Simple brine for pork chops can be as easy as dissolving salt in water or as complicated as an overnight process of an herb infused brine and a quick pan fry.
This article will give you the basic tools on how to brine pork chops, the best pork brine recipe and tips for brining pork regardless of what recipe you use.
This step-by-step guide will show you how to brine pork chops, tips for a juicy pork and the best pork brine recipe!
Is it just me, or did brining not become a “thing” until a few years ago? It started with brining turkey for Thanksgiving and has since become trendy for other meats like chicken and pork.
Brining has been a chef’s trick for years and for good reason. It should be in the repertoire of all home cooks as well. Pork chop brine is essential for juicy, moist chops every time.
What are the benefits of brining?
- Adds moisture.
- Swollen muscle fibers.
ONE. Brining adds moisture- While the protein is sitting in the brining mixture, it’s slowly absorbing the water, a process called osmosis.
Now it will have more moisture available when the heat starts to draw it out. More moisture from the start = more moisture after cooking.
TWO. Denatured Proteins – Um, what did you say? That sounds way too much like science. Well, it is!
The brining mixture helps to swell and unwind muscle fibers, assist them in binding with water and prevents them from rebonding, which can create chewy meat.
Three. Flavor- All of that brining liquid is chalk full of flavors. Even if you just use a basic salt and water combination, salt helps to bring out natural flavors.
Add aromatics, citrus or other flavors and all of those will also infuse into the fibers of your protein.
Because there are so many benefits, I set out to find the best brine recipe for juicy and tender pork chops. Here it is, I am teaching YOU how to brine pork chops with these easy brining tips and tricks.
Make sure to scroll down to get the full recipe.
You can use this simple brine recipe for turkey, chicken or pork and can be used before any other full recipe to add moisture.
Tips for Brining Pork Chops:
Wet Brine– This technique is called wet brining. If you’ve ever wondered how to keep pork from drying out, wet brining is the answer and will result in the juiciest pork ever! Wet brining adds moisture to your pork.
Use Kosher Salt- Not all salt is created equal. Salts have different flavor profiles, chemical structures, shapes, ability to dissolve (although they all will eventually) and sizes, resulting in varying density.
One tablespoon of Kosher salt is not the same as one tablespoon of table salt. Make sure to use Kosher salt with larger crystals to get the correct salt to water ratio for brine, which is 1 heaping tablespoon of kosher salt for every cup of water.
Add flavor- The types of flavor you can add to your brine are endless. For a simple brine recipe using just salt and water.
There is no need to boil because the salt will dissolve regardless, but for more flavor, boiling is ideal to infuse water.
PRO TIP: Brining works best on less fatty meats that need the extra moisture like lean pork and chicken.
Boiling also helps the salt dissolve faster, but on the flip side, takes longer to cool. Make sure you wait to add your proteins until the water it room temperature.
Refrain from adding ice cubes to bring down the temperature because then you will also be diluting the salt to water ratio.
Tools for making a juicy pork chops:
Brining Bags– These are helpful to save space or if you are brining a lot at one time! It also makes for easy clean up.
Large Stock Pot– A large stock pot is a kitchen essential not only for making stock, but also for brining and make large batches of sauces and steaming thing like whole lobster or crab.
You can make your brining solution in this pot, but also use it as the vessel for brining (if it will fit in your fridge!).
Heavy Bottom Frying Pan– this will be one of your most used kitchen tools. Having something that is heavy bottom will distribute heat better and prevent burning whether you are using an electric or gas range.
Questions you have had about how to brine pork chops:
How to brine whole pork loin or pork tenderloin? I bet you will guess this answer! The same way you brine chops or other cuts of pork.
Can I marinate brined pork? You can, of course try, but you won’t get the same flavor from the marinade since the pork is already flooded with brine. I would suggest using dry rubs or even a basting or dipping sauce.
Can’t I just start with cold water? Nope- the salt won’t dissolve as well and neither will other herbs and spices. Instead of infusing, they will just float. Heat and then add meat to cooled brine.
What is a basic pan frying recipe? Lucky for you, I’ve included one in the recipe. Feel free to use my basic fried pork chop recipe or use your own. This basic brine recipe can be used with virtually any pork chop recipe.
Do you rinse pork chops after brining? Yes. You will most likely rinse anything after brining to get any excess salt off the skin and be able to add your own flavors.
Many people are worried that rinsing will also rinse away all of the flavor, but that isn’t the case. Remember, brining imparts flavor deep into the fibers of your meat and can’t be simply rinsed away.
After rinsing, pat dry with paper towels. Seasoning mixes stick better to dry meat and this will give a nice browned crust.
Where do I brine my pork? You can most likely have some something to brine pork in at home. There are three main ways people use: a brining bags, a stock pot or a cooler.
Brining bags can be found online or at the store, although they can sometimes be hard to find outside of Thanksgiving.
Why add sugar to the brine solution? Sugar improves flavors and also aids in the beautiful browning of the skin.
Can you brine pork too long? It is relatively hard to hurt pork, but yes, you can brine for too long. The result will be a tougher and rubbery texture. I recommend only 24 hours or less. So overnight is fine.
Don’t worry too much about timing it perfectly. Just remove the meat from the brine at that time, rinse it and put it back in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.
Can you reuse pork brine? NO! This is raw meat and a marinade just like others. The brine can be easily contaminated and contaminate your food. Discard pork brine after one use.
Can you brine pork when it is frozen? You want your pork to be as thawed as possible. If it is frozen, the brine doesn’t have a way to penetrate into the meat.
It is a little frozen, it is ok, but remember the ice left inside that still needs to thaw will dilute the brine, so compensate by adding a little more salt.
What else can I brine? You can brine just about anything you’d like. I’ve even seen folks brine produce like carrots and potatoes, however most brines are meant for proteins like:
- Cornish Game Hens
Also check out HOW TO BRINE A CHICKEN and HOW TO BRINE TURKEY!
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More pork recipes you might enjoy:
- French Onion Pork
- Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Crispy Baked Pork Chops
- Instant Pot Carnitas
- Stuffed Pork Chops
How to Brine Pork Chops
Pork Chop Brine:
- 1/2 gallon water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt*
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 dried bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic , peeled and smashed
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 lemon , sliced
- 6-8 large pork chops
Pan Fried Pork Chops:
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup butter , room temperature
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
To Brine Pork Chops:
- In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine water, Kosher salt, sugar, bay leaves, smashed garlic cloves, black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and slices lemons.
- Bring to a low simmer, stirring until salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool fully.
- Add the pork chops to the cooled brine. If there is room, you can add to the stock pot, just make sure it is fully submerged in liquid. If you need to add 1-2 additional cups of water to make this happen, go for it! You can also use a brining bag.
- Cover, if you using a pot, and refrigerate for 8-24 hours. Do not over brine, as meat can start to turn rubbery if brined for too long.Remove pork chops from the brine and rinse with cold water. Continue with your favorite pork chop recipe.Discard brine.
To Cook Brined Pork Chops:
- In a small bowl, combine butter with basil, oregano and parsley. Set aside.Season pork chops with Kosher salt and ground black pepper.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.Cook pork chops on both sides until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
- Remove from frying pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Top each with 1 tablespoon of herb butter when plated, allowing butter to melt over pork chops. Approximately 1 tablespoons per pork chops.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!