Do You Salt Pork Chops Before Grilling?

Salt and the cure or seasoning you can do to a pork chop is all about the amount you put on. However, do you think it makes a difference, lets get into it.

There is nothing quite like the smokey taste of fresh grilled pork chops. When it comes to grilling pork chops, there are several schools of thought about both process and seasoning. Salt is one of the seasonings that is widely used but the timing of use is often questioned too.

Here is the short quick answer, then I will talk about why more below.

You should generously salt your pork chops well in advance with a dry rub or wet brine before grilling time. The pork chops should then be refrigerated for 2-24 hours This tenderizes and helps hold moisture in during the cooking.

In this article, you will learn about the best way and time to salt pork chops before grilling. 

Why Salt Pork Chops Before Grilling?

It is important to salt pork chops before grilling because it will help bring out the flavor and help improve the texture of the cooked meat.

Some pork chops can be on the dry side when cooked, simply because it is a tougher cut of meat, but that also depends on the amount of fat. The quality and intermuscular fat are also factors. 

The addition of salt to uncooked pork chops causes the proteins in the meat to begin the process of breaking down. When the proteins break down, it helps eliminate the toughness in the meat. 

Process of Salting Pork Chops

If you expect to throw a few dashes of salt on your pork chops, you will not notice a difference in the taste or texture of the meat generally speaking.

There are two ways to add salt to your pork chops before grilling.

  • Dry Rub
  • Wet Brine

Both of which will provide you with a tasteful and tender cut of meat when it is cooked. You will need several hours to properly salt pork chops before grilling. 

Dry Rub (Dry Brine)

One popular method of salting pork chops is called the dry rub method (it’s not curing, which this site is all about).

As the name suggests, you are going to apply the salt and any other seasoning to the meat in a dry form. When you see the term brine (or pickle), you may think of liquid, which is true, but when dry brining, you are really just dry rubbing/seasoning. I don’t think dry brining is the right terminology here – that’s my opinion!

Dry Brine or Dry Rub Quote:

Dry-brining is a catchy term for a very simple process of salting and resting food before cooking it. Some people call this process “pre-salting,” which is kind of like “preheating” an oven—doesn’t make a ton of semantic sense, seeing as salting and heating are the steps, and nothing precedes them, but that’s a debate for another day. Dry-brining achieves the goals of traditional brining—deeply seasoned, juicy food—without the flavor dilution problem that affects proteins brined in salt solutions.

To dry rub or salt pork chops, you will want to make sure you follow the steps carefully or you may end up with tough and flavorless pork chops. 

  1. Mix your salt and other seasonings in a bowl. It is important to mix them in a bowl and not just on the meat because it will ensure an even distribution of the spices. 
  2. Dry the pork chops with a paper towel so there is no excess moisture. 
  3. Rub the seasoning mix on both sides of the pork chops.
  4. Place the pork chops in a dish and into the refrigerator for 2-24 hours before cooking. 

This may seem like a time-consuming process, but the benefit of this method is the natural brining effect that occurs.

Although the pork chops are dry on the outside initially, the salt will penetrate slightly, and hold the moisture on the surface during the heat/cooking step you will do.

(Source: Serious Eats)

If you want to take some lessons from dry curing meat, which I’ve learned. You could use this calculator and a percentage of 0.2-0.8% equilibrium curing to the weight of the meat.

Seasoning or Dry Rubbing is often under 1% to the weight of the meat

(Meat Curing for dry-cured meat like pancetta and bresaola, use atleast 2% equilibrium curing). Which are dried to lose a certain percentage of the weight for intensifying flavor and preservation – what we do around here alot!

Wet Brining

The next method you may use to salt your pork chops is called “brining”.

This method is popular to use because it is easy.

You will add all the salt and seasoning to cool water. Once everything has dissolved, you add the pork chops and wait 12-24 hours before grilling. 

All these methods focus on the use of salt to help break down the toughness in the pork chops. If used properly, you will not have to worry about dry and flavorless grilled pork chops. 

(Source: Sabre Grills)

Memorize This Brine Solution for Never-Dry Pork Chops – We use a basic brine solution of 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) salt to 1 quart (4 cups) of water. Lay the pork chops (or other thin cut) in a single layer in a shallow dish and then pour the brine over top. Let this sit for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours before cooking.

How Much Salt Should You Use?

You now know salt can be helpful before grilling your pork chops, but if you do not use the proper amount, you will not reap the benefits. When adding salt to pork before grilling, you may be surprised at the amount needed to make a difference. 

It is recommended that you add at least a quarter of a cup of salt to every quart of water using to brine the pork chops (Source: The Kitchn).

If you are choosing to use a dry brine, you will want to measure out two tablespoons of salt for every pound of meat (The Kitchn). This may seem like an excessive amount of salt, but rest assured, you will not end up with a salty product.

If you’re worried about that much salt, use a bit less to start and work you’re way up to this, saltiness is also based on perception. My partner is incredibly sensitive to salt, but I prefer a bit more! 

Final Thoughts

Adding salt to your pork chops before grilling should become a habit.

Not only will it provide extra flavor, but it will tenderize a typically tough piece of meat. You must remember to leave enough time for the salt to fully tenderize the meat, so plan before grilling pork chops and you will not be sorry.

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