Tender Quick vs Cure #1


I've only been a member here for a short time but have been 'Q'in' & smokin' meats for a long time. I've got some wet curing brines that were originally written for using Prague Powder. No mention if #1 or #2; just Prague Powder. Finally determined after some research that they were calling for what we call today, Cure #1. So far, so good.

Turned out that Cure #1 was difficult to obtain locally unless I was willing to drive 100 +, round trip, to get it from a butcher shop. I did some further research and discovered that Morton's Tender Quick would work for my application, so I determined the recipe change and wrote it up that way and stored it in my computer. This was over 30 years ago.

Cure #1 is still difficult to obtain locally and I've seen some other brine recipes on this site and a couple others that I just recently joined and they call for Cure #1. I'd like to try them using Tender Quick, but don't remember what the conversion process entails. Can anybody here point me to an article or web source that might contain that information? Or do you happen to know what the conversion is?

I've been able to find a couple of clues that say to replace the salt called for in the recipe using Cure #1 with Morton's Tender Quick in equal amounts and then drop the Cure #1 because the sodium nitrite is already in the Tender Quick.

I've already determined from reading on this site and others that Cure #1 is actually a better product to use, but I already have a good supply of Tender Quick and would like to use that instead.


I've been able to find a couple of clues that say to replace the salt called for in the recipe using Cure #1 with Morton's Tender Quick in equal amounts and then drop the Cure #1 because the sodium nitrite is already in the Tender Quick.

I'm not sure where you read that, but I would say it's BAD, or at the very least INCOMPLETE info! Unfortunately there are many on the Internet who are using what I call the "By Guess and By Golly Method" without doing proper research.

No, unfortunately Tender Quick CANNOT be substituted for cure #1, nor can it simply replace the salt in a recipe calling for cure #1. The formulations are completely different, work slightly differently (because Tender Quick contains both nitrite and nitrate), and in addition to salt & curing salts, Tender Quick also contains 20% sugar.

The best analogy I can think of is think of Morton Tender Quick being like a complete pancake mix versus making pancakes from scratch. Tender Quick is a complete, ready-to-use home curing product, NOT an ingredient! It would be very much like trying to substitute Bisquick in a recipe calling for baking powder.

You can add other flavoring agents if you like (a little molasses, honey, Maple Flavoring, cloves, juniper berries, garlic, etc.), but you need to follow the rates and instructions on the TenderQuick bag and/or website for proper results! Their website even warns of this: "CAUTION: This curing salt is designed to be used at the rate specified in the formulation or recipe..."

My advice is to get some Cure #1 and lose the TenderQuick. Cure #1 opens up flexibility in adjusting salt and sugar levels while still maintaining proper cure levels, AND... you can use other recipes!

You cannot do this with Tender Quick! Use too much and your product may be overly salty, or could contain too much cure. Use too little and you may get an incomplete cure.

Also remember TenderQuick is NOT approved to be used for making Bacon in the U.S., because it contains sodium nitrate (which is the REAL reason they cannot recommend an amount for pork belly/bacon)!

Locating Cure #1

If you live in the U.S., then any butcher in your area who is making smoked sausage, and/or bacon, is using cure #1 guaranteed. They should be able to sell you some, but you may need to ask for it. Every single butcher in my area has it and will sell it. Some sell it in bottles, some have it bulk and will sell it for X-amount per pound.

My local butcher buys spices, etc. from a national distributor who labels Cure #1 as "Curing Salt 813" (this is what I get). No matter the name, here's how to know it's Cure #1: Cure #1 (or curing salt) #1 will ALWAYS contain Salt, and 6.25 % Sodium Nitrite (and usually FD&C red to give a pink tint so it's not confused with regular salt).


If you cannot find cure #1 locally at a butcher shop, then order some online. It's relatively inexpensive and there are a number of brands. If you have an Amazon account just search for Cure #1 and you'll find several brands & sizes from which to chose. Just be sure you'e getting Cure #1 and not Cure #2, which contains both nitrite and nitrate (used for fermented/dry-cured meats). BOTH are usually pink!

Hope this makes sense and helps! If you have any other questions don't hesitate to ask.

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