Here at Delish, we think pork chops get a bad rap. Maybe it has something to do with all the dry, overcooked chops we were served as kids—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Pork chops have the potential to be juicy, tender, and flavorful, really! This oven-baked method will ensure your pork has a delicious crust and a perfectly cooked interior. Just follow these simple rules and prepare yourself to reconsider everything you know about this weeknight-friendly cut.
1. Buy them bone-in and thick.
Typically, bone-in pork chops are thicker than those with the bone removed. A thin pork chop is difficult to cook perfectly with this method, because of the hard sear you give both sides before it goes in the oven. If a chop is too thin, by the time you’ve seared both sides, the thing is practically overcooked! Choosing a thick chop allows you to get a nice golden sear on both sides and a perfectly cooked tender center.
2. Get your skillet HOT.
The goal of this initial sear is to get a golden, crisp crust on your chop without really cooking the center. A hot pan is CRUCIAL. Let it cook a couple minutes undisturbed, then take a peek and see how that golden crust is forming. When you’re happy with your sear, flip the chop and give it a chance to get golden on the other side.
3. Brush with butter.
Okay, this step isn’t mandatory. It IS extremely delicious though, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be brushing this garlic rosemary butter on anything and everything. This classic restaurant trick—basting with butter while cooking—makes a great dish into an even better one.
4. Use a meat thermometer.
I know, I know. This is the extra step that often seems fussy, but trust us, it’s worth it. Using a meat thermometer takes the guess work out of cooking pork chops, and in the words of our girl Martha, that’s “a good thing.” As always, give the meat some time to rest before digging in. (Five to ten minutes should do the trick.)
140°-150° F No pink here! The meat should be completely white all the way through. Pork chops at this temperature will still have the potential to be juicy, just be sure to pull them from the oven on the lower end of this spectrum, as the chops will continue to cook even after they’re out of the oven. Anything past 145° F is the danger (AKA dry) zone, so keep a close watch.