You’ll never have to eat a dry, under seasoned pork chop again.
Lean, flavorful pork chops are one of the most versatile cuts of meat you can buy. Roasted or pan-seared, they make for an elegant date night dinner or an easy, satisfying weeknight meal, and they pair well with a variety of sides and starches.
Keeping your pork chops juicy and tender however, can sometimes be a challenge. Because chops are often very lean, they’re easy to overcook, which can leave you with a dry, underwhelming protein. Here, we’ve provided a list of tips on how to avoid this fate, as well as how to select the best chops from the butcher or supermarket.
When shopping for pork chops, keep in mind that there are actually several varieties of chop from different parts of the loin—the large muscle that runs along a pig’s back. Some of the most common are rib chops, boneless chops, and sirloin chops. They all require slightly different cooking methods depending on thickness, fat content, and whether they’re bone-in or boneless.
Rib chops are often recommended for their higher fat content, which makes them both more flavorful and more difficult to overcook. While rib chops should be cooked relatively quickly and using high heat, tougher, leaner cuts like sirloin chops are often better suited for low, slow cooking methods like braising. If you have a great local butcher, ask them to help you select the best type of chop for the particular recipe you’re buying for.
You can make great pork chops using a variety of methods, from grilling to pan-searing to roasting. It’s also beneficial to have a good pair of tongs at the ready, as well as an instant-read thermometer, which will help you avoid over- or under-cooking your chop.How to Cook Pork Chops In the Oven
Much like cooking a thick, juicy steak, pan-searing a pork chop before finishing it in the oven can yield a beautiful, golden-brown crust with a moist, perfectly cooked interior. Just make sure you dry your chops well beforehand, and give them plenty of time to rest afterward.
Step 1: Pat Dry and Season Well
Pat your chop dry with a paper towel.Having meat that’s completely dry will ensure even browning and a crisp exterior. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. You can also marinate or brine your chop ahead of time.
Step 2: Preheat Oven and Frying Pan
Step 3: Pan-Sear
Once the pan is beginning to smoke, add your chop and cook for 2–3minutes per side until golden brown. We recommend flipping your chop on its end so that the fat cap—or the thick layer of fat on the outside of the chop—renders, getting golden brown and crispy.
Step 4: Roast
Transfer the pan to your preheated oven and cook for 10—15 minutes, or until your instant read thermometer registers 140F for medium rare, or 150F for medium well. Allow the chop to rest for about 5 minutes before carving.On the Grill
Just like with any cut of meat, grilling your chops gets you charred, flavorful meat in almost no time at all. When grilling your chops, we recommend brining them first. Brining helps to both thoroughly season the meat and keep it from drying out from the ripping hot flames of the grill. We also like thicker, bone-in chops when grilling for this purpose.
Step 1: Heat Your Grill
Oil your grill and set to medium high heat. For easier clean-up, you can also use our Carbon Steel Griddle directly on the grill or stovetop. If using a Griddle, make sure to let it get nice and hot before adding your meat.
Step 2: Add Your Chop
Add your chop to the grill or Griddle and cook until grill marks appear, about 5—7 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the chop. Your instant-read thermometer should register between 140 and 150F, depending on desired doneness. Allow chop to rest for about 5 minutes before carving.How to Cook Pork Chops On the Stove
While we love finishing pan-seared pork chops in the oven, you can definitely cook chops all the way through on the stove. You’ll just need to be a little more careful not to overcook them. This can be achieved by dry or wet brining, or—if you want to get fancy— cooking them sous-vide, so that all they need is a quick sear to finish.
Step 1: Heat Your Pan
Whether you choose a Griddle, Stainless Clad, or a Carbon Steel Frying Pan, make sure to get it nice and hot. Add a generous amount of oil and heat until just smoking.
Step 2: Sear
Add your brined or sous-vide chop to the hot pan and cook until deep golden brown on both sides and so the inside is to your preferred temperature and level of doneness. We love to baste our chop with butter right at the end, the way we would a steak. Rest before carving.
While cooking perfect pork chops can and should be easy, here are a few tips—from which pan to use, to how to brine—that will help make it even more fail-proof.Use the Right Pan
While you can use a few different pans for cooking pork chops, the one non-negotiable is that your pan should be able to stand up to very high heat. Our Griddle can handle temperatures of up to 1200F (not that you’ll need it for pork chops) while remaining nonstick. A Carbon Steel or Stainless Clad Frying Pan will also help you achieve that coveted golden brown crust, and can travel seamlessly from stovetop to oven.Brine
Brining is an excellent way to both season meat like pork chops from the inside out, and help it to retain its moisture. While wet brining (or submerging your meat in salt water) is faster and yields juicier meat, dry brining (salting your meat well and allowing it to rest for a day or two) gives you a crispy crust and better browning.
Now that you know the best ways to ensure your pork chops are juicy and flavorful, it’s time to try your hand at cooking some yourself. Get ready for fall with Chef Chelsea Fadda of Pecan Square Cafe’s Pork Chops with Apples and Radishes. Her recipe features pork chops brined in local apple cider, then seared on the stovetop. Sweet, sautéed apples and slightly spicy radishes complete the dish.