Brine

Simple Brine for Pork Chops

January 19, 2022
4 Stars
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

This is my favorite simple brine to use. You can brine your chops for as little as 2 hours and as many as 12.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- OXO Measuring Cups
- Five Two Essential Saucepan
- Food52 x Staub Grill Pan

Cara Nicoletti

Test Kitchen Notes

No one likes a dry pork chop. This simple and satisfying brine recipe will come to the rescue each and every time. There's a little planning ahead, as the chops need to marinate overnight, but that makes cooking dinner the next day a breeze with super-minimal cleanup. This brine makes enough for 2 pork chops, but you can obviously double or triple or quadruple the recipe depending on how many of them you plan to serve. There are no fancy ingredients required for this brine—all you need is salt, brown or granulated sugar, thyme sprigs, garlic cloves, a chile (if you want a little bit of a kick, you could also use red pepper flakes), and ice cubes. You do need to cook the ingredients for the brine so it reduces a little bit and for the sugar and salt to dissolve.

Keep in mind that the type of salt you use is important here. With ⅓ cup of salt, if you use a finer grain, your brine could turn out way too salty. We always recommend using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, and also keep in mind that Morton is a finer grain as well. If you're not sure, just start with a couple of tablespoons, taste as you go, and work your way up from there. Trust your instincts as well when you're cooking the pork chops in terms of seasoning. And for the best results, be sure to buy well-raised pork, as in pork that has been raised in a pasture. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Simple Brine for Pork Chops
  • Prep time 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • makes Enough for 2 chops
Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (granulated sugar will work fine, too)
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 chile de árbol (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 2 pork chops, 1 inch-thick
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the water, brown sugar, salt, chile, if using, garlic, peppercorns, and thyme, stirring occasionally, until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and stir in the ice cubes.
  2. Once the brine is totally cool, transfer to a zip-top bag. Add the pork chops and turn to coat. Let brine in the refrigerator overnight (about 8 hours).
  3. Before cooking, pat the pork chops dry and let come to room temperature. Cook or grill as desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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Cara Nicoletti is a butcher and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Cara started working in restaurants when she moved to New York in 2004, and was a baker and pastry chef for several years before following in her grandfather and great-grandfathers' footsteps and becoming a butcher. She is the writer behind the literary recipe blog, Yummy-Books.com, and author of Voracious, which will be published by Little, Brown in 2015. She is currently a whole-animal butcher and sausage-making teacher at The Meat Hook in Williamsburg.

41 Reviews

marko March 26, 2022
I followed this recipe to a "T". It's really great if you like an overwhelming sense of salt and brine that makes you nauseous.
 
LiLiBug7 March 26, 2022
What salt did you use? Fine grain salt is way too salty. I use Kosher salt like another reviewer suggested. I have made this countless times with non- saline injected pork chops (very important to read if the chops are saline injected) and it has been perfect every time and a huge crowd pleaser!
 
brett February 21, 2022
I don’t have an ice maker and rarely have more than a tray of ice, so I want to substitute water for the ice. What does “4 cups of ice” weigh? It seems like this would vary significantly depending on the size of your cubes. 4 cups of water weighs 32 ounces. Would 4 cups ice weigh 16 ounces? 24?
 
Alexis S. May 12, 2021
I'm way late, however, it's important to note the grain size of salt that you use. A kosher salt is more coarse than a table salt. So one spoonful of table salt is more salt than a spoonful of kosher. If your brine was too salty, you probably used a finer grained salt. That is why your brine is too salty. Either adjust your salt or use a coarser salt.
 
Piper April 21, 2021
Way to salty for my taste. Moist however. Perhaps there is another solution.
 
DrTeri January 22, 2021
This brine was super easy to make. It also works very well! I've tried numerous brines to soften pork chops. This one did that and added a tasty seasoning. Thanks for sharing it!
 
Lisa December 29, 2020
This is a great brine. I have made 3 times. I reduce the 1/3 c to 3 T. I only add pepper before cooking. But I find that the chops cook super fast.

So here's my question. How many minutes do I stove top cook each side before inserting temp probe for med. rare - 135? Thanks.
 
li December 2, 2020
this san excellent brine. very easy. rendered the thick cut pork chops very tender and juicy even though i only brined for 2 hours.
 
Foodie1244 October 19, 2020
This is my go to brine for the double cut pork chops we get from Costco. I use fresh rosemary instead of time but either is fine. I do not think they are pre-brined but I might be wrong on that. They are never too salty as long as you do not add additional salt before grilling. I guarantee that the people who think it is too salty are using regular table salt in the brine and not kosher salt. Huge difference and common mistake.
 
Jill August 18, 2020
This is my go to brine but I do not add additional salt before cooking like the video shows. It does not need it. The brined meat is perfect right out of the liquid if you let it brine for 12 hours.
 
Dan E. August 8, 2020
Growing up, I ate the pork shops my mom made by dunking each bite in a huge amount of applesauce to make the dry piece of jerky that was once a chop palatable. This recipe was a game changer, and I've fallen in love with pork chops again. I use it SOOOO often. It's fine on boneless choppies that need a lil love too. People are always wowed by it. Awesome, thanks!
 
Peggy W. May 26, 2020
How do I cook the chops are brining?
 
Gammy May 26, 2020
We love them cooked on the grill, just don't overcook. We always use an instant read thermometer and grill until the inside temp is 145 degrees. You want a hint of pink still in the interior, that way the chops are nice and juicy.
 
Steph R. May 12, 2020
SO delicious!!! I haven’t cooked pork chops for years because they’re usually so dry and tasteless, and tonight I brined them with your recipe after work (for only 2 hours!! I was short on time but next time will do it longer -although the flavour and tenderness was perfect!!) and my husbands eyes just about fell out of his head when he tried his first bite, he’s so used to having to add more flavour to my cooking to his liking but tonight didn’t add anything, and my 4 and 6 year olds polished theirs off too!! I will 100% add this to my recipe book and make it again. Thank you!
 
LiLiBug7 February 10, 2020
Can I just say? Third time I have used this brine and it is AMAZING! I add a special Mexican Chile powder I have instead of the Chile de Arbol. I will reiterate what another reviewer said, I only use grass fed all natural, non saline injected pork chops, always super thick and they always come out perfect! I would never use this brine on chops already “pre-brined” or they would probably be too salty but then again, I avoid those chops anyway as I like to control what goes in my food as much as I can, not someone else. Thank you for the recipe!
 
breujadevenice January 16, 2020
These pork chops were not edible. Way too salty!
 
Greg O. June 1, 2020
That's because you don't know how to cook, you probably added more salt before cooking.
 
mimi August 28, 2020
Perhaps you would consider how you come across in this statement. There isn't really any need to be rude. If you think you cook better than other people, that doesn't make you a better person, but when you are snarky publicly, you just come across as a meanie.
 
Avanished August 22, 2019
This is not a recipe for the health minded. I never used so much salt for any recipe, so I decided to experiment. Anyone who says this is great must live off processed foods. Horrifically salty. Would not serve to anyone unless they didn’t know what food sans salt tastes like. Would serve using less salt.
 
Gammy September 7, 2019
Avanished, Food 52 is a group of cooks brought together by our love of food. We exchange recipes, ideas, and knowledge and support each other. This is not a site necessarily dedicated to healthy eating, just good food. If you found fault with this pork brine, a mere "I didn't care for this... It was too salty for my taste." would have sufficed. You didn't need to disparage those of us who really enjoy this recipe with your biting comment about how we must "live off processed foods". Your comment about "Horrifically salty" makes me wonder if you mis-read the recipe or possibly used table salt instead of Kosher. From your profile, I see you are a fairly new member to our community. Welcome! But in the future, please have a bit more compassion for those of us who have different tastes than yourself.
 
suzanne September 7, 2019
Brining isn't unhealthy . . . people have been doing it for centuries. I don't eat much processed food at all -- this is simply the best way to prep the healthier pasture-raised pork and chicken. Make sure the salt and sugar are completely dissolved before you brine. You can also rinse the meat and pat it dry completely before you cook it.
 
Hewton October 25, 2019
Consider the pre-market processing of the pork chop.
At my local Kroger most chicken and pork cuts have been pre-injected with a saline/water solution, bumps up weight and flavor (?) so I have to take that into consideration when deciding to Brine, add salt, or to Marinate with no salt, to add flavor and moisture. And remove some sodium via osmosis.


 
suzanne October 25, 2019
Personally, I'd only brine pasture-raised / grass fed meats. You're absolutely right about the water/salt already added to the factory-farmed pork and chicken. Do yourself and the planet a favor, everyone and stop eating feedlot meat or any kind.
 
Rusty W. August 20, 2020
I followed the brining directions exactly with two boneless pork loin chops, 1.5 - 2.0 inches thick. I cooked them in a cast iron skillet to 135 degrees. They were flavorful, tender, and WAY TOO SALTY. I used no salt other than what the recipe called for in the brine. If you’re using this recipe and don’t find the result excessively salty I’ll bet your regular diet is heavier on salt than health experts recommend.
 
BocaCindi January 26, 2021
Well said, Gammy. Table salt, Diamond or Morton. All different. I guess to be on the safe side recipes should indicate what type of salt would be best.
 
Jenna E. August 18, 2019
good lord, how much salt did you put on those? there's salt in the brine, salt before cooking and then a finish of salt?!?!!?!?
 
Gammy August 1, 2019
I have made this recipe time and time again and they are soooo easy and soooo good. We can get what are called "Cowboy" pork chops at one grocery store.. they are about an inch to an inch and a half thick with a big ole bone along one side. My husband and I can split one, they are that huge. I have brined for as long as overnight and for as little as 3 hours and they are always great! I have also saved the brine by freezing for a second use a couple weeks later and it is as flavorful as the first time.
 
Diane G. March 25, 2019
I left the pork chops overnight in the brine. Do you rinse and pay dry?! So worried they may be salty.
 
Robin6055 March 25, 2019
I’ve left them for a day and they taste great. Not too salty at all. Just pat them them dry and proceed with cooking.
 
Mike B. February 14, 2019
Love the ratios for two simple chops. Good to rift off too. This time around I added orange peel and maple syrup. Can't wait to get them in the cast iron.
 
Robin6055 August 29, 2018
Love this brine. So quick and easy. Genius to add the ice cubes to hasten cooling. Best pork chops I've ever had.