How to Brine Pork Chops

5 from 2 votes

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Brining pork chops results in extra juicy meat, and prevents the chops from drying out no matter how you cook them.

How to Brine Pork Chops

Pork Chop Brine

If you can make time to brine your pork chops for even a couple of hours, you will be rewarded with totally moist and tender pork chops.  And brined pork chops are much less likely to dry out when you cook them.  

Woman placing a pork chop into a pot of brine.

What is Brining?

Brining is a marinating method that involves salting the meat, which allows the meat to retain more moisture as it cooks.  This results in juicier meat when cooked.  It works particularly well on lean white meats, like, chicken, turkey and pork.  Brining also seasons the meat through and through, and gives the meat a firm texture. Start with quality pork purchased from a quality purveyor!

Interestingly when you weigh a pork chop after cooking that has been brined, you’ll see it weighs more than a non-brined pork chop.  This means more moisture stayed in the meat!  

Pot of brine with orange peels, thyme, and garlic.

What Does Brining Do?

Brining actually causes a change of the structure or proteins in the meat.  The salt causes the protein strands to become “denatured” or unwound.  As the protein strands unwind, they trap moisture, resulting in juicier meat.   

How to Brine Pork Chops: Brining pork chops results in extra juicy meat, and prevents the chops from drying out no matter how you cook them.

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Why is There Sugar in a Brine

The sugar adds flavor and can enhance the caramelization or browning as the meat is cooked.  You can dial up or down the amount of sugar as you like.  Take into consideration how the pork chops will be cooked, and what they will be served with, and determine whether or not a bit of added sweetness will enhance the dish.

Pork chops floating in a pot of brine with thyme, orange peel, and garlic.

How to Brine Pork Chops

This amount of brine is for 2 to 4 thick (1 to ¼-inch) pork chops.  You can double or triple the amount of brine as needed if you are making more pork chops.  This brine is also great for a small pork loin.  

Make a simple brine by combining 2 cups water with ¼ cup kosher salt and ¼ cup sugar (white granulated or brown sugar) in a medium-large pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve.  You can also add ingredients like a few garlic cloves, some strips of citrus zest (orange and lemon work well) a tablespoon of black peppercorns, and some springs of fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme to the mix.  

Woman peeling an orange into a pot of brine.

Add 4 cups of ice and stir until the ice has melted and the liquid is cool.  Transfer the brine to a sturdy zipper top bag or sealable container.  Add the pork chops, and turn to coat with the liquid.

Ice cubes floating in a pot of brine.

Transfer the container to the fridge and refrigerate for 2 to 18 hours.  Remove the pork chops from the brine, discard the liquid, and pat the pork chops completely dry with paper towels or a clean dishtowel.  Cook or grill as desired.

Brining Tips

  • Make sure the sugar and salt are totally dissolved before adding the ice to the brine base
  • Make sure the brine is completely cold before you add the meat
  • Make sure the chops are completely submerged in the liquid
  • Do not leave the pork chops in the brine for more than the recommended time. This will cause the pork chops to change in texture, and the result might be mushy meat.

Also see How to Brine a Turkey Breast.

Other Pork Chop Recipes:

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5 from 2 votes

How to Brine Pork Chops

Brining pork chops results in extra juicy meat, and prevents the chops from drying out no matter how you cook them.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Brining Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup white or brown sugar

Optional Add-Ins: (Pick and Choose or Combine)

  • 3 garlic cloves, 4 orange or lemon zest strips, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, 4 or 5 sprigs fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme
  • 4 cups ice
  • 2 to 4 1-inch thick pork chops

Instructions 

  • Combine the water with the kosher salt and in a medium-large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. You can also add the optional add-in ingredients: garlic cloves, strips of citrus zest, black peppercorns, and fresh herbs.
  • Add 4 cups of ice and stir until the ice has melted and the liquid is cool. Transfer the brine to a sturdy zipper top bag or sealable container. Add the pork chops, and turn to coat with the brine.
  • Transfer the container to the fridge and refrigerate for 2 to 18 hours. Remove the pork chops from the brine, discard the brine, and pat the pork chops completely dry with paper towels or a clean dishtowel. Cook or grill as desired.

Notes

  • Make sure the sugar and salt are totally dissolved before adding the ice to the brine base
  • Make sure the brine is completely cold before you add the meat
  • Make sure the chops are completely submerged in the liquid
  • Do not leave the pork chops in the brine for more than the recommended time. This will cause the pork chops to change in texture, and the result might be mushy meat.

Nutrition

Calories: 152kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 200mg, Potassium: 251mg, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 3IU, Calcium: 17mg, Iron: 0.4mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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