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.
What's In This Article
You’ll love Brined Pork Chops!
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, pork and even seafood like shrimp.
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.
Pork Chop Brine tips
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.
Pork Chop Brine Ingredients
- Water- Water is the base for brine. Using the concepts of osmosis, it will soak into the pork. One gallon equals 16 cups.
- Coarse kosher salt- Salt is the other essential element of a brine. I highly encourage using a coarse kosher salt opposed to a table salt which might be too salty or have a metallic aftertaste.
- Sugar- Helps to balance flavors and promotes browning of the meat during the cooking process.
- Bay leaves- Adding pepperiness with a slight minty flavor, it brightens the brine.
- Garlic- Leaving the garlic whole allows them to leach flavor, but not be overly garlicky.
- Whole black peppercorns- Flavors the brine without leaving behind unsightly little black specks.
- Fresh herbs- We used rosemary and thyme, but any combination of herbs can be used or choose just one! Tarragon, parsley, dill, cilantro and even sage are great with pork.
- Lemon- Acidity adds brightness.
- Pork chops- Chops can be bone-in or boneless, either can be brined. We preferred bine-in for this recipe.
How to Brine Pork Chops
- In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine the water, Kosher salt, sugar, bay leaves, smashed garlic cloves, black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and sliced 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- do not add to hot water. 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 are using a pot, and refrigerate for 6-12 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 the used brine.
How long to brine pork chops?
Because they are so thin, pork chops are ideally brined between 6 and 12 hours, but beyond that can start to be tough and too salty.
How to cook brined pork chops
- Brined pork chops can be finished any way you like: broiled, pan fried, grilled or baked. We like to pan fry them with a quick compound butter. Have a little fun with it and choose any of our flavored butters.
- Remove pork chops from the brine and give them a quick rinse with cold water to remove any leftover bits and salt from the outside. All of the deliciousness will stay locked inside.
- In a small bowl, combine the 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°F using a digital thermometer. .
- Remove pork chops from the 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.
How to serve Brined Pork Chops
There really isn’t anything you can’t serve them with. Perhaps a few… but these are my favorites.
And don’t forget dessert!
Pork Chop Brine Recipe Tools
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.
Brine for Pork Chops FAQS
I bet you will guess this answer! The same way you brine chops or other cuts of pork.
Pork chops are generally lean, so brining can help them stay moist and juicy regardless of the cooking method.
Brining and not over cooking. Home cooks tend to be so fearful of undercooking foods that they overcook them. Use a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature and remove about 5°F before it reaches its optimal temperature. It will continue to rise while they rest, a phenomenon called carry-over cooking.
Which brings up the technique of resting. All meats should rest before eating. It lets the fibers reabsorb the juices so it stays in the meat rather than leaching out onto the plate.
Both serve a purpose and one is not better than the other. It really depends on what your end goal is. When using lean meats, brining will not only add flavor, but also help them stay juicy, while marinating tends to only lend flavors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sugar improves flavors and also aids in the beautiful browning of the skin.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Best Pork Chop Brine
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 6-12 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!
The very first time that I have received complete instructions. Thank you so much
I don’t think your sodium count is correct on the nutritional info on your Brined Pork Chops 🙂 But I will try them
Hi Deena, we use an app that calculates the nutritional info, but it uses what is in the WHOLE recipe, so it is calculating the sodium for 1/2 cup of salt. It is correct for that much salt, however, after you take them out of the brine, clearly they do NOT have that much sodium. LOL. Let us know how you like them, it is one of our most popular recipes!
just what I needed for some freezer weary chops. thanks!
Totally- glad you enjoyed this recipe.
DELICIOUS Just as you described. My chops were flavorful and tender.
Thanks! Glad you liked it!
The brining worked terrifically. I just would not salt the chops again when cooking. Oh, gawd, they were so salty. Brining is enough salt.
Thanks for the feedback, Lolly. Out of curiosity, did you rinse the pork chops after the brine and what type of salt did you use?
I didn’t have lemons. I used oranges I can imagine what it would taste like if I used lemon. Literally the best tasting pork chops I ever had. THANK YOU! #Foodgasm
Great! We love to hear positive reviews and agree, this brine is pretty amazing!
This is a game-changer! Besides tasting amazing, I’ve never made such tender pork chops! Thank you!!!
This brine worked so well, it gave us the juiciest chops ever! I brined mine in a large ziploc, overnight, and they were perfect. I love how fragrant the ingredients are.
can you freeze brined meat, after it has been brined and cleaned off?
Hi Marissa! Great question! I would not suggest this. The meat is still holding onto and retaining a lot of that salty water. Letting it sit in it for too long will make it taste super salty. Also, chances are even if you bought the meat thawed or “fresh”, that it was previously frozen. It is never advisable to re-freeze meat.
I have refrozen a bined chicken and whin it was thawed and cooked, it was perfect. I haven’t tried it with pork chops or this recipe, but I have some brine simmering on the stove and a pack pf 16 chops from Sam’s that at leat half of will get refrozen. I’ll post again when I try cooking the frozen ones. I always rinse the meat off when it comes out of the brine whether I’m cooking it, or freezing it.
While I have done this too, the official stance of the CDC is that no meats that are previously frozen should ever be refrozen. So for our purposes, to not get sued, we have to abide by them. 🙂