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How to Cook Pork Chops

Apple Cider Pork Chops
Whether pan-fried, oven-baked or grilled, pork chops are sure to impress any dinner guest—even the kids.
By Natalie Boike

Introduction

I’m so excited to be talking to you about one of my favorite dinner dishes. This Midwest girl grew up on a pig-raising farm and you’d better believe I’ve eaten pork chops about every way possible. Let me tell you, not one was bad. One small disclaimer: Iowa does have a Pork Queen, but I did not achieve that prestigious award.

Title notwithstanding, what I can tell you: Pork chops are the original foolproof dinner. They’re easy to make, pre-portioned, and kind of impressive to serve. Today we’ll cover all the basics.

How to Buy Pork Chops

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.

How to Cook Pork Chops

Because pork has a naturally mild flavor, you really can cook pork chops a lot of different ways with delicious results. Regardless of method there are a few basic ground rules.

  1. You’re looking for an internal temperature of at least 145°F—that’s considered medium rare. Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness, using your recipe as a timing guide. The length of cooking primarily depends on the cooking method and the thickness of the chop, which can vary from ½ an inch to 2 inches.
  2. Don’t forget to season generously. Some say you don’t need to salt pork chops because they’re naturally a little salty but that’s not the case! Trust me on this. You can even brine pork chops in a salt-water mixture. Plan for about an hour per pound of meat.
  3. Like any kind of meat, don’t forget to let your pork chops rest before eating. Anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chop.

Having a hard time picking a method? Here’s a handy chart to estimate how long each basic method takes with a center cut chop that’s about 1-inch thick.

Skillet or Stovetop — 8 to 10 minutes

Baked or Oven-Roasted— 15 to 20 minutes

Grilled — 15 to 20 minutes

Pan-Fried — 7 to 8 minutes

Slow-Cooked — 5 to 6 hours

How to Make Pork Chops in a Skillet

A hot skillet makes for perfect pork chops every time. This juicy stovetop method is about to be one of your weeknight favorites.

Roasted Rosemary Pork Chops and Potatoes

Pat 4 center-cut pork chops dry with paper towel; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. In 10-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook pork chops in oil about 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from skillet.

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper

In same skillet, add 1 1/2 cups apple cider and 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar; cook to a thick, syrupy glaze and until reduced by about half. Stir in 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard; season with salt and pepper.

Heat apple cider, brown sugar and mustard in a sauce pan

Pour glaze over pork chops for serving.

Pork glaze over pork chops

How to Bake Pork Chops

This recipe is great because you cook your side dishes on the same pan. Who doesn’t love an all-in-one dish dinner?

Roasted Rosemary Pork Chops and Potatoes

Heat oven to 425°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of the following: dried rosemary, garlic-pepper blend, seasoned salt and paprika. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture.

In large bowl, mix 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and spices.

To the mixture, add three Yukon gold potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces, plus one medium red onion, cut into 1/2–inch slices. Toss to coat. Place vegetables in pan and roast uncovered 25 minutes. Turn and stir potato mixture.

Cubed yukon gold potatoes, sliced red onion on a baking sheet

Brush four, preferably bone-in, pork chops with reserved 1 tablespoon of mustard mixture. Add pork chops to corners of pan. Roast uncovered 15 to 20 minutes longer or until pork is no longer pink when cut near bone and vegetables are tender.

Cubed yukon gold potatoes, sliced red onion and pork chops on a baking sheet

How to Grill Pork Chops

BBQ pork chops are simply foolproof for summer. These classic, saucy grilled chops will have everyone licking their chops for more.

Easy BBQ Pork Chops

Heat gas or charcoal grill. In small bowl, mix ½ cup barbecue sauce, 3 tablespoons honey mustard and 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary until well blended. Set aside.

In small bowl, mix barbecue sauce, honey mustard and fresh rosemary

Sprinkle both sides of four 1-inch thick pork chops with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle both pork chops with salt and pepper

Place pork chops on grill over medium heat. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until meat thermometer inserted in center reads 145°F, brushing with barbecue sauce mixture during last 5 minutes of cook time. In 1-quart saucepan, heat remaining barbecue sauce to boiling. Serve warm with pork chops.

Foil-Pack Pork Chops

I love how flavorful and easy a foil pack is. And you can use the same method in the oven regardless of the weather.

Grilled Honey BBQ Pork Packs

Heat gas or charcoal grill. Cut four (18x12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil; spray with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix ½ cup barbecue sauce, ¼ cup honey and 2 teaspoons cumin. Place one pork chop, three pieces of corn (about half of an ear, cut), 1/4 cup of baby carrots and 1/2 cup of potato wedges on center of each foil sheet. Spoon 3 tablespoons sauce mixture over pork and vegetables on each sheet.

Pork chop, corn, carrots, potato wedges and barbecue sauce on foil

Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.

Wrap pork chops and veggies in foil

Place packets on grill. Cover grill; cook over medium-low heat 15 to 20 minutes, rotating packets 1/2 turn after 10 minutes, until pork is no longer pink and meat thermometer inserted in center reads 145°F.

If you prefer the baked method, place packets on ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, or until your instant-read thermometer reads 145°F.

Pork chop foil packets

To serve, cut large “X” across top of each packet; carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape.

How to Make Breaded Pork Chops

I love the extra crunch and flavor you get from a quick breading. This is a more traditional preparation for cutlets or center-cut pork chops but has an additional layer of flavor from Parmesan cheese added to the breadcrumb mixture.

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking cookie sheet with foil. Place cooling rack inside cookie sheet. Set aside. In small bowl, beat one egg and 1 tablespoon of water. In another small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

Dip each of four pork chops into egg mixture, then into breadcrumb mixture, turning to evenly coat. Place coated pork chops on prepared cooling rack.

Dip pork chops into egg mixture, then into breadcrumb mixture, turning to evenly coat.

Heat 10-inch skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, swirling to coat. Cook coated pork chops in oil about 2 minutes on each side or until brown. Place back on cookie sheet.

Brown coated pork chops in a skillet

Bake until pork is no longer pink in center and meat thermometer inserted in center reads 145°F (10 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness).

How to Fry Pork Chops

Pan-fried or chicken-fried pork chops are the quickest way to a dinner winner, in my humble opinion. The meat is flattened so it cooks evenly and quickly and the breading makes a nice crisp outside while also sealing in the flavor and juices.

Chicken Fried Pork Chops

To flatten each pork chop, place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Working from center, gently pound pork with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/4 inch thick; remove wrap.

Flatten pork chops between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper

In shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup flour, ½ teaspoon seasoned salt and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder; mix well. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk in a separate shallow bowl and ½ cup breadcrumbs into a third bowl. Dip each pork chop in flour mixture, then dip in milk, and finally in breadcrumbs.

Dip each pork chop in flour mixture, then dip in milk, and finally in breadcrumbs.

Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until hot. Add pork chops; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly pink in center.

How to Make Pork Chops in the Slow Cooker

The ultimate in low-and-slow, hands-off cooking. This recipe also falls into the smothered category.

Slow Cooker Ranch Pork Chops

Spray a slow-cooker insert with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of four pork chops with ranch dressing mix; you’ll use one entire packet. Place pork chops in slow cooker. Pour one can creamy mushroom soup over pork chops.

Place pork chops in slow cooker. Pour one can creamy mushroom soup over pork chops.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting 5 to 6 hours or until pork chops are fork-tender. Remove meat from slow cooker and place on plate; cover to keep warm.

In small bowl, stir 2 tablespoons each of cornstarch and water until well blended; then stir into mushroom sauce in slow cooker. Cook on Low heat setting 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Serve over pork chops.

Stir 2 tablespoons cornstarch and water into mushroom sauce in slow cooker.

How to Brine Pork Chops

The easiest way to add delicious flavor and keep those chops extra juicy and tender? Soak ‘em in a quick brine! It may sound fussy, but our easy method is anything but.

Brined Pork Chops

Here’s how to do it:

In one 13x9 baking dish, add 3 cups of warm water, 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Water, salt, brown sugar, spices

Add 1 clove of chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary, 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme and 1 cup of ice to the sugar-saltwater and stir to combine. Place four boneless pork chops in the brine and cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Place pork chops in brine and cover

Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry with a paper towel. Discard the brine.

Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry with a paper towel.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch skillet. Cook the pork chops 8-12 minutes, turning once, until they’re no longer pink in the center.

Brown pork chops in a skillet

Sprinkle the pork chops with ¼ teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary and 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme. Let them stand 5 minutes before serving.

Try more of our best pork recipes.

How to Make Braised Pork Chops

To braise meat means to brown it lightly on the stove and then slowly simmer, covered, yielding a juicy, delicious dinner. These braised pork chops are simple to make and are extra tasty with a quick homemade gravy.

How to Make Stuffed Pork Chops

Add extra flavor by stuffing pork chops! There’s a wide variety of popular ingredients you can use to stuff your pork chops, including spinach, cheese and even cornbread. Simply cut a pocket in each pork chop, cutting into the side toward bone. Spoon some of the mixture into each chop, pressing in firmly and cook, according to recipe instructions. I love this cornbread-stuffed recipe.

What to Serve with Pork Chops

How to Store Leftover Pork Chops

Like most cooked leftovers, leftover pork chops can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. If you’d like to freeze your leftovers, wrap each chop individually in plastic wrap, place in an airtight container and label the container with the date—pork chops can keep in the freezer for 2 or 3 months. To reheat, thaw and cook until the internal temperature reads 165°F, whether in the oven or microwave.

Try more of our best pork recipes.


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