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If you’re looking for a tender and juicy pork chop recipe, then you’ve found it! These pork chops are marinated in buttermilk for a zesty, flavorful brine that infuses tenderness and flavor. I’ve learned that buttermilk is the ideal brine for pork, chicken, and turkey. Because a buttermilk marinade helps tenderize the meat, keeps it moist during cooking, and seasons the pork. Get this simple pork chop recipe and cook these delicious, buttermilk brined pork chops tonight!
Soaking Meat in Buttermilk
What’s so great about buttermilk? Well, it’s the perfect base for a brine or marinade. The acidity and calcium in buttermilk helps break down the proteins in meat.
So, soaking meat in buttermilk makes meat more tender.
Since meat contains a lot of water and very little salt, brining is a reverse osmosis process (see chart below). Over time, the brining allows a natural shifting of moisture in the meat, making it more tender.
You can learn how and why brining works here.
To recap, the effects of brining are:
- Pork chops marinated or brined in buttermilk are more flavorful, tender, and juicy.
- The buttermilk infuses flavor, while the acidity and calcium break down the protein rendering it more tender.
- The reserve osmosis process by the brine keeps the meat juicy.
Brine Pork Chops Overnight
As you can imagine, brining is a long process. Ideally, brine pork chops overnight for the best results.
Due to the osmosis process during brining, it takes about 8 hours. Although you don’t want to over-brine your meats, 8 to 24 hours is ideal.
Buttermilk Brine Pork Chops Ingredients
The buttermilk brine pork chops ingredients are simple and easy. In fact, most of them are already in your pantry:
- brown sugar
- olive oil
- bay leaves
- hot sauce (or red pepper flakes)
- bone-in pork chops
- salt and pepper (or all-purpose seasoning)
- optional: peppercorns for the marinade
This buttermilk pork chop recipe is very adaptable, like most brines and marinades.
You can use any type of buttermilk, including non-fat. It’s the acidity, calcium, and sodium that do the work.
TFN Tip: Did you know that you can freeze buttermilk (and milk, cheese, and butter)? Since I don’t use buttermilk very often, I freeze it in 1/2 cup measurements. Once it’s frozen solid, I keep frozen buttermilk in a Ziplock bag in the freezer. It keeps for up to 3 months in the freezer.
I recommend bone-in pork chops for this buttermilk pork chop recipe. Although my preference is center-cut, bone-in pork chops, other cuts will work well, too.
While testing this recipe, I tried different cuts of pork chops including boneless. However, boneless loin chops did not come out nearly as tender and juicy as the bone-in pork chops.
Typically, boneless chops are leaner without the fat marbling that bone-in chops have. So, the cut of meat (pork) is important here.
To learn more about the different cuts of pork chops, read this post on cuts of pork chops.
Pork Chops Marinated in Buttermilk Brine
To get started with these pork chops marinated in buttermilk, let’s make the brine. It is a simple, and easy recipe. And, it takes less than 5 minutes to make.
First, mix the seasonings in a small bowl to combine. Then mix the liquid ingredients and seasonings for the brine right in the container you plan to use to marinade the pork chops.
Add pork chops and let marinate overnight, covered, in the refrigerator. As a minimum, marinate the pork chops in the brine for at least 8 hours.
The Best Cooking Methods for Marinated Pork Chops
There are many ways to cook tender and juicy pork chops. Our preferred method is grilling, but you can get equally great results from frying and baking, too.
First prepare your pork chops by brining
- Remove pork chops from the brine, and discard brine.
- Rinse off the pork chops and dry with paper towels.
- Coat with a thin layer of olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper or all purpose seasoning (whatever is your preference).
- Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Then, you are ready to fry, air fry, make, or grill the pork chops. Get the directions below for these different cooking methods.
Buttermilk Fried Pork Chops
Doesn’t everyone love fried pork chops? Once you know how to marinate pork chops for frying, I doubt you will prepare them any other way! Since these fried pork chops are flour-free, they are perfect for those keto or low carb.
Here’s how to make the best buttermilk fried pork chops:
First, preheat your skillet (cast iron is perfect for this) on medium-high heat. Add 1/4″ of cooking oil and allow to heat until the oil is shimmering on the surface.
Then, gently add your pork chops to the skillet without overcrowding them. If your skillet is small, fry them in batches. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side.
Buttermilk Pork Chops in Air Fryer
Yes, you can air fry pork chops! Here’s how to make buttermilk pork chops in air fryer:
Cook pork chops in air fryer at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
Baked Buttermilk Pork Chops
When you’re busy in the kitchen, baking pork chops is the perfect fix it and forget it method. After all, baking leaves you free to focus on the other parts of your dinner.
To make easy baked buttermilk pork chops:
First, preheat the oven to 375º. Then, place the pork chops in an oven safe dish and bake for 15 minutes.
To give the pork chops a golden, seared look, place them under a broiler for 2-3 minutes.
Grilled Pork Chops
Our favorite way of preparing pork chops is on the grill. We are able to grill year-round here in California.
Here’s how to make the best grilled pork chops:
First, preheat grill to medium-high heat (about 375º) and lightly brush the grates with vegetable oil.
Then add the pork chops to the grill. Grill over direct heat for 7 minutes per side.
What side dishes go well with pork?
Of course, you want the perfect side dishes that go well with your tender and tasty pork chops! Here are some recipes to create the perfect dinner:
Frequently Asked Questions
No, the pork chops will not taste like buttermilk. Rather, the buttermilk gives the pork chops a rich, tangy taste.
Yes, you can use this buttermilk brine recipe for other meats like chicken, turkey, or pork loin/roasts. I love brining whole turkeys and chickens in this buttermilk marinade.
The acidity and calcium in the buttermilk help breakdown the proteins, and tenderize the pork.
Marinate the pork chops in buttermilk for at least 8 hours, and up to 24 hours.
Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork chops. If the temperature is 145º they’re ready to serve after a 3-minute rest. This temperature is in line with USDA recommendations on cooking meat https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/05/25/cooking-meat-check-new-recommended-temperatures.
Buttermilk Marinated Pork Chops
Now you know how to make the best tender, juicy, pork chops marinated in buttermilk. And, how brining brings out the best in pork and poultry.
With this easy, make ahead process to brine pork chops overnight, dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes.
Buttermilk Pork Chop Recipe
Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops
- Grill, Broiling Pan, or Skillet
- 1.5 cups buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 tsp hot sauce (or 1 tsp red pepper flakes + 1 tsp vinegar)
- 4 bone in, center cut pork chops
- Kosher salt (or all purpose seasoning)
- ground pepper (or peppercorns)
Brine the Pork Chops
- Make the buttermilk brine: Mix buttermilk, brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, garlic, bay leaves, and hot sauce together in a large shallow bowl or ziplock bag.
- Add the pork chops to the brine, ensuring they are completely submerged. If using a bowl, cover it. Refrigerate pork chops in brine for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Remove the pork chops from the brine. Discard the brine. Rinse the pork chops and dry with paper towels.
- Rub or brush pork chops with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper or all purpose seasoning. Let meat sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
To pan fry pork chops:
- Preheat your skillet (cast iron is perfect for this!) on medium high heat and add 1/4" of cooking oil. Gently add pork chops to the skillet without overcrowding them. If your skillet is too small, fry them in batches.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes per side. Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat. Pork chops are done when they reach an internal temperature of 145º
To air fry pork chops:
- Preheat your air fryer to 400º for 5 minutes. Cook pork chops in air fryer at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat. Pork chops are done when they reach an internal temperature of 145º
To bake pork chops:
- Preheat the oven to 375º. Place the pork chops in an oven safe dish and bake for 15 minutes.
- Use a meat thermometer, take the internal temperature of the largest pork chop. Pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145º.To give the pork chops a golden, seared look, place them under a broiler for 2-3 minutes.
To grill pork chops:
- Preheat grill to medium high heat (about 375º) and lightly brush the grates with vegetable oil. Grill pork chops for 7 minutes per side over direct heat.
- Use a meat thermometer to take the internal temperature of the largest pork chop. Pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145º.
- Let pork rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
Brine your turkey this Thanksgiving! With this simple, Brined Turkey Breast recipe!