How to Cook Pork Chops
Pork chops are nutritious, delicious and easy to make. Check out all the info you need below to learn how to cook the perfect chop every time, from grilling to pan-frying.
Pork chops might not be a staple in your weeknight meal routine, but they should be. They’re delicious, comforting, take less than 20 minutes from prep to table, and are a great source of energizing protein as well as nutrients such as iron and zinc. And despite its fatty rep, trimming your pork chop, which comes from the fatty area that runs from the hip to the shoulder, will lead to a surprisingly lean meat.
When it comes to cooking the perfect pork chop, a heavy hand with seasoning and a good dose of patience are quickly rewarded. And make sure to keep an eye on your timer-- pork chops can easily go from tender to rubbery if overcooked even a few minutes. Once you have the process down, however, we’re certain pork chops will be making a regular dinnertime occurrence.
Table of contents
- Buying Your Pork Chop
How to Prepare Pork Chops
- How to Brine Pork Chops
- How to Dry Rub Pork Chops
- How to Cook Pork Chops in the Oven
How to Cook Pork Chops on the Stove
- How to Pan-Fry Pork Chops
- How to Pan-Sear Pork Chops
- How to Grill Pork Chops
Buying Your Pork Chop
When buying your pork chops, there are a few specific factors you should consider. Do you want a fattier, more flavorful pork chop, or a leaner cut with more mild flavor? Will you be cooking your pork chop slow over low heat or on a hot grill? Below, you’ll find the 5 types of pork chops and what you should know about them before you hit the store.
Loin Chop: The loin chop is characterized by the T-shaped bone which runs through it and its leanness. With very little fat content, loin chops have a particularly mild pork flavor.
Rib Chop: Rib chops are located in the rib part of the loin, producing a tender, slightly fatty meat with a more delicate flavor.
Shoulder Chop: This cut comes from the shoulder, yielding darker meat dense with connective tissues and fat, all of which makes it a super flavorful meat. That said, the meat is fairly tough, and usually requires braising before cooking.
Sirloin Chop: Sirloin chops have a marked advantage in their comparatively cheaper price and unctuous, powerful flavor. That said, sirloin chops tend to be pretty tough, and should always be braised before cooking. They’re also the perfect pork chop for stews or soups.
Boneless Pork Chops: In general, boneless pork chops are quicker to cook and prepare, and are also super lean, with most of the fat trimmed off. That said, they tend to be less flavorful than bone-in pork chops.
How to Prepare Pork Chops
How to Brine Pork Chops
Brining is a super simple step that makes a huge difference in the flavor and texture of your finished pork chop. It involves soaking the pork in a mixture of water, salt, sugar and other ingredients, helping to tenderize the pork and infuse it with flavor.
To make an easy pork chop brine at home, combine 2 cups of water with ⅓ cup kosher salt, ⅓ cup sugar, and a sprinkle of black peppercorns. Place the pork chops in a ziplock bag and poor the brine into the bag. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours prior but no more than 24 hours prior to cooking. This recipe is for 2 chops, so adjust as necessary. You should also feel free to customize this per your taste. Brown sugar in the brine makes for a richer flavor than refined white sugar, for instance, slices of orange or molasses can add delicious sweetness, and a little bit of yogurt or buttermilk will add tanginess.
How to Dry Rub Pork Chops
A dry rub, in which a coarse mixture of sweet, hot and salty seasonings is massaged into the meat, is a delicious way to really amplify the pork chop’s flavor.
To make a simple base, combine 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, half a tablespoon of paprika and a few turns of freshly-ground pepper. Feel free to add additional spices based on your taste preferences. Mix together with a fork until all ingredients are combined, with no lumps.
These measurements make enough rub for about 4 pork chops, but it’s always a good idea to double or triple the recipe as long as you have the ingredients out and safe the extra for later. Dry rub stays good in an airtight container for a few months. Also, remember that you can customize your spice blend according to your taste buds. Coriander, rosemary, sage and cayenne pepper are all excellent additions.
To apply the rub, start by dabbing your pork chop dry with a paper towel. Next, generously sprinkle the rub onto the pork chop so it covers both sides, approximately a quarter tablespoon per chop. Using your hands, rub the spice mixture into the meat as if you’re massaging it, completely coating both sides.
If you want a crispy crust on your pork chop, press the mixture into the meat so it creates a bit of a thicker coating. For a softer exterior but added flavor, mix the rub with a little olive oil to cover the chops.
How to Cook Pork Chops in the Oven
Oven-baked pork chops are a true comfort food; crispy, salty, meaty and delicious. There’s also easy to master, with less of a chance of overcooking than other methods. To maximize texture, we like to start our oven-baked pork chops on the skillet, getting a nice sear before transferring to the oven. This yields a perfect crust and juicy meat every time.
Start by brining your pork chops for at least half an hour. Brining is particularly crucial when baking pork chops, as the meat can lose moisture more quickly in the oven.
Next, preheat your oven to 400°F and place a skillet on your stove at medium high-heat for a few minutes, until hot. You can test the readiness of the pan by flicking a drop of water onto it-- if the water sizzles, it’s ready. Place the pork chops in the pan and sear until golden brown, approximately 3-4 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, flip the chops over, then immediately place in the preheated oven. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 145°F in the thickest part of the meat.
How to Cook Pork Chops on the Stove
Cooking pork chops on the stove is a little trickier than the oven as the meat has an easier time drying out. However once you have the hang of it, stove-cooked pork chops will be your new go-to. Frying or searing pork chops in the pan produces a rich meat with tons of flavor.
How to Pan-Fry Pork Chops
Pan-frying your pork chop won’t lose you any calories, but it will yield a truly mouth-watering piece of meat that’s perfect for a comforting, indulgent meal. The secret is getting a perfectly crispy exterior, which is best achieved by basting with butter.
Start by brining your chops for at least a half hour, preferably in a brown sugar-based brine. Next, heat a large cast iron pan or skillet on the stove over medium-high heat until it begins to sizzle. Place the pork chops in the pan, and flip after one minute. Continue flipping between sides every minute for 8-10 minutes, or until internal temperature has reached 145°F.
How to Pan-Sear Pork Chops
Add one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan over medium high heat. When the pan begins to sizzle, add the chops and sear for 4-6 minutes. Flip the chops and sear for an additional 4-6 minutes, until the internal temperature has reached 145°F.
How to Grill Pork Chops
Grilling adds a whole new level of flavor to pork chops, bringing out its salty rich flavor while imbuing it with a unique smokiness. The key to getting a perfectly grilled pork chop is to cook it on two levels of heat, which ensures it gets crispy on the outside but stays tender in the middle.
To start, set up two levels of heat on your grill: high and medium-high. Place your chops on the high side to start, searing for 2-4 minutes on each side until you get noticeable grill marks. Next, move it to the medium-high quadrant, and cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until your meat thermometer shows 145°F.
Depending on how you cook them, pork chops can be anything from a lean weekday lunch to an indulgent weekend dinner. Either way, with the right cooking and preparation, you know they’ll come out delicious. Want to know how to cook sweet potatoes another way, or have a suggestion for the next installment of our How To series? We'd love to hear from you! Shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.