Best Pork Chops

Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Glaze

Pork chops can be effortless and delicious, but first you need to understand a few things about the pork that’s sold in supermarkets. Pigs in the US have been selectively bred to be very lean over the past fifty years. According to the National Pork Board, a 3 ounce serving of pork tenderloin has 3 grams of fat, which is .1 gram LESS than skinless chicken breast! It also has 15% less cholesterol than chicken breast.

While all this might make your cardiologist happy, it comes at the expense of flavor and moistness. I’m sure you’ve all had a pork chop at some point that was like eating damp cardboard: dry, mealy and flavorless. That’s because today’s lean pork doesn’t cope well with the high internal temperatures recommended by traditional pork chop recipes.

Best Pork Chops Recipe

This was probably in large part due to the fact that until recently, the USDA recommended cooking pork until it reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. According the USDA, Trichinella spiralis (one of the main concerns of eating undercooked pork), is neutralized after 1 minute at 140 degrees F, so why on earth would they tell you to cook it 20 degrees higher? Thankfully they seem to have seen the error in their thinking, and last year, they revised the safe cooking temperature of whole cuts of pork down to 145 degrees F, that’s still 5 degrees higher than it really needs to be, but it’s understandable that they’d err on the safe side.

So what can you do to ensure you get a moist, tender, flavorful pork chop?

  1. Brine it – One of my secrets to getting a flavorful juicy pork chop every time, is to brine it in a solution of salt and sugar. In the same way that it benefits lean meats like turkey, brining your pork adds flavor and moisture to the meat, lending a helping hand to even the leanest of chops.
  2. Don’t overcook it – While you have to decide for yourself what temperatures you’re comfortable cooking your meat to, I tend to cook pork chops to 141 degrees and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
  3. Buy heritage pork – If you can afford it, try finding pork chops that come from a heritage breed of pig such as Berkshire(a.k.a. Kurobuta) or Ibérico. Heritage breeds haven’t undergone the selective breeding aimed at reducing the fat content of pork. They’re expensive, and may not be as healthy, but they certainly taste better.
  4. Use rib chops – As with most meats, tenderness in pork chops often comes at the cost of flavor. I like using pork rib chops because they have more fat than a loin chop, but less connective tissue than a blade chop, helping them strike a great balance between the two ends of the spectrum.

Equipment you'll need:

Best Pork Chops
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Rating: 2.83
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An easy way to get moist flavorful pork chops every time.
Best Pork Chops
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 36
Rating: 2.83
You:
Rate this recipe!
An easy way to get moist flavorful pork chops every time.
Servings Prep Time
5minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10minutes 240minutes
Servings Prep Time
5minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10minutes 240minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 1 inch thick pork rib chops
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a gallon size sealable freezer bag, add the sugar, salt, garlic and water. Seal the bag and swish it around to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the pork, press out as much air as you can, then seal the bag. Let this sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
  2. Remove the pork chops from the brine and use paper towels to remove as much moisture from the surface of the pork chops as you can. If there's water on the surface of the pork chops, they will not brown.
  3. Add the oil to the pan and heat over medium high heat. Place the pork chops in the pan while the pan is still cold. Because the pork chops are brined with sugar, they'll burn before they cook through if you put them into a hot pan.
  4. Fry the pork chops undisturbed until they are golden brown on one side and have gone from pink to beige about halfway up the sides.
  5. Flip the pork chops over and fry the second side until well browned and an instant read thermometer reads 141 degrees F (60.5 C). Transfer them to a plate and let them rest.
  6. Drain the excess oil out of the pan, and then add the onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are soft.
  7. Add the wine, honey and mustard and then turn up the heat to boil off the alcohol and thicken the glaze.
  8. When the glaze is nice and thick, add the pork chops back to the pan and flip them over repeatedly to coat them with the glaze. Once there is no liquid left in the pan, the pork chops are done. Top with the caramelized onions and and serve with mashed potatoes.
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  • GG

    Thanks Marc! Very helpful info on cooking pork. This recipe is easy enough for a busy weekday night. Love your blog, I tried many of your no-fail recipes. Thanks for the effort you put in to develop and test every recipe before posting.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Your welcome! If you brine the pork starting the night before, it’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal.

  • Kasia

    Those look amazing! Have u ever tried pork chops with apples and onion? U might like it :)

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Love pork and apples. I do a version of this with apple juice in the brine and an apple cider(alcoholic) reduction with caramelized onions and apples on top:-)

      • niche

        That sounds amazing. I’m definitely going to try that.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/simeonkerr Simeon Kerr

    any tips on judging whether the pork is done without a thermometer? thx

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      It’s said that if you make pork chops enough you should be able to tell the doneness by pressing it with your finger. That said, after years of making pork chops I still can’t reliably predict doneness this way. You can cut the pork chop in half to test for doneness, but this isn’t a good solution if you’re going to be serving this to guests. Digital instant read thermometers are cheap, small and useful for a variety of tasks, so I’d recommend picking one up.

  • Grace

    Do you have a print function? This recipe looks great

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I used to, but a theme update somewhere along the way seems to have broken it. Let me see if I can get it added back in. Also for now, the best way is to cut and paste the recipe into a text editor and print from there so you don’t end up printing unnecessary parts of the page.

  • http://www.soyricefire.com/ Simon @ SoyRiceFire.com

    Great point on cooking temperature. In cooking, a few degrees can make a big difference, let alone 20 degrees! Thank goodness USDA finally woke up…

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  • Soh Lili

    Thank you for this recipe! It was a life-saver when my dad suddenly requested for pork chops in the afternoon for dinner that night. I’m only just starting to learn how to cook and he has high expectations, so it was good that I knew about this recipe. I couldn’t brine it long enough though (only around 2.5 hours) so it might have caused a tougher pork chop than expected, but I left one last pork chop in the brine overnight and will cook it tonight to see how the brine affects the tenderness!

    I must say the sauce is amazingly delicious, I was licking it off my pan after that!

  • Mrs. O

    These pork chops are DEEELICIOUS!!!! Holy cow are they good! My new favorite recipe! I served mine with sauteed shredded cabbage and mashed garlic potatoes! My husband was so happy when he tasted them!!!! BTW..I didn’t have any whole grain mustard, so I used honey mustard and they were great!

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  • Simone

    Somehow I managed to mess these up. I was so excited to try them and while they were cooking I could tell they were not going to come out right. First, even though I removed most of the excess water from the surface, they did not brown. I’m not sure if it’s because I used my griddle instead of a skillet. Also, they were a little salty for me. I think that it may be attributed to the fact that I kept them in the brine so long (48 hrs.). I’m going to try it again. Hopefully, it works out better next time.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Simone, how thick was your pork chop? If it’s thinner than 1″ it will cook through before browning. If you’re using thinner pork chops, you’ll need to add the chops to a hot pan. A griddle should work fine, but depending on how big the griddle is (and how powerful your stove is) you may need to adjust the stove’s temperature to ensure it heats the griddle evenly. Also, be careful not to overcrowd the pan, there should be some space between the pork chops. As for the brine 48 hours is a bit long. If you plan to brine it for a long time, you may want to cut back on the amount of salt.

  • Saw Sornvai

    I made this last weekend and this was absolutely the best pork chop ever!!! I followed the recipes without any changes. Thanks for sharing.

  • Yasmedic

    I’m definitely going to try this. But I have a question about cooking pork. You talked about pork coming out dry and rubbery (sounds like m typical pork chops). Brine seems to be the solution, but is there a way of keeping the dryness to a minimum if you don’t brine them? A few weeks ago I had some unexpected guests and had to cook on the fly. No time to marinate or brine anything. Typically I buy the thin pork chops because the dryness issue, but I would like to start buying thicker ones.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Yasmedic, if you double the concentration of the brine (i.e. more salt and sugar for the amount of water) it will brine much faster. You could probably get away with brining for only 30 minutes. Also, the quality of the pork makes a big difference. Modern pork in the US has been engineered to grow faster and leaner and are fed all kinds of hormones and antibiotics. As you might imagine, this has a detrimental impact on flavor and moisture. To make matters worse, the pork is often frozen, thawed, then frozen again. Each time the pork is frozen it loses water. The solution is to buy heritage pork directly from a producer (check the internet). Heritage breeds like Berkshire and Iberico have way more fat, which means more flavor and more moisture.

      • Yasmedic

        Wow, thank you so much for the advice. I will try the higher concentration brining next time. I imagine that it must be a lot more expensive to buy pork from those producers. I will try them but for a special occasion. One more question, does the same branding concentration works for other type of meats such as beef?

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          Yep, the same brine will work for other meats such as poultry. Personally I don’t like brining beef because it waters down the flavor. For beef, I like using a dry brine. Basically I rub a steak with the salt and sugar, and leave it uncovered in the fridge for a day or two. This draws out extra moisture from the meat, concentrating it’s flavors and seasoning it to the core.

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  • Sabrina

    The onions and wine sauce were incredible. The sauce was just like the kind of sauce you find in a restaurant. I totally overcooked my double cut pork chops which was a real bummer. I didn’t have a meat thermometer. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

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  • Doug

    What kind of white wine should I use for the sauce?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I used a Riesling, but I could see something dryer like Sauvignon Blanc working too.

      Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

  • laura

    Do you use stainless steel or cast iron?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You could use either, but because you’re adding an acid (the wine), if you use a cast iron skillet, your sauce might taste slightly metallic.

  • Sarah Dowst

    I’d like to try this with the apples- any tips? Are you adding the apples to the onion sauce?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Sarah, great idea! Try adding some sliced apples when you sauté the onions. You might need to reduce the wine longer as apples will release some liquid, but it should be pretty tasty.

  • lreen

    is there anything i can use to replace white wine?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      HI Ireen, it will give it quite a different flavor, but using chicken stock should taste good.

  • Monique Doll

    These were no doubt the best pork chops I have ever had in my life. The chops that I got from the market were a bit thicker so I had to cook for a bit longer. However, I followed the recipe exactly and it was awesome!!!!

  • debbie

    My daughter said she didn’t want pork chops because they are too dry. So, I tried your recipe & the family loved them. Very juicy & the sauce was delicious.

  • Judy Menzel

    Fantastic! Great recipe. Finally, pork chops that aren’t dry AND are flavorful!

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!