Ready to ‘pig' out? Master this simple method for how to cook pork chops on the stove, and you'll be ready to tackle ANY creative variation. Use this recipe as your base. Then see what delicious masterpieces you can come up with to wow your family.
Pork chops are seriously one of the most versatile cuts of meat out there. They may seem intimidating, but they are SO EASY. Become a dinnertime hero when you throw something together on a weeknight with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Keep it simple and savory with some veggies on the side. Or add some caramelized onions and a flavorful pan gravy with mashed potatoes for a hearty and comforting dish!
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Most variations start with a foolproof skillet cooking method that creates a juicy, tender chop every time. Once you master this basic cooking method, then you’ll have the “chops” to create whatever flavor profile you are looking for!
CHOOSING YOUR MEAT
In general, pork chops are a tender, lean cut of meat with a mild flavor. Think of it as the “steak” of pork. Because of this, it also tends to be more expensive than other cuts. When you choose your pork, look for chops with a pinkish color and some fat marbling throughout for the best flavor.
For an even better deal, buy a whole pork loin that weighs about ten pounds from your meat department (I buy mine at Costco!) and store it with the following steps:
- First, cut a two-pound slice off each end and bag them separately (a food vacuum sealer works best for this!) for two roasts.
- Then cut individual chops about one inch thick from the loin. Bag them for individual dinners to suit your family size.
You’ll be STOCKED with a freezer filled with delicious pork to pull out and use in your meal planning.
Pro Tip: If you’ve got some extra time, save some money by buying a whole pork loin and then cutting the meat yourself. Don’t be intimidated! Anyone with a sharp knife, a cutting board, and an extra 15-20 minutes can do this. Plus, it will save you AT LEAST one dollar per pound off the retail cost of pork chops. This also sets you up with at least two roasts and several meals worth of pork chops that you can bag and freeze for later.
PREPPING YOUR PORK
The most flavorful pork chops are all about the preparation, so DON’T skip this step!
Fresh pork chops will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. They can be frozen for up to 6 months. When you are ready to cook them:
- Allow the pork chops to thaw for 12-14 hours in the fridge depending on how thick your meat is.
- Pull your pork chops out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Season it with salt so the meat can start taking on the salty flavor.
- Let the chops come to room temperature on the counter for more even cooking.
- Then, right before cooking, use a paper towel to gently pat dry each chop. This will help them develop that tasty seared crust.
MEAL VARIATIONS USING PORK CHOPS
Maximize your meat mileage (especially with a large family). At our house, we do this by making the sides of the meal the star and letting the meat simply enhance it and take it to the next level.
Here are a few fun flavor variations and ways to get the most bang for your buck with your pork chops:
- Savory Herb Pan Sauce – Add a few slices of butter and some rosemary or thyme to the skillet before putting the lid on for an easy pan sauce. Cook up a batch of wild or white rice or mixed veggies and serve small strips of the pork over your rice. Spoon the pan sauce over your meat and rice before serving.
- Simple One-Pan Dinner – After searing, make a simple one-pan dinner by adding some red potatoes, carrots, onions, and a ¼ cup of beef or chicken broth. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Use the yummy veggies as the bulk of your plated meal. Then cut the pork chops in half for each person.
- Quick Sunday Pork Chop – Try Bubba’s fave version that is smothered in gravy. After cooking, slice the pork into small strips and serve over a bed of mashed potatoes and gravy.
- Mushroom & Onion Sauté – After searing the pork chop, add some sliced mushrooms, onions, and a little butter for a yummy pan saute. Slice the pork chop into strips and add back to the pan to make a hearty topping that can be served over rice or egg noodles.
- Italian Style – Before cooking, batter your pork chop with flour, seasoned salt, garlic powder, egg, and bread crumbs and cook in the skillet with oil. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top during the last few minutes of cooking. Prepare spaghetti noodles and leftover marinara sauce, then serve small pieces of your pork over the top. (Think Pork Parmesan instead of chicken.)
HOW TO USE LEFTOVERS
Pork chops are JUST as versatile as leftovers as they are when you first cook them up. If you’ve got one or two lingering after dinner, chop it up to throw into a quick pork fried rice or stir fry. No one will even know that you’ve served it on repeat! It’s our little secret.
HOW TO COOK PORK CHOPS IN A SKILLET
There are SO MANY methods for cooking pork chops (baking, slow cooking, grilling), but we’ve found our way to be the very best. All you will need is a pan or skillet – we prefer cast iron – with a tight-fitting lid, some salt and pepper for seasoning, and oil for cooking.
The basic idea for how to cook pork chops: allow each side to sear in an open skillet to seal in the juices; then finish off your cooking on low, covered with a lid, until the meat is fully cooked.
Skillet Pork Chops
- 1-inch thick pork chops
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Set your raw pork chops out 30 minutes before cooking, dry thoroughly with a paper towel, and season well with salt and pepper.
- Bring your skillet to medium-high heat before adding about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil.
- Place the pork chops into the hot skillet. For best results, do not overcrowd the pan.
- Leave them untouched for 4-5 minutes to create a sear on one side.
- Flip each chop over and sear the other side for another 4-5 minutes.
- Reduce the stovetop heat to low and cover the skillet with the tight-fitting lid and allow the chops to cook for 10 minutes untouched or until the meat is fully cooked.
- After 10 minutes, check each pork chop with a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 145°F . If necessary, turn the heat up to medium and cook for a few more minutes to reach a safe internal temperature.
If you want a really juicy piece of meat, let the pork chops rest for 5-10 minutes more while you finish your side dishes.
Voila! Dinner is served! Pork chops are SO GOOD as is, but if you have extra ingredients on hand and want to be a bit EXTRA, try one of our suggested variations above.
Comment below and share YOUR favorite way to use fresh or leftover pork chops!
Looking for more great shelf cooking and pork tips?
- Check out my other tips for saving $$ at the grocery store.
- Check out this handy lesson on how to safely thaw food.
- Visit our sister site Fun Cheap or Free for my Quick & Easy Sunday Pork Chops.
- Use your pork roast to make Cafe Rio Sweet Pork in a rice bowl.
Ham it up!