender Quick to make 16 cups of saltwater brine or one gallon of brine.

Each pound of meat requires one quart of brine, so you will need to prepare enough saltwater curing solution for four quarts or four pounds.

When broken down, InstaCure #1 is cheaper.


Among the ingredients in Morton Tender Quick are salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, sodium chloride, as well as propylene glycol.


In order to cure meat at home, Morton Tender Quick is applied directly to the meat.

In contrast to Insta Cure #1, which is used to make brine, Tender Quick is applied in the same way as regular seasoning salt, but used for curing purposes.


It is recommended to add one tablespoon of curing salt per pound of meat, poultry, pork, sausage, or fish.

Using Morton Tender Quick as a rub, each two-pound package contains enough salt to dish out 64 tablespoons – enough to rub directly onto 64 pounds of meat.

Morton Tender Quick recommends mixing one cup of Tender Quick with four cups of water when making a brine.


Morton Tender Quick is saltier than Insta Cure #1, a product designed to season and soften meat through fast curing.

Salt is brought out by a small concentration of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite.

Does Morton Tender Quick Contain MSG?

No, Mortons Tender Quick does not contain MSG.

What is The Difference between Tender Quick and Meat Tenderizer?

Although Tender Quick and Meat Tenderizer are often confused with one another, they are two different products that serve different purposes.

As a seasoning, meat tenderizers are not substitutes for Tender Quick, but rather natural enzyme powders.

As a result of this powder being sprinkled over the meat, the fibers of the meat are broken down in order to make the meat more tender and easier to swallow.

It contains sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, which prevent bacterial growth when curing meat for an extended period of time. This product is not intended to be used as a meat tenderizer, and should not be used at higher concentrations.

How Much Does Morton Tender Quick Cost?

Morton Tender Quick costs $19.49 for 2 packs of 2lb bags at some retailers and a single bag can cost $8.47.

Where Can You Buy Morton Tender Quick?

You can buy this product on Amazon in a 2-pack or single 1 lb bag on Walmart’s website.

What Can You Substitute for Morton Tender Quick?

A number of recipes recommend the use of Tender Quick as opposed to other curing products.

However, Morton Tender Quick may not always be the best option, especially when used as a wet brine.

It is important to keep in mind that Tender Quick is a mixture of ingredients in various quantities, which is not the same as other meat-curing products.

Therefore, if you desire the exact same composition of ingredients, Tender Quick is the only option.

There are, however, alternatives to Tender Quick that are regarded as being superior for curing.

Cure #1 as a Substitute for Tender Quick

Known as Tinted Cure or Pink Curing, Prague #1 is a top-rated curing salt concentrate that can cure up to 100 pounds of meat, sausage, and jerky. The product has been rebranded as Cure #1 and is an excellent choice for brine curing.

In addition to providing a distinct flavor, it prevents discoloration and can be used to preserve and cure semi-dry and cooked meats, such as bacon, ham, fish, pastrami, and corned beef.

Prague #1 has the advantage of containing natural colorings and no anti-caking agents.

Given that it contains 6.25% sodium nitrite, and 93.75% sodium chloride as per USDA and FDA guidelines, it can be considered a substitute for Tender Quick.

Homemade Substitute for Tender Quick

It is possible to make your own Morton salt substitute as a home meat cure in your own kitchen if you do not wish to purchase a ready-made product.


A bowl containing one ounce of sodium nitrate (6.25%), and one pound of table salt or sea salt can be used to smoke meat at low temperatures over a long period of time.

Curing Meats

Mix one ounce of sodium nitrite (6.25%), 0.64 ounces of sodium nitrate (4%) and one pound of table salt or sea salt in a bowl when curing meats that do not require cooking or refrigeration, such as salami, pepperoni, and other dry sausages.

Sugar Cures

In a bowl, combine 4 pounds of salt, 1 1/2 pounds of sugar, and 3 ounces of saltpeter to make sugar cures for ham, bacon, and pork.

Spices, herbs, and dry rubs can be added to any of the aforementioned homemade Tender Quick substitutes.


Florida native, home to the Sunday all-day poolside grilling party. When I’m not working, I’m either on the water, minding the grill, or trying to devote some time to help keep our oceans clean.

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