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A simple pork chop brine with brown sugar, garlic, and herbs is an easy way to create moist, tender, and flavorful meat! Whether you fry them in a cast iron skillet, bake them in the oven, or throw them on the grill, these garlic rosemary pork chops are a delicious and easy dinner to enjoy all year round.
Table of Contents
- How to Brine Pork Chops | 1-Minute Video
- Why You Should Brine Pork Chops
- Ingredients for this Basic Brine Recipe
- How to Brine Pork Chops
- Cooking Brined Pork Chops
- What to Serve with Garlic Rosemary Pork Chops
- Preparation and Storage Tips
- Recipe Variations
- Tips for the Best Pork Chop Brine
- Garlic and Rosemary Pork Chop Brine Recipe
How to Brine Pork Chops | 1-Minute Video
Brined pork chops are the key to the most succulent meat that you’ll ever sink your teeth into! And you know what? It’s so easy! Similar to marinating, you’ll need to plan ahead and allow a couple of hours for your pork chops to sit in the brine, soak up all of the flavors from the herbs, garlic, and seasoning, and become incredibly tender — but that’s all hands-off! The simple process really just requires your attention for about 10 minutes of prep. Then you can grill, fry, or bake the pork for an incredibly tasty dinner.
Why You Should Brine Pork Chops
Brining was a food preservation technique originally used in the days before refrigeration. In short, a brine is a bath of salty, flavorful liquid. The salt in the brine seasons the meat and changes the structure of its proteins, allowing them to absorb and hold on to more moisture. Brined pork chops have a better texture — more tender and moist, and less chewy than non-brined pork.
Lean meats like pork, chicken, and turkey benefit greatly from the brining process, which is why you often see turkeys brined before roasting on Thanksgiving. But don’t wait until a holiday to brine your meat! Pork chops are also a great candidate for brining. No more dry pork chops!
A basic brine ratio is ¼ cup of kosher salt per 4 cups (1 quart) of water. Brines often include sugar, so the brown sugar is also a part of this simple brine. You can scale all of the ingredients to create more brine if you’re planning to cook more meat. Just make sure to keep the ratio of salt to liquid the same.
Ingredients for this Basic Brine Recipe
This is just a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for the best pork chop brine recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.
- Water: the liquid base of the brine.
- Kosher salt: do not substitute with table salt, which will make the brine much too salty. I like Diamond Crystal brand (which has less sodium that table salt).
- Brown sugar: for a hint of sweetness that balances the salty brine, which also helps the outside of the pork chops brown.
- Black pepper: or use whole peppercorns if you’ve got them. Feel free to add other spices, if you like, such as cayenne (for heat!), juniper berries, or whole cloves.
- Fresh rosemary and fresh thyme: you can’t beat the bright flavor of fresh herbs! Feel free to throw in others as well, such as parsley, basil, or oregano.
- Garlic: no need to mince the cloves — just smash them with the side of a big knife and remove the peels.
- Bay leaf: for a hint of more complex, savory flavor in the background.
How to Brine Pork Chops
This easy pork chop brine comes together in about 10 minutes, and the rest of the process is almost entirely hands-off. Similar to marinating, brining pork chops yields flavorful, tender meat. It’s worth the extra step!
I’ve included detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick overview:
- Prepare Brine. To make the brine, simply combine all of the ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer, making sure that the salt dissolves. Remove the brining mixture from the heat and cool completely. You can add ice cubes to help it cool faster, but this will also water-down the mixture.
- Brine Pork. Add the pork chops to the cool brine, cover, and refrigerate. You can do this in a large bowl, in the pot that you prepared the brine, in a dish, or in a large Ziploc bag.
- Rinse and Dry. Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse under cold water, and pat dry.
How long should you brine pork chops?
For best results, brine thick-cut, bone-in pork chops for 1-4 hours in the refrigerator. You can do a quick brine for as little as 30 minutes. Smaller pork chops or thinner, boneless pork chops do best in the brine for about 30 minutes – 2 hours.
While some recipes suggest that you can brine pork chops overnight, I do not recommend brining the meat for more than about 4 hours. If you leave the meat in a brine solution for too long, you may end up with overly-salty, mushy pork.
Cooking Brined Pork Chops
You can cook the brined pork chops in a variety of ways. They work well on the grill, baked in the oven, or pan-fried in a cast iron skillet (as shown here). I’ve included each set of instructions below, so pick your favorite method!
Brining Pork Chops for Frying
For thick-cut, bone-in pork chops, fry in olive oil in a cast iron skillet for about 7-8 minutes per side. They should develop a really nice crust and color on both sides and reach an internal temperature of 145°F. Smaller pork chops will cook faster, so using an instant-read thermometer is the best way to know when your meat is done.
Brining Pork Chops for Grilling
If you prefer to grill the brined pork chops, heat the grill to medium-high heat. Refer to the pork chop grill time chart below for specific grilling times based on your cut of meat:
Baked Pork Chops
Brown the chops in a skillet over high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side, then bake in a 400°F oven for 6-10 minutes (for thick-cut chops), or until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F.
What to Serve with Garlic Rosemary Pork Chops
These flavorful, juicy pork chops go well with just about any of your favorite sides. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Southern Buttermilk Biscuits, Drop Biscuits or Sweet Potato Biscuits
- Baked Potatoes or Mashed Potatoes
- Baked Apple Slices, Southern Fried Apples, or Easy Homemade Applesauce
- Green Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette, Mixed Greens with Dijon Vinaigrette, Wedge Salad, Caesar Salad or House Salad with Candied Pecans
- Cheese Grits
- 3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits, Flaky Biscuits, Cheese Biscuits or Drop Biscuits
- Skillet Cornbread, Jiffy Cornbread with Creamed Corn, Honey Cornbread, Corn Sticks, Mexican Cornbread or Corn Muffins
- Garlic Bread
- Crusty French Baguette, Soft Dinner Rolls, or Homemade Crescent Rolls
- 3-Ingredient Sour Cream Muffins, Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins or Pumpkin Bread
- Southern Macaroni Salad
- Homemade Coleslaw or Vinegar Coleslaw
- Southern Collard Greens
- Crock Pot Mac and Cheese, Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese or Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Easy Potato Salad, Baked Potato Wedges, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Grilled Potatoes, or Baked Potatoes
- Cowboy Baked Beans
- Ranch Style Beans
- Jiffy Corn Casserole
- Arkansas Green Beans with Bacon
- Creamed Spinach or Sauteed Spinach
- Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
- Balsamic Roasted Root Vegetables
- Sauteed Zucchini
- Perfect Oven Roasted Asparagus or Sauteed Asparagus
- Brown Sugar Roasted Acorn Squash
- 5-Ingredient Easy Cranberry Salad
- 3-Ingredient Cranberry Orange Sauce
- Arkansas Green Beans with Bacon, Roasted Green Beans, or Southern-Style Green Beans
- Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- Roasted Broccoli, Broccoli Cauliflower Salad, or Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
Preparation and Storage Tips
- Allow plenty of time for the brine to cool before adding the meat. You can prepare the brine in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Store leftover cooked pork chops in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Wrapped tightly, the leftover pork will last in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- How to reheat pork chops: Place the pork chops in a dish and cover with foil. Warm in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes, or just until heated through. Be careful not to overcook them, or they will become tough and dry.
- You can freeze already brined pork chops before cooking. To do so, remove the chops from the brine, rinse under cold water, pat dry, and wrap tightly. The brined chops will last in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- Use different herbs — parsley, oregano, basil…whatever you enjoy!
- Add citrus to the brine. A squeeze of lemon juice or orange juice is a nice touch. For a stronger citrus flavor, use citrus zest.
- Use more garlic for a stronger garlic flavor.
- Add sliced onions or dried onion powder to the brine.
- For a slightly sweeter brine, replace some of the water with apple juice or apple cider.
- Double the amount of brine that you make if preparing 4 very large, very thick pork chops. You need enough liquid so that the meat is completely submerged.
Tips for the Best Pork Chop Brine
- Use this brine with any kind of pork chops — thick or thin, boneless or bone-in. You can also use the brine on pork tenderloin, which is another lean cut of meat that benefits greatly from the brining process.
- Use Coarse Kosher Salt: It’s important to use coarse kosher salt — not table salt. Using table salt will make your brine (and your pork) way too salty.
- Do not brine for too long, or you risk overly-salty, mushy meat. Thick-cut, bone-in chops do best in the brine for 1-4 hours, while thinner boneless chops are fine with just 15-30 minutes (or up to 2 hours).
- Rinse pork chops after brining. Discard the brine solution and pat dry. The meat has absorbed the flavor and plenty of salt during the brining process. Making sure that it’s really dry will help the chops get browned and crispy when cooked.
- Do not season the pork chops with extra salt. They will absorb plenty of salt from the brine.
- Use an instant-read meat thermometer to know when your pork is done. Pork chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. A juicy pork chop with some pink in the middle has been given the official “okay” by the USDA.
Garlic and Rosemary Pork Chop Brine
FOR THE BRINE
FOR THE PORK CHOPS
- 2-4 thick-cut bone-in pork chops (about 1 – 1 ½ inches thick)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Combine all of the brine ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer and whisk to make sure that the salt is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow the brine to cool completely.
- Add pork chops to the brine and refrigerate for 1-4 hours (or a quick brine for at least 30 minutes). If you're using thinner or boneless pork chops, you can brine for just 15-30 minutes.
- Remove pork from refrigerator and let come to room temperature on the counter for about 20-30 minutes. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it’s very hot — about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove pork from brine. Rinse under cold water; pat very dry with paper towels. Brush or rub each side of the pork chops with additional olive oil. The chops will be salty from the brine, so you shouldn’t need to add any more salt and pepper at this time.
- Add chops to the hot skillet and cook until browned on both sides and a meat thermometer registers 145°F (about 7-8 minutes per side). Smaller bone-in pork chops will cook in 5-6 minutes per side, so just keep an eye on your chops and use the thermometer to know when they’re done.
- Transfer pork to a serving plate; pour pan juices over top. Let pork rest for a few minutes before serving.