Food Guide

Morton Tender Quick vs Insta Cure #1

Morton Tender Quick Vs Insta Cure #1
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Pink salt, or should we say salt for curing meat, is very essential in your kitchen.

Two competitive substitutes/replacements for this essential pink salt are Morton Tender Quick, Insta Cure #1.

But here is the problem.

Both of these do work as good replacements for each other, but they cannot be interchanged.

If a recipe book specifies you to use Morton Tender Quick, then you cannot use Insta cure #1 there.

Why is that?

It sounds a little bizarre.

Let me tell you, the main difference between the Morton Tender Quick and Insa Cure #1 lies in their ingredients.

Insta cure #1 uses Sodium nitrite, whereas Morton Tender Quick uses both Sodium nitrite and Sodium nitrate.

Insta cure #1 has a dye ingredient, that makes it pink.

But the Morton Tender Quick does not have any DIY ingredients.

There are also other major differences curing process time and usage. 

We will find out the difference between the two in this small Morton Tender Quick vs Insta Cure #1 guide further in detail.

About Morton Tender Quick

Morton Curing Salt, Tender Quick Home Meat Cure, 2 Pound - PACK OF 2

The Morton Tender Quick cannot be described as pink salt.

Because it has more than just pink salt in it.

The main ingredients in the Morton Tender Quick include salt, sugar, and anti-caking agents.

It also includes sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite.

The percentage of Sodium nitrate is 0.5% Sodium nitrate and for nitrite, it is 0.5% Sodium nitrate.

This nitrate is not present in the other replacement, Insta Cure #1.

From the vastness of the ingredient, you can easily guess that the Morton Tender Quick has less salt density.

That is true.

It is significantly less dense than other pink salt replacements, and it is one of a kind.

It uses both salt (Sodium nitrate and Sodium nitrite) and sugar as preservatives.

Then we have the anti-caking agent for enhancing the preservation of the salt and sugar.

You can use the Morton Tender Quick for dry preservation as well as water treatment.

The required level for Morton Tender Quick is as follows,

  • One tablespoon of Morton Tender Quick for one pound of meat
  • One cup of Morton Tender Quick for four cups of water (For making wet brine to water treat the meat).

You can use the Morton Tender Quick for preserving and curing meat, fish, and other livestock.

How To Use Morton Tender Quick?

 You can use Morton Tender quick curing by following ways:

 For keeping poultry brine safe

 Add 1 tablespoon of Tender Quick to each gallon of brine.

If you are going to smoke meat, it is important to prevent bacterial activity.

Morton Tender Quick has done this job perfectly.

Poultry also has nooks and crannies, so it can be in the danger zone (between 40-140°F) for an extended period.

The Tender Quick also helps to prevent bacterial growth during that time.

Homemade Sausages curing

Take 2 teaspoons of Tender Quick and add to each pound of seasoned ground meat.

Refrigerate the sausage for three days, and mixed twice each day.

Then stuffed in casings and smoke, or process it as the recipe calls for.

Canadian Bacon recipe with Morton Tender quick

For making Canadian bacon, trim a whole pork loin.

Then take 1 tablespoon of Tender Quick and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar per pound of meat.

Rub the Tender Quick properly and pack the sugar around the loin.

Keep it in a large freezer bag and refrigerate for 6 days.

With even curing, gently redistribute the sugar and Tender Quick two times a day.

Remove the loin, rinse it properly, and smoke at up to 155°F. Let it rest 20 minutes before keeping it in the refrigerator. It’s cooked completely and serve.

You can also make a Hammy Turkey with tender quick.  You should use 2 cups Tender quick for a 2 gallons water turkey brine, and 2 cups brown sugar.

You can also use Tender quick form for curing large cuts, like hams and pork picnics. You should use an injection process for them.

Check Out Here Morton Tender Quick Substitute?

About Insta Cure #1

Hoosier Hill Farm Prague Powder No.1 Pink Curing Salt, 2.5 Pound

Insta Cure #1 is just like your Himalayan Pink Salt.

It even kind of looks like it is pink.

Insta Cure #1 is very famous and it goes by many other names.

One of them is Prague Powder #1.

So, if the shopkeeper says that they have Prague powder, think of it as Insta cure #1.

Now for the ingredients, the Insta Cure #1 has fewer agents.

The ingredients include 92% Sodium chloride, 6.25% Sodium nitrite, one anti-caking agent.

There is one other ingredient named the FD&C Red No. 3.

It is a pink dye color to bring out that pink look of the salt.

This dye has no other functionality than just to distinguish the salt from other traditional salts in your kitchen.

As for the other ingredients, you can see that it has no sugar and Sodium nitrate in comparison to Morton Tender Quick.

But don’t let that alarm you.

Take a look at Insta Cure #1’s required level,

  • One tablespoon of Insta Cure #1 for five pounds of meat
  • One cup of Insta Cure #1 for 43 cups of water (For making wet brine)

As you can see, Insta Cure #1 can cure five times the amount of meat than Morton Tender Quick for the exact amount.

How To Use Insta Cure # 1?

Making Ham and Bacon Brines

As mentioned above you should mix Insta cure with water.

Use 3-4 oz Insta Cure #1 with a cold-water solution to each gallon of water. This solution is known as a brine which is used to Cure whole muscle meats like Beef Brisket, Pork Shoulder, Ham, and of course, Pork Belly for Bacon.

The duration and exact concentration may vary as per your recipe.  But this brine will change your raw retail cut into a cured product It will be safer and delicious.

Making Smoked and Cooked Sausages & Meats

You will need Insta cure #1 for Smoking Sausage.

As you know smoking is a slow process. But Insta cure is essential not just because the temperature during smoking is usually ‘low’, but the casings trap air pockets in the sausage makes them possibly unsafe to eat with treating.

You can use Insta Cure # 1 as a basic cure for all meats that require cooking, brining, smoking or canning.

You can also use it for poultry, fish, luncheon meats, corned beef, pates, etc.

Comparison – Morton Tender Quick vs Insta Cure #1

Although Insta Cure #1 and Morton Tender quickly work as replacements for pink salt, they cannot be interchanged with each other.

In this part of our Morton Tender Quick vs Insta Cure #1 discussion, we have talked about the difference between the two so you can understand why they cannot be interchanged.


The main difference between the two lies in their ingredients.

Insta cure #1 uses Sodium nitrite, whereas Morton Tender Quick uses both Sodium nitrite and Sodium nitrate.

Insta cure #1 has a dye ingredient, the FD&C Red No. 3 for making it pink.

But the Morton Tender Quick does not have any DIY ingredients.

Insta cure #1 has Sodium chloride in it, which is missing in Morton Tender Quick.

But on the other hand, Morton Tender Quick has sugar as a preservative.

This sugar is missing in Insta Cure #1.

But both of these replacements have one common anti-caking agent in their mix.

Salt density

The salt density of the two is a notable difference to point out.

Insta Cure #1 is denser with salt than Morton Tender Quick.

The mix of Insta cure #1 has 92% Sodium Chloride and 6.25% Sodium Nitrite.

On the other hand, Morton Tender Quick has 0.5% of Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate.

Morton Tender Quick also has sugar as a preservative.

To make room for sugar, the amount of salt had to be decreased, which has reduced the density of the salt in it.

Buy Insta Cure #1 does not have sugar.

It uses salt as its main preservative.

Hence the density of salt in Insta Cure #1 is much higher.

Amount needed to cure

As both of these pink salt replacements have a different density on their ingredient, the amount needed to cure meat is also different.

One tablespoon of Insta Cure #1 can dry cure 5 pounds of meat.

But one tablespoon of Morton Tender Quick can only dry cure 1 pound of meat.

So, you need a very little amount of Insta Cure #1 in comparison with Morton Tender Quick.

The result stays the same in the case of a wet brine cure.

You can use one cup of Morton Tender Quick with four cups of water.

But with Insta Cure #1, you can mix one cup of it with 43 cups of water.

Speed of curing

There is also a difference in their speed for curing the meat.

You may have noticed that salt dissolves quicker than sugar.

Well, that is what made the result different here.

Insta Cure #1, true to its name, dissolves quickly and can instantly dry cure the meat.

It is so quick that you can immediately start processing after dry curing the meat with Insta Cure #1.

On the other hand, Morton Tender Quick will take some time.

Because it has more sugar and less salt, it cannot dry cure the meat instantly.

So clearly Insta Cure #1 is the winner in the case of speed.


Insta Cure #1 has a soft and gentle pink color in it.

But the Morton Tender Quick has no artificial dye in it.

The pink color in Insta Cure #1 is the result of the FD&C Red No. 3 ingredient.

This dye is what made the salt pink.

The reason for doing so is to distinguish it from other salts in the kitchen so you don’t mismatch Insta Cure #1 with other salts.


Lastly, we have the package.

Insta Cure #1 comes in a clear glass jar, which allows you to see the pink salt inside and determine how much is left.

But on the other hand, Morton Tender Quick comes in a tetra pack.

So, I would say that Insta Cure #1 has better packaging.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you cure meat without curing salt?

Yes, you can cure meat without curing salt. Some world-class hams like Italian prosciutto and Spanish Jamon Iberico are cured with only sea salt (sodium chloride) and air.

You cure meat without adding sodium nitrate in three ways i.e. dry curing, brine curing, and combination curing.

How long does curing salt last?

Actually, curing salt has no expiration date.

If your curing salt contains only salt and sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, it’s good for a lifetime.

Generally, salt never goes bad, yet yellowing and other discoloration are common.

But if your curing salt smells rancid, throw it out and buy a fresh bottle.

Final Thoughts

So, we have reached the end of our Morton Tender Quick vs Insta Cure #1 discussion.

Why cannot we replace Insta Cure #1 with Morton Tender Quick?

It’s because of the ingredients in them.

Insta Cure #1 is all salt with an anti-caking agent.

Buy Morton Tender Quick has salt and sugar in it.

Also, the density of salt is much lower in Morton Tender Quick.

Besides, the amount needed you will need is much lower for Insta Cure #1 in comparison to Morton Tender Quick.

So, you cannot determine the correct amount you will need to use if you interchange them.

Because of all these differences, you cannot replace Insta Cure #1 with Morton Tender Quick.



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