How To Cook Tender And Juicy Pork Chops

perfectly cooked pork chop

Yes, it is possible to serve incredible tasting pork chops at your dinner table. Start with well marbled, quality pork from heritage breeds such as Berkshire or Duroc that are naturally juicy and tender. Quickly pan sear and finish in the oven to just 145° internal temperature, the chops will be moist and flavorful, not dry.

I’m sure that we have all been served a gray, tough and chewy pork chop more than once. For years, home cooks as well as restaurant chefs were instructed that pork needed to be cooked to 160°F to be safe to eat which resulted in overcooked and dry pork chops. In 2011, the USDA revised their safety recommendations which now states that pork is safe to eat when it reaches 145°F. The lower temperature results in slightly pink pork that is juicy, tender, and delicious. To take the guesswork out of whether pork is properly cook, I suggest measuring the meat’s internal temperature with a good meat thermometer.

The key to a delicious pork chop is to start with good quality meat. If you can, buy pork that is from specialty heritage breeds such as Berkshire or Duroc. They are known for their fattier, juicier, and more flavorful properties. Unfortunately, I’m limited to the commercially raised pork that my local supermarket carries unless I order online or travel an hour to a specialty meat store. Whether a specialty pork chop or one from your local market, try to buy pork that has been naturally raised without hormones or antibiotics. Look for thick center cut, bone-in rib chops that are pink and well marbled with a nice ratio of meat to fat.

In the recipe I’m sharing, the pork chops were seared first then finished in the oven until they reached 138°F. While the pork rested until reaching 145°F, I made a garlic thyme butter to use as a quick baste. The garlicky herb butter added incredible flavor. As you will notice in the photo below, the sliced Berkshire pork chop has a hint of pink. Remember that a tinge of pink is not only okay, it’s actually better.

sliced pork chop on a bed of cheese polenta and asparagus
Sliced Pork Chop With Garlic Thyme Butter On A Bed Of Cheesy Polenta Served With Asparagus

Pork Chops With Garlic And Thyme Butter

Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • Two 1 1/2 inch bone-in, center cut pork chops (I used Berkshire New York thick cut chops)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • peanut or other oil of your choice, just enough to barely coat the bottom of skillet
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves cut into slices
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped from 2, the other 2 for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take the pork chops out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes (30 is better) before you plan to start cooking.

  • Line a small sheet tray with foil and place a rack on the tray. After the pork chops are room temperature, blot with paper towel to remove any moisture. Liberally season on all sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat an oven proof skillet over medium high heat, add a couple of drops of oil and heat until shimmering (you may see a wisp of smoke).
  • Using tongs, stand the chops on their edges and sear, rotating to make sure all edges are browned. Turn the chops flesh side down and sear each side for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown. Transfer chops to the rack on the prepared sheet pan.
  • Place a remote probe thermometer into the thickest part of one of the chops and bake until chops reach between 135 to 140 degrees, about 10 minutes. (I use a Meater probe and insert the thermometer into the side away from the bone then set it to sound an alarm at 138 degrees) *
  • Transfer the chops to a plate, loosely tent with foil and rest about 5 minutes until the residual heat brings the temperature to 145 degrees.
  • While the chops are resting, make a quick sauce. Pour the fat out of the skillet but leave the browned bits. Off the heat, add the butter, garlic and thyme to the skillet. The residual heat will melt the butter and the garlic and thyme will infuse it with their flavor. When the pork chops have rested, place the skillet over low heat and add the chops. Tilt the skillet toward you so the butter collects at one end and baste the chops for a minute or two.
  • You can either plate the chops whole or you may wish to remove the meat from the bone and cut into slices then spoon over a bit of the garlic and thyme butter sauce over the top.

Choose 1 to 1 1/2 inch and no larger than 2 inch thick bone-in, center cut pork chops

Give the pork time to come to room temperature to get a nice crust on the outside along with a perfectly cooked center

Brining pork chops is not necessary but I like to brine them for at least 30 minutes or more

Take chops out of the oven at 135°F to 140°F and let rest to reach an internal temp of 145°F

A little pink on your pork chop ensures that the chop will be moist and tender

Most importantly of all, don’t overcook the pork chops. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature doesn’t go past 145°F

notes from the kitchen


Being a true foodie, I will travel for food. During the holidays, my husband bought two beautiful frozen Berkshire bone-in pork chops while visiting family in South Florida. Berkshire Pork is famous for its perfect combination of juiciness and tenderness. It thought by many to have a superior taste, not as bland or mild like regular pork. After tasting these delicious chops, we agree with others about heritage pork and have now ordered more online.

*To make sure that the pork was not over cooked, we used a Meater thermometer to check the internal temperature so that the pork didn’t go past 145°. It is a stainless steel probe with two sensors, one that measures the temperature of the meat, and the other lets you monitor the ambient temperature in your oven. You choose the type of meat, select a target temperature and it alerts you to remove your meat a few degrees under the target temperature. It then continues to monitor the internal temperature while the meat rests, and alerts you when your meat is ready to eat.

This is not a product that I’ve been sponsored and it is not an endorsement, ours was bought online after seeing it used at a friends home.

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    37 thoughts on “How To Cook Tender And Juicy Pork Chops

    1. I, too, struggled with dry pork chops at home — until I learned to sear them on the stove top and finish in the oven. Your finish looks amazing, Karen.
      (I’ve also had good luck with air frying pork chops.)

    2. My mother cooked them like that, except until they were “well done”. Good flavor, but my sons and I called them “Grandma’s Crunchy Porkchops”. You could break them into pieces with your hands. She thought that if they were juicy, you’d get worms.

    3. That sounds wonderful. They used to sell that pork at The Fresh Market, not sure if they still do. How interesting about the lower temp. I think pork is safer than it used to be, my mother always cooked hers grey.

    4. Thanks, Karen, for the reminder that I don’t need to grill pork chops to make them delicious and flavorful! This recipe will be perfect for one of our Sunday night family dinners!

    5. Hi Karen,
      Thanks for this post. I agree, pork can definitely be moist and tender.
      Being blue to use a meat thermometer makes it all so much easier.
      A juicy pork chop is a thing of beauty.

    6. Thank you for this Karen. And for the reminder that not all pork chops are created equal. Aside from those very very thin bone in chops, which I like to cook for breakfast with fried eggs, I need to quit trying to make a good pork chop dinner with those inferior chops. I’ll be trying your pan seared method this week. Along with that butter sauce.

    7. As a kid, when trichinosis was a concern, my mom cooked pork chops into hockey pucks with the crispy fat on the outside being the best part. I like your nice, simple recipe and like you, I pull mine at 138F and they are a little pink when we eat them.

    8. Always a wonderful way to make pork chops. I make them this way or grill them… and I also make them the way my Mom made them. Brown some onions, remove them from the pan then sear the pork chops. Put the onions back in the pan with the chops and add some water or stock to the pan and let them simmer for a couple hours.

    9. I love the look of those pork chops! Pink!!! That’s cooking perfection. I’m lucky to have an internal thermometer in my oven, but I use Meater for outside cooking and I’ve given it to lots of friends and family. It’s genius!

    10. Karen,
      Glad you are up and at life again.
      As I continue on my healthy food quest, I read recently that the ONLY oils we should consume are first pressed/cold pressed organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, or organic avocado oil. Both coconut and avocado oils have high heat tolerance when searing. Olive oil is best for drizzling. I even add avocado oil to my superfood smoothies. 😉

    11. I will share a big “thank you” in advance from my son-in-law. He loves pork chops and I’ve just about given up on trying to serve them. Yes, my results were dry and not very flavorful. I’d almost decided that pork had been bred so lean it no longer had taste. I’ll be giving your method a try very soon, and thank you, Karen.

    12. Karen, these look might good! Pork is a mainstay at our home and we often purchase our pork from a local farmer at the farmers market. You are absolutely right, the quality of the meat is the most important.

      Hope all is well.


    13. It’s terribly hard to find good pork here, now that our wonderful local butcher shop has closed. Grocery store pork is nothing like the succulent pork we always had up until the 1990s (if memory serves me correctly). It’s too lean! I’ll look for your recommended breeds. Thanks for another great post!

    14. Beautifully cooked pork chop, Karen – and I cannot agree more. The quality of the meat = the quality of the outcome! When I used to buy those inexpensive grocery store chops, they ended up as leather, albeit fragrant leather! Love your method!

    15. My husband and I are from the state of Iowa where there are more pigs than people! Pork reigns supreme in my family and we love, love, love juicy pork chops, whether super thick or extremely thin, as stand-alone tenderloins, or breaded in iconic Midwestern (German-based) gigantic sandwiches. Actually we prefer pork over beef from the incredible flavor it guarantees! And you’re right, it has to be prepared and all of your tips are spot-on! I’m printing all of them off so that I don’t miss a beat for our next pork recipes!

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