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How to Cook Pork Chops

Pork chops are the champs of weeknight cooking. They don't require much prep work, they cook fast, and they offer a ton of tasty variety. The key to cooking pork chops is making sure they don't dry out when you fry, bake, or grill them. We've gathered the best ways to cook pork chops so they stay tender, moist, and delicious.

Stuffed Pork Chops_Photo by Meredith

Stuffed Pork Chops | Photo by Meredith

Choose Your Chops

For most pork chop preparations, look for bone-in pork chops about 1.5-inches thick. Why go with bone-in? Well, the bone actually slows the cooking time. We're not talking long, just a few minutes. But even a few minutes can spell the difference between moist, tender pork chops with tasty sear marks and dry, tight-textured chops.

Of course, thinner, boneless pork chops are still a great option, just keep an eye on them; they'll cook fast. In fact, for stuffed pork chops and quick-cooking breaded pork chops, you might prefer boneless. Look for thicker (1.5 to 2 inches) boneless chops for stuffed chops and thinner boneless loin chops (about 1/2 inch thick) for breaded recipes.

Some Top Pork Chop Cuts

Rib Chops: Tender, center-cut chops with a curved bone on one side.
Great for quick-cooking methods like pan frying, grilling, broiling.

Loin Chops or Porterhouse Chops: Center-cut loin chops with a T-shaped bone; the loin is on one side of the bone, the tenderloin on the other.
Great for grilling, baking, or broiling.

New York or Center-Cut Pork Chops: Boneless, top loin chops.
Try frying, stuffing, or baking your New York chops.

Sirloin Chop: A less expensive cut from the back end of the loin.
By comparison, a tougher cut; it's a great choice for slow braising.

Cuts of Pork Chops on Butcher Paper

Photo by Meredith

How to Brine Pork Chops

For juicy, flavorful pork chops, try brining the chops before grilling or broiling -- two high-heat cooking methods that can quickly dry out lean pork chops.

Brines are essentially salty, sugary water solutions; they'll keep the meat moist, while adding flavor. To make a basic brine, you'll need salt and a few flavor-making ingredients. Chef John combines kosher salt with cloves, molasses (the sugar element), and enough hot water to dissolve the salt and molasses. Then he adds enough cool water to make 2 quarts. Refrigerate your chops in the brine from anywhere between 30 minutes to 12 hours -- you can get away with less time in a pinch. Be sure to dry off the chops thoroughly before taking them to the grill or oven. Other seasonings to try: peppercorns, fresh herbs, garlic, cut lemons.

VIDEO: Molasses-Brined Pork Chops

In this video, Chef John explains why brining isn't just a gimmick but a critical step, necessary for getting moist grilled pork chops.

Get the recipe for Molasses-Brined Pork Chops.

A Few More Brined Pork Chop Recipes:

How to "Dry-Brine" Pork Chops

OK, yes, something that's dry can't simultaneously be a brine. But let's not get tripped up by "words" and their "meanings." Not when the result is something this delicious. Dry brine is essentially a salty dry rub preparation that requires about 24 hours in the fridge. Oxymoronic or not, the technique produces brine-like results: super-tender, juicy, grilled chops. And now, let's get on with how to make pork chops, starting with the grill.

Dry-Brined Pork Chops_Photo by Chef John

Dry-Brined Pork Chops | Photo by Chef John

How to Grill Pork Chops

Start with high-heat, direct cooking just to sear the meat and create those gorgeous grill marks. Then switch to indirect grilling, pushing the coals to the side. There will still be plenty heat to cook the pork, but you won't run the risk of having marinade or fat drip onto the coals, creating an inferno that turns your chops into torches.

Choose thick, bone-in chops, and finish with indirect medium heat, and your chops will take about 25 minutes to grill. Grill them until an instant-read thermometer hits 140 degrees F; they'll keep cooking as they rest on a plate for 5 minutes or longer. They're done when the internal temperature is 145 degrees F.

Grilled Pork Chop Recipes:

VIDEO: How to Cook Pork Chops on the Grill

If you don't have time for brining or dry brining, consider a quick marinade. Here's a terrific marinade for thick pork chops: a tasty combo of sweet, spicy, and sour ingredients, including three vinegars, hot sauce, and sugar. Get the recipe for Grilled Mongolian Pork Chops.

 


Related: For tips on grilling pork ribs, ground pork, and other cuts of pork, check out How to Grill Pork to Perfection.


How to Fry Pork Chops

Here's how to cook pork chops on the stove. Before frying pork chops, first salt and pepper them on both sides. You can be very generous with the seasonings.

Meanwhile, heat a little vegetable oil, maybe 2 tablespoons, or a little butter (or both!) in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. The fat should be sizzling hot when you add the chops to the pan. Avoid crowding. Giving the chops some room means they’ll brown before they overcook. When one side is beautifully golden brown (about 3 or 4 minutes), turn, and then knock the flames down to medium so the middle can completely cook before the outside is overdone. As with grilled chops, when the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F, transfer the pork chops from the pan to a plate; they’ll continue to cook -- just make sure they reach 145 degrees F.

And don't forget, when you brown meats, you've entered into bonus territory -- you'll have some caramelized browned bits (the famous fond) stuck to the bottom of the skillet. That's flavorful gravy in waiting!

Fried Pork Chop

Fried Pork Chop | Photo by Allrecipes

Fried Pork Chop Recipes:

How to Make "Blackened" Pork Chops

Here's a tasty way to fry chops. But caution is in order; one false move, and it's like tossing a burning tire into your kitchen.

To begin, season your pork chops with salt and pepper and Cajun spices. Then, in a hot skillet over high heat with a little vegetable oil, sear the chops. Chef John has a great method for "sorta blackened" chops. He starts with high heat, but as soon as he adds the chops to the super-hot skillet, he turns the heat down to medium...and sears them until almost done -- about 5 or 6 minutes per side. That's trick #1. The key is to get a serious sear without burning away all the flavor. Trick #2 is that after 5 or 6 minutes per side, he takes the chops from the skillet and wraps them up in aluminum foil. They'll complete cooking in the foil and produce a lovely natural sauce. Be sure to check the doneness with a meat thermometer -- 145 degrees F. Here's the recipe for Sorta Blackened Chili Rubbed Pork Chops.

Braising Pork Chops

Braising takes pan-fried pork chops one delicious step further. Braising is also a forgiving cooking method. Because the chops finish by simmering in liquids, they won't dry out as easily. Just give them a quick high-heat sear in the skillet first.

Pork Marsala

Pork Marsala | Photo by KGora

Some Favorite Braised Pork Chop Recipes

How to Bake Pork Chops

Cooking pork chops in the oven often starts on the stovetop. Because one of the best ways to bake pork chops is to start in an oven-safe skillet on the stove and then transfer them into a hot oven. High-heat frying sears them to a golden brown; and a moderately hot oven (400 degrees F) bakes the pork chops gently enough to keep them from drying out.

This "sear-roasting" method is a great way to cook pork chops in the oven: Fry one side to golden brown, then flip, and place the chops directly in the oven. The second side will brown beautifully as the heat from the oven cooks the middle to a tender finish.

Italian Breaded Pork Chops

Italian Breaded Pork Chops | Photo by Tricia Winterle Jaeger

Baked & Sear-Roasted Pork Chop Recipes

How to Make Stuffed Pork Chops

Wondering how to cook boneless pork chops? Stuff 'em! Of course, stuffing is also a great method for thick bone-in chops. Lay a thick chop flat on a cutting board, and with a sharp knife held parallel to the board, cut a pocket into the pork, going all the way to the bone (if there is one), but leaving the sides intact. Then stuff the pocket with yumminess.

Slice and Stuff Pork Chop

Photo by Meredith

Stuffed Pork Chop Recipes

Weeknight Wonders

Chops are tops in versatility. And once you know how to cook them to a tender, juicy finish, you won't even need a recipe. A perfectly cooked pork chops pairs wonderfully with condiments like pickled fruits, chutneys, mustards, kimchi, or sauerkraut. Or fry up some sliced apples, peaches, or pears -- the caramelized sweet fruit is a delicious companion for pork chops. So keep a few chops on hand for quick weeknight dinners.

Great Condiment Companions for Chops

Or start with a simple dry rub. Here are a few recipes that tell you how to season pork chops for an exciting flavor boost that takes almost no time.

Some Favorite Dry Rub Recipes


Find even more top-rated Pork Chop Recipes.


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About Carl Hanson

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