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Slow-Roasted Glazed Pork Chops

The best way to produce tender, juicy chops with a stay-put glaze is to take it slow. Bonus: You’ll have built-in time for making a side dish.
By Published Dec. 3, 2019

My Goals and Discoveries

Juicy pork chops

A low oven gently cooks the chops and keeps them ultrajuicy.

Flavorful glaze that stays put

Combining ingredients that don’t thin out when heated and have a low water content produces the thickest, most flavorful glaze.

Simple and efficient method

Slow roasting is a hands-free cooking method that leaves enough time to work on the rest of the meal.

On busy weeknights, I often build meals around boneless pork chops. Their mild taste makes them easy to pair with sides, they’re ready to cook straight from the package, and they don’t require hours of cooking to turn tender.

But plain chops can be boring, so I like to gussy them up a bit. This time, I had my sights set on a sweet, tangy glaze. I could picture juicy chops with a rich, glossy coating clinging tenaciously to the tops and sides. And yet, as soon as I started experimenting with recipes, I realized this was fantasy: By the time a glazed chop reaches your plate, its coating ends up everywhere but on the meat.

Many glazes are made with jams, jellies, or preserves, which is a big part of the problem. They are sugary and offer sheen, but they liquefy when heated. I needed a sweet option that would stay put. Enter apple butter: It’s still sweet, but it’s also packed with apple solids. That means it won’t budge when heated.

Senior Editor Lan Lam found that many recipes for glazed pork chops produce thin, watery glazes that run off of the meat.

I spiked some apple butter with maple syrup, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, and cider vinegar and painted the mixture onto a batch of pan-seared chops. The deeply browned, glistening chops looked terrific, so I called my colleagues to taste. But by the time they arrived, my pride had faded to embarrassment: The chops had become surrounded by a watery pool of glaze.

Slow Roasting Makes the Glaze Stick

A comparison of pan-seared and slow-roasted chops shows that slow roasting is the better choice for glazed chops.

 

I realized that although pan searing is great for producing a substantial crust on meat, the intense heat causes the proteins on the meat’s surface to contract and squeeze out liquid as it rests. And that liquid diluted my glaze. I had a hunch that slow roasting would be better: The low, ambient heat would cook the pork gently, so it would exude less liquid during the resting period.

I brushed a teaspoon of glaze onto each chop before popping the baking sheet into a 275-degree oven. After 40 minutes, the chops were nearly cooked through and the thin glaze had dried to a tacky film that was primed for a more substantial application—great news since I like a generous amount of glaze. I layered on a second coat and slid the sheet under the broiler. This brought the chops to 140 degrees (the ideal serving temperature) and fused the sweet, tangy lacquer to the meat. It also added a hint of char—a good stand‑in for the intense browning produced via pan searing. Just as I’d hoped, the meat exuded very little liquid, so the glaze wasn’t diluted and clung nicely.

Game Plan: Pork Chops and Potatoes

Follow this order of operations and you’ll have dinner on the table in about an hour.

The final benefit of slow roasting was the time I had to prep a simple side. I whipped up one of my go-tos: fork-mashed potatoes. All I needed to do was boil baby potatoes, drain and mash them, and then gloss them with extra‑virgin olive oil and butter. I also used a trick from the test kitchen to ensure well-seasoned potatoes: I boiled them in heavily salted water with a garlic clove and a few sprigs of thyme. Since I had time to spare, I chopped some parsley to add color, freshness, and vibrancy to both dishes.

With my technique established, it was easy to swap out ingredients and change the personality of the menu. A spicy glaze made with gochujang (Korean chile-soybean paste) gave the chops an intense savory flavor. (Like apple butter, gochujang doesn’t thin out when heated.) I used the roasting time to clean and pan‑roast some sugar snap peas, which I seasoned with minced garlic and a dash of soy sauce.

I think you’ll love these tender, juicy chops—especially their picture-perfect glaze—as well as the sides that go with them. You’ll even have time to spare to tidy up the kitchen and set the table. Or, better yet, pour a glass of wine and put someone else in charge.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.