How To Cook Pork Chops Perfectly

Find out how to cook pork chops perfectly so that they’re juicy and delicious every time.

Find out how to cook pork chops perfectly so that they're juicy and delicious every time.

Pork chops are so tasty, and they’re quick and easy to cook. This makes them a great choice for weeknights, or for anytime, really.

As good as pork chops are though, sometimes they can end up a bit dry. Here I’m going to give you a foolproof method for making juicy pork chops every time.

Step#1

Buy the right pork chops. I always go for ones with a bone. This keeps the meat a bit juicier. Other than that, you want something that is at least 3/4 of an inch thick, mine are usually about 1 inch thick. When pork chops are thin, they get dry before they get browned.

MY LATEST RECIPES

I usually get Center Cut Pork Loin Rib Chops. The reason that I like these is that they have the bone, and some fat and marbling (that keeps things juicy too), and they are mostly the leaner loin meat while also having some of the darker, more flavorful meat at some edges.

Step#2 (optional)

I rarely brine or marinade anything because I’m more of a last-minute kind of girl. So if you follow the method described here and skip the brine, you’ll be just fine. However, if you find yourself with an extra 30-60 minutes before you need to start cooking, a brine will make a difference and is worth doing. It breaks down the structure of the meat and makes it juicier for sure. Here’s how to do it.

How to Brine Pork Chops 

  1. For 4 pork chops that are about 1/2 lb. each, put a kettle on to boil. Measure 4 tablespoons of table salt into a shallow dish big enough to fit the chops in a single non-overlapping layer (a 13×9 like this works great, and this one has a good-fitting lid which is perfect).
  2. Add two cups of boiling water from the kettle into the dish. Stir to dissolve salt.
  3. Add an additional 2 cups of cold water, bringing the water to room temperature. You can also add flavorings like minced garlic, black pepper, ginger root, etc.. Stir.
  4. Add the pork chops. They should be completely submerged in the liquid. If not, try a different dimension container or add more salt solution (1 tablespoon salt dissolved into 1 cup water).
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours, but no longer than that.

Step#3

Take the pork chops out of the fridge. If you were brining them, take them out of the liquid and rinse them off. Discard the liquid. Pat the chops dry using a paper towel (dry them whether they were in a brine or not). Let them rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before preheating your oven to 400°F. While the oven preheats, rub the chops with olive oil on both sides. It’s about 1 teaspoon of olive oil per side (so 2 teaspoons per chop).

 

And sprinkle with salt (1/8 teaspoon per side)…

and pepper (a pinch or a grind per side).

Step#4

Heat a large oven-safe skillet over high heat. I use a 12-inch cast iron skillet. I know 12 inches doesn’t sound like much but it’s ridiculously large and heavy. 12 inches is the interior diameter, that is, the entire flat cooking surface of the inside of the pan is 12 inches across. It easily fits the 4 pork chops without crowding them so they can brown up nicely. If your pan is smaller, you might have to use two pans. Or, you can brown the chops two at a time on the first side, and then crowd all 4 of them in on the other side to finish in the oven (this is the method I’m showing today, where you start the pork chops in a pan and then put that pan into the oven to finish them off).

When the oven is finished preheating (you want the oven ready when you need it), put the pork chops into the hot pan on the stove.

 

Note that I did not put any oil into the pan because I instead put oil on the chops themselves. A good thing about this is that you can get the pan super super hot and it won’t smoke and burn the oil. But once you add the oiled chops to the hot pan, it probably will smoke, but it won’t burn the oil. Instead it will use the oil to help the chops turn a nice deep brown.

Step#5

Cook the chops without moving them AT ALL for 3 minutes. Then use a pair of tongs to try gently lifting one up. If it is a bit stuck to the skillet, let it go and let it cook for another minute or two, then try lifting again. When a good crust is formed on the meat, it will then release more easily from the pan. When they’re nice and brown like below, you can flip them over.

Step#6

Once you flip them all over, transfer the skillet (uncovered) to the preheated oven.

Step#7

Let them bake until the interior temperature, as read on an instant read thermometer stuck through the side edge into the middle, reads 140°F.* That’ll be 4-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your chops.

Step#8

Transfer the chops to a plate and let them rest for 3 minutes. Discard any juices that accumulate on the plate and then serve.

How To Cook Pork Chops

Here is a shorter, printable version of the above instructions.

Print

How To Cook Pork Chops


  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Description

Find out how to cook pork chops perfectly so that they’re juicy and delicious every time.


Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. salt (for the brine, optional)
  • 2 cups boiling water (for the brine, optional)
  • 2 cups cold water (for the brine, optional)
  • 4 bone in, center cut pork loin rib chops, 3/4-1 inch thick, about 1/2-3/4 lb. each
  • 8 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. coarse black pepper

Instructions

  1. If brining the pork chops: Measure the 4 tablespoons of table salt into a shallow dish big enough to fit the chops in a single layer. Add boiling water. Stir to dissolve salt. Add cold water. Stir. Add pork chops. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 4 hours.
  2. Take the pork chops out of the fridge. If you were brining them, take them out of the liquid and rinse them off. Discard the liquid. Pat the chops dry using a paper towel (dry them whether they were in a brine or not).
  3. Let chops rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before preheating your oven to 400°F.
  4. While the oven preheats, rub the chops with the olive oil on both sides.  Sprinkle on both sides with the two teaspoons of salt and the black pepper.
  5. Over high heat, warm a large oven-safe skillet that can fit the 4 chops without crowding them.When the oven is finished preheating, put the pork chops into the hot pan on the stove.
  6. Cook the chops without moving them AT ALL for 3 minutes. Then use a pair of tongs to try gently lifting one up. If it is a bit stuck to the skillet, let it go and let it cook for another minute or two, then try lifting again. When a good crust is formed on the meat, it will then release more easily from the pan. When they’re nice and brown underneath, flip them over.
  7. Transfer the skillet (uncovered) to the preheated oven.
  8. Bake until the interior temperature, as read on an instant read thermometer stuck through the side edge into the middle, reads 140°F.* That’ll be 4-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your chops.
  9. Transfer the chops to a plate and let them rest for 3 minutes. Discard any juices that accumulate on the plate and then serve.

Notes

*The National Pork Board recommends that you continue to cook pork chops until they reach 145°F. It is therefore potentially unsafe to take them out of the oven and stop cooking them at 140°F. As with consuming medium-cooked steak, there is a risk involved here. Be aware that consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.

 

Find out how to cook pork chops perfectly so that they're juicy and delicious every time.

Find out how to cook pork chops perfectly so that they're juicy and delicious every time.

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