How to Pan-Fry Thick Cut Pork

by Brynne Chandler ; Updated November 17, 2017

Thick cuts of pork can be challenging because, while it is important to cook all pork to a safe temperature, over-cooking pork makes it dry out and get tough. Pan-frying is an excellent choice for thicker cuts of pork because the higher heat cooks them quickly, retaining their juiciness. Pan-frying also gives pork a crisp, brown outer crust that adds to the overall flavor. Don’t be alarmed if your pork is still a little pink when it comes out of the pan. Trust your instant-read thermometer to judge when your pork is done.

Step 1

Blot your pork chop or pork steak with a clean paper towel, to dry the surface and help it brown properly.

Step 2

Season both sides of the pork with coarse salt and cracked pepper. As the pork cooks, the spices will infuse the meat with a bit of extra flavor. You can add other spices to the rub, such as lemon pepper, garlic powder, sage or thyme, if you prefer.

Step 3

Coat the bottom of a skillet with a film of oil. Olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil and peanut oil will all work with this cooking method, so choose the oil you use according its flavor.

Step 4

Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a visible shimmer develops across its surface.

Step 5

Add the pork to the oil. Cook the steaks or chops for five to seven minutes, depending on their thickness and on what level of doneness you prefer.

Step 6

Turn the pork with tongs to avoid poking holes in it. That will help keep the tenderizing juices inside of the pork from leaking out.

Step 7

Cover the pork and cook it for another three to five minutes.

Step 8

Check the internal temperature by poking an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the pork. If you are cooking a bone-in chop, make sure the tip of the thermometer does not touch the bone. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking pork to a minimum safe temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for rare pork. Meat continues to cook while it rests, and the temperature can go up as much as another 10 degrees. So for rare pork, take it off of the heat when it reaches 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit and add 10 degrees for each level of doneness.

Step 9

Let the pork rest for five to 10 minutes after removing it from the pan. Cover it with aluminum foil if you want to help the temperature rise and keep the pork hot.

Items you will need

  • Paper towels
  • Coarse salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Lemon pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Skillet with lid
  • Oil
  • Tongs
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Aluminum foil


  • Add a thin layer of mixed water and wine or broth to the skillet before covering it to add moisture.


  • Never judge whether pork is safely cooked by looking at it, because it can be pink in the center both when it is undercooked and when it is done.

About the Author

Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.