Mom’s Perfect Pork Chops

Quick and easy pork chops, with a cumin and pepper dry rub, pan fried to perfection.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

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  • 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 Rub spices into pork chops, heat pan: 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 Add oil to the pan, sprinkle chops with salt, add to pan: 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 on both sides: 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.

4 Cover pan if working with thick chops to finish cooking: 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? My mother 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.

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Showing 4 of 35 Comments

  • Kathy L

    After 21 years of marriage, I made a juicy, not dry, not overcooked, not raw pork chop!! I could not believe it. These were fantastic!! and yes, so hard to just “walk away” with leaving the burner off!! I cook things to death most of the time. I will make this again and again! Now, I just need a magic recipe for chicken!

  • Tara

    I made these tonight and while they turned out very nicely thank you…it tasted like Popadom pork to me. Maybe I overdid the Cumin or maybe I just don’t like Cumin. Is there any suggestion on what I could replace the Cumin with in the rub or should I just leave it out of the recipe next time? I’m thinking its a big portion of the recipe so leaving it out may be a challenge.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

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