Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops
Perfect pork chops brined in apple cider and cooked with fresh apples and sage. They look impressive, but between you and me, they’re super easy to make! All you need is a cast iron skillet and a my insider tips for juicy, crusty browned, no-fail pork chops.
Apple Cider, Sage-y Pork Chops – The Best Fall Dinner Idea
Let’s scrap the idea that restaurant-worthy, pan fried pork chops are unattainable at home. It’s quite the opposite! The secret here relies on a few techniques – brining, searing time, temperature testing, and a beautifully browned butter base.
But before we get started, let me just say that this apple cider, sage version hits the sweet spot for an impressive (and relatively inexpensive) fall dinner idea. The pork chops are brined in an apple cider solution, seared until golden in browned butter, then cooked with fresh apples and sage. Oh yeah – so good.
It’s a nice break from the typical chicken or steak, and honestly gives pork chops the spotlight they deserve on a weeknight dinner or holiday table! So grab your best cast iron skillet and I’ll show you how to cook pork chops to perfection.
Ingredients You’ll Need
For mouthwatering chops – brining is a small (yet crucial) step. I’ll go more into detail why later, but here’s what you’ll need for it.
For the brine you’ll need:
- Water & Apple Cider: If you can, grab apple cider and not apple juice. There’s a difference!
- Kosher Salt & Black Peppercorns: Salt plays a huge role in tenderizing the meat (which I’ll talk more about below) and the peppercorns will give this a spiced kick.
- Garlic & Sage Leaves: A fall inspired aromatic combo that really takes these pork chops over the top.
For the pork chops you’ll need:
- Butter: Opt for unsalted butter as the chops will already have been soaked in the salty, briny solution.
- Pork Chops: Bone-in pork chops are the way to go for maximum tenderness. (Keep on reading to see why!)
- Apples: Freshly sliced apples are added for a sweet, crisp touch, and taste amazing with a bite of that savory pork chop. I personally like honeycrisp or gala apple for this recipe, but you can use what you like.
- Coconut Sugar: Just one tablespoon is needed to give a touch of sweetness to the buttery skillet sauce.
- Shallot & Sage Leaves: I’m adding a bit more sage leaves again to really enhance the overall autumnal flavor.
- Apple Cider & Dijon Mustard: A blend of these two will add lots of flavor and depth to the apple cider sauce.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
Bone-In vs Boneless Pork Chops
Let’s cut to the chase between the ongoing debate of bone-in vs boneless. Yes, both can yield juicy, perfectly cooked results. But bone-in meats, and even seafood (like my grilled salmon steaks), have the upper hand in a few areas. Here’s my case:
- There’s more fatty goodness around the bone. As the pork chop cooks, the bone heats up the fat and the juices slowly get distributed into the meat. This will give the chop a juicier flavor and texture.
- It helps to cook it low and slow. Since bone-in meats take longer to cook, the meat is slightly more juicy and tender, and not as easily overcooked. Similar to how slow cooker recipes break down meats to meltingly tender goodness.
The Secret To Juicy Pork Chops: The Brine
Did you know that pork chops are naturally lean? Which means they’re prone to drying out faster when cooked – and no one wants to eat a rubbery pork chop. So, I’ve got a little tip for you – brining! This extra step early in the process goes a long way for extra juicy results.
When pork chops are soaked in brine (a mixture of salt, liquid, and sometimes aromatics), it helps to add additional moisture and flavor from the get-go. More specifically, the salt has a tenderizing effect on the meat, helping to soften the muscle fibers.
And good news – the brining process isn’t as long as you think. You only really need an hour or two. Heck, you’ll even notice a difference after 30 minutes. Just make sure not to exceed 12 hours, otherwise it’ll have a reverse effect and activate that (unwanted) rubbery texture again.
What’s The Ideal Internal Temperature?
According to the USDA, the safe internal pork cooking temperature is 145°F, followed by a 3-minute rest before eating. This will result in a product that is both safe to eat and at its best quality—juicy, moist, and slightly pink in the middle (yes, a smidge of pink is okay).
But make sure to use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature before removing from the skillet. Just slide it into the thickest part of the pork chop at a 45° angle, making sure not to poke it all the way through, just halfway.
How To Sear Pork Chops
Are you ready for the best pork chops ever? You’ll be blown away with these chops seared in buttery, apple cider goodness, and cooked to a perfectly juicy interior. Let’s get started!
Start with the brine. In a small pot, bring the brining ingredients to a boil (except the apple cider). Remove from the heat, stir in the apple cider, and let it cool. Then, place the pork chops in a dish, bowl, or sealed bag, and pour the cooled brine over the pork chops. Brine for a few hours in the fridge.
Prep the chops. Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse with cold water, and pat them dry with paper towels. Then let them come to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
Let the searing begin! Heat your cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and oil. Once it starts to cook a little, turn the heat down to medium and add the pork chops. Sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Then move them to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while you make the apple cider sage sauce.
Apple cider sage sauce time. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and coconut sugar to the pan, and stir together. Add the sliced apples and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly soft. Then stir in the shallots and chopped sage leaves for another minute.
The final touches! Add the apple cider and mustard, and gently stir the sauce together. Add the pork chops back to the pan, and simmer in the sauce until warmed through, while occasionally spooning the sauce over the pork chops. You’ll know your chops are done when they’re cooked to 145°F.
Tips For No-Fail Pork Chops
Here’s a pro tip – always cook big chunks of meat in a cast iron skillet. It maintains consistent heat and will cook your pork chops evenly, enhancing the meat’s natural flavor, and giving it that browned crust we all love. Bonus – you can easily move the pan to the oven to finish off any meat!
For evenly cooked meat, make sure to always let your pork chops come to room temperature. From the fridge, take them out 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to cook them. From the freezer, let them defrost in the fridge overnight, then bring them to room temperature the day before cooking.
It’s tempting to slice right into the meat after it comes off the skillet. But if you do, all those delicious, fatty juices will seep right out. And we don’t want that now do we?! So if you want extra juicy meat, let it rest. Those extra 2 to 3 minutes will help the meat lock in all that moisture.
Round Out This Dinner With…
Fall-inspired sides! Make the most of this season’s hearty vegetables by giving them a quick roast or saute. You can also toss together a simple side salad with fresh leafy greens.
- Veggies: A side of roasted or sauteed veggies always hits the spot. A few delicious options that would work well with this apple flavor are roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted broccoli, garlic herb roasted potatoes, creamy mashed potatoes, or simple sauteed green beans.
- Salads: For a more refreshing bite in between, whip up a simple massaged kale salad, wild rice and arugula salad, or roasted butternut squash salad.
How To Store and Reheat Leftovers
If you happen to have leftovers (which is a rarity), store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. When it comes to reheating, I’ve got two methods to tackle the fear of drying them out.
- Microwave: For a quick reheat, the microwave is your best choice. Just place the pork chop on a plate, cover it with a wet paper towel, and heat in 30-second intervals, until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
- Oven: Heat your oven to 350°F and place your pork chop in a baking dish along with a few tablespoons of broth. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
Best Pork Chop Recipe Video
Want to see how I make this recipe? Watch the video below!
More Meaty Dinner Ideas
These pork chops make for a stunning dinner, but have you tried these meaty mains? They’re just as delicious and quite foolproof… as I’ll walk you through how to cook each type of meat perfectly.
Given how delicious (and easy) this recipe is, it’s a no brainer for your next dinner party. Or a cozy weeknight family dinner. So if you make these pork chops, let me know how they turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.
Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops
For the Brine
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 cups apple cider juice
For the Pork Chops
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 4 bone-in pork chops
- 2 apples (I prefer honeycrisp or gala apples), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage leaves
- 1 cup apple cider juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- In a small pot, bring the water, salt, garlic, sage, and peppercorns to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in apple cider. Let the brine cool to room temperature.
- Place the pork chops in a glass baking dish or bowl (you could also use a sealed bag). Pour the cooled brine over the top of the pork chops, making sure they're completely covered, and let them brine for 1 to 2 hours (or up to 12 hours) in the fridge.
- Remove the pork chops, give them a rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Let them come to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter along with the oil. Once shimmering, turn the heat down to medium and add the pork chops. Sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove the chops from the pan, set on a plate, and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, along with the coconut sugar, and stir together. Add the sliced apples and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened but still firm. Add the shallot and chopped sage leaves, and stir for another minute.
- Add the apple cider and mustard to the pan, and gently stir together. Use tongs to add the pork chops back to the pan, and bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer while warming the pork chops, about 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the pork chops and use an instant read thermometer to ensure the pork chops are cooked through to 145°F.
- For a slightly thicker sauce: mix 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder with 2 teaspoons water in a slurry, then add to pan.
- To make it dairy-free: use a vegan butter or swap the butter for more oil.
I’ve made this twice now, my picky kids eat it too! it’s a great festive dinner. Paired it with rice and lisa’s berry crisp and icecream – a winning combo
Glad this recipe satisfies even the picky eaters!
Another winner! I am starting a new job with early variable hours, so anything I can make ahead is fantastic. It’s so easy to reheat this hearty meal.
Glad you’re loving this pork chop recipe Catherine!
Well, not sure I can review this completely as I made my first blunder with a Downshiftology recipe. I’m heartbroken, but can’t wait to make it again. I use ACV instead of ACJ in the brine…😪yea, I wondered why my chops wouldn’t brown. LOL. However, let me just say, my husband said they were still rather tasty. They were a little sweet, from the wonderful apple, butter, Sage and AC and a bit tart from my boo-boo. Lol
Wow it looks really good, of course I think the quality of the ingredients is important for this dish. thanks for this beautiful recipe.
Can’t wait to try it! Thank you for this beautiful recipe. I am sure it will be delicious!
Let us know how it turned out!
I would love to try this recipe. Can I substitute regular granular sugar for coconut sugar? Or what else is a substitute? Thanks.
Yes, you can do that.
I love, love, love this recipe. I make this once or twice a month for just my husband and I. But it’s special enough for hosting a simple dinner party. We love this yummy sauce over mashed potatoes.
Yes! Definitely save the sauce – sounds great served over mashed potatoes :)
Oh my my that was so yummy!!!!!!!!
Glad you enjoyed this pork chop recipe Pam!
I would love to try this recipe. Can I substitute regular granular sugar for coconut sugar? Or what else is a substitute? Thanks.
Yes, you can do that.
It says to add chopped sage leaves to pan with apples and shallots yet there is no amount listed in for pork chops only for brine
If you look in the ingredient list, it mentions to add 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage leaves :)
I made these tonight with a salad for our Anniversary and what an amazing dinner. I love the difference brining makes when cooking. I did cheat and added a little white and also thickened the sauce. Many thanks.
These look delicious! Do you think this could be done in the oven instead?
You can do this in the oven, although I’m not sure what the time and temperature would be. Stay tuned for baked pork chops!
This was delicious. I don’t usually like or make pork chops, but the brine was a game changer.
The apples with the delicious sauce was perfect – like a northern French dish. I served with baked sweet potatoes.
thanks for your recipes…
The apple cider brine really does give this pork chop tons of flavor :)
Hi, this recipe looks lovely but I don’t eat pork. What could I replace it with that would still fit this recipe- chicken breast or thighs perhaps?
This sauce could work with chicken breasts!
I’ve made this twice and it’s delicious – definitely worth making! Thank you Lisa!
I’ve made this twice now and it’s absolutely fantastic. I follow the recipe exactly. I would expect to pay $40 for this dish àt a restaurant in NYC. Love it!
Thrilled to hear your pork chops have turned out perfectly every time Ean!
I made it couple of weeks ago. It tasted amazing!! The sauce is so beautiful!
Glad you enjoyed these apple sage pork chops Aida :)
These were AMAZING! they are the juiciest pork chops I’ve ever eaten 10/10 recommend.
Thrilled to hear you loved these pork chops Daril!
This recipe was beyond amazing! Perhaps the best pork dish I’ve ever made 😊
Thrilled to hear you enjoyed this pork chop recipe Marguerite!
This was fantastic! I used boneless pork chops because that’s what I had. Other than that, I strictly followed the recipe. I brined the chops for 4 hours and they turned out super juicy. I’m definitely making these again but I will double the apples and sauce next time. I hope the poor person that used ACV instead of cider gives it another try because it really is delicious!!
I’m glad these turned out great even with boneless pork chops Lisa! You can always add more apples and sauce to this as well :)
OMGosh these chops were excellent. Id like to add my photos.
Thrilled to hear you enjoyed these pork chops Robin!
I watched this video on You tube this morning and then made it for dinner tonight. This was so easy to make and tasted delicious! The apples still has a little crisp to them and so much flavor, YUM! Thank you for always posting easy, clean, delicious recipes.
Glad you enjoyed these pork chops Michelle!
Hello! I have all the ingredients and will be making this recipe for my boyfriend this weekend. The thing is, I do not yet know if I will cook on Saturday or Sunday. Do you think I can marinate in the brine for 2-5 hours on Friday and then pat dry and store chops in frig (already previously marinated) waiting to learn which day I will actually cook the full meal? Many thanks! Renée
Hi Renee, so sorry I didn’t get to this sooner! But, that should be fine.
Wow! This was a huge hit in our house. We used 2 very large and thick cut pork chops from our local butcher. Just my husband and myself. I followed your recipe as written. The apples, shallots, coconut sugar, dijon, etc blended perfectly. We coupled this with your green bean shallot lemon recipe. Loved it!
Love this paired with sauteed green beans! Glad you and your husband enjoyed these pork chops :)
I liked the marinade but found 1 cup of ACV in the sauce was wayyyyy too much. Inedible. I managed to salvage sauce by adding bicarb of soda, more sugar and some milk. I think 1/4 cup ACV and 3/4 stock would be a better balance.
Hi Evelyn – it sounds like you made a mistake on the recipe. You’re supposed to use apple cider juice, not apple cider vinegar. The vinegar would definitely change the entire flavor profile.
I made this last night, and it was a complete and utter hit!! We cleaned the pan of all the juices, and loved every bite!! Total repeat! I used thinner, boneless chops (from a pork loin), and although these are typically a very dry cut of meat, they turned out super juicy and full of flavour. I will absolutely make this again.
Happy to hear your thinner chops still turned out great with this recipe :)
Hi. We don’t have apple cider juice here. What can I use as a substitute?
You can use regular apple juice as well.
I made!!! Easy and quick aside from hands off brining part… was delicious. Will make again and use same technique with different flavor profiles.
Happy to hear you loved this pork chop recipe Chris!
Can this be made without the mustard? Family doesn’t like mustard. Looks amazing!
Hi Stacey – yes, you can omit the mustard. Hope you enjoy it!