Classic Pork Tenderloin Salt Brine

Pork tenderloin
Iain Bagwell/Photodisc/Getty Images
Ratings (16)
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Brining Time: 8 hrs
  • Yield: 15 servings

This brine is perfect for pork but works well with other meats, including poultry. Brining adds moisture and flavor to anything you cook. Your pork chops and pork tenderloin will remain juicy and well-seasoned when smoked, grilled, roasted, or fried. Be aware that once you brine meats, you do not need to add salt to it again during preparation or cooking.

This recipe makes enough brine for about 5 pounds of pork tenderloin. You can also use it for pork chops, although you may not need as much brine. You will need a container large enough to hold the meat submerged in the brine. It must be a non-reactive container such as glass or plastic as many types of metal can be etched by the brine or give a metallic flavor to the meat. A large stockpot, bowl, or plastic container will work.

Ensure you have enough refrigerator space for the container as it must be kept refrigerated while it is brining. If you don't, you can use an ice chest with ice water and check it every couple of hours to ensure that the brining meat is still well-iced.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups/1.9 liters water
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters kosher salt (non-iodized)
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters sugar
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters black peppercorns (whole)
  • 2 tablespoons/30 milliliters allspice berries

Steps to Make It

  1. Boil 2 cups of water. Add the salt and sugar and stir until they are dissolved. Add the remaining 6 cups of cold water and stir in remaining ingredients. Let the mixture cool completely before using.

  2. Place the pork tenderloin into a large bowl, stock pot, or plastic container. Pour the cold brine mixture over top, cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator. Brine the pork for 8 to 12 hours. 

  3. Remove the meat from the brine, quickly rinse it off with cool water and pat it dry with paper towels. Do not over-rinse as this will remove all the salt and will leave the meat quite bland. Coat the tenderloin with a salt-free seasoning rub and cook as directed.

Use only non-iodized salt as iodized salt can impart an unpleasant flavor. Kosher salt varies from regular table salt in that the flakes are larger, leaving more air space between them. As a result, it weighs less per cup than regular salt and you need more to make the brining solution salty. If you only have regular salt available, cut down on the amount of salt to 1/3 cup to get the same salt concentration.

If you find your pork is saltier than you like, brine it for a shorter time. It will absorb less salt but will still benefit from retaining more juices when cooked.

Be sure to discard the brine and clean the container well. The brine does not kill bacteria that may be on the raw meat.