These pan roasted pork chops are oh so tender from being brined overnight in apple juice, seared in a cast iron skillet, and then finished in the oven for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. Here’s how to make them.
Sometimes we like to let other people do the talking. Like in the case of these pan roasted pork chops. “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. Sorta makes you want to see what all the fuss is about, huh? (And, uh, when we say “fuss,” we actually mean hullabaloo, because this recipe is actually about as fuss-free as it gets.)–Renee Schettler Rossi
Pan Roasted Pork Chops
- 2 cups apple juice
- 3 cups cold water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or sorghum syrup
- 3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 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
- In a pot, combine the apple juice, water, salt, maple or sorghum syrup, pepper, and cinnamon 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.
- Place the pork chops in a baking dish or another container that lets them fit snuggly in a single layer. Pour the brine over the chops, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry. Discard the brine.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Place a large cast iron skillet on a burner over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking.
- Place the chops in the skillet without crowding them. (If you can’t fit all the pork chops in the pan at once, 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.
☞ TESTER TIP: Your smoke detector may go off when you sear these chops. Be prepared to leap and bang the disable button with a wooden spoon.
- Slide the skillet into the oven or, if you seared the chops in batches, transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet and slide that into the oven. Roast the pork chops until perfectly cooked through, anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chops.
- Place the pork chops on plates and drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil. Devour right away—as if you could help yourself.
Pork Chops With Agrodolce VariationEmbellish 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.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
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.
OH. MY. GOD. These pan roasted 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.
These seared pork chops were perfect! 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.
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 resealable plastic 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 8 minutes. 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.
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 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!
I did have to bake them longer than 8 minutes, probably 13 to 15 minutes total.
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.
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.
I loved the warm scented brine that the pork chops sat in overnight! I thought it imparted a really nice, deep apple and maple flavor to the pork with a bit of saltiness. A perfect pairing for pork and made for 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!
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.
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!). A solid method for a juicy chop.
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!
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.
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.
Ohhh, and hours after eating we still had the nice pork chop aroma throughout the house!
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.
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 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.
These pork chops made my family very happy—they raved about them! This was my very first attempt at brining. 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.
Originally published February 29, 2020
I don’t use alcohol, even for cooking. I often substitute water-diluted red balsamic for the red wine. What if I used some of the brine instead of straight water to dilute the balsamic?
Nfonca, if you’re referring to the agradolce variation, that wouldn’t give the sweetness that Port wine would.