Pan-Roasted Pork Chops

You need to start brining your pork chops the day before. These chops are best over warm baked beans, which also need to be started a day before you’d like to serve them.–Hugh Acheson

LC Oh. My. God. Note

The best brine I’ve ever had. Perfect. Exquisite. The antidote to dried-out, tasteless pork chops. I wouldn’t change a thing! Oh. My. God. That’s what folks are saying about this simple weeknight solution to what’s for dinner. Care to see what all the fuss is about? (Uh, when we say fuss, we actually mean hullabaloo, because this recipe is about as fuss-free as it gets.)

Pan-Roasted Pork Chops Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or sorghum syrup
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • Six 1 1/2-inch-thick center-cut pork loin chops, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

  • 1. Combine the apple juice, water, salt, maple or sorghum syrup, pepper, and cinnamon in a pot and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As soon as the salt has completely dissolved, turn off the heat and let the brine cool to room temperature.
  • 2. Place the pork chops in a baking dish or some other container that allows them to fit snuggly in a single layer. Add the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • 3. Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry. Discard the brine.
  • 4. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
  • 5. Place a large cast-iron skillet on a burner over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat it until warm but not smoking. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and carefully place them in the pan. If you can’t fit all the pork chops in the pan without crowding them, then do 2 or 3 at a time. Sear for 3 minutes per side. The chops should have some nice caramelization going on and your house should be smelling awesome. Your smoke detector is probably going to go off, too. After you’ve seared the chops, transfer the skillet to the oven for 8 minutes or, if you seared the chops in batches, transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet and plonk that in the oven until perfectly cooked through.
  • 6. Place the pork chops on plates and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Devour right away—as if you could help yourself.

Pork Chops with Agrodolce Variation

  • Embellish each pork chop with a dollop of sweetly tart, savory agrodolce, if you please. Roast, peel, and seed 2 large red bell peppers. Cut them into 1/2-inch dice. Plump 1/4 cup raisins in 1/4 cup warm port and 2 tablespoons warm water. Combine the red peppers and tipsy raisins with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

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Chiyo Ueyama

Oct 15, 2012

OH. MY. GOD. These pork chops are fabulous! The brine—perfect. The cooking time—spot on (just be certain to let the meat warm up a bit before cooking). The chops have a lovely crust along the edges and are so juicy inside. The agrodolce, although not absolutely necessary since the pork is wonderfully flavored through and through, is a nice addition. Do make it, especially if you’ve never tried this particular blend of ingredients. The warm port and raisins go quite well with the subtle cinnamon from the brine.

Testers Choice
Victoria Filippi

Oct 15, 2012

This is the best brine for pork I’ve ever had. There is no reason to ever cook pork chops without brining them first. They were juicy and so flavorful. The apple juice and slight hint of cinnamon complement the pork perfectly. This recipe is one to make again and again and certainly one to share with friends! Wonderful.

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Lori Widmeyer

Oct 15, 2012

These were perfect! The recipe didn’t specify, so I ended up opting for boneless pork chops. I put the pork chops in the brine, but then had a last-minute dinner invitation the night I planned to serve the chops, so I removed them from the brine, patted them dry, sealed them in a zip-top bag, and put them back in the refrigerator. The next night I seared them (this was pretty smoke free) and then put them in the oven for the 8 minutes specified in the recipe. They looked a little pink inside, so I put them back in for 2 extra minutes. Looking back, they probably would have been fine without the extra time. The hint of the sweet apple and maple brine was lovely—not too strong, but enough that everyone commented on the wonderful flavor. The combination of brining and searing created perfect, extremely moist pork chops, and our guest loved them enough to call later and request the recipe.

Testers Choice
Becky Kimball

Oct 15, 2012

This recipe made the juiciest, tastiest pork chops I’ve ever cooked! Even after reheating the chops at work, my husband commented on how juicy they were! The brine took less than 10 minutes to prepare, and I let the meat bathe in it for the full 24 hours. I made the agrodolce as well, and it was fantastic. I put the peppers in the oven and the raisins and port mixture on the stove right before I started searing the pork. I followed the recipe to the letter, except that it took 4 to 5 minutes per side to caramelize the chops properly. By the time I put the chops in the oven, everything was ready to assemble. Yum!

Testers Choice
Kara Vitek

Oct 15, 2012

This is an exquisite pork chop recipe! I found these pork chops to be very easy to prepare with impeccably moist results. They were packed with flavor and the house smelled incredible as they were roasting. I did have to bake them longer than the 8 minutes suggested, probably 13 to 15 minutes total. I don’t usually care for sweet touches to savory dishes, but the sweetness of this dish was ever so slight, melded together, and seemed a lot like pork chops and apple sauce. I didn’t make the agrodolce, but next time I intend to. And there’ll be plenty of next times!

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Jackie G.

Oct 15, 2012

Here’s the antidote for dried-out, tasteless pork chops. We love pork, and make it quite often. After making this recipe, I realized that we hadn’t made pork chops in years. Pork these days has been bred to be lean, and with less fat comes a finished product that’s often too dry. Now I know how to get juicy, tender pork chops: brine them. I started with good cuts of meat—Heritage pork chops—that were at least 1 1/2 inches thick. After being in the brine for 24 hours, something came up and we were unable to cook that night. I took the pork out of the brine, wiped the chops dry, wrapped them tightly, and put them back into the fridge. The next night we heated a cast-iron pan at high temperature and then seared the chops on both sides for the 3 minutes called for in the recipe. The sear from those 3 minutes was deep and beautiful. We put the pan into the oven for the 8 minutes called for, and turned the chops over in the pan halfway through. We pulled the pan out at the 8-minute mark, and let the chops sit for a few minutes. The chops were perfectly done in the time the recipe called for. I should note, we don’t like pork well-done. We tend to eat it more medium to medium-rare. Although some folks may like their pork cooked a bit more, I’d encourage them to try the pork at the allotted amount of time. It can always go back into the oven.

Testers Choice
Kristen Kennedy

Oct 15, 2012

I love how tender brining makes these pork chops. The apple juice in the brine imparts a delicate fruity flavor. I didn’t make the agrodolce. The only thing I’d change next time is omitting the additional salt and pepper seasoning. The chops were plenty salty from the brine, and the addition of another layer of salt and pepper was overwhelming.

Testers Choice
Anna Scott

Oct 15, 2012

I loved the warm scented brine that the pork chops sat in overnight! I thought it imparted a really nice, deep apple/maple flavor to the pork with a bit of saltiness. This brine was a perfect pairing for pork and did make a nice caramelized coating on the meat when you seared it. (I didn’t use a cast-iron skillet; instead I used an ovenproof 9-inch skillet.) I decided to pair the pork with the suggested agrodolce—mainly because the port-plumped raisins were a nice idea alongside the warm taste of the brine. Plus, I already had the ingredients for the agrodolce in my pantry. The roasted peppers and port raisins really benefited from the tart balsamic flavor. This addition would be a nice relish on a smoked Thanksgiving turkey as well. Overall, this was a delicious recipe combo that really made me yearn for fall!

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Linda Pacchiano

Oct 15, 2012

The brining gave the pork chops great tenderness and flavor. By cooking them in a cast-iron skillet and finishing them in the oven, there was nice caramelization on the outside with the center remaining very moist. I served the pork shops with the agrodolce. The sweet–sour combination of raisins with the roasted red pepper and other ingredients was a perfect complement to the pork.

Testers Choice
Lynne Brenner

Oct 15, 2012

These pork chops were tender and moist, with a hint of sweetness. The texture was satisfying—chewy in a good way. My chops were perfectly done even though they weren’t as thick as specified in the recipe (and, no, my smoke alarm didn’t go off during the searing step!). I didn’t add salt and pepper, since I’ve found that brining adds enough seasoning for my taste. A solid method for a juicy chop.

Testers Choice
Kate H. Knapp

Oct 15, 2012

Apple juice. Cinnamon. Maple syrup (couldn’t find sorghum). Pork. Absolutely delicious! I didn’t make the agrodolce due to a lack of port, but the pork chops were perfect without anything else. They were moist and oh so easy. From start to finish, 20 minutes tops (plus 24 hours for the brine). The apple juice gave them a wonderfully rich flavor, which was complemented by the sweetness of maple syrup and the spice of cinnamon. This is the perfect dish for the fall. I wouldn’t change a thing!

Testers Choice
Cindy Zaiffdeen

Oct 15, 2012

This recipe caught my eye because of the brining solution ingredients. I usually just brine with a water, salt, and sugar mixture, occasionally throwing in garlic cloves. The light sweetness of the apple juice and the maple syrup went really well with the pork. The cinnamon flavor was just a hint and enough to add interest. These pork chops were extremely moist and juicy. We had one left over and I reheated it the next day and it was still very moist. I didn’t make the optional agrodolce but will try it next time.

Testers Choice
Sofia Reino

Oct 15, 2012

This has become a favorite in our household. The end result was juicy and tender pork chops, with a caramelized taste from the cast-iron skillet. The timing was absolutely perfect. One thing I did omit, and thankfully so, was adding salt and pepper after drying the chops out of the brine. I believe if I would’ve sprinkled more salt they’d have become too salty and there was still so much cracked pepper on them that there was no need for more. Ohhh, and luckily I didn’t have to worry about the smoke detector, yet hours after eating we still had the nice pork chop aroma throughout the house!

Testers Choice
Linda B.

Oct 15, 2012

Delicious! Sweet and savory and just a little bit smoky. My pork chops were perfectly cooked after 8 minutes in the oven. Transfer them to a plate right away so that they don’t overcook. My chops didn’t require any extra salt and pepper.

Testers Choice
Jackie B.-P.

Oct 15, 2012

I made this recipe over the weekend when we had plans to have friends over for dinner. I liked the idea of brining the pork chops and love the combination of pork, maple syrup, apple juice, and cinnamon. The agrodolce topping, with its roasted red peppers, port, and raisins, really enhanced the flavor of the chops. For the most part, this recipe was a success and everyone really enjoyed it. There are a few things I might change. For instance, the chops were a tad too salty for my taste. I might rinse them a bit next time before roasting them, just to take a smidgen of the salt out.

Testers Choice
Steve Taylor

Oct 15, 2012

For some reason, it never occurred to me to brine pork chops—maybe because I usually buy and cook them the same day. These were definitely among the most tender and flavorful chops I’ve ever had. I don’t have a large cast-iron pan, so I did them in a 3-quart sauté pan, which worked fine. I won’t brine my pork chops every time, but when I do, I’ll be following this recipe.

Testers Choice
Dawn E.

Oct 15, 2012

These pork chops made my family very happy—they raved about them! This was my very first attemot at brining. I used a porterhouse bone-in cut pork chop. I actually found the end result to be a bit salty, but my family insisted these were among the best pork chops I've ever made. The flavor of the maple syrup was very subtle. I may use honey in my next attempt rather than maple syrup. And maybe a little less salt.

Comments
Comments
  1. Patty K says:

    I would love to make the Agrodolce. I don’t keep port around so I wondered if there was anything that might work almost as well to plump the raisins. The only alcohol I have around is bourbon and rum. Thanks

  2. Karletta says:

    I made these for dinner last Friday night. AMAZING! Since there are just two of us I halved the recipe to brine two 2-inch pork chops. Still too much brine. Next time I will make the entire batch of brine and keep the extra in a mason jar in the refrigerator (probably remove the cinnamon stick after a couple of days). This recipe is so good that we are tossing around the idea of forgetting about the turkey for Thanksgiving this year (also an issue with just two of us in the house) and having this instead. Yes, I know one can freeze turkey leftovers. But I have lost count of the number of times I have tossed away a brick of frozen turkey meat in February.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Well, hot damn and hallelujah, Karletta! Sounds like a lovely Thanksgiving dinner to me. Doing a happy dance that you loved those pork chops so….

  3. Allison Parker says:

    OK, I am now making these chops yet again. Love them. This was a genius discovery. And, I have also now pulled at least two friends into brined pork chop addiction–they’ve left Facebook updates for me saying this recipe is going into their steady rotations. Thanks for making my kitchen sizzle yet again, and contributing to “clean plate” happiness in the home.

  4. Mrs E says:

    I just brined my chops today, the market had a choice between bone in porterhouse cut pork chops or a thicker boneless pork loin, I chose the porterhouse chop, I hope it comes out great. I should have gotten a few of each to see which I liked better. Any thoughts on if the porterhouse will be good?

    • Beth Price says:

      It’s one of my favorite cuts, Mrs E. I can only imagine that the brine would increase its loveliness.

  5. Mrs E says:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence Beth, the pork chops turned out great. This was my first time brining and my family loved the chops. I found them slightly saltier and I could barely detect the maple flavor in these. Question: If I reduced the sodium in the recipe by half, would the brine still be successful? Also, would honey be a good substitute for maple syrup?

    • Beth Price says:

      Wonderful, Mrs E. Yes, you can play around with the brine until it suits your taste. Have fun!

  6. Mike says:

    This is a great recipe and the technique can be used for other pork cuts. Having grown up in the Sugar Cane belt of the deep South, maple syrup or sorghum never crossed my lips until I was an adult. I still don’t care for either of them. Instead, my go-to is small batch, locally made cane syrup from the area around Sopchoppy, Florida. Much better flavor.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Mike, we agree, the technique is a keeper. As for that cane syrup, that sounds exactly like what I’d prefer, too. Mind disclosing the brand name of your source? I’d love to track it down and order some. Do you swap it for other liquid sugars at a 1:1 ratio, or do you sorta tweak that depending on the recipe? Many thanks!

      • bkhuna says:

        Renee, I’m buying Payne Farms cane syrup at a roadside stand located in Crawfordville, FL. I don’t think there is a web site or mail order available. Next time I’m up that way, I’d be happy to get you a bottle if your interested.

        P.S. It’s the same place I get my Tupelo Honey. Certified from the White Tupelo tree. The only region of the country where it’s produced.

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          bkhuna, I’m almost at a loss for words! I would LOVE a bottle next time you happen to go that way. You can ping me at renee@leitesculinaria.com if you’d like, we can arrange for shipping and reimbursing. Many, many thanks for thinking of me. I can’t wait to try it!

  7. Lin says:

    I was so pleased with this recipe and how moist and tasty my pork chops were! I have always have difficulty keeping them from getting dry, no matter the method I used. This is so easy and a keeper for me. Thank y’all so much for this genius of a recipe!

    • David Leite says:

      Lin, absolutely my pleasure. We’re thrilled you had success with the recipe. It’s one of my personal favorites.

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