The ingredient list for this recipe is as simple as its title: Salt and Pepper Pork Chops. The only other ingredient (listed as “to taste,” but HIGHLY recommended) is butter. Yep. Lip-smacking, old-fashioned, paleo-friendly butter pulls this quick pork dish together and accentuates its simple, unadulterated flavors.
Chef and author Gabrielle Hamilton was taught this salt and pepper pork chops recipe by her mother-in-law, Alda. Hamilton devotes an entire chapter of her renowned and much awaited cookbook, Prune, to Alda’s traditional Italian cooking. One taste of these chops, and we think you’ll agree that Alda’s actually more like a fairy-godmother-in-law than a mother-in-law. Not only are they exquisitely delicious and flawlessly cooked, but the pork chops are on the table in less than 20 minutes and come together from pantry staples. You’re welcome. Originally published August 30, 2015.–Frances Kim
Salt and Pepper Pork Chops
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 20 M
- Serves 2
- Two (10- to 12-ounce) pork chops, preferably sirloin, cut 3/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Butter, at room temperature, to taste
- 1. Place a heavy pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Give it 5 minutes to fully heat.
- 2. Liberally season the chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Grab a pair of scissors or a paring knife and make a few slight notches along the fatty edge of each pork chop, scoring the fatty part every inch or so, to prevent the sides of the pork chops from curling when they hit the heat, especially if your chops are on the thinner side.
- 3. Place the pork chops in the hot pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and don’t touch the chops for 5 minutes. (Don’t worry if things start to smoke. That happened to us, too. It’ll be fine.) Flip the pork chops and cook for 8 minutes on the other side, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C). Immediately stack the pork chops on a plate. Let the chops rest and the juices accumulate on the plate, about 3 minutes.
- 4. Smear the pork chops with soft butter while they’re warm and let it mingle with the pan juices. Do not garnish. Just fork the chops onto plates and dribble some of those buttery skillet juices over the top.
Recipe Testers Reviews
What can I say? Perfectly pan-cooked pork chops each and every time! I ended up making this pork chops recipe 2 nights in a row because it’s so dang perfect. Juicy, tender, and well-caramelized, this is a pork chop to be reckoned with. One of the many upsides to making these chops is the minimal time investment. Hands-on time was about 5 minutes, which included heating up the pan and prepping the chops, and total cooking time was a mere 18 minutes. This made it possible for someone who works 60 hours a week to actually fathom cooking during the week. I did score the perimeter of each pork chop to prevent curling. I cut 1/4 inch every inch or so, which worked out perfectly. However, my chops were pretty thick, about 3/4 inch, so I’m not sure how much they would've curled without the snipping, if at all. I served these with some grilled asparagus spears and sautéed swiss chard that I prepared while the chops were cooking. Perfect weeknight meal.
These no-fail pork chops are simple and perfect. Good pork chops never need more than salt and pepper, and you can't go wrong with adding a little butter. Pork, butter, salt, pepper, and a cast-iron or steel skillet—just as it was meant to be. The recipe took under 20 minutes, beginning to end, including butchering my chops. I forgot to score the fat, but the chops were so thick that it didn’t end up mattering.
This salt and pepper pork chops recipe is more of a technique than a recipe, but what a glorious technique it is! Simple and delicious. Since the pork is the shining star here, I’d recommend getting the best natural pork you can afford. The "seasoned" pork chops from the supermarket will work, but they’re just not the same. I like that you can easily downsize or double this recipe; it’ll work equally well as a dinner for 1 and for a large family gathering. I chose to make 4 chops and snipped around the fatty edge about every inch or so. The cooking time was spot-on, but I had to cook the chops in 2 batches to prevent crowding in the pan. The finished chops were phenomenal! Tender, juicy, and a little crisp around the edges, they didn't curl up into little pork cups like most chops do. The butter also added a subtle richness. We served these with a simple green side salad and baked sweet potatoes. There isn't a thing I’d change about this recipe, but I might try using flavored butters next time. Lastly, I used this recipe (or technique) later in the week with a T-bone steak and a bit of garlic butter, and it was terrific.
It’s hard to believe that such minimal preparation can result in such a delicious dish. Truth be told, I’m not sure I know the difference between sirloin and loin chops. I used chops I had in my freezer that I’d purchased from the butcher a couple of weeks ago and am pretty sure they were loin. What I do know for certain is that I got the pork chops in the pan in less than 5 minutes, and 18 minutes later, they emerged beautifully browned, crusty, and juicy, and earned rave reviews. I did not snip any of the edges, and there was no curling during cooking. Unfortunately, my skillet is still suffering the consequences of this cooking technique. I used my All-Clad skillet and had to let it soak to bring it back to its pre-pork-chop state. I think my cast-iron skillet would’ve done the trick just as well. I opted to omit the butter—it’s just not something I like to put on my meat. Great dinner, but find someone else to do your cleanup!
My family thought these salt and pepper pork chops were super tasty, and my teenager even gave the dish an “11” on a scale of 1 to 10. I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful the chops were, considering there was no brine or marinade. These are sooooo simple to prepare and are great for days when you don't have a lot of time to fuss in the kitchen but want a quick, tasty home-cooked meal. The hardest part of this recipe was finding the pork sirloin, which my butcher didn’t have, so I opted for 3/4-inch-thick bone-in pork loin. The scoring technique helped the pork chops from curling, but make sure the thickness of your chops is generous. My butcher cut a few chops slightly under 3/4 inch, and these did curl (but tasted delicious nonetheless). And don't forget the butter! I never considered using butter to a finish a pork chop, but the melting butter atop the salt- and pepper-encrusted meat adds a certain lusciousness that you just don’t want to pass up. Trust me! I served the chops with stovetop applesauce and roasted acorn squash and sweet potatoes. They were devoured! I will be making this again.
I was very, very surprised by how much I enjoyed these salt and pepper pork chops. It seemed like such a simple recipe, and how exciting could a pork chop be, really? From convincing the reticent butcher that I really did want sirloin chops, not loin, to smoking out half the house when they went in the pan, this recipe took me on a journey. I don't normally cook big pieces of meat, so I really liked the specificity of the instructions and the fact that the recipe had a slightly caveman vibe. I made 2 chops, and they were cut just a bit larger than the recipe called for—12.2 ounces and 13.5 ounces, respectively. I cut the chops about every inch or so around the outside and had no curling (though mine were huge, so curling was unlikely anyway). The smaller one cooked in 13 minutes, and the larger one ended up needing an extra 2-3 minutes, which resulted in a slightly blackened exterior. It was the butter that really made this recipe—well, that and the drama of the smoking hot pan. I loved the instruction to "smear" butter over the finished chops, and eating them felt vaguely illicit. My fellow tester described his pork chop as "surprising" and "exciting to eat"—it doesn't get much better than that for a meal that took less than half an hour to make. We had the chops with onions and zucchini cooked in honey and a little more butter (why not?). I thought the sweetness would be a good contrast to the super savory meat, but we actually found that it didn't quite work. We spent the meal debating what sides would be best and eventually settled on wild rice and green beans, very plain or maybe with a squeeze of lemon. The verdict: the pork chop should be the star of the show.
This is a pretty straightforward recipe that’s more of a method to add to your arsenal of easy dinner tricks. The timing works pretty well with a thinner piece of pork and can easily be adjusted if you have a slightly thicker chop. I initially had a bit of trouble finding a sirloin chop, so I first made the recipe with a 1-inch-thick loin that had a nice fat-rimmed edge. I gave it an extra 1 to 2 minutes in the skillet to reach the USDA-recommended internal temperature of 145℉, added the butter, and let it rest, tented with foil, for 3 minutes. I served the chop sliced thin over cauliflower rice with a drizzle of chimichurri sauce, and it was delicious.
The second time I made this recipe, I sought my butcher’s advice, and he cut sirloin chops for me. They were quite large and thick, so I trimmed the skin and part of the fat to use another time. This still left a rim of fat that I snipped using a knife, making notches every inch or so. I took the time to hold the chop vertically in the skillet to cook the edges and made sure that the internal temperature reached 140-145℉. I was generous with the pepper and more sparing with the salt, as I used Kerrygold salted butter to finish the dish. The buttery meat juices were perfect for keeping the chops moist and for drizzling at serving. Both the loin and sirloin chops turned out lovely, and I’m glad that I learned a new technique. I don’t think the snipping of the edges made a big difference either time, but I think it would if your chops were thinner, as that would make them more likely to curl. The cut of your chops probably depends on your local butcher or even your region, but this recipe presents a method that’ll work for just about any chop that’s 1 inch thick or under.
This salt and pepper pork chops recipe proved to be a mid-week dinner lifeline. It was so simple, and the chops were flavorful enough to eat unadorned as suggested. However, the recipe also allows for flexibility if you're feeling saucy. We happened to have a green curry sauce left over from earlier in the week, and it paired nicely with the chops. I snipped notches about an inch apart around the chops, and that seemed to be enough to keep the meat flat in the pan.
This is a very simple recipe with surprisingly good results. I don’t usually preheat my pan for a full 5 minutes but did so just as the recipe instructed. This gave the chops a nice, dark sear on the outside and left them moist and tender on the inside. My sirloin chops were just under 3/4 inch thick. I cooked one side for 5 minutes, flipped, and cooked the other side for another 4 minutes. Make sure to stack the chops after cooking and smear them with the butter. It’s the butter that really sets this recipe apart. It melds with the juices into a flavorful sauce that gives the impression of an elaborate preparation (think fancy French pan sauce) but actually requires minimal effort.
Pork chops with butter! What could be wrong with that? The sirloin chops from my usual grocery store were 3/4 inch thick but had almost no fat on them. I didn’t cut the edges since normally it’s the fat that curls. I used a heavy nonstick pan and was glad I did. I cooked the chops for 5 minutes on the first side and 6 minutes on the second side. They were perfectly cooked to my taste. I put about 1/2 tablespoon butter on each chop. Next time, I think I’d prefer to put the butter in the pan and scrape up the fond, then pour it over the chops. It seems a waste not to use the pan drippings.
This simple pork chops recipe is a satisfying dinner solution for any weeknight, but be wary of the amount of smoke it creates. I used bone-in sirloin chops and prepped them while the pan heated. I made the recommended snips every inch around the perimeter as directed. I cooked the chops for 5 minutes on the first side and another 4 minutes on the other side to bring them to an internal temperature of 145℉. Although my pan was scorched and my kitchen a bit smoky, the chops were juicy and beautifully browned. The trouble came when I started making a second batch. I needed to clean the pan and reheat it for 5 minutes before I could proceed, and the amount of smoke produced from cooking the second batch, on top of the smoke already given off by the first batch, was more than my non-commercial oven vent could handle. So I’d recommend just making one batch of these chops or keeping an eye on the smoke level and the fire alarms.
This recipe makes it possible to get a quick mid-week meal on the table. I added a little oil to my pan before cooking the chops. I’d suggest snipping the fat on the chops. I will say that you need to use caution and your best judgment to decide on the cooking time, as it really varies depending on the thickness of your pork chops. The butter gave the chops a lovely luxurious taste. I would make this recipe again.