How to Cook Juicy & Tender Pork Chops With an Oven
Posted On May 18, 2020
If you’ve made and eaten your fair share of shoe-leather and overcooked pork chops, it probably isn’t something you’re willing to try cooking again. It’s understandable if you’ve completely given up on pork chops.
I did the same, until I came across this method that guarantees perfectly tender pork chops in every attempt. This means no more overcooked pork chops. This method involves using an oven to roast your pork chops and it works everytime. I’ll share a few tips with you before revealing the recipe for perfect pork chops.
Buy Pork Chops With Bones
The first step in making sure your pork chops turn out perfect is to buy pork chops with the bones on. It might be tempting to buy boneless pork chops because they cook faster, but those containing bones don’t really take that long to cook compared to boneless ones.
The difference is just a few minutes and those extra minutes are totally worth it since the presence of bones help in cooking tender pork chops.
Brine For Juicier Pork Chops
Brining, or soaking in salty water, makes your pork chops extra juicy. You can skip this if you want, but I recommend it. Brining alters the structure of the cells in pork, which results in way juicier pork than you’d have without brining.
Brining has the added advantage of giving pork the taste of well-seasoned meat without giving it a salty taste. The insides of the pork gets seasoned during the process of brining, and that is what makes it taste better.
You can brine pork for as long as 4 hours, but most people can’t wait that long, and you don’t have to. Just 30 minutes of brining is enough to get all the benefits of brining described above.
If you’d like to take this a step further, consider brining your pork chops with not just salt, but with other seasonings such as lemon, peppercorns, fresh herbs, and garlic for even more flavor. Also, if you’ve been cooking bland pork chops all your life, brining with the aforementioned seasonings will put an end to that cycle.
How to Avoid Overcooking
Ovens tend to produce gentle heat compared to stovetops. So, you can avoid overcooking by taking advantage of this difference.
Since pork chops tend to cook relatively fast, the risk of overcooking is high. To avoid this, give the pork chops a good sear on a stovetop, then place them in an oven and let them finish cooking.
After placing them in the oven, you’ll have more control over the rate at which they cook thanks to the gentle heat being produced by the oven.
This method also helps prevent pork chops with dry and tough exteriors. Dry exteriors is caused by high heat, which makes the outsides dry and tough while you wait for the middle of the pork chops to finish cooking. Lower heat from the oven ensures that this doesn’t happen.
Use One Skillet to Ease the Cooking Process
To make this recipe even easier to follow, use just one skillet. While you prepare the pork chops, heat up the skillet in the oven, then take it out and place it on a stovetop burner.
The next step is to sear the pork chops until the undersides turn golden. At that point, you should flip them, take the skillet off the stovetop, and put it back in the oven.
You don’t need to wait until the other side turns golden as well because the skillet is still very hot at this point, and the heat it gained from the stovetop is enough to sear the other side while the skillet is in the oven.
The gentle heat from the oven completes the cooking process, resulting in perfect pork chops that are juicy and tender in the middle, and crusted with a golden color on the outside. This recipe produces these perfect pork chops every single time you use it.
I usually enjoy my perfect pork chops with roasted vegetables, simple side salad, or rice pilaf whenever I feel like making an easy weeknight meal.
Juicy & Tender Pork Chops Recipe
This recipe produces 2 to 4 servings of pork chops.
Brine ingredients (optional)
Cold water, 3 cups, divided
Kosher salt (3 tablespoons), or table salt (2.5 tablespoons)
Other optional flavorings: 1 bay leaf, garlic cloves (2 smashed), and black peppercorns (1/2 teaspoon)
Pork chops ingredients
2 to 4 bone-in pork chops, center cut. These should weigh about 1 pound and be 3/4 to 1-inch thick.
You’ll need a large oven-safe skillet. I recommend stainless steel or cast-iron skillets. You’ll also need a shallow dish if you’re going to brine your pork chops. If you wish to skip brining, then the only equipment you need is a skillet.
1. Brining: If you want extra juicy and flavored pork chops, the best way to achieve that is to brine them. Boil a cup of water, add optional flavorings if you want, add salt, and stir to dissolve everything.
Before you begin brining the pork chops, you’ll need to reduce the temperature of the boiled water to room temperature. You do this by adding the other 2 cups of cold water to it.
Get the shallow dish and place the pork chops in it, then pour the brine into the dish and make sure all the pork chops are completely immersed in the brine. If this isn’t the case, add water until they are fully immersed in the brine. For every additional cup of water you add to the brine, you’ll need to add a tablespoon of salt as well.
Once the brine is ready, cover the dish and place it in a refrigerator. Keep it there for at least 30 minutes and a maximum of 4 hours. If you can’t wait, then you can simply skip brining and go straight to step 2. However, you’re better off doing this. It’ll take just 30 minutes.
2. Heat the oven: Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat it until its temperature reaches 400°F. Place the oven-safe skillet in there to heat up along with the oven and get the pork chops ready while you wait.
3. Add seasoning to the pork chops: If you skipped step 1 (brining), your pork chops should still be in their packaging. Remove them and proceed with the next instructions below. If you brined them, just proceed with the next instructions below.
Using paper towels, pat dry the pork chops, apply olive oil on both sides, and season them with pepper and salt. Then set them aside while you wait for the oven to reach the required temperature.
4. Take the skillet out: The skillet is going to be hot at this point, so use oven mitts to take it out of the oven and place it on a stovetop to sear the pork chops at medium to high heat. Your kitchen is probably getting very warm at this point, so open a window or turn on a vent fan if you haven’t already.
5. Sear the pork chops: Transfer the pork chops to the skillet and sear at medium to high heat until they turn golden-brown at the bottom. They usually begin to sizzle as soon as you place them in the skillet. You may notice a little smoke too. If it begins to produce a lot of smoke, that’s a sign that you should reduce the heat.
6. Flip the pork chops: Turn the pork chops over using a pair of tongs and take the skillet off the stovetop using oven mitts, then transfer it to the oven.
7. Roast until cooked: Roast the pork chops in the oven until they are thoroughly cooked. This should take anywhere from 6 minutes to 10 minutes, and the biggest determinant is the thickness of the pork chops. Other factors include brining (brined chops cook faster), and their initial temperature when you began to cook them.
That said, you should begin to check for doneness at the 6-minute mark, and continue at intervals of 1-2 minutes until they are completely cooked. Use an instant-read thermometer to measure the temperature of the thickest part of each pork chop. You’ll know they are ready if they register a temperature of 140°F to 145°F.
8. Rest for 5 minutes: Lift the pork chops out of the skillet and onto a plate. You’ll have pan juice left in the skillet which you can store for making gravy or pan sauce. If you have no intention of doing that, then pour the pan juice over the pork chops. Cover them with a foil, wait for 5 minutes, and then serve.
Tip: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container and consume within 4 days.