Quick Overview: How to Brine Pork Chops the Right Way
- Combine water, salt, and any additional seasonings in a large container. Stir well to dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Soak the pork chops in the brine solution, making sure they're fully coated.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Remove the pork chops from your brine solution and pat dry with paper towels.
- Cook the pork chops – grilled, pan-fried, baked, however you like!
1. Why Brine Pork Chops?
Hot take: pork chops are great.
I know, I’m not exactly setting the world on fire with that opinion. Everyone loves pork chops! But what we don’t quite love is pork chops that are dry and problematic to eat. Now, speaking strictly for myself, I chalked the fact that this was how my pork chops always turned out to a number of factors: maybe I was buying low quality chops. Maybe I was overcooking them. Maybe I was, I dunno, seasoning them wrong?
You know when you’ve been doing something wrong for a long time and you suddenly see the answer right before your eyes, and you feel like a total doofus for not realizing it until that precise moment? That was me when I realized that brining pork chops was a thing.
Yup. Up until that moment all I was doing was seasoning my pork chops and throwing them on the skillet over medium high heat until they looked right and plating them up. Little did I know that brining pork chops was the secret to making them turn out as delicious and succulent as my mom used to make – because it turns out she brined them too (note to self: next time, just ask Mom what she did).
As it turns out, brining pork chops is a simple and effective way to add flavor and tenderness to the meat. By soaking the pork chops in a mixture of water, salt, and additional flavorings (more on that in a moment), you can help the meat to draw in moisture and add tons of savory flavor. Turns out that brining is especially useful for lean meats like pork and poultry, which can sometimes be dry and bland.
Yes, this adds time to your overall cook. And yes, it requires that you plan ahead. But by taking the extra step to brine your pork chops, your reward is a juicy, flavorful pork chop that is a long way from the boring, tough, borderline inedible pork chops you’d been cooking for yourself.
So, how do we go about this? Let’s explore.
2. How to Brine Pork Chops
As it turns out, the brining process is not a complex science. In fact, it’s as easy as “put together a brine, submerge your pork chops, and wait.”
This easy technique takes just 10 minutes to prepare and results in flavorful, tender meat that's worth the extra step. Plus, the hands-off nature of bringing means you can sit back and relax while the magic happens.1. Prepare your brine. As mentioned, a brine is just a solution of water and a bunch of seasonings and flavorings. So here’s a simple brine recipe. All you’re going to do is combine the following ingredients in a pot:
- Water: The liquid base of the brine.
- Kosher salt: This type of salt is coarser and less refined than table salt, which means it won't make your brine too salty.
- Brown sugar: A little bit of sweetness helps to balance out the salty brine and also helps the outside of the pork chops brown.
- Black pepper: Or, if you've got them, whole peppercorns add a nice bit of texture and flavor. Feel free to add other spices as well, such as cayenne for heat, juniper berries for a woodsy flavor, or whole cloves for a warm and aromatic kick.
- Fresh rosemary and thyme: Fresh herbs add a bright and vibrant flavor to the brine. You can also add parsley, basil, oregano, and other herbs to suit your taste.
- Garlic: No need to spend time mincing cloves – the easiest hack is to smash them with the side of a knife and remove the peels. The garlic will add a rich and savory flavor to the brine.
Bay leaf: This fragrant herb adds a subtle depth of flavor to the brine and helps to round out all the other ingredients.
Now when you actually cook your pork chops, you’ll see they will have absorbed moisture and flavor from your brine and result in a juicier, much more flavorful dining experience.
3. How Long to Brine Pork Chops
So now we know that brining your pork chops helps the meat to draw in moisture and add lots of savory flavor. But how long should you brine the pork chops? Is there such a thing as over-brining them? Here's what you need to know:
For the best results, brine thick-cut, bone-in pork chops for 1-4 hours in the refrigerator. This will give the brine plenty of time to work its magic and infuse the pork with flavor. If you're short on time, you can do a quick brine for as little as 1 hour. Just be aware that the shorter the brine time, the less impact it will have on the meat.
Smaller, thinner, or boneless pork chops do well in the brine for about 30 minutes to 2 hours. These cuts are typically more delicate and don't need as much brining time to become flavorful and tender. While you may see some chop brine recipes that suggest brining pork chops for 24 hours, we don't recommend it.
But wait. What happens if we leave the pork chops in the brine for much longer than intended– say 12, 18, or even 24 hours? It happens to the best of us. But it's important to be aware that if you leave the pork chops in the brine for too long, you likely won’t end up with the best results.
The brine can start to break down the meat, resulting in a texture that's overly-salty and mushy. It's not a pleasant experience. So if you do accidentally leave the pork chops brining for longer than recommended, you can try your luck and cook them anyway, but your results won’t be as good as you’d hoped. Hopefully they won’t be completely ruined though!
4. Tools You’ll Need
If you want to make delicious brined pork chops, you’re going to need a few basic tools. Let’s take a look at some Dalstrong products that can help you make those succulent pork chops.
In order to successfully brine your pork chops, you’ll need a large container where you can put together your brien solution and submerge the pork chops themselves. This 8 quart stock pot from Dalstrong’s acclaimed Avalon series of cookware should more than do the trick
- Absolutely gorgeous stock pot, with a beautiful mirror polished exterior and a hammered finish that adds class and sophistication to its look.
- Has incredible heat conductivity, heating 5 times better than iron and 20 times better than stainless steel.
- Features layers of aluminum and 18/10 stainless steel above the 5-ply copper forged foundation, which ensures it has a fantastic heat retention and conductivity.
- Very large and able to hold a lot of liquid, perfect for brining.
- Depending on the amount of pork chops you’ll be making, this might be slightly too large.
- Not everyone is a fan of the black look.
This is another option for a stock pot, though a more conservative one at 3 quarts. If you’re cooking for a smaller number of people, this will more than do the trick. Not only that, this is a piece of premium cookware from Dalstrong’s Oberon series and is bound to come in handy for a number of uses.
- Features a 3-ply aluminum core with additional layers of non-reactive stainless steel, making sure that the cookware is strong and durable.
- Because of its ultra strong 2.5mm thickness, it won’t dent or warp under prolonged heat.
- Sports the world’s longest lasting PFOA & APEO-free non stick coating, which maintains its non-stick properties 26 times longer than the leading competitor.
- Elegant, classic look.
- If you need something larger, go with the 8 quart stock pot listed above.
- It's not for you if you are looking for something a little flashier in terms of design.
Pan seared pork chops is one of life’s great pleasures, and this brilliant 12” skillet from the Avalon series is a great tool to bring those brined pork chops to the next level.
- 5-ply copper forged foundation with additional layers of aluminum and stainless steel.
- Incredible heat conductivity and responsiveness to changes in temperature, ensuring that your cooking is consistent and easy to control.
- You can very easily transition this from the stovetop to the oven to finish off a dish.
- Comes with a pressure release vented hole on the stainless steel lid.
- Might be a little large at 12”.
- Not a non-stick pan.
This slightly smaller frying pan and skillet from the Oberon series is designed to be the best friend of home cooks and professional chefs alike.
- Impeccable heat conductivity, making it easy to cook evenly and quickly heat up.
- Designed for the underhand grip of professional chefs, with an angled handle that’s ideal for cooking.
- Sports the Eterna nonstick coating, which maintains its non stick properties over 20 times longer than the leading competitor.
- Guaranteed safe to use on oven and broiler (up to 500 degrees F).
- If you need something a little larger, look into the 12” skillet above.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
How long should you brine pork chops?
Pork chops should be brined for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight. The longer you brine the pork chops, the more flavorful and tender they will become.
Do you Rinse pork chops after brining?
Yes. In general it is a great idea to rinse off anything you brine to lose the excess salt as well as do away with any moisture which will make cooking it more difficult.
How do you brine pork chops in salt water?
To brine pork chops in salt water all you need is to make your brine solution with water, salt, and any additional flavorings you might want, making sure to stir enough that the salt dissolves into the water. Then submerge your pork chops in the solution and store for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
What is the formula for brine?
A basic brine formula consists of water, salt, and sugar in a ratio of 1:1, plus additional flavorings if desired. For a pork brine, dissolve kosher salt and brown sugar in water, then add flavorings like garlic, herbs (such as thyme or rosemary sprigs), and optional spices. Brine pork chops for a few hours to enhance their flavor and tenderness before cooking.
How do you brine pork before cooking?
To brine pork chops before cooking, create a brine solution using kosher salt, sugar, and water. Dissolve the salt and sugar in water, then immerse the pork chops in the brine. Refrigerate for a few hours, allowing the brining process to enhance flavor and tenderness. A quick brine can take as little as 30 minutes, but for best results, plan ahead and brine the pork chops for several hours.
Written by Jorge Farah
Born on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.