How to bake pork chops – the key to have perfectly tender meat
How to bake pork chops? How long to bake pork chops in the oven? These are the two essential questions that every home chef needs to be answered. Baking pork is a simple way to prepare a quick dinner and serve a great meal to your family, especially during the week, when time is never enough.
When cooked properly, pork chops are juicy and tender but when overdone the meat is dry and all your efforts will be wasted. We shall give you the essentials – the types of cuts, the cooking time, some ideas how to brine the meat and of course, some quick and easy recipes which will help you enjoy a great meal any time!
Table of Contents
How to bake pork chops in the oven – important tips and hints for storing and thawing
Undoubtedly, pork meat cuts are a delicious and quick meal when cooked properly. Nowadays, you can buy either cooled or frozen chops. When you bought frozen meat, you need to thaw it. Despite that some people prefer to thaw meat in the microwave oven, we strongly advise you to use the alternative methods – thaw the meat in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water (in an airtight or leak-proof bag). Slow thawing in the refrigerator is the best method and even if you changed plans, it is safe to refreeze your meat. Meat which is defrosted in a microwave oven must be cooked immediately after that. Keep in mind that the process of cooking will start in the microwave oven, you will notice that some areas of the meat are warm and changed color. Can you cook frozen pork chops without thawing them first? Yes, you could, but the time will be about 50% longer and to be 100% certain that the meat is cooked, it is best to use a thermometer and check the internal temperature.
How to store pork chops? This is especially important as there are specific time limits for keeping food in the refrigerator. Fresh meat (steaks, ribs) should be stored in a refrigerator at 40 °F (4°C) for 3 to 5 days and in a freezer at 0 °F (-17°C) for 4 to 6 months.
Another important tip which will make sure that you will have tender and juicy pork meat is to take it out of the fridge about an hour before baking or cooking and allow the meat come up to room temperature.
How long can you keep marinated pork in the refrigerator? Many recipes advise for marinating the chops before baking them in the oven. Always brine meat in the refrigerator and never at room temperature. It is important to know that you can keep marinated pork in the fridge for up to 5 days in a covered container. If you plan to use the marinade, you should boil it before brushing cooked chops and discard any uncooked leftover marinade.
Brining adds great flavor and moisture to the meat. There are numerous recipes and you can choose and experiment with the ingredients which you like. Remember that thin pork meat cuts will not need more than 4-5 minutes while thicker cuts may need 20 minutes or more, depending on the temperature of the oven. Pan searing will also affect the baking time.
Brine and marinade are different but both add flavor to any meat. A brine is a saltwater solution which adds moisture to the meat and is very useful for large pieces of meat or meats which dry out while cooking.
Marinades are typically sauces on an acidic base (vinegar, citrus, or wine) and they do not add as much moisture to meat as brines, but can add a lot of flavor. Marinades are better for smaller pieces of meat and perfect for pork chops.
How to bake pork chops – understanding the types of cuts and temperature
Before getting to the answer of the main question – How to bake pork chops – we need to have a look at the different types of cuts. The two major groups are boneless and bone-in cuts, which gives the chops a special flavor. The main types of chops are from the pork shoulder, sirloin and loin chops. Cuts from the shoulder are exceptionally flavorful an juicy as the meat contains fat, sirloin meat is very tender and in addition, quite affordable, while loin chops are the favorite of many people, especially when cooked in the right way. Understanding that the different types should be cooked in a different way is the first step towards preparing the perfect meat and our guide to cooking pork chops will tell you what you should pay attention to, and reveal the secrets of preparing juicy pork chops.
How long to bake pork chops? Now, this question has many answers, depending on the type of cut you want to cook. Each cut has a different thickness and depending on whether or not is bone-in, the length of time that you need to bake a pork chop will vary. It is important to understand that cooking times in recipes are more of a guidance than exact time. For example, if you chose a recipe and it says : Bake the chops for 8 minutes, there will be variables like the precise temp of your oven and the precise thickness of the chop, which will affect the cooking time. Believe it or not, even the type of pan you use makes a difference. A thin non-stick pan and a cast iron skillet get heated in a different way, even the heat is distributed in a different way, so you need to trust your eyes and instinct, as well as experience. Knowing your oven is also of great importance. The good news is, that with time and practice, you shall learn to recognize when the meat is done.
One important tip is to get a digital meat thermometer and check the internal temperature of the meat. The general rule for boneless or bone-in pork chops – baked, grilled, roasted, broiled, sautéed, or pan-fried – is to cook them to 145° F (63°C) internal temperature. Generally, the internal temperature rises about 5 degrees for every 2 minutes in the oven. However, searing the meat before baking it in the oven, will also affect the baking time. Here are some general guidelines for different oven temperatures for 1-inch-thick cuts.
- How long to bake pork chops in the oven at 350°F (180°C)? Place the meat in a preheated oven, and bake for about 35 minutes until the internal temperature of the chops has reached 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).
- How long to bake pork chops in the oven at 375°F (190°C)? Place the meat in a preheated oven, and bake for about 30 minutes until the internal temperature of the chops has reached 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).
- How long to bake pork chops in the oven at 400°F (200°C)? Place the meat in a preheated oven, and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature of the chops has reached 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).
- How long to bake pork chops in the oven at 450°F (232°C)? Place the meat in a preheated oven, and bake for about 15-18minutes until the internal temperature of the chops has reached 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).
The rule of thumb is something which can help home chefs – cook your pork chops in the oven for 7 minutes per half inch (1.3cm) of thickness at 400°F (200°C). Bone in chops will need more time, so add 2-5 minutes minutes. However, if you seared the meat beforehand, reduce 2 minutes of the total time needed for cooking. Once again – a digital thermometer will be of great help, especially for beginners, as it will show you the internal temperature of the meat. When you get experienced you will be able to tell whether the chops are cooked by the way they look and feel to the touch.
Always let the cooked chops rest for 3-5 minutes before serving them. The resting time seals in the juices and guarantees that you have moist, flavorful and tender meat.