How To Brine Pork

Guidelines For Brining Pork – Pork Brine Recipe

Have you had it with tasteless, juiceless pork chops – Brining is the secret that chefs never tell you about!


Brining meats is all the rage in professional kitchens and high-end cooking magazines.  Most cooking experts agree that brined poultry and meat are more flavorful and succulent.  The results are particularly apparent when the meat is cooked in the smoky heat of a covered barbecue, because the brine helps to mask bitter components in smoke that can make foods taste unpleasantly acrid.

Check out this web site on What Gives Meat It’s Flavor from the Science of Cooking web site.


How To Brine Pork:

Brining is very easy, economical, and requires no special cookware.  Brining is like a marinade as it keeps food moist and tender.  Brining or salting is a way of increasing the moisture holding capacity of meat resulting in a moister product when it is cooked.

One of the great things about brining is that there are so few rules.  Most brines start with water and salt — traditionally, 3/4 pound of salt per gallon of water, but since we’re not concerned with the brine as a preservative, you can cut back on the salt.

Salt Types Used in Brining:  Kosher salt and table salt (without iodine) are the most common salts used in brining.  Sea salt can be used, but it tends to be quite expensive.  I usually use kosher salt.  A cup of table salt and a cup of kosher salt are not equal.  Table salt weighs approximately 10 ounces per cup and kosher salt weighs approximately 5 to 8 ounces per cup depending on the brand.  If using kosher salt in a brine, you must use more than a cup to achieve the same “saltiness” you would get from a cup of table salt.

Salt Substitution Chart
 The chart below shows how to substitute the two most popular brands of kosher salt for ordinary table salt.

1 cup Table Salt (without iodine) – Substitute with:
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt = 2 cups
Morton Kosher Salt = 1-1/2 cups

Adding Flavoring:
 You can add flavor in all sorts of forms such as herbs and spices.  Use brown sugar, honey or molasses in place of the sugar (some sweetness tends to offset a saltiness the brine might otherwise impart).  You can use apple juice, cider, orange juice, beer, wine, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, stock, tea, or other liquids to replace some or all of the water.  You can also put together decidedly Oriental flavorings with soy sauce or the Japanese rice wine mirin.


How Long To Flavor Brine Pork:

Pork Chops (1-inch to 1 1/2-inch thick)………….12 to 24 hours
Whole Pork Loin………………………………………….2 to 4 days
Whole Pork Tenderloin………………………………   6 to 12 hours


Refrigeration is absolutely required during brining:

The meat and brine solution must be kept below 40 degrees F. at all times.

Refrigerator Storing:  If storing the meat in the refrigerator during brining, check to make sure that the container will fit in your refrigerator! A container large enough to hold a whole turkey might be too big for your fridge.

Cooler Storing:  If storing the meat in a cooler during brining, you must keep the meat and brine cold without diluting the mixture.  Put the meat and brine directly in the cooler and then place Ziploc bags filled with ice or reusable gel packs into the brine solution.

Oven Roasting Bag Storage:  Another approach is to put the meat and brine into a turkey oven-roasting bag inside the cooler, then pack ice or gel packs around the bag.  Monitor the temperature of the cooler to make sure it stays below 40 degrees F. at all times.


Pork Brine Recipe:

3/4 cup coarse kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 gallon cold water
1 tablespoon black pepper

A heavy-duty plastic tub, stainless-steel bowl, or resealable plastic bag can work as a brining container, as long as the pork is fully submerged.  Weight with a plate, if necessary, to keep the meat fully covered by the brine.  To determine how much brine you’ll need, place the meat to be brined in your chosen container. Add water to cover.  Remove the meat and measure the water.

Dissolve salt and sugar in the boiling water. Add it to the cold water; add pepper and stir to combine.  Chill brine completely in the refrigerator before adding pork. Place your pork in the water and place in the refrigerator for the time required.

Experiment with seasonings.  Salt is essential, but everything else is optional.  Consider garlic, ginger, fresh herbs, juniper berries, clove, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, mustard seed, coriander seed, star anise, hot pepper flakes or Sichuan peppercorns.  To give pork a sweet edge and encourage browning, add 1/2 cup sugar to each 2 quarts of water.

Rinse pork twice after removing it from the brine solution; discard brine.  If you are not ready to cook at the end of the brining time, remove and rinse the meat. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Important Brining Tips:

Do not salt brined meat before cooking.

Cook pork according to your favorite recipe.

Do not overcook your brined pork.

Once brined, the pork cooks faster so be careful and use a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat.




Cooking Lessons - Cooking 101    Pork   

Comments and Reviews

23 Responses to “How To Brine Pork”

  1. Criselda Pataueg

    Just want to ask if a brined pork which is frozen can be soak in water in order to defrost it? Will there be an effect in its flavor?

  2. Lu Morris

    I think I overbrined my pork loin. What do I do now?

    • Linda Stradley

      (1) If you think you have brined your pork loin too long, soak it in cold water to remove some salt. I can not say how long to soak, as it depends on the size of the meat and how much salt used.

      (2) Rinse and some refrigerated rest time is a good. The rinse removes excess surface salts from the brining process, and the rest time allows those internal liquids to settle down and equalize within the meat.

      (3) Do not over brine in the future.

  3. Glenda Hubbartt

    I am making breaded tenderloin… I’ve salt brined the pork after it was tenderized then rinsed and and double dipped in beer then breading then laid flat and frozen for future use….. But my meat is staying pink after cooked well over temp. What am I doing wrong??

    • Linda Stradley

      Do not overcook your brined pork. Once brined, the pork cooks faster so be careful and use an cooking thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat to determine when your pork is done.

  4. Nick Bobis Jr.

    Hi, How about brined whole pork belly weight around 12lbs.? how much the salt ratio using kosher salt or iodine salt? Thanks

    • Linda Stradley

      I have never brined a whole pork belly. Maybe one of the readers will help you.

      • Dawn Watson

        The ratio of salt depends on the water. Put the pork in the container you are going to brine in. Cover it with water. Take the meat out measure the water. I do an 8 lb normally and it comes to a gallon of water so I use 3/4 cup of salt. Adjust to 1/3 cup more for every 1/2 gallon more. I usually only leave it in for 6 hours. Rinse well let sit a half hour then cook. Good luck

  5. Debbie webb

    I just received a bone-in,brined and smoked ham. It is not a traditional large whole ham, just a very thick slice of one, just a slab about 6 .5 lbs. what now? I know I have to cook it but am not sure of the best method to use. Help!

  6. Morgan

    I brined (1/2C salt 4C water) my 2 lbs pork loin for 4-5 hours in refrigerator. Then baked 450° for 10 mins then lowered temp to 250° for additional hour or so until it reached 145° internal temp. It came out SUPER salty…much too salty. Help! What went wrong?

    • Carolyne

      I believe your brining solution may be the problem. A general rule is 1 Cup Salt to 1 Gallon water (16 Cups). If you are using Kosher Salt then the salt measurement would be 1-1/4 C.

  7. RIck

    Yes, way too salty in my opinion. For example, for 4 double-cut (thick) chops, I used 1/4 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, one cup of hot water to dissolve salt and sugar, then followed with three more cups of cool water and two cups of ice cubes to bring the brine down to 45ºF or below. Brined the chops for six hours, no more – no less. Took chops out and dried with paper towels and threw them put sous vide for 45 minutes. Finished off in hot cast iron pan with a little butter to put a brown crust on them (a minute on each side). Hands down, the best chops I’ve ever made in 50 years of cooking. Don’t season anything until chops are cooked. They will not need it after brining. If butter is going to kill you, just use a little olive oil or canola to get them browned up a little 🙂

  8. Richard D Schinella

    Question: What concentration of salt required and how long will it take to properly brine a pork loin roast of 2.5 lbs?

    • Whats Cooking America

      A typical pork loin weighs 2-4 pds, the post recommends 2 to 4 days. So if yours weighs 2.5 lbs, then go with 2 days of brining.

  9. Smoky Bones

    Best brine is 1 cup salt / gal of liquid ratio..
    1 hour of brine time per 1″ of thickness too much longer and it’s too salty, i.e., about 1 hour for chops or ribs.
    You need the concentrated liquid to “force” the infusion of the salt via osmosis.
    Spices and sweetness are your choice.
    Then smoker or not — again your choice.
    Low and slow for added tenderness

  10. Lolo

    I brined my pork loin today but had it at room temperature. Will the meat be bad?did it for 10 hrs room temperature it was partially frozen.

  11. Bob N

    If left at room temp for 10 hours it is not safe to eat. Toss it.

  12. Earthie48

    After bringing, is it OK to freeze my pork ribs for future use? Will much flavor be lost?

  13. Scarlet

    I never thought of brining my pork. I always brine my turkey and it goes a huge way towards keeping it moist so I guess I need to try this for my pork too! Thanks for the suggestion and recipe.

    • Nancy

      You’re welcome! Thank you for visiting What’s Cooking America

  14. Steve Martin

    Pork belly for bacon. I would also like to put real maple syrup in do I still need that much salt and sugar with this. The pork is about 5 pounds going to smoke 3 in my new pit boss smoker
    Thanks for your time. Steven


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