Juicy pork chops are delicious but hard to attain since they are so very easy to overcook. Here are my instructions for how to get perfect pork chops no matter how you cook them, plus tips and tricks to keep pork chops from drying out.
What is the perfect internal temperature for Pork?
- Perfectly done pork is 145F on the inside and has been allowed to rest for 5 minutes. A good meat thermometer will help ensure you don’t get dry pork chops.
- This is also the temperature for tasty pork tenderloin.
- Ground pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F like for these wonton meatballs.
- When people ask me how long it takes for a pork chop to cook, the honest answer is simply as long as it takes for your pork chop to reach an internal temp of 145F.
- I’m not being a smart alec when I say that—the thickness of the pork chop, bone-in or boneless pork chops, stuffed pork chops, etc. all take differing amounts of time to cook pork chops.
- As a good rule of thumb, however, unless you plan to sous vide or smoke your pork chop, it is unlikely to take more than 15-20 minutes to cook pork chops.
Different Types of Pork Chops
So let’s talk about pork chops because there are so many different types of pork chops.
- Bone-in pork chops.
- Perfect for getting thick and juicy pork chops
- Perfect for smoking, cooking on a grill, searing and then finishing off in an oven
- Great for making skillet pork chops in a cast iron pan.
- Fantastic for air fryer pork chops.
- Thin, bone-in or boneless pork chops.
- Less expensive, super fast to cook, but also too fast to overcook.
- Perfect for a quick skillet cooking, or to make Instant Pot Pork chops and rice, since the moist environment keeps it from overcooking.
- I also like to make sous vide pork chops with thin pork chops. This is mainly because thin pork chops overcook and become dry all too fast.
- Pork Cutlets
- Basically pork from various parts of the animal that is thin, tender, and usually lean.
- Usually, it is of even thickness, making it easy to cook.
- Great for smoking, sous vide and grill cooking.
- Fast grilling.
- Can be cut up into strips and used in stir-frys or to make air-fried bulgogi.
- Stuffed Pork Chops.
- Usually, thick, boneless pork chops are perfect when stuffed with something delicious like spinach and cream, as I did for my stuffed chicken breast recipe.
- Great for pan-frying or baking.
How to Keep Pork Chops from Drying out
Just a few handy tips will keep you from drying out pork chops and ensure you have tender, juicy, and delicious pork chops.
- Buy bone-in pork chops. For pan cooking and grilling, these are ideal. Buy 1.5-2 inch thick chops. The bone slows down the cooking just a tad, and those extra few minutes are enough to keep the pork chops moist.
- Brine them. 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons salt and soak for 30 minutes to about 12 hours, but no more. See the paragraphs below for why brining works.
- Sous vide. If you haven’t started making sous-vide steaks, you will want to read this how to sous vide primer right here. Sous vide-ing pork chops ensure a consistent temperature throughout and prevents overcooking. All the juices stay inside the packet, which also helps reduce the chance of your pork chops drying out.
- Pressure Cook. I love cooking Instant Pot pork chops with rice. Love it. The moist environment in the pressure cooker keeps them moist, and that rice? OMG! All the lovely pork chop flavor gets into the rice and I just love it.
- Use a thermometer. A good meat thermometer is essential for cooking meat well. A well-done, juicy pork chop should have an internal temperature of 145F. This is critical! You could ignore everything else I’ve said and only do this, and you’d likely be great. You could follow everything I've said up above—but if you get them to 150F? Dry pork chops.
- Marinate pork chops. This is a lot like brining, actually. Let’s say you used a bottle of Italian dressing for example. There’s some salt, some sugar, some acid to tenderize the meat, and essentially it’s doing what brining would do. But, of course, there’s a lot more flavor being added. You could try the marinade I used in these Korean Tacos, or the what I used for my beef satay recipe.
- Dry Brine pork chops. Really this isn’t brining with water, it’s using a dry rub. You might like the rub I used for this slow-roasted Mexican-style pork shoulder.
I’ve given you a long list of things here, but the ones that really make a difference, in my opinion, are the brining and the meat thermometer. Using a pressure cooker makes all of this a non-issue though, especially if you’re wondering how to cook thin pork chops.
How does Brining work?
- Meat absorbs liquid. Normally, the meat will lose anywhere between 25-30% of its moisture. The meat absorbs some of the sugar/salt/water solution before you start cooking it, making it moister. A well-brined piece of meat increases in weight by 6-8% percent.
- Salt tenderizes the muscle fibers. Low salt solutions help muscle fibers dissolve, which softens the meat before you start cooking. Note that if you get too much salt in your brine, you’ll actually toughen the meat. So don’t exceed these proportions: 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons sugar (optional) and whatever flavorings your heart desires.
- Denatured protein. The salt helps denatures the protein, which basically means getting the protein strands to unwind. When they unwind, it creates more space for water to enter into those little spaces, which is just another way the meat absorbs more water.
How to cook tender pork chops on the stove
You will want this pork chops with mustard cream sauce recipe for sure. Just trust us on this one.
- But if you just want plain pan-fried pork chops, remember these three things: Brine it, sear it, baste it.
- Brine it as detailed above, use a hot pan to sear so it cooks quickly, and then baste with lots of butter for taste. It’s that easy to make spectacular pork chops on the stove, and have a juicy, tender pork chop.
- You will definitely need a meat thermometer for any recipe that has a sauce on it because you won’t be able to tell by sight alone when they’re cooked through.
- It’s also good to use a good cast iron pan for high heat and a fantastic sear.
How to make Perfect Pork Chops in the Air fryer
- Air Fryer Setting. Set the air fryer at 380F for 15 minutes. Place the chops in the air fryer basket and cook. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chops have reached an internal temperature of 145°F.
- Fatty pork chops. Try to use pork chops with a little fat around the edges. Air frying does an amazing job of crisping fat.
- If you want a perfect presentation, use the tip of a sharp knife to slash the fat in two or three places. This will prevent the pork chop from curling into itself.
- Thinner pork chops. Use thinner pork chops in this recipe so that you don’t have the outside too done while the insides stay hot. The hot air in an air fryer crisps outsides of the food really fast.
- As long as you don’t overcook the chops, they will be quite juicy in an air fryer. The best way to know when they’re done is to use a meat thermometer. You won’t be able to tell visually.
How to make Perfect Pork Chops in the Instant Pot
Honestly, this one is a no-brainer. This is the easiest method to make juicy pork chops, cheapest because you can use thin pork chops with no worries, and it's relatively hands-free. The only thing is they will taste braised and not seared.
I highly recommend trying this Instant Pot pork chops and rice with vegetables recipe. But if you want plain pork chops in the Instant Pot, this is how you cook them.
- Sear if desired, although really once you pressure cook, that sear will die a small little death, but do it if you prefer.
- Deglaze the pot thoroughly. Then, add about ¾ cup of liquid for 4 pork chops. This liquid can be a marinade, apple juice, beer, a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and salt, etc.
- Cook on high pressure for ZERO minutes. Yes, zero. Just wait for the pot to come to pressure, allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, and then release all remaining pressure. And there you have it.
So if you’ve made it this far into this very long post on how to make perfect pork chops, I hope you found it helpful!
Pin it for later so you will know how to make the most tender, juicy, and delicious pork chops in the future.
- 4 (4 ) pork chops
How to Make Pan Fried Pork Chops
- Remember three things: Brine it, sear it, baste it.
- Brine pork chops in a solution of water, sugar, and salt as mentioned in the post.
- Use a hot pan to sear so it cooks quickly.
- Baste Frequently with butter.
- Use a meat thermometer for any recipe that has a sauce on it, because you won’t be able to tell by sight alone when they’re cooked through.
- Use a good cast iron pan for high heat and a fantastic sear.
How to Air Fry Pork Chops
- * Air Fryer Setting. Set the air fryer at 380F for 15 minutes. Place the chops in the air fryer basket and cook. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chops have reached an internal temperature of 145°F.
- * Fatty pork chops. Try to use pork chops with a little fat around the edges. Air frying does an amazing job of crisping fat.
- * Use the tip of a sharp knife to slash the fat in two or three places. This will prevent the pork chop from curling into itself.
- * Thinner pork chops. Use thinner pork chops in this recipe so that you don’t have the outside too done while the insides stay hot. The hot air in an air fryer crisps outsides of the food really fast.
- * As long as you don’t overcook the chops, they will be quite juicy in an air fryer. The best way to know when they’re done is to use a meat thermometer.
How to make Perfect Instant Pot Pork Chops
- * Sear if desired although really, once you pressure cook, that sear will die a small little death, but do it if you prefer.
- * Deglaze the pot thoroughly. Then, add about ¾ cup of liquid for 4 pork chops. This liquid can be a marinade, apple juice, beer, a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and salt, etc.
- * Cook on high pressure for ZERO minutes. Yes, zero. Allow pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, and then release all remaining pressure. And there you are.
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Originally Published March 25, 2020