Mom’s Perfect Pork Chops

Sometimes the best food is really the simplest. We experiment frequently with different ways of preparing pork chops, but the way we have pork chops most regularly is with a simple dry rub and pan frying. My mother’s been making chops this way for years. We use a dry rub of my father’s, which requires some advance preparation (when you make some, you make more than you need than for just a few pork chops). If we are out of the dry rub, mom typically uses a bit of paprika, salt and pepper to season the chops.

Mom’s Perfect Pork Chops Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6, depending on the thickness of the chops.

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 teaspoon bacon fat, grapeseed oil, or olive oil (or other high smoke point oil)
  • Salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dry rub*

*Dad's dry rub:

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 3 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Combine cumin, peppercorns, and coriander in a heavy medium skillet. Stir over medium heat until fragrant and toasted, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly. Finely grind toasted spices in blender. Transfer to a small bowl. Mix in sugar and salt. Makes 1/2 cup.

Method

1 Heat a large cast iron frying pan to medium high or high heat (hot enough to sear the meat). While the pan is heating, sprinkle a pinch of dry rub spices (about 1/8 teaspoon or a little more) on each of the pork chops. Using your fingers, rub the spices into the meat. Turn the chops over and repeat on the other side.

2 Once the pan is hot, add a teaspoon of oil or fat to the pan and coat the bottom of the pan. Right before you put the chops into the pan sprinkle each side with a little salt, or you can salt the chops in the pan. Put the chops in the pan. Make sure they are not crowding each other too much. There should be space between the chops in the pan or the meat will steam and not sear properly.

Tip: Arrange the chops in the pan with the thickest, boniest parts towards the center of the pan where they get the most heat.

3 Sear the chops, about 2 minutes on each side. Watch carefully, as soon as the chops are browned, flip them. As soon as you flip the chops, if you are using a cast iron pan, you can turn off the heat. Cast iron holds heat very well and there will be enough heat in the pan to finish cooking the meat.

If you have chops that are a lot thicker than 3/4" (many are sold that are 1 1/2"-thick), you can put a cover on the pan and let the chops finish cook for 5 minutes or so (if you are using a cast iron pan and have turned off the heat, there should be enough heat if you cover the pan to finish the cooking of a thicker chop, if not, lower the heat to low and cover.

How do you know when the chops are done? Mom uses a touch test which with practice I've learned as well. If you wait until you see juice oozing out of the top of the chop, it is definitely done. Mom typically just keeps the chops in the pan, the heat is turned off, so the pan is losing heat. The pan initially provides enough heat to sear the second side. As it initially cools it is still cooking, though not searing the meat. After a couple of minutes, it's just keeping the chops warm.

Links:
Vietnamese pork chops from Josh at the Food Section
Tandori orange spiced pork chops by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen
Pork chops in balsamic fig sauce from Closet Cooking

48 Comments

  1. Jonathan

    Looks good…fast…easy. Pork chops are one of those funny things: Cook too long? Shoe leather. Not long enough? Thrichinosis. Yuk. That said, most pork can be safely served after cooked to around 145F – 150F. I honestly think anything past that and you’re hitting “shoe leather” territory. Personally, I like brining the chops in a kosher salt/sugar/water brine in a big ziploc for about 1/2 hr., then dry rub, then grill. And with a big, meaty chop, 1 1/2″ thick.

  2. J.Ho

    Awesome! I also love simply prepared pork chops. I dust mine with granulated garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt & freshly ground black pepper. Then I fry them up in olive oil! Yum!!

    Great site. I love it!

    Cheers!

  3. Janet Moga

    This recipe came just at the right time! I had gotten some pork chops to cook for dinner and your email had arrived. Decided to give it a try and it was fabulous! Perfect. Served it with a mixed green salad and cous cous. Used some of the leftover rub for fajitas I cooked the next night. Thank you!!

  4. Sassy J

    Elise–I’m just in love with your site. I feel like a kindred spirit–grew up in a family of 12–love to cook–have giant binders with clippings from NY Times, etc. own way too many cookbooks. I hope I’m not inundating you with too many comments–feel like I want to send you all my favorite recipes, since I will not get around to having a blog. Love all your other blogs–especially the graphic one with your 9 year old cartoonist.

    One of my favorite standby pork chop recipes is from Martha Stewart’s Cooking Lite (don’t love her–but love this book and her appetizer book). Season chops with salt/pepper/dried thyme. Press a fresh thyme stem in each side of chop. Brown in a little olive oil in a medium hot skillet. remove and add equal parts beef broth (Minor’s is the best–keeps in the freezer, easy to reconstitute, made from roast beef) and red wine (or even sherry). For 3 chops–1/4 cup each broth and wine. Reduce down and serve over chops. Delicious! I serve with a side of lentils and a green (broccoli rabe or broccoli, etc.).

  5. Kristi

    I must be honest: I’ve always been a bit scared to cook pork. But yesterday I decided to conquer my fear. Indeed, this recipe was perfect – the chops were so juicy and flavorful! I topped them with a spoonful of homemade honey dijon sauce, and served them over soft polenta with roasted brussels sprouts on the side. Yum. Thanks again for all of your wonderful recipes and inspiration – this website is truly a gift! :)

  6. Jerry

    I made chops just last night. Though that particular batch will never make the blog, they were made simply as well. Just salt and pepper and a trip through the broiler for 5 minutes per side. They were perfect.

    your Dad’s rub looks interesting though. I think I’ll give that a shot and use it as a brine for some chicken!

  7. doodles

    I just got out my pork chops from the freezer for dinner tonite. Your rub sounds like something I should be using.

    My latest rub pork chops is smokey paprika, salt and pepper.

    Thanks for all the great recipes and ideas.

  8. merd

    I would have never thought to use sugar. Thanks :)

  9. Katherine

    Rich, I do believe you’re correct – and most people still haven’t caught on that we can serve our pork still juicy! I do believe that it’s recommended that you cook pork to 160 or higher, but who really wants to eat it at that point?

  10. Elise

    I think the USDA has a high temperature recommendation just to be on the super-extremely idiot-proof safe side, taking into account faulty meat thermometers. The government guidelines to restaurants are actually much lower than 160.

  11. Lady Amalthea

    I too am getting over my fear of cooking pork chops. I know you don’t need to cook them until shoe leather, and I really enjoy them juicy and slightly pink, but I still get nervous. Lately, I’ve been braising them, which keeps them moist, but is still more work. Here’s how I do it: http://noshesthoughtsreves.blogspot.com/2008/01/blancs-de-poulet-et-cotelettes-de-porc.html

    I’ll definitely have to try your method next!

  12. Paul

    Nice recipe–simple but good. I’ve tried many ways to cook pork chops–baked, poached, with cream sauces, mustard sauces, grilled, etc., and most are disappointing, but this approach works, and it’s quick and easy, too. Thanks!

  13. Terry B

    These sound fabulous, Elise! Glad you cooked bone-in chops; the bone adds great flavor to the meat. I’m a big fan of finishing chops with a lid on the pan–it helps keep the meat nice and moist. Sometimes, I even pour a splash of vermouth to the pan before covering. This further helps keep things nice and moist.

  14. Abby

    I grew up eating porkchops this way – it’s the best. We eat fried porkchop biscuits for breakfast quite often – paired with an egg it’s fabulous! I think this is the best way to keep them from drying out, which is SO easy for me to do!

  15. daniele

    A very similar recipe is one of our favourites at home. My wife was born in a village south of Rome where coriander is liberally added to pork and especially sausages. Pork is cooked with sweet, home-made moscato wine which takes the plase of sugar in your recipe. Yum…

  16. Donald

    MMMMMMMMM! Pork! I too love a good pork chop. I read in ATK that starting chops in a cold pan and slowly bringing them up to temp keeps them juicier. I tried this and it works really well. They don’t get nearly as browned as I’d like, but juicy nonetheless. Can’t wait to start the grilling season. Chops on the grill…I’m feeling a bit Pavlovian now.

    Great rub recipe by the way.

  17. Deborah Dowd

    These chops realy remind me of how my mom used to make them, and they were so delicious- chops have just the right combination of fat and lean. Thanks for this “retro” recipe.

  18. Janet

    mmmm, made these last night and they were spectacular! thank you :-)

  19. Andrea

    Your chops bring back some tasty memories! My mother always pan fried pork chops, but she would add a can of sauerkraut after browning the chops on one side, and I always liked how the kraut took on the flavors from the pan.

  20. Bob

    These were great

  21. Michael House

    I read in a few comments about retro chops. Just to continue in that vein. I remember back before all our pork became anorexic, nice thick chops with a ring of fat around the edge. My mom would cook them so the whole chop was a chip. Dunked in katsup and eaten out of hand MMMMMM. I wish I could find some chops like that. You know it’s a pork fat thing.

  22. melissa

    Elise, I had seen this in the archives but hadn’t tried it until this repost. I made these last week just as you wrote it. Yum! My husband saw my post on it, looked at the pictures and said “I could have those again right now!” he doesn’t always get excited about food like I do, so I know it’s a keeper. ;) Anyway, thanks!

  23. Nick

    I just made this for my family and everyone loved it. I was afraid of having too much cumin within the mix. I added a little more sugar to my own taste and it came out wonderful. Thanks for the recipe! I will use this one for years to come.

  24. Hank

    WOW!!! This recipie was great thanks for such a great idea for a way to cook an american classic. My dinner was great and I thank you all for that!!

    Hank in Kansas City, Missouri

  25. Madeline

    This is exactly the way I always make pork chops as well. Except I use a creole rub. Everytime I plan on making them I look around for different recipes and inevitably always revert back to this way. You just can’t beat a pan fried pork chop with applesauce. One of my favorite meals.

  26. Missy

    These were great! Mother knows best. I used 2 T of the dry rub with a combo of 1/2 sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers and 1/4 c. ground flax seeds. Fab-u-loso! Thank you for a great addition to our pork chop repertoire.

  27. Tami

    These chops look fabulous. Pork chops are my son’s absolute favorite food and I know that he would enjoy them prepared this way. Thanks for sharing this!

  28. columbine

    I’ve tried loads of pork chop recipes (except dry rub), always ending up with a dry meat. The pic looked so appetizing that I thought I’d try one last recipe.
    Never had such a juicy, tender and tasty pork chop at home as the one I cooked using your recipe. Rub seems to be the secret.
    Thanks so much for a well-described and excellent recipe. Made me want to explore your website.

  29. B.Swetnam

    I love this recipe. I keep you Dad’s rub on hand because I also use it on boneless chicken breast. I pound them just enough for even thickness. The sugar makes everything brown nicely. I do let the rub sit on the meat for at least 20 minutes, longer if I have time, so all the little flavors get to know each other.
    Now is the time to use your Mom’s tip with the Mason jar (I use a pint jar for spices)on the blender. I just love that tip.

  30. Emily

    This was great! It always amazes me how fast meat cooks on the stovetop. I mixed salt, pepper, sugar, and ground cumin and rubbed it into delicious pork chops from a local pig. Thank you!

  31. mike

    I stumbled across the way I like chops cooked a few years ago. Start with regular non stick skillet. Just a little oil. You’re going to burn the pan in this recipe but it is the only way for the flavor. Start med-high heat. Put your seasonings on chops put in pan after hot (it’s going to pop) add a couple splashes of Worcestershire, after seasoning turn crispy and stick to chops(which will be fast) turn heat to low. This will work for thin chops. For thick chops you will need to make slits in the meat after the step of crisping the seasonings. And do not cover the pan (it will change taste). The recipe sounds strange but I have this down to an art. So far no one can make them the way I do. They are excellent!

    • Kera

      I love this comment. It is the way I cook my pork chops all the time. I love worcestershire sauce, but if you do not you can use a little chicken broth or a splash of water for the moisture effect(i discovered on a couple occasions after being without worcestershire, its popular in my house). Also if you are using bone in pork chops and don’t like curling cut 2-3 slit in the fat evenly apart, this will eliminate the curl factor.

  32. Helen

    I just made these pork chops for dinner tonight because I had a tub of bacon grease and figured why not! I added some dried thyme and rosemary to it, and it was wonderful! I thought your cooking time notes were very helpful since my pork chops were about an inch thick; they cooked perfectly! Thanks!

  33. Julie

    This method did not work for me. I used a cast iron skillet & the second side did not brown at all. Also, meat was only 120 degrees after turning off heat and leaving covered for five minutes. I turned the heat back up and browned the second side, but chops got quite dried out by then.

  34. Chris

    Great recipe and exactly what I needed tonight. We ran out of time and couldn’t do baked chops like we had planned. I’ve never done them in the skillet before, but I will be saving this recipe and doing them this way frequently from now on. Thanks for the “touch test” tip too. Not sure I’m good enough to trust it 100% yet, but it’s a good tool to have handy, especially when BBQing.

  35. geri

    The chops look great I can’t wait to try recipe except I don’t have a cast iron skillet, Please print instructions for a regular frying pan.Thank You

  36. Julia

    Made these tonight and they were great. I think it was the first time I didn’t overcook pork chops. In response to the woman about not having a cast iron skillet – I used a nonstick skillet, followed the directions and it worked fine.

  37. Debbie Campbell

    I was so nervous about the time on these!!! It just didn’t seem possible that 2 mins on each side and then sitting would be enough to cook them through. I had chops that were about and inch…. The butcher told me to put them on grill for 10 mins a side. I trusted the reviews and left them on 3 mins a side and then covered pan and let them continue to cook. They were great, but 2 mins….still would have been fine…so trust what she says! I made a Balsmic Vinegrette Reduction to go with the chops…. Here is the recipe…It was wonderful all together!

    1/4 cup minced shallots
    1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar
    3/4 cup chicken broth
    1 tablespoon butter

    Remove chops from the skillet, and keep warm on a serving platter. Add shallots to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes, just until browned. Stir in vinegar, scraping any bits of lamb from the bottom of the skillet, then stir in the chicken broth. Continue to cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half. If you don’t, the sauce will be runny and not good. Strain the remaining liquid. Stir in the butter. Pour over the l chops, and serve.

    The original recipe plus the reduction is awesome! Again….her cooking instructions are perfect!!!! Don’t worry!

  38. Hannah

    I just tried this, first time I’ve ever cooked pork chops and it was amazing! Thanks.

  39. Jocelyn

    This recipe is amazing! I followed it implicitly except for the dry rub part. I didn’t have cumin seeds so I added 2 Tbsp of ground cumin. The grinding part didn’t go so well so I sifted out the pieces that didn’t become powdered. The rub is great and has a unique flavor. This is the first time I made perfect pork chops! Thanks for the recipe!

  40. EveT

    Thank you for this excellent recipe! I’ve struggled for years with pork chops trying to get them cooked through yet still juicy and flavorful. And not to hassle with a marinade, or koshering, or egg & breadcrumbs, or swamping them in mushroom soup (not least for health reasons, which is why we’re eating pork rather than beef in the first place). I made your recipe tonight and it was the easiest AND tastiest of the dozens of methods I’ve tried. I let the dry rub sit on the meat for about 10 min before the skillet was ready. I don’t have a big enough cast iron skillet, but a heavyweight stainless steel copper-clad one worked fine. We like our pork well done, so I left the burner on “low” for a few extra minutes with the lid askew, and ended up with a delicious brown juicy sauce (thanks to the sugar content) to spoon over the brown rice I had made to accompany the chops. From now on this is THE pork chop recipe in my house!

    P.S. to the comment about trichinosis — the disease is almost 100% eradicated nowadays, so it is really not necessary to cook pork to such a high temperature, but I don’t blame you for preferring it well done anway.

  41. Briony

    Hello, I have been using your site for years and it is definitely my go to place for recipes and general inspiration when it comes to cooking. My boyfriend and I have used this recipe several times, and we both agree that it’s one of the best pork chop recipes we’ve ever tried. We have tried it both on the stove top in a cast iron pan, and on the BBQ. Generally I love anything and everything BBQ’ed, but in this case cooking them in the cast iron is definitely the better choice. They just come out sooo good!

  42. Jennifer L

    Thank you for the recipe!!!

    Made these for my in-laws last night and they told me that if it came down to it, they’d choose me over their son as long as I promised to keep cooking for them. (Laughed my butt off with that one).

    I reduced the amounts for the rub to about 1/4 of what’s called for and used already ground dried spices since that’s what I had on hand and it worked beautifully.

    I also brined the pork chops first for about half an hour. Served it with scalloped potatoes, garlic green beans and applesauce.

  43. Sandra T.

    Oh my! These are the best pork chops I have ever made! I just used salt & pepper and cooked them in bacon fat for 2 minutes in a cast iron pan. Then I flipped them over and left them alone, which was hard to do. They were juicy and full of flavor. Thanks so much!

  44. Sylvia

    OMG! These are the best pork chops i’ve ever tried to cook! They were perfect!!!

  45. Holly

    I have never left a comment on this wonderful site but I had to say these chops were THE BEST I have ever made or eaten. My husband hails from a “pork family” while I had never eaten it until I met him. Needless to say, pork sort of intimidates me. Well, I felt as if the culinary golden goblet had landed on my counter-top when these were ready. My husband went on, and on, and on about how absolutely delicious these are. The best he’d EVER eaten in his life (score one for the d-i-l:). Our children said they looked, and tasted, like something you would see at a restaurant. When I made chops with another recipe a few weeks back he sadly said, “Oh, I thought you were going to make the Mom’s Perfect Chops recipe.” I would have normally been a little irked (I don’t enjoy cooking) but took it as a great compliment. The best part, for me, is that he does not know how simple they are to make. Thank you Elise for sharing! Please thank your parents for me too! :)

    Will do! ~Elise

  46. Rick

    It’s so nice to see a pork chop picture with a bit of pink. It’s so unbelievably good when it’s cooked like this.

    Trichinosis is such an old wives tale at this point. In the last 30 years the way we feed pigs has changed significantly, reducing it to almost 0. All of the 18 cases of trichinosis last year were a result of eating meat from pigs killed in the wild.

    If you still are worried about it, the Trichinella spiralis roundworm is killed at 137 degrees. Cook your pork to 145 (not 150 or…eeek! 170) and enjoy your juicy piece.

  47. Debbie S

    I love to cook and mastered pork chops a few years ago, at least cooking time and method. Just I had never used the coriander and cumin ( plus sugar) in my past . WE can’t get enough of this, such a perfect blend!! Works quite well on chicken as well and some light fish. Kudos to Elise, this is GREAT!!

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