Learn how to cook perfectly juicy pan seared pork chops with this simple recipe! Say bye-bye to overcooked, dry pork with these tips.
If you've ever had leathery pork chops and vowed to never eat them or never make them again, you're in good company. It's a very common thing, and one of the reasons for that is because in the old days, for safety reasons, we had to cook pork more thoroughly. Through improved farming practices, pork is now safe to eat at 145F (a little pink in the middle). I've packed this blog post with tips so that hopefully you can nail down your technique for cooking pork chops and they will be back on the menu!
Do I use bone-in or boneless pork chops?
It's a personal preference thing (or what the grocery store happens to have in stock), and either will work. I personally prefer bone-in because they're typically more flavorful and tend to dry out less quickly. I'll often buy the smaller boneless ones when I'm making them with a creamy sauce and don't want to take the extra time to fry them in two batches.
How to stop pork chops from curling?
Sometimes pork chops will curl up when you pan fry them, and this can be a bit annoying because then they don't sear evenly. To prevent (or at least somewhat mitigate) this, you can make cuts in the fat rind so they lay flat instead of curling up (see graphic below).
How long to sear pork chops?
These are just guidelines. The actual thickness of the pork, how cold it is (ideally let it warm up a bit first), how hot your pan is, etc. all factor in:
- For chops 1" thick: about 5 minutes/side
- For chops 3/4" thick: 5 minutes first side, 3 minutes second side
- For chops 1/2" thick: about 3 minutes/side
- For chops over 1" thick: I recommend searing them for 5-6 minutes/side and then finishing them in the oven (try 350F and check internal temperature after 10-15 minutes).
Recipe notes & tips:
- This recipe will make as many pork chops as you need. You don't need to do 4. If you're making more than 4, you may need to add more oil to the pan as needed or replace the oil if it gets too dark.
- This is one of those recipes where an instant read meat thermometer goes a long way towards recipe success. The difference in timing between undercooked and overcook pork isn't much. Pork is safe to eat at 145F, and by the time it reaches 165F, it gets into dry and chewy territory. It only takes a few seconds to use one of these thermometers, and it's well worth it!
- The skillet needs to be very hot to get a good sear on the pork (I preheated my cast iron skillet until it was lightly smoking). If you're finding the chops aren't done within the suggested timeframes, your skillet probably isn't hot enough.
- Letting meat rest for a few minutes prior to serving lets the juices redistribute and ensures it's more tender/juicy.
- Do not crowd the skillet. When in doubt, do two batches for the best browning.
- You can definitely use other seasonings besides simple salt and pepper (I have a sea salt grinder and use that in most of my cooking). Try seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, or even something like Montreal steak seasoning.
- Tongs make flipping the pork a cinch.
What to serve with pan seared pork chops:
Many side dishes will work. I chose some Garlic Mashed Potatoes (with extra butter pools) and some steamed broccoli, but something like my Creamy Alfredo Gnocchi, Easy Roasted Green Beans, or Creamy Penne Pasta would also go well.
More delicious pork chop recipes to try:
- Smothered Pork Chops and Gravy
- Ranch Pork Chops
- Creamy Garlic Pork Chops
- Easy Pork Chops and Apples
- Creamy Spinach Mushroom Pork Chops
Questions about these pan fried pork chops? Let me know in the comments below.
Easy Pan Seared Pork Chops
- 4 pork chops see note
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Butter optional, to taste
- Take the pork chops out of the fridge at least 15-30 minutes prior to starting the recipe (ideally an hour).
- Add the oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the pan for a few minutes (I heated my cast iron for 5 min). It needs to be HOT for the pork chops to get a good sear and cook through quickly.
- Meanwhile, pat the pork chops dry with paper towel. If you wish, cut into the fat rind to score the pork chops (see blog post for how-to) so they cook more evenly. Season each pork chop generously with salt & pepper on both sides.
- Add the pork to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes/side (3 minutes for thinner chops and 5 minutes for pork chops that are up to 1" thick). Pork should be golden brown and cooked through. Test for doneness at this point. It's safe to eat at 145F (a bit pink inside), and the temperature will rise a bit as it rests, so if it's close, remove it from the skillet. If the pork chops aren't quite cooked through yet, sear them for a little longer (don't overcook). I like to top each pork chop with a piece of butter when I take them out of the pan (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Let the pork chops rest for a few minutes prior to serving.If the pork chops are particularly large, sear them in two batches (don't crowd the pan or they'll steam).If the fat rim on the side isn't quite cooked enough, hold the pork chop with tongs and place the fat directly into the hot oil until it's browned.
- Use bone-in or boneless pork chops. I used bone-in pork chops that were about 3/4" thick and cooked them for 5 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side.
- Pork is easy to overcook. It's safe to eat at 145F. I recommend using an instant read meat thermometer to test doneness.
- Troubleshooting tip: the skillet needs to be very hot to get a good sear on the pork (I preheated my cast iron skillet until it was lightly smoking). If you're finding it isn't cooked after the suggested time, your pan probably isn't hot enough.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.