How to Make Winning Air Fryer Pork Chops — CHOP! CHOP!
Two weeknight workhorses combine forces for a quick and easy dinner. Read on for tips and tricks to make the best air fryer pork chops ever, plus a dozen recipes to get you started.
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I jokingly refer to pork chops as “Divorced Dad Dinner.” My dad very frequently served us pork chops when we dined at his house after my parents split in the '90s. Meaty, cheap, and quick cooking, pork chops were his go-to. In fact, they’ve become a bit of family lore, the joke being that yes, we ate them a lot, but also, his pork chops were generally not delicious. At all. My dad was a lot of things, but a good cook was not one of those things.
Despite all those less-than-ideal dinners of my youth, I still lean on pork chops for quick dinners for my own family. All the positive qualities that made pork chops so attractive to my dad still apply today. Plus, my extensive experience eating terrible pork chops means I know exactly how not to cook them. (Thanks, Dad!)
I am a big fan of popping pork chops in the air fryer, an option my dad didn’t have back in the day. Convection ovens existed, but they were big wall units, expensive, and required modifying the temperatures and cook times of existing recipes. Today’s air fryers are those big convection wall units, compacted into little machines that live on our counters. They circulate hot air all around the food, cooking quickly and evenly. And no need to modify conventional oven recipes.
I’ve put together a few tips and tricks and a dozen easy recipes to help make cooking pork chops a snap. Prepare to fall in love with juicy, tender, browned chops with tons of flavor but without the mess or fuss.
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Tips and tricks for the best air fryer pork chops
With these smart suggestions, you'll be mastering air fryer pork chops in no time
What kind of pork chops can I cook in the air fryer?
Most any kind of pork chop can be cooked in the air fryer. A few adjustments to the timing might need to be made depending on the kind of chop you're cooking.
Rib chops and loin chops are what are most commonly thought of as a pork chop. Bone-in rib chops typically have one bone running along one edge. Loin chops have a smaller T-shaped bone at the center of one side of the chop. Boneless loin chops typically come from either of these cuts. The muscle is simply cut off from the bone. All these cuts work great in the air fryer.
Both thick and thin pork chops can be cooked in the air fryer. Pork chops that are at least 3/4-inch thick have a bit more buffer before they overcook. Their heft means they tend to stay juicier while also browning nicely on the outside.
Thin pork chops cook more quickly in the air fryer. Opting for a marinade or a spice rub with a little sugar in it will aid browning during the quicker cooking time.
How do I season pork chops for the air fryer?
Pork chops are a great canvas for a variety of flavors. Pork takes well to spice as well as to a little sweetness. Marinades incorporating mustard and maple syrup are classic, as are dry rubs featuring smoky seasonings, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Go global and load up on lemongrass, chipotle, whatever looks good in the spice cabinet. Or coat with panko breadcrumbs for an ultra crunchy crust.
Breaded pork chops in air fryer; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
There’s also nothing wrong with basic kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. A wet or dry brine is particularly nice on pork. It seasons the meat from within, and provides ultra juicy results.
Simply seasoned pork chops also go well with a sauce or gravy. It’s easy to stir something together either in a bowl or on the stovetop while the chops air fry.
Simply seasoned pork chops in air fryer; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
How do I get a good crust on air fried pork chops?
Remove excess water. This is the best way to aid browning in any cooking method. (It’s also likely the step my father unfortunately skipped before tossing our dinner in the pan.) When ready to cook, be sure to carefully pat the pork chops dry with paper towels. If the chops are wet when they go in the air fryer, the first part of cooking will be spent evaporating the extra liquid on the surface instead of browning the meat.
Add a little oil. Rub or spray the pork with some oil before cooking. Adding a bit of fat to the dry meat will further help it brown.
Preheat the air fryer. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to preheat the air fryer to the correct temperature before adding the pork. The meat will be hit with an immediate blast of hot air, kick-starting the cooking process.
Don’t crowd the fryer. Leave room between the pork chops to allow air to circulate around the meat. Cook them in batches if necessary.
Can I air fry frozen pork chops without thawing?
Pork chops can be cooked in the air fryer directly from frozen. Here are the steps:
Place frozen pork chops in the air fryer, even if they are still stuck frozen together. Cook until mostly thawed, about 5 minutes.
If the pork chops were stuck frozen together, separate them. Pat dry with paper towels and season. Spray or rub with oil.
Return the thawed, seasoned pork chops to the air fryer and cook until cooked through.
Frozen pork chops in air fryer; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
How long do I cook pork chops in the air fryer?
How long to cook pork chops in the air fryer greatly depends on how thick they are, as well as whether they are boneless or bone-in. A thick, bone-in chop can take up to 20 minutes. But thin, boneless pork chops can take half the time.
More important than exact timing is the temperature of the pork chops. Instead of relying solely on the clock, a digital meat thermometer is your friend when air frying pork chops. Aim for a final temperature of 145°F on your instant read thermometer at the thickest part of the chop. Let the pork chops rest for 5 minutes before cutting into them.
How to air fry pork chops
Cooked pork chop in air fryer; photograph by Meleyna Nomura
Step 1: Season the pork chops. Whether it’s a brine, marinade, spice rub, or just some salt and pepper, take time to thoroughly season the meat.
Step 2: Preheat the air fryer. Putting the pork chops into a preheated air fryer means the most even cooking and browning on the exterior.
Step 3: Pat dry any excess water or marinade from the pork chops. Rub or spray with oil.
Step 4: Arrange pork chops in the air fryer basket or tray in a single layer.
Step 5: Cook until the internal temperature registers 145°F at the thickest part of the chop. Flip the pork chops halfway through the total cooking time.
Step 6: Remove the pork chops and let rest for five minutes before slicing.
12 pork chop recipes for the air fryer
Pork chops are the perfect canvas for so many flavors, I’ve rounded up nearly two weeks' worth of flavors and techniques. They’ve all got one thing in common — they come together in a snap in the air fryer.
These super crunchy pork chops remind me of Shake ‘n’ Bake. I’ve never actually had Shake ‘n’ Bake, because my mom always inexplicably told me "No" when I asked for it. Not anymore! These air fryer crispy pork chops makes things so easy I don’t think even my mom could say "No." This Yummly original recipe coats the pork chops in a combination of panko with Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and garlic for the most flavorful, crispiest pork chops ever made — in the air fryer or otherwise.
What kind of pork chops does my mom like? Chinese-style salt and pepper pork chops. They’re one of her favorite foods, and she gets them every time she orders Chinese food. This air fryer version skips the deep fryer but still delivers on all the delicious flavor. Boneless chops are cut into strips and air fried to a crisp. The garlicky, oniony topping with heat from jalapeños gets her (ok, and me too) every time!
These chunky rib cut chops are coated with a sticky maple-soy sauce glaze that browns beautifully in the air fryer. They’re served with homemade pickled onions, the perfect complement to the sweet and savory flavors of the pork. This dish sings with tons of flavor and tang.
A brine is a simple salt and sugar bath where the pork chops take a quick soak before cooking. This brine is flavored with fresh thyme, peppercorns, and garlic. The result is super juicy pork chops that are seasoned from the inside out. While they cook in the air fryer, saute some mushrooms to make a delicious pan sauce.
Forgot to thaw? No problem, thanks to this recipe. Thaw the pork chops in the air fryer, rub with a spice blend, and return to the air fryer until cooked through. From frozen to the table in just 30 minutes!
Sweet sauces are a common pairing with pork chops. But this honey-spiked sauce isn’t just sweet. Flavored with savory garlic and sweet chili sauce, it’s a balanced glaze that accents the air-fried pork perfectly.
Vietnamese-style is one of my very favorite ways to eat pork chops. With a marinade packed with lemongrass, fish sauce, soy sauce, and garlic, they are deep with umami and lots of flavor. Serve with simple sides like rice and vegetables.
Maple syrup and chipotle combine to create one of my very favorite flavor combos. The sweet and the spicy are complemented by the smoky undertones of each ingredient. Rubbed all over with dried garlic and onion, these air-fried pork chops are truly chef’s kiss*.
The brown butter and sage sauce poured over these air fryer pork chops is pure comfort. It’s hard to believe it all comes together in a total time of 20 minutes with just three ingredients. It’s like magic.
My kids always cheer on "Tonkatsu Night." A breaded pork cutlet, it’s typically deep fried. It’s so much easier and less messy using this air fryer method! Served with steamed rice and finely shredded green cabbage, it’s a super simple, super comforting dinner.
These thick cut, bone-in pork chops are rubbed with spices like dry mustard, black pepper, and smoked paprika before hitting the air fryer. Serve with barbecue sauce to echo the flavors of the rub.
This recipe is for just one 1/2-lb. pork chop. With just one chop, there’s room left in the air fryer to add Brussels sprouts without crowding things. It’s the perfect amount of food for one or two people, all made in one appliance.
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