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Simple Brine Recipe for Pork Chops

This brine recipe for pork chops is simple, no-fuss and 100% worth the extra step (if you want to turn boring dry pork chops into juicy, flavorful, tender ones, that is).

All you need is two minutes to put it together and an hour or so for the brining. Try it and see the amazing results for yourself. 

In its simplest form, a brine solution is made of water and salt. Sugar is optional. For extra flavor, throw in some additional seasonings like garlic cloves, pepper and herbs. That’s it. 

3 pork chops brining in bag p1

Is brining unhealthy? Is it better than marinating? How much do you need? What ratio of salt to water is best? Is kosher salt and table salt interchangeable? Do you have to boil the brine first? Read on – we’ve got it all covered. 

You will find many brine recipes for pork chops on the internet. The best way to find one you love is to experiment a bit. And to understand a few basic principles covered below.

If you’re interested in the science part, check out this thorough article, Brining 101 by Cookshack. 

Is a pork chop brine worth the effort?

Lets get this out of the way first. If you have the time, it’s absolutely worth it. If you don’t have the time, make the time. (ok, I can’t force you…)

Brining adds moisture and transforms tasteless dry tough chops into juicy tender tasty chops (assuming you don’t overcook them). It makes a huge difference, especially with pork that is typically a lean and less flavorful protein. Brining is also great for chicken and turkey, but that’s another story. 

The brining process is really simple. The “effort” means an extra step, but the actual process just takes two minutes of hands-on time if you’re using a cold brine (my preferred way). 

When I discovered brining many years ago, I never looked back. The only time I don’t brine pork chops is when I marinate (I often do both) or sous vide them.

To digress for a second – if you haven’t tried the sous vide method for pork chops – like our sous vide Vietnamese pork chops and sous vide bone-in pork chops with apple chutney – you’re missing out. The best! 

Two types of brine

Both these options are for a wet brine. 

  1. Cold brine: This is the one I use most as it takes less time. Just add kosher salt, sugar and other seasonings to cool or room temperature water. Mix to dissolve in seconds. 
  2. Boiled brine: This means boiling or simmering the water and seasonings together first which helps to release the flavors into the brine solution. Then cool the brine (which of course will take more time). You can shorten the cooling time a bit (see shortcuts) or make the brine a few days ahead. 

In both cases, fully submerge the pork chops in the brine solution for 30-60 minutes (if thin) or 2-3 hours (if thick). 

FAQ – Good to Know

What is the difference between brining and marinating? 

Marinating reaches the surface of the protein and often uses acid to tenderize it. Typically it takes longer. Brining reaches the interior of the protein, adding flavor and moisture. You can do both – brine first for 30-60 minutes, then marinate.

What foods benefit from brining?

Lean meats benefit most from brining. Pork, chicken and turkey are good examples. Higher fat proteins like ribeye steak and lamb tend to need less help with tenderness and flavor, particularly when cooked to a lower temperature like medium rare. 

Is brining unhealthy? 

Since you’re adding a lot of salt in the brine, how much salt is actually absorbed into the meat? Cooks Illustrated sent food samples to an independent lab to determine the level of sodium added to the protein. They found that for pork chops, using a brine solution of 1/4 cup salt for 8 cups water (the type of salt was not specified), only 270 mg of sodium were absorbed, the equivalent of less than 1/8 teaspoon salt. They noted that American Dietary Guidelines suggest 1500-2300 mg per day depending on your age.

Tips to brine pork chops

Measurements

  • How long to brine pork chops: ~1 hour per pound/450g. This is based on pieces, not the entire protein. So, for example, if you have 3 chops of 1/2 pound/275grams each, you would brine for 30 minutes. If chops are 1 lb/450g each, you would brine for 1 hour. An extra 30-60 minutes would be fine. After that, the chops may be too salty. 
  • Amount of salt to use: Use 1 tablespoon kosher salt per 1 cup/236ml. Or 1/2 tablespoon regular table salt per 1 cup/236ml. The type if salt you use matters. Kosher salt is less salty and dissolves quickly. Here’s our quick 101 on salt – the bare essentials if you’re interested.  You can cut back the salt a bit if you want. 
  • How much brine to make: You need to completely submerge the pork chops so the amount of brine will depend on how big your pork chops are. For 3 half-inch/13mm bone-in pork chops, I use 4 cups of water (1 liter/quart) and 4 tablespoons kosher salt (or a bit less). Boneless chops will need less. 
  • How much sugar to use: Brown sugar or white sugar is optional but cuts back a bit on saltiness, adds more flavor and helps brown the pork chops when grilling or pan frying. It doesn’t change the texture of the meat. 1 tablespoon for 4 cups (1 quart/liter) is plenty. 
  • Spices – use ~ 1 tablespoon spices per 4 cups (1 quart/liter).

Safety

  • Do not reuse the brine solution. Discard it when brining is done. 
  • If using boiled brine, make sure it’s completely cooled before adding the pork chops. 
  • Use stainless steel, glass or food-grade plastic (like ziploc) to brine the chops.

How to make a simple brine recipe for pork chops

pork chop brine in bag
Ingredients for brine solution: room temperature or cool water, salt, sugar, garlic clove, peppercorns, herbs.
3 pork chops brining in bag 1
Place all the brine ingredients into a large bowl or bag. Add the pork chops and ensure they are completely submerged. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on thickness of pork chops. Discard brine solution, rinse chops is cold water, pat dry with paper towels and proceed with your pork chop recipe. 
piece of brined pork chop on fork
Brining helps create juicy, tender, flavorful pork chops. Don’t skip it!

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Pork chops: Use any kind of pork chops (not previously brined) – bone in or boneless pork chops. My favorite are bone-in rib chops – flavorful and tender. 
  • Seasoning options for brine solution: sugar (brown or white), onions, garlic cloves, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, bay leaves, lemon peel, herbs (rosemary or thyme sprig). You can replace 3-4 tablespoons of water with wine, beer or apple juice.

What to do after your pork chops are brined

Rinse the pork chops under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. Then proceed with your pork chop recipe. 

My go-to recipe after brining is to mix a tablespoon of olive oil and Dijon or grainy mustard on a plate. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic, ground pepper and fresh or dried rosemary. Lightly salt the pork chops. Then coat the pork chops in the mixture. Grill on a gas grill on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chops to an internal temperature of 140F/60C with an instant-read thermometer. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes. Temperature will rise to 145F/62.7C.

Shortcuts for brining

You can reduce the extra time for brining in three ways:

  1. Use a cold brine as per the recipe.
  2. Use a boiled brine with a shortcut as follows: Boil 1 cup of water with seasonings to release the flavors. Add ice cubes to make up the amount of water needed (8 ice cubes = 1 cup/236ml). This will cool the pork chop brine much more quickly.
  3. Use thinner pork chops that will take less time to brine. 

Make Ahead

  • The brine can be made 2-3 days ahead. 
  • Brining can be done ahead as well. When the time is up, discard the brine, rinse the chops, pat dry with paper towels and return to the fridge until ready to use. 
3 pork chops brining in bag
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Simple Brine Recipe for Pork Chops

This brine recipe for pork chops is simple, no-fuss and 100% worth the extra step (if you want to turn boring dry pork chops into juicy, flavorful, tender ones, that is). All you need is two minutes to put it together and an hour or so for the brining. Try it and see the amazing results for yourself. 
Prep Time2 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Preperation for tenderness and flavor
Cuisine: American
Servings: 3 enough for 3 half inch bone-in pork chops
Author: Cheryl, Two Kooks In The Kitchen

Ingredients

Brining solution

  • 4 cups (~1 liter/quart) water room temperature/cool
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt or 2 tablespoons table salt (you can use a bit less if preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon white or brown sugar (optional)
  • Optional seasonings: 1-2 sprigs rosemary or thyme, 5-6 peppercorns, 1 clove garlic cut in half) I add all of these

Instructions

  • MAKE COLD BRINE SOLUTION: Add all brine solution ingredients to large food-grade bag (e.g. ziploc) or a glass or stainless steel large bowl/container. Stir or squish bag until salt and sugar are dissolved (30 seconds). Note 1.
  • BRINE PORK CHOPS: Add pork chops to bag or bowl ensuring they are fully submerged in the brine solution. Place in fridge. For thinner pork chops (1/2 inch/0.27cm or less), brine for 30-60 minutes. For thicker chops, brine 1-2 hours.
  • FINISH AND CONTINUE WITH PORK CHOP RECIPE: Remove from brining bag or bowl and discard brine. Rinse pork chops under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Continue with pork chop recipe.

Notes

  1. Boiled brine method (alternative): The boiled method will boost the flavors of the seasonings you add and flavor the meat more. Boil 1 cup of water with seasonings to release the flavors for 5 minutes. Add ice cubes to make up the amount of water needed (8 ice cubes = 1 cup/236ml). This will cool the pork chop brine more quickly. Or, instead, add cold water (in this case, 3 more cups), but make sure brine solution is completely cool before adding the pork chops. 
  2. Measurements to vary quantities
    • How long to brine pork chops (rule of thumb: ~1 hour per pound/450g. This is based on pieces, not the entire protein. So, if each pork chops is 1/2 pound/275grams, you would brine for 30 minutes. If chops are 1 lb/450g each, you would brine for 1 hour. An extra 30-60 minutes would be fine. After that, the chops may be too salty. 
    • Amount of salt to use: Use 1 tablespoon kosher salt per 1 cup/236ml. Or 1/2 tablespoon regular table salt per 1 cup/236ml. You can cut back the salt a bit if you want. 
    • How much sugar to use (rule of thumb): 1 tablespoon for 4 cups (1 quart/liter) is plenty. 
    • Spices – use ~ 1 tablespoon spices per 4 cups (1 quart/liter).
  3. Variations to try:
    • Pork chops: Use any kind of pork chops (not previously brined) – bone in or boneless pork chops. My favorite are bone-in rib chops – so flavorful and tender. 
    • Seasoning options for brine solution: sugar (brown or white), onions, garlic cloves, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, bay leaves, lemon peel, herbs (rosemary or thyme sprig). You can also replace 3-4 tablespoons of water with wine, beer or apple juice.
    • Shortcuts
      • Use a cold brine as per the recipe.
      • Use a boiled brine with the ice cube shortcut above. 
      • Use thinner pork chops that will take less time to brine. 
  4. Make Ahead
    • The brine can be made 2-3 days ahead. 
    • Brining can be done ahead as well. When the time is up, discard the brine, rinse the chops, pat dry with paper towels and return to the fridge until ready to use. 
 
Nutrition values are very rough estimates based on Cooks Illustrated lab tests showing that less than 1/8 teaspoon of salt is absorbed into the pork chops during the brining process. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Simple Brine Recipe for Pork Chops
Amount Per Serving
Calories 15
% Daily Value*
Sodium 326mg14%
Potassium 1mg0%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Sugar 4g4%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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