How to Bake Pork Chops
The secret to perfectly baked pork chops is to throw away the concept of traditional baking! Pork chops are lean, which means they dry out quickly. To make sure your baked chops stay tender, juicy, and have a ton of flavor you need to cook them very quickly, on high heat to sear the outside, without over-cooking the center. They’ll never turn out as good as they could be, if you simply slap them into a 350 degree. Instead, give them a quick sear in the pan on top of the stove (it's actually the same techniques you use to grill pork chops), before you move them into the oven. They’ll turn out perfect every time,,,and this is the same technique you can use for a perfectly baked pork tenderloin.
The Keys to Perfectly Baked Pork Chops
- The temperature and how long you cook the pork chops are the two most important factors. I like to go high on the first one...400 - 450 degrees. The lenght of time will vary a bit based on the thickness of the chop. Thin, or boneless pork chops will only need about 8 minutes in the oven using my method below. Thick ones (2 inches) may need closer to 20. It's best to use a meat thermometer.
- You’ll need to adjust the time in the oven based on the thickness of the pork chops. Thick chops (which I love) will need a longer time in the oven, but take about the same time to sear
- Let the pork chops reach room temperature before cooking
- Season the pork chops well with salt & pepper (and anything else you’d like)
- Start by searing them off quickly in a pan on top of the stove
- Don’t over cook them – use a meat thermometer to tell when they reach 140 degrees in center
- Let them rest before cooking them
How to Bake Pork Chops In the Oven
- I like to brine all my pork chops, which you can start a day ahead. Brining adds great flavor & moisture to the chops
- Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees
- Take the pork chops out of the fridge (brine) about an hour before you are ready to cook them, and let them come up to room temp
- Season them with salt and pepper
- Heat an oven-proof pan that’s large enough for the chop over medium high heat, until it’s very hot
- Coat the pan with olive oil and lay the pork chops down carefully
- Don’t flip or move the pork chops for 3 – 4 minutes which the first side browns
- Turn the pork chops over to sear the second side
- If you’d like to make the apple sauce in the video, now add one apple, peeled and sliced, and some rosemary
- Move the entire pan into the hot oven to allow the chops to finish cooking
- The most common issue is how long to cook the pork chops. Thin pork chops will only need 4 – 5 more minutes to reach and internal temperature of 140 degrees; while thicker chops may take as long as 20 minutes
- The best way to tell when the pork chop is cooked through is to use a meat thermometer
- Once cooked to 140 degrees, remove from the pan and allow the chops to rest for 5 – 8 minutes before cooking
- If making the sauce, return the pan with the apples to the stove top, over medium high heat
- Add about a ¼ cup marsala wine (or other wine) and reduce by half
- Add about a ¼ cup chicken stock and again reduce by half
- Turn off the heat, stir in a tablespoon of butter, and serve
How Long to Bake Your Pork Chops
A special call out on how long you should bake your pork chops..as it has to be the most common question I get. Despite just about every recipe, confidently writing "Cook for X Minutes", the truth is it varies. As a general guide, using the method above starting with a pan sear, you'll only need ~8 minutes for a thin chop, and 20 minutes for a thick one. That said, the precise temp of your oven, the precise thickness of the chop, the amount of time you cooked on top of the stove...even the type of pan you use all impact cooking time. With practice you'll be able to tell when it's done, just by experience and the chop's look & feel. The best thing to do, is to invest $20 in a digital meat thermometer. Take a reading when you think it's about 80% cooked...that will let you know how close it is to 140 Degrees, and how much more time you should cook it for. I generally expect the internal temp to rise about 5 degrees for every 2 minutes left in the oven.
Not up for the oven? Check out the best way to grill your pork chops!