Not all pork chops are the same! When I think of a pork chop, I think of a thick, at least 1-inch thick, cut with the rib bone still attached. The best cuts have a small ribbon of fat along one side that helps flavor your pork—no matter how you prepare it.
There are a lot of variations on the pork chop theme. The most important thing is that the pork chop comes from the loin, or the big back muscle. Other names indicate exactly where along the back the meat comes from, and sometimes just the size of the cut. Regardless, select meat that’s pink with a small amount of marbling and white (not yellow) fat.
Different Types of Pork Chops
The Blade Chop, also known as the shoulder chop, comes from the shoulder! Genius, I know. This meat is a little darker in color, more marbled and has more connective tissue between the meat and the bone. This cut in particular is good for slow cooking, as the longer cook time breaks down the gristle. Sometimes the blade chop is butterflied, or split in half, and sold as pork loin country-style ribs.
The Rib or Ribeye Chop comes from the center of the back, where the ribs are. These cuts will always have the rib bones still attached. This cut is leaner than the blade chop, but still has a nice amount of fat to lend flavor once cooked.
The Porterhouse (aka loin chop) comes from the hip area and sometimes includes the tenderloin. The tenderloin gives these chops the classic T-bone shape. Top loin chops indicate there is no tenderloin. Either the loin or the top loin is a very lean cut of pork and is typically a little more expensive.
The Sirloin Chop comes from further down on the hip area and has more bone remaining. Because there are different types of muscles in one cut, you naturally get a lot of flavor variation. This is one of the cheaper cuts of pork.
The Center Cut—sometimes called a New York chop, pork loin chop and even America’s Cut—is always boneless. The meat is cut from above the loin chop and is typically about an inch thick. This cut is very lean and doesn’t have any connective tissue. Many of the recipes we’ve rounded up below use a center-cut chop, but will work with some timing adjustments if you prefer another cut of meat.
I’m kind of a snob (thanks Dad) and prefer locally raised Iowa pork, but really it comes down to your budget and preference. I am known to buy in bulk and freeze my pork chops. Just make sure they’re both properly wrapped to prevent freezer burn, and that you also provide enough time to fully thaw your pork in the fridge before cooking.