These brined pork chops are the best way to enjoy chops! Juicy, tender, and so full of flavor this is the ultimate recipe for pork chops that’s easy as can be to master! Enjoy the flavors of brown sugar, rosemary, and garlic in each delicious bite.
There’s no need to fear making pork chops when this recipe is in your repertoire. Gone are the days of dry and bland overcooked pieces of pork that are better used as door stops than dinner. This brine recipe makes a pork chop that is perfectly seared on the outside and supremely succulent on the inside.
Ingredients for this recipe
- Dark Brown Sugar
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh Rosemary
- Fresh Thyme
- Whole Peppercorns
- Whole Allspice
- Bay Leaf
- Garlic Cloves
Making a brine is so simple. If you can heat water, you can make a brine. Here’s how:
How to make a meat brine
- Dissolve the brown sugar and kosher salt. In some hot water. We’re not looking to boil it, just get it hot enough to dissolve everything.
- Add the bourbon and aromatics. Just stir it all together. So simple! Then let it steep for a few minutes.
- Pour everything over ice. We want to cool the brine so that we don’t cook the meat when we add it. I like to use these containers for recipes like this.
- Add the pork chops. And then set the whole container in the fridge for 5 – 8 hours.
Searing Pork Chops in a Pan
After the pork chops have had time to hang out in the brine, they are removed and patted dry with paper towel.
To get a good sear on the chops, place a cast iron pan over high heat until smoking. Add some grapeseed oil (or another oil with a high smoke point) and then add the pork chops one or two at a time, being sure not to overcrowd the pan.
For perfectly cooked bone-in pork chops, sear on each side for 3 – 4 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the meat with an instant read thermometer. The pork chops should be right around 145 degrees for medium rare (carryover cooking will bring the chops up a few degrees after being removed from the pan). If you like your pork chops more medium to medium-well done, add another minute or two to each side.
In the last minute of cooking, add two tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pan, along with a few springs of rosemary, thyme, and a few garlic cloves. Spoon the melted butter over the top of the pork for a perfect finish!
What is a brine? Typically, a brine is a mixture of water, salt, and sugar that is used to flavor various kinds of meat, such as turkey or pork. It is often flavored with herbs and aromatics like rosemary, peppercorns, and garlic. By submerging meat into a brine, the flavor that is in the liquid gets absorbed into the fibers of the meat, and the salt helps to seal in moisture.
Can I use regular table salt instead of Kosher? When it comes to cooking, I prefer kosher salt above all other salts, and always make sure to state it in my recipes. The grains are coarser and thicker and stick better to food than regular table salt. Because of the size, kosher salt is “less salty” than an equal amount of table salt. So, if you’re going to substitute regular table salt for the kosher in this recipe, use half of the amount as called for in the recipe, meaning ¼ cup.
Can I omit the bourbon? Sure. Though I think it adds beautiful flavor to the chops and a certain sweetness. If you’re going to leave out the bourbon, add another ¼ cup dark brown sugar.
Does this brine work for grilled pork chops? Yes! Proceed with the recipe all the way through patting the pork chops dry. Then, set the pork chops over a medium-high, direct heat for 3 - 4 minutes on each side.
Can I use boneless pork chops? Yes! You may want to adjust the cooking time by about one or two minutes less to avoid a dry pork chop. A boneless chop will also require a bit less time in the brine, and will be ready to cook after about 3 hours, though of course it can marinate for the entire time.
Great sides for pork chops
- Creamed Kale
- Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction
- Honey Glazed Roasted Carrots
- Buttery Mashed Potatoes
Brined Pork Chops
- Large pot
- Large, lidded Tupperware
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Cast Iron Skillet
For the brine:
- 3 cups cool water
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ¾ cup bourbon
- 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
- 4 whole allspice
- 2 – 4 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 – 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 – 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 4 cups ice cubes
For the pork chops:
- 2 pounds 1-inch thick bone-in pork chops (about 3 or 4)
- 1 ½ TBSP grapeseed oil
- 3 TBSP unsalted butter
For the brine:
- In a large pot, heat the water, brown sugar, and kosher salt, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add the bourbon, peppercorns, allspice, garlic cloves, bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary. Let aromatics steep for a few minutes before removing from heat.
- Place the ice cubes in a large Tupperware and pour the brine over top. Stir until ice cubes have melted and brine has cooled.
For the pork chops:
- Place the chops in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 5 – 8 hours.
- When ready to cook, place a cast iron skillet over high heat and add the grapeseed oil. Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towel.
- When the oil is shimmering, add one or two pork chops to the pan (depending on the size of your skillet, be sure not to over crowd the pan). Cook pork chops for 3 – 4 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 3 – 4 minutes. In the last minute of cooking, add the butter to the skillet and spoon it over the pork chops as they finish cooking.
- When pork chops register 145 degrees on an instant read thermometer remove from pan to rest for 5 minutes so the juices redistribute before enjoying!
- Refer to post for notes on grilling instructions or substituting regular table salt in place of kosher salt.
- If desired, add garlic cloves, fresh thyme, and rosemary to the melted butter while the pork chops cook (I like to reuse what was in the brine!).