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Super tasty and magically juicy brown sugar pork chops seasoned with with a quick 15-minute dry-rub. Sear the chops on the stovetop and finish in the oven.
When it comes to cooking the best-tasting, juicy pork chops I’ve always been a huge advocate of brining.
But since I starting made this quick brown sugar dry-rub instead, my pork chop-cooking life has changed.
The neutral, sweet taste of pork is so delicious with the brown sugar mixture, which also includes aromatic fresh rosemary and dried garlic.
Brining pork chops
Brining is still an amazing method — especially for meat and poultry that would otherwise dry out — but let’s be real.
Planning ahead can be iffy, good intentions and all. The seasoning on these rosemary brown sugar pork chops takes just 15 minutes to work its magic.
That means you can prepare and cook a batch of dry-brined pork chops for dinner in less than half an hour.
How does a dry-brine work?
A dry brine works in basically the same way as a wet one: Instead of immersing a piece of meat into a water-based solution, salt, sugar and other seasonings are rubbed directly on the surface of the meat.
As they dissolve, moisture and flavor molecules make their way into the cells of the meat. Magic!
About the ingredients
Most likely, you already have everything in your kitchen cabinet to make the dry-brine rub. Double or triple the batch and keep it in a jar for up to 6 months.
- Pork chops: Choose either rib or pork loin chops (boneless or bone-in) that are thick-cut, at least 1 1/2-inches thick. They’re much juicier than thin cut pork, which tends to dry out easily.
- Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar adds a hint of molasses flavor to the pork.
- Garlic: Instead of fresh garlic, the rub includes a little bit of garlic powder. Garlic powder is important to use when searing food at high temperature or barbecuing, because fresh garlic can easily burn — which in turn will make your dish taste very bitter.
- Salt: Use kosher salt (this is the only brand I use for consistency) It has larger crystals and a less “salty” flavor than regular table salt or fine salt. If you don’t have kosher salt, reduce the amount in the recipe by half.
- Herbs: I love to pair rosemary with pork. Other woody fragrant herbs, such as thyme, tarragon or oregano are also good pairings. Or, use one teaspoon of dried herbs or an herb blend.
- Combine the ingredients for the dry-brine in a small bowl. Rub the seasonings on the pork and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or so.
- If you’d like to start prepping for dinner in the morning before work or even the night before, the chops can be covered and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead.
- Preheat your pan until it’s nice and hot to get a good sear – a cast iron skillet is the best, if you have one.
- Buy thick-cut pork chops, at least 1 1/2-inches thick, for juicier results.
- For a simple dinner, serve these pork chops with a side of Crusty Smashed Roasted Potatoes, or Quick Parmesan Brussels Sprouts.
Rosemary Brown Sugar Pork Chops
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt* (reduce by half if using fine or table salt)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried herbs, such as thyme or oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 pounds thick cut pork chops, bone-in or boneless
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Heat oven to 425 (220 C) degrees.
- Combine the brown sugar, salt, rosemary, garlic powder and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the pork chops, rubbing it in. Let the chops sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours in advance.
- Heat a heavy oven-proof skillet (cast iron is perfect) over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles instantly. Add the oil and the pork chops. Sear until nicely browned on one side, 5 minutes or so. Turn the pork chops over and transfer the skillet to the oven.
- Roast until the meat is cooked through and feels firm to the touch (140 – 145 degrees on a meat thermometer), 8-10 minutes. Let the pork chops rest 5 minutes before serving.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Use thick-cut (1- 1-1/2-inch) pork chops if possible — they juicier.
- Instead of fresh rosemary, use fresh thyme or 1-2 teaspoons dried herb blend such as Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning.
- To make a quick pan sauce, add 1/4 cup chicken broth to the hot pan after removing the chops. Scrape up the browned bits, and boil 1-2 minutes.
- Preheat a heavy pan (cast iron if you have it) to get the best sear. You can also grill the chops on an outdoor grill.
- Serve with wilted greens and roasted potatoes for a simple dinner.