Tender baked pork chops are a tasty, protein-packed meat — and relatively easy to make. Slow-cooker pork chops are an easy, hands-off option, or you can slow bake pork in a regular oven or convection oven.
To make tender baked pork chops at home, ensure that your meat is not too thin (at least 1 inch thick). Marinate your pork chops for at least 30 minutes before cooking, cook until an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and leave the pork to “rest” for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven.
Tender Baked Pork Chops
One way to ensure tender baked pork chops is marinating the meat before you cook it — for a minimum of 30 minutes, but the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it's safe to marinate pork for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Read more: How to Cook Pork Chops in the Oven
Be careful not to "dry out" your pork by cooking it for too long in the oven, or using heat that is too high. For food safety reasons, pork chops should reach a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before you take them out of the oven — the National Institutes of Health (NIH) say to use a meat thermometer to check rather than just guessing.
Once your pork is out of the oven, allow it to "rest" for at least three minutes before cutting into it. This prevents the juices from draining out of the meat, leaving you with a juicy and tender serving.
Healthy Slow-Baked Pork Chops
If you're concerned about your red meat consumption, slow-baked pork chops should be an occasional meal rather than something you eat multiple times a week. Harvard Health says that pork tenderloin or center-cut chops are healthy options when you're selecting pork. Plus, you can limit your calorie intake from slow-baked pork chops by trimming off any visible fat.
Read more: The Best Ways to Bake Thin Pork Chops
According to the USDA, if you make a medium-sized (5.5 ounce) broiled or baked pork chop and eat only the lean meat, you'll consume 138 calories, almost 25 grams of protein, almost 4 grams of fat, less than 1 gram of carbohydrates and 441 milligrams of sodium.
If you eat the lean meat and the fat content of that same 5.5-ounce broiled or baked pork chop, you'll consume 190 calories, 25 grams of protein, over 9 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates and 463 milligrams of sodium. The higher fat intake contributes directly to additional calories.
Slow Cooker Pork Chops
Slow cooker pork chops take longer to make, but require almost no active cooking time. Slow cooker meals are perfect for weeknight dinners because they simmer all day while you are at work and are ready to eat when you walk in the door that evening.
Read more: The Nutritional Value of Grilled Pork Chops
A slow cooker is also great for cooking large cuts of meat, like pork tenderloin or a pork shoulder. It helps limit the mess if you're making a dish like ragu or pulled pork, and ensures that the meat stays juicy — and doesn't burn — with no stirring required.