Keeping pan-seared pork chops juicy can be a challenge. A variety of thick and thin-cut pork chops are an even bigger challenge. I like to buy a whole pork loin and sliced pork chops for the individual, all depending on how thick the person eating it likes their chop. I like to think of it as the Goldilocks of pork chops. Daddy bear likes 1-1/2-inch-thick, Momma likes 1-inch and baby likes ½-inch, that type of thing. So how do cook consistently juicy pan-seared pork chops of varying thicknesses?
- First, a simple brine does wonders for keeping pan-seared pork chops juicy. My simple pork chop brine takes 5-minutes to make and it adds tremendous flavor to the finished chop. A little brown sugar in the brine adds a hint of sweetness that pork loves, and it creates a beautifully caramelized crust when the pork chop is pan-seared.
- The second thing (and most important) you need to pay attention to is the internal temperature when pan-searing pork chops. Using an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature of the pork chop should be 145°F. This is key to keeping the pork chops tender and juicy, regardless of whether you bake, grill, or pan-sear the pork chops.
Why buy a whole pork loin and cut the pork chops yourself? Easy, not only do you get to cut your pork chop exactly how thick you want it, but it’s about $1.50 a pound cheaper to buy the whole loin rather than pre-cut pork chops.
Simple Pork Chop Brine Ingredients
- Water, and Ice Water: Because I’m impatient, I boil half of the water to dissolve the salt and sugar in the brine, then add the ice cubes to rapidly cool it down. It’s a great trick and a real-time saver.
- Salt and Brown Sugar: A brine needs salt and a pork chop brine needs sweetness. Brown sugar and pork are the perfect match. It only adds a hint of sweetness, but the difference is remarkable. Thin pan-seared pork chops can cook very quickly, the brown sugar helps create a beautiful golden-brown caramelized sear to the pork chop.
- Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes: These infuse a little heat into the pork chops and are a great contrast to the brown sugar.
- Fresh Herbs: It’s Autumn now, so I added fresh sage and rosemary to the brine. The sage adds great flavor and is excellent with my ginger beer apple sauce and braised red cabbage recipes.
Please check out my recipes for Ginger Beer Apple Sauce and Apple Cider Vinegar Braised Red Cabbage. They are the perfect side items for the pan-seared pork chops. I highly recommend them as a complete meal option. Please click the links to see the other recipes.
Here is my recipe for cooking Juicy Pan-Seared Pork Chops
Juicy Pan-Seared Pork Chops
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/4 Cup Salt
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns Whole
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 Cloves Garlic Whole, crushed
- 6 Leaves Sage
- 1 Sprig Rosemary
- 1 Cup Ice Water
- 4 Pork Chops
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
To Brine the Pork Chops
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, except ice water and pork chops. Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and brown sugar. Then remove from the heat.
- Pour the brine over the ice water to rapidly cool it. Add the pork chops and return to the refrigerator for 30-minutes up to 8-hours.
To Pan Sear the Pork Chops
- Remove the pork chops from the brine and give them a quick rinse. Discard the brine. Use kitchen towels to dry the pork chops.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil then add the pork chops. Let the chops sear for 4-5 minutes until caramelized and golden brown. Turn the pork chops and reduce heat to low.
- Using an instant-read thermometer, cook until the thinnest pork chop is 145°F. Remove and let rest. Continue testing all the pork chops from the thinnest to the thickest until they just read 145°F. remove and let rest briefly.