Pork Chops with Apples and Veggies all cooked in one skillet for an easy meal-in-one win!
This Pork Chops with Apples recipe is the epitome of Fall all in one skillet! It not only boasts pan seared pork chops and apples but green beans and butternut squash all simmered in a sweet and tangy apple cider pan sauce that’s lick the plate delicious. This cast iron pork chops recipe is incredibly juicy yet lean, fresh yet comforting, healthy yet hearty and most importantly, it’s layered with flavor and texture for days! I’ve also included tips and tricks on how to cook the juiciest pan seared pork chops EVER even if you’ve never made pork chops before.
How to Make Pork Chops Video
PORK Chops with Apples recipe
These pan seared pork chops with apples are going to blow your mind. You are going to wonder where pork chops have been all your life – or at least pork chops like these have been all your life.
I am first to admit that chicken is my go-to protein, but pork chops are a seriously underrated dinner option. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to prepare and can emerge as juicy as a steak dinner when prepared correctly – and these Pork Chops with Apples are prepared correctly.
These pan seared pork chops are crazy juicy by first being placed in a water/salt/ brine for 30 minutes. Brining is like marinating meat in that it helps keep meat moist and tender by increasing the moisture capacity of the meat, resulting in melt in your mouth pork chops when cooked. This one technique will change how you cook pork chops forever – and what you think of them!
The pork chops are then rubbed in a flavorful spice rub and seared in a sizzling cast iron skillet, then removed to rest while we sauté apples, butternut squash and green beans. The crowning touch is the apple cider pan sauce that gets added directly to the apples and veggies. It’s slightly sweet and tangy and infuses everything it touches with flavor and makes the pork even juicer.
So here’s to Pork Chops with Apples – a one skillet dinner that helps you work smarter, not harder and let’s you enjoy the flavors of Fall in each and every bite!
What Kind of Pork Chops are Best?
If you don’t have much experience cooking with pork chops, it might seem overwhelming to select which pork chops to use in this Pork Chops with Apples recipe. Pork chops all come from the loin of the pig which runs along the back from hip, and are the most tender part of the animal but some cuts are better than others and some are just better for different cooking techniques.
I always recommend rib chops for pan seared pork chop recipes because they are juicer, cook more evenly and have slightly more fat so they are more flavorful. But you don’t have to take my word for it, here is a breakdown of the different cuts of pork chops:
Pork Rib Chop – Recommended
- Other names: bone-in rib chops, rib pork chop, center-cut rib chop, pork chop end cut, pork rib cut chop, rib end cut.
- Where it’s from: This cut of pork comes from the center of the pork loin and is my recommendation for this Pork Chops with Apples recipe. It is one of the best pork chops you can buy. It includes a T-shaped rib bone (actually baby back ribs) that has been cleaned which helps the pork cook evenly and makes the pork harder to overcook.
- About: These bone-in pork chops are wonderfully tender and meaty with a mild pork flavor. I recommend them over boneless pork chops because they have a little more fat which = more flavor and the bone serves as a conductor which helps them cook evenly, keeps them wonderfully juicy and makes them hard to overcook.
- Other names: America’s cut, pork loin filets.
- Where it’s from: This cut of pork comes from the center of the pork loin and is essentially rib chops with the bones removed.
- About: The boneless pork chop is lacking all the benefits of the bone. Without the bone, the delicate pork is prone to overcooking because there is nothing conducting the heat within the meat for an even sear. It also contains less fat which means it is less flavorful. If you decide to use boneless chops, I HIGHLY recommend brining first.
Pork loin chops
- Other names: center loin chop, pork loin end chop, center-cut loin chop, loin pork chop, top-loin chop, pork loin chops-bone-in, boneless pork loin chops.
- Where it’s from: This cut of pork comes from the hip and loin toward to the back of the animal. It can include the tenderloin or not, depending on where it’s cut. For example, top loin chops will have no tenderloin.
- About: Loin chops are probably the most confusing because they include different types of loins, some will include tenderloin and some will not. You will see both pork loin chops – bone-in and boneless pork loin chops. Pork loin-chops, bone-in (also called loin chop or center loin chop) are a large cut of pork which comes from the hip part of the loin and the loin and tenderloin sections separated by a T-shaped bone which is too large for this Pork Chops with Apples Recipe. The boneless pork loin has had the bone removed and is too lean and not as flavorful/juicy.
Pork Chop Brine
The first time I ordered pork chops was at an excellent restaurant – I was so excited! But my excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I discovered the pork chops were SO tough and dry. I was frustrated I had paid for such sadly prepared pork chops!
This experience turned me off from making pork chops for a long time – and then I discovered brining. Brining creates the juiciest meat from turkey to pork tenderloin to chicken to pork chops – AKA you will be AMAZED at how tender your pork chops will become!
The pork chop brine actually changes the molecular structure of the pork without having to prep and plan ahead with an overnight marinade.
In a nutshell, here’s how the pork chop brine works. The salt in the brine: 1) hydrates the cells of the muscle tissues via osmosis; 2) allows the cells to hold onto the water while they are cooked by breaking down the proteins so they can no longer contract when cooking. This means less water will be squeezed out and lost, resulting in juicier pork chops.
The vinegar further tenderizes the pork chops by breaking down some of the protein and the brown sugar balances the acidity and helps the exterior caramelize in the pan. The salt, vinegar and sugar also flavor the pork chops from the inside out.
How to Brine Pork Chops
If you’ve never used pork chop brine before, don’t be intimidated – it literally takes 30 minutes!
To brine pork chops:
- Combine warm water with kosher salt until the salt dissolves. The warm water dissolves the salt.
- Whisk in apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ice cubes. The ice cubes bring the brine back to room temperature.
- Add pork and let rest 30 minutes while you mix the rub ingredients together and chop the apples, green beans and butternut squash.
Just a quick note about brining – Do NOT evenly swap table salt in your brining solution for kosher salt or your pork will be too salty. You will need half as much table salt as kosher salt. Also make sure to rinse your pork thoroughly after brining to remove excess salt.
Pork Chop Seasoning
The Pork Chops with Apples is now going to be juicy due to the pork chop brine, but now it’s time to make it flavorful. While the pork is brining, it’s time to whisk together our rub. The rub is very simple but dynamically flavorful. It consists of:
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Dried mustard
To apply the rub:
- First make sure the pork is very dry.
- Next, use your hands to firmly rub the seasoning directly onto the pork, taking care to rub both sides, including the edges.
- To finish, rub the pork along the cutting board to catch any spices that have escaped.
If you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table, you can cook your pork chops immediately after applying the rub, but if you have time, it is better to wait for 15 minutes to let the seasonings sink in. This helps them form a nice crust on the pork chops and not brush off so easily.
Sauce for Pork Chops
The star of this Pork Chops with Apples recipe is the apple cider sauce. It’s slightly sweet, tangy and infuses both the pork chop and the apples, green beans and butternut squash with flavor.
For the Pork Chops Sauce, you will need:
- apple cider: you can purchase apple cider by the juices – if you can’t find it, I would ask someone. I don’t suggest substituting with apple juice as I found apple juice to not be as sweet once reduced.
- brown sugar: balances the Dijon and balsamic. If you find the sauce is too tangy or not sweet enough for you after it’s done, then you can sprinkle some brown sugar over top.
- Dijon mustard: apple and Dijon are heavenly together!
- balsamic vinegar: adds a fruity tang.
- rosemary: I love fresh rosemary but you can also use ½ teaspoon dried rosemary. To easily remove rosemary and thyme leaves – hold a sprig at its top, then slide your fingers down to strip off the leaves or needles. You will then need to chop the rosemary smaller but no need to chop the thyme.
- thyme: Again, fresh or dried will work here. It is ½ teaspoon fresh so for such a small amount, dried might be more convenient. You will want a heaping ¼ teaspoon dried.
How to make Pork Chop with Apples
- Brine pork. I promise this extra step is SO worth it! Minimal time and effort for a huge payoff! Combine warm water and kosher salt together in a glass dish. Stir until the salt dissolves. Whisk in apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and ice, followed by pork. Add pork and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove pork from the brine, rinse thoroughly in cold water and pat dry.
- Spice rub. Whisk seasonings together and rub all over both sides of pork.
- Cook pork. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and cook 3-4 minutes per side depending on thickness; remove to a plate. The pork may not be cooked through at this time which is fine. It will return to the skillet to finish cooking in pan sauce. See notes on how to perfectly cook pork chops below.
- Cook apples and veggies. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add apples, squash and green beans; cook 6 minutes or until squash is almost fork tender; push to one side of the skillet.
- Add sauce for pork chops. Remove skillet from heat and carefully add apple cider, Dijon, balsamic, rosemary and thyme together in empty side of pan and whisk together. Be very careful when adding the apple cider to the pan because it will steam a lot in the hot pan. Cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
- Add pork chops to pan. Nestle pork chops back into the pan until they are cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
Pork Chop Internal Temp
It is crucial that these Pork Chops with Apples are not overcooked or they won’t be as juicy. The brine and the pan sauce definitely makes them more forgiving, but for the best pork chops, cook just until done. If you overcook your pan seared pork chops, they can transform from fork tender to dry and chewy.
According to USDA guidelines, pork chops are done when an internal thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reaches 145 degrees F – this is the sweet spot for the juiciest pork. The pork will continue to rise in temperature another 5 degrees and reach 150 degrees F before slicing. This temperature means the pork chops will be slightly pink inside which is OKAY.
This 145-degrees temperature is 15 degrees less than the old standards of 160 degrees F which would mean the pork would be completely cooked through without any pink. The research shows, however, that 145 degrees F is the same safety-wise as cooking pork to 160 degrees F AND yields much more tender pork.
TIPS FOR PAN SEAR PORK CHOPS with Apples
- Use bone-in rib pork chops. Pork is much leaner than beef, so it is important to set yourself up for success by purchasing bone-in rib chops. The bone act as a conductor and protects the pork chops from overcooking and helps the chops cook more evenly resulting in juicer pork chops. The bone also has some fat around it that makes it deeply more flavorful and more moist than boneless pork chops.
- Check the color. When choosing pork chops, look for ones with the most marbling because marbling = flavor. You can also ask the butcher for the most deeply marbled rib pork chops they have. Also look for pork chops that are deeply rosy rather than pale pink. Deeper colored pork chops mean deeper flavor and paler meat is generally less quality.
- Pork chop brine. Brining guarantees you the juiciest pork chops so please DON’T SKIP! It changes the molecular structure of the meat and keeps the pork moist and makes it more difficult to overcook. It also penetrates the pork chops with flavor. It is also essential to remove pork chops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature and cook more evenly. Brining also helps accomplish this.
- Fully dissolve salt. When making the brine, whisk the kosher salt in the warm water until it is dissolved before adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Rinse pork from brine. Rinse your pork chops thoroughly after brining to remove excess salt otherwise it will taste too salty. Do NOT substitute the kosher salt with equal amounts table salt.
- Pat pork chops by. After rinsing the pork chops from the brine, pat them very dry or the seasonings will not stick.
- Season in advance. I learned from a chef demonstration that you always want to let seasonings rest on protein, whether it’s pork chops, chicken or fish. This resting time allows the seasonings to penetrate the protein and enhance the flavor and the salt will further tenderize the meat. It also and helps the seasonings stick to the protein instead of sliding off once the pork hits the pan.
- Use a cast iron skillet. Cast iron creates the most even heat of all metals and therefore will cook the pork the most evenly resulting in a juicier interior and golden-brown crust.
- Use a hot pan. A hot pan is not to be confused with “high heat.” Instead, don’t add the pork until the oil is shimmering hot.
- Don’t disturb pork chops. Resist the urge to move the pork chops or peak underneath them until a full 3 minutes has passed as this will disrupt the sear and can cause some of the seasonings to stick to the pan instead of the pork.
- Use a meat thermometer. Pork chops are lean and therefore can dry out if overcooked so it is important to use a meat thermometer to achieve the correct temperature. You can’t depend solely on recipe cooking times because actual temperature will depend on the pork chop actual thickness, their starting temperature, temperature of pan and desired doneness/internal temperature. A meat thermometer will eliminate all of this guess work.
- Rest before serving: Let the cast iron pork chops rest full 5 minutes before slicing into otherwise you will lose valuable juices.
- Don’t overcook. Pork chops cook very quickly, so be very careful not to overcook and dry out the meat. Cook just to 145 degrees F.
- Test individual pork chops for doneness. Pork chops are often different thickness, which means they can be done at different times. If this is the case, take care to check the temperature of each chop and remove them as they finish cooking.
Can I Make Pork Chops in Apples Ahead of Time?
Although you may reheat this Pork Chops in Apples recipe, it is best served fresh. If you would like to prep ahead, you can:
- Chop green beans and butternut squash
- Brine Pork
- Season pork, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate
- Whisk together pan sauce
- When ready to cook, let pork sit at room temperature for 30 minutes then proceed with the recipe as written
WHAT SIDES ARE BEST WITH CAST IRON PORK CHOPS?
This Pork Chops with Apples recipe is essentially a meal-one, but we still like to serve it with either Company Mashed Potatoes or rice/quinoa, a big green salad or Wedge Salad, and Winter Fruit Salad. It’s also delicious with Award Winning Cornbread, Perfect Dinner Rolls, or Buttery Breadsticks.
Looking for more Pork Recipes?
- Best Baked Pork Tenderloin
- Slow Cooker Asian Caramel Pulled Pork
- Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Glaze
- Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
- Sheet Pan Chili Dijon Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans and Potato
- Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork
- Roasted Pork with Blackberry Hoisin Glaze
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sloppy Joes
- Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
- Maple Cider Ham
- Pork Tacos with Corn Salsa
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