Wait… you have this beautiful piece of meat and you are going to cook it HOW? Meet Butter Sage Pork Chops, foodie friends. A meal the whole family will love.
These are pan seared pork chops in a simple butter, garlic and sage sauce. Sear in cast iron and then finish in the oven for the best pork chop recipe ever!
Cast Iron Pork Chop Recipe
A simple technique that I use on pork, chicken and beef! Really any cut of meat and any fresh herbs I have lying around will do, but sage happens to be my favorite.
Yep- I’m throwing that bad boy in the cast iron! Butter Sage Pork Chops combine only 6 ingredients- two being salt and pepper- with the TLC of a well-seasoned cast iron for a crispy crust and succulent interior. Cast iron really is the way to go (even when the grill is calling your name) for a thick chop like this.
It can take a long time to get pork cooked thoroughly on the grill and by the time the center is done, the outside is dry and chewy. No marinade will penetrate through a 1 1/2 inch thick cut of meat to keep it moist.
And no marinade is one of the best parts of this recipe. No prep work. NONE! You get all the flavor you need from browning it and this delicious butter sauce.
Ingredients for Cast Iron Pork Chops
The ingredient list is short, so make sure to use quality, top-notch simple ingredients.
- Thick bone-in pork chops (aka rib chops)- The cuts I used were 1 1/2 inch thick. If you have thinner pork chops, closer to 1-inch, you’ll likely only need the pan sear and not the oven bake. Bone-in is prefered for juiciness and flavor, but feel free to use boneless pork chops too. Thickness of the chops will impact cook time.
- Coarse Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper– For seasoning the pork chops.
- Clarified butter or ghee– Buy ghee for a quick clarified butter. This is butter with no milk solids so the smoke point (temperature at which is burns) is higher. Some call this liquid gold. Different grocers carry it in different areas. For some, it is the health food section, others the vegan or vegetarian section and some near the Indian food.
- Fresh Sage- Sage leaves are divine when crispy and fried, they have an earthy aroma and provide flavor that isn’t seen much in American cuisine. Dried rubbed sage can also be used, I’d recommend about 1-2 teaspoons.
- Fresh Garlic- Please, please, please use fresh garlic and not the jarred stuff or garlic powder for this recipe. Slicing it gives us some garlic essence, but not an overwhelming garlicky flavor. I love a crispy slice for texture too, but be mindful to just brown it and not burn it. Burnt garlic is bitter. Fortunately, in this recipe, it is also easy to remove.
Bone-In Chops vs Boneless Chops
Many ask the difference between a bone-in pork chops and a boneless pork chop. For some it is just personal preference of not liking bones. Others don’t want to pay for the extra bone per pound since it isn’t edible.
But it does have some redeeming qualities. The first being that it looks so darn pretty! A french cut gives you the tomahawk handle effect that always receives a “wow” factor. The second is that there is typically more fat around a bone that delivers superior flavor.
You can achieve a juicy pork chop using either option.
How to Make Cast Iron Pork Chops
The process for making cast iron skillet pork chops is simple and super speedy. From prep to plate takes about 20 minutes (many of those are hands-free) to be used for making sides or sipping a glass of wine.
- Preheat Oven. If you have pork chops thicker than 1-inch, preheat the oven.
- Season Pork Chops. Liberally season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper.
- Sear Pork Chops. Heat a seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. When hot, add the chops in a single layer, do not move, allow to brown on each side for 2 minutes, flipping 2-3 times to evenly brown. Flipping them frequently will allow a golden brown to build without overcooking or drying out. We highly recommend a cast iron pan, but if you are using a regular skillet, use a small amount of vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Sear one side, add a little more and then do the other side.
- Butter Baste. Add the clarified butter/ghee, sage and garlic to the cast-iron pan, spooning the melted butter over each pork chop. It might sizzle a litte and that is fine. I like my garlic and sage and tad crispy, it not only adds flavor, but also texture.
- Finish in Oven. Transfer the cast iron pan to oven for 5 minutes. Check the internal temperature of pork to make sure it has reached 145°F using a meat thermometer.
- Rest. Allow the pork to rest for an additional 5 minutes (I know, it is hard, they are gorgeous) before serving, making sure each has a healthy topping of crispy sage and garlic.
There aren’t too many variations on this recipe because there aren’t very many ingredients. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few fun things you can do to customize.
- Butters- Skip the sage butter and instead use another compound butter. Maitre d’ Hotel Butter is always fun, so is chile lime butter or sun dried tomato butter.
- Herbs– Use other fresh herbs like tarragon, parsley, cilantro, chives, thyme or rosemary.
- Protein- This same technique works on beef and chicken, just use a digital read thermometer to make sure it reaches the proper temperature.
- Olive Oil- Some prefer to use olive oil instead of butter or a dab of olive oil with the butter to prevent burning.
- Dry Rub– Instead of salt and pepper, use another more flavorful dry rub like seasoned salt or blackened seasoning.
What Is Julienned?
One of the instructions is to julienne the fresh sage. It generally means to cut vegetables into matchsticks, but can also be used to talk about cutting fresh herbs or leaves into ribbons.
The easiest way to do this is to stack several leaves together, roll them up and chop them with a sharp knife while rolled. You can also just opt to hand-tear, chop them coarsely or leave them whole. Any which way, you’ll have flavorful pork chops.
What to Serve with Pork Chops
Make Ahead, Reheating & Freezing
Can I Make Cast Iron Pork Chops Ahead of Time?
Because pan seared pork chops are so simple and not time consuming, I would recommend not making this dish ahead of time. Reheating can risk overcooking or dry pork chops.
How do I Store Leftovers?
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat with a quick sear in a hot cast iron pan, in the oven at 300°F for about 5 minutes or of course, in the microwave. The latter will dry it out the most, but bathed in butter, you should be fine.
Can I Freeze Cast Iron Pork Chops?
These thick pork chops can be frozen after being cooked, but will run the risk of being dry when thawed and reheated.
Commonly Asked Questions
The most frequent reason for dry pork chops is that they were overcooked. Use a digital read thermometer to prevent this from happening.
You can also brine them ahead of time to retain moisture while cooking and infuse them with even more flavor.
Cooking time depends on the heat of the skillet and the thickness of the pork chop. Thicker chops take longer. Thinner cuts can take as little as 2-3 minutes on each side. Check the temperature using an instant-read thermometer to be sure.
The FDA suggests that pork be cooked to 145°F, but be mindful of carryover cooking, the phenomenon in which meat rises about 5° while resting and letting the juices reabsorb into the fibers.
Pork can be cooked up 160°F, but will often be dry.
No, in fact, it takes a long time to let the meat come to room temperature through and through. The best way to make them is to let them sit out for a brief period of time, but not to the point of being room temp.
More Pork Recipes
Butter Sage Cast Iron Pork Chop Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Unless your pork chops are under 1-inch thick, then baking is not necessary.
- Liberally season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat a seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chops, do not move, allow to brown on each side for 2 minutes, flipping 2-3 times to evenly brown.
- Add the clarified butter/ghee, sage and garlic to the hot pan, spooning the melted butter over each pork chop. It might sizzle a litte and that is fine.
- Transfer the cast iron pan to oven for 5 minutes. Check the internal temperature of pork to make sure it has reached 145°F. Allow the pork to rest for an additional 5 minutes (I know, it is hard, they are gorgeous) before serving, making sure each has a healthy topping of crispy sage and garlic.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.