Brining pork chops is an easy way to ensure they are juicy, flavorful, and tender. This recipe calls for accessible ingredients like salt, sugar, vinegar, citrus, and dried herbs. Plus, it’s inspired by my love of garlic sauce—it calls for 4 large cloves!
Boil the flavorful mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once it cools to room temperature, add a handful of ice to further cool it down. Then, nestle in the pork chops. The meat will be infused with tangy, aromatic flavors with minimal effort on your part—ready for the grill! It's that easy!
Why Brine Pork Chops?
Brining pork chops is the best way to pump them full of flavor and liquid, making them less susceptible to drying out as they cook. The citrus and vinegar in the brine tenderize the pork, leaving you with a more succulent bite of the other white meat.
Without a brine, the pork chops are more likely to taste bland and have a greater chance of drying out, especially if they are a leaner cut like tenderloin or boneless loin chops.
This brine recipe calls for 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup brown sugar. This may seem like a lot of salt and sugar, but they are diluted in the liquid and the meat absorbs just the right amount. Most of it stays behind in the brine.
How Long Should You Brine Pork Chops?
How long you brine the pork chops depends on how thick they are. If less than 1 inch thick, brine them for 30 to 45 minutes. For pork chops that are 1 to 2 inches thick, brine them for 1 to 2 hours. Tenderloins thicker than 2 inches can brine for 4 hours. Any cut of pork can brine for up to 12 hours, but no longer.
This is my golden "clock" rule for brining pork: 1 hour per pound. For example, a 4-pound pork tenderloin brines for 4 hours.
Use the Brine for Other Cuts of Pork
This brine will work well with any cut of pork: pork tenderloin, pork shoulder, pork butt, and even spareribs. Depending on how large the meat is, you may need to double or triple the recipe so that all of it is fully submerged in the brine. Remember, the thicker the piece of meat, the longer it will need to brine it.
Tips for Brining Pork Chops
- To avoid nefarious bacteria that may make you sick, make sure the pork chops are fully submerged in the brine. This also ensures that the meat is evenly brined. Tightly cover the container as the pork chops brine and keep it refrigerated until ready to cook.
- Before cooking the pork chops, rinse them off under cold running water to remove the stuck-on spices and aromatics.
Delicious Brine Variations
The best pork chop brine is versatile and made with pantry ingredients you most likely have.
- Don't have oregano? Use rosemary, thyme, basil, or any herb you have available.
- Instead of lemon juice, use lime, bitter oranges, or even grapefruit juice.
- Add 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper for a bit of spice.
- Replace the distilled white vinegar with white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
How to Plan Ahead
If you have a busy week ahead of you, make the brine up to 5 days ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
More Brined Deliciousness
- Smoked Turkey Brine
- Easiest Turkey Brine
- Citrus-Brined Grilled Pork Chops
- Brined Pork Chops with Gremolata
- Grilled Spicy Citrus Ribs With Bourbon Glaze
Easy Pork Chop Brine
If you’re using table salt, use 3 tablespoons. For sea salt, use 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon. For Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use 1/3 cup.
Recipe makes enough for about 2 1/2 pounds pork chops.
- 2 cups cold water
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup Morton’s kosher salt
- 1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, tightly packed
- 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 limes, quartered
- 1 orange, quartered
- 4 cups ice
Make the brine:
In a 3-quart pot, add the water, vinegar, salt, brown sugar, black peppercorns, oregano, bay leaves, onion, and garlic. Squeeze in the limes and orange, then throw in the peels. Stir the mixture to combine.
Note: If you’d like to use the same pot to brine the pork, use an 8-quart pot or one that’s large enough to accommodate the brine, ice, and pork chops.
Dissolve the salt and sugar:
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir it to encourage the salt and sugar to dissolve.
Cool the brine:
As soon as it comes up to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes.
In an 8-quart container (a large pot or large bowl works), add the ice. Stir in the cooled brine. You do not have to take the aromatics and spices out. It’s now ready for the pork chops!
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