For better pan-fried Pinoy porkchops, treat them like an expensive cut of steak. Both are naturally tender cuts that don’t need much cooking. If you cook your porkchops like steaks, it yields great steak-like results: soft, juicy meat with a delicious brown crust, basted in rich butter for extra flavor. Here’s how to do it.
Tips for Better Pinoy-Style Porkchops
Get a Thick Cut
Look for porkchops that are at least 1 inch thick. This ensures juicy meat. Anything less will tend to dry out quicker while cooking. Both boneless and bone-in porkchops will work with this recipe, but take note that bone-in chops tend to cook unevenly around the bone.
Save the Fat Cap
The fat cap is that white band of fat running along the side of the porkchop. Leave it on, and don’t trim it out before cooking! The fat insulates your porkchop from too much heat while retaining its moisture. Without it, the porkchop becomes too lean and dries out faster while cooking.
When exposed to high heat, the fat cap tends to contract and curl, leading to unevenly cooked porkchops. To prevent the fat cap from curling, score the fat about 2 inches apart with a knife. This will keep your chops flat on the skillet.
Brine Overnight for Juicy, Flavorful Meat
A brine introduces extra moisture and flavor to your porkchops. For best results, prepare your porkchops a day ahead so they can brine overnight.
Sear Both Sides
Searing your meat has nothing to do with locking in your porkchop’s juices. Getting that dark, caramel-colored crust adds to your porkchop’s flavor while making it look and smell more delicious, too.
Baste with Butter for Extra Richness
Melted butter carries the heat necessary to gently cook your porkchops while infusing a rich, buttery flavor. If you want to infuse some herbs and aromatics, add them at this step. We used smashed garlic cloves.
Test for Doneness
For medium-well porkchops, aim for a central temperature of 145°F. You can remove it at around 130–135°F to avoid overcooking. The internal temperature will continue to rise as the porkchop rests.
And speaking of resting…
Rest Porkchops Before Serving
Resting your freshly cooked porkchops sounds counterintuitive. Why wait if you can eat it hot and straight out of the pan?
As meat cooks in a hot pan, the muscles tense up and push moisture towards the center. A brief rest after cooking, about 5 minutes per inch of meat, relaxes those tense muscles and allows all that moisture to redistribute itself. The result? Juicier meat. If you cut into your porkchops while hot, all that pushed-out moisture will leak out. So sit tight and let it rest!
- 2–3 boneless or bone-in pork chops, 1-inch thick
- 4–5 cups water
- 5 bay leaves
- 3–4 tbsp brown sugar
- 2–3 tbsp salt
- ½ tbsp black peppercorns
- salt and pepper, to taste
- neutral oil, for frying
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- smashed garlic
Brine porkchops: Combine water, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and brown sugar in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer until the salt and sugar dissolve. Let cool completely and transfer to a bowl, food pan, or Ziploc bag. Add porkchops and transfer to the fridge to brine overnight or up to 2 days.
Prepare porkchops: Before cooking, pat porkchops dry with paper towels to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Season with salt (optional) and pepper, then wait until porkchops are at room temperature before frying.
Sear porkchops: Heat oil on a skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until the oil starts rippling or "dancing" around the pan. Add porkchops, working in batches if necessary, and let cook undisturbed until one side forms a dark golden brown crust, about 3–5 minutes. Flip and sear the other side, another 3–5 minutes.
Baste with butter: Add butter (it should melt and foam) and smashed garlic to the pan. Carefully the pan towards you so the foamy butter pools on one side. Spoon butter over porkchops, about 1 minute. Flip and baste the other side, 1 minute.
Check for doneness: The center of the porkchop should read 130–135°F in an instant read thermometer. Alternatively, check for doneness by pressing the center—you should feel the meat bounce back. Transfer porkchops to a rack or chopping board. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.