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.
Garlic Rosemary Pork Chops
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.
Should you 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 are more tender and moist, and less chewy than non-brined pork.
Lean meats like pork and poultry 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 the same.
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!
Ingredients for Pork Chop Brine Recipe
- Kosher salt (do not use table salt)
- Brown sugar
- Black pepper
- Fresh rosemary
- Fresh thyme
- Bay leaf
Step 1: Prepare Brine
To make the brine, simply combine all of the ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, making sure that the salt is completely dissolved. Remove the brine from the heat and cool completely.
Step 2: Brine Pork
Add the pork chops to the cool brine, cover and refrigerate.
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.
Step 3: Rinse and Dry
Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse under cold water, and pat dry.
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).
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 degrees 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 degree F oven for 6-10 minutes (for thick-cut chops), or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
What to Serve with 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
- Wedge Salad
- Cheese Grits
- Skillet Cornbread, Corn Muffins or Pumpkin Bread
- Southern Macaroni Salad
- 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
- Cowboy Baked Beans
- Ranch Style Beans
- Jiffy Corn Casserole
- Arkansas Green Beans with Bacon
- Creamed Spinach
- Roasted Broccoli
Preparation and Storage
- 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 degree 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.
- 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 type of pork chop -- 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 degrees F. A juicy pork chop with some pink in the middle has been given the official "okay" by the USDA.
More Pork Chop Recipes to Try
- Perfect 15-Minute Grilled Pork Chops
- Crock Pot Smothered Pork Chops
- Oven-Fried Breaded Pork Chops
- Country Pork Chop and Rice Bake
Garlic and Rosemary Pork Chop Brine
FOR THE BRINE:
- 4 cups water
- ¼ cup coarse kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1 bay leaf
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 degrees 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.