Perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, tender and juicy pork chops with balsamic caramelized onions is sure to please everyone.
Why you’ll love it: This is an easy recipe and the end result is impressively good.
How long it takes: 50 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large skillet with a lid
Do you struggle with pork chops? We love the boneless loin chops because the meat is very lean but it’s tricky to get them cooked just right. Because it’s lean, the pork tends to become a little dry and tough. It’s not very forgiving and sometimes not very flavorful.
If this describes your experience with pork chops, look no further. You’re going to love this recipe: perfectly cooked pork chops smothered with balsamic caramelized onions.
I think you’ll agree that caramelized onions improve almost anything. The amazing alchemy that changes pungent raw onions into a sweet jammy treat is almost magical but don’t worry, you don’t need to be a magician to pull off this trick. Learn how to caramelize onions – it’s easy to do.
The sweet caramelized onions with just a touch of rich fruity balsamic vinegar perfectly complement the pork. You’re going to love these pork chops!
What You’ll Need
- Boneless Pork Chops: Sometimes called pork loin chops, boneless pork chops are lean and high in nutrients, especially selenium. Look for chops that are at least ¾ inch thick, up to 1 inch thick. If there is a thick layer of fat on the edges, use a sharp knife to trim it away.
- Sweet Onions: You’ll need two large sweet onions, such as Vidalia, Maui, Walla Walla, etc. Sweet onions are not as pungent as yellow onions. They spoil more quickly and should be stored in the refrigerator.
- Garlic: The savory flavor of garlic complements the rich sweetness of the onions and balsamic vinegar. Start with a couple of small cloves and adjust to your preference
- Balsamic Vinegar: Dark, tangy, and sweet, this richly-flavored vinegar matches perfectly with caramelized onions and pork.
- Dijon Mustard: I prefer creamy Dijon for this recipe although coarse grain or whole grain mustard works, too. The creamy mustard blends into the sauce more easily. This is not the place for regular yellow mustard.
- Thyme: This woody herb is often a companion to pork and onions. Either dry or fresh is fine; if you choose fresh, you can triple the amount on the recipe card.
- Chicken Broth: A splash of broth completes the sauce.
If you love the flavor of balsamic vinegar, be sure to try balsamic glaze. It can be purchased but learn how to make your own balsamic reduction . It’s easy, just vinegar and brown sugar (or honey), and keeps well in the fridge.
Add a drizzle of syrupy balsamic to further enhance these chops, or baked breaded pork chops.
How to make it
Season the pork: Begin by patting the pork chops with paper towels to dry any excess juice and season them simply with salt and pepper; set the pork aside while you prepare the onions. The chops will cook more evenly if they are not ice cold. However, use common sense. If it’s 90ºF in your kitchen, don’t leave the raw meat out for long.
Caramelize the onions: Peel the onions and rinse them. Cut each onion in half and place the cut side on your cutting board. Slice each half into ¼ inch thick slices.
Put the onions into a large skillet over medium low heat, adding oil and salt. Cover the pan, and cook the onions for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the cover, and continue to cook the onions, stirring more often, until they are soft and golden brown. The sugars in the onions caramelize over low heat, giving the onions a sweet delectable flavor, almost jammy. You don’t have to fully caramelize the onions (find out how to caramelize onions), but you’ll want to get them soft and sweet.
Add the garlic, and cook for another minute or so, just until the garlic releases a wonderful fragrance.
Remove the onions from the pan and carefully wipe it out with damp paper towels, or if you’d rather, just use a different skillet for the pork.
Sear the pork chops: Heat a bit of oil in the skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, arrange the pork chops in a single layer in the skillet. Brown them on one side until they’re golden brown, flip them over and brown the other side. This will take less than 10 minutes. The pork should be nearly cooked through.
Make the sauce: Meanwhile, stir together the broth, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and thyme in a measuring cup or small bowl.
Put it all together: Once the pork has browned, add the sauce and onion mixture to the pan and bring it to a simmer.
It won’t take long because the pan is hot. Simmer for a few minutes until the pork is done. Use an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the chops.
Serve: Put a pork chop on each plate, with a big spoonful of the saucy caramelized onions. Round out the meal with creamy mashed potatoes and steamed broccolini.
How do I cook pork so it doesn’t dry out?
- Allow the pork to warm up a bit before cooking it. When ice cold pork hits the hot skillet, the outside browns quickly before the inside has a chance to warm up. By the time the inside reaches the correct temperature, the outside is tough and dry.
- Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature. Insert the thermometer into the center of the chop. Don’t overcook the meat.
- Allow the pork to rest a few minutes. The internal temperature will continue to rise a few degrees and the juices will distribute through the meat.
- The secret to juicy pork chops is to not overcook them! The internal temperature should be 145ºF, which is medium-rare, according to the National Pork Board. Today’s pork is very lean and it’s okay if it’s still a bit pink in the center.
Make Ahead Ideas
To get a head start on this recipe, slice the onions up to a day ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container. You can also whisk up the sauce ingredients ahead and refrigerate until ready to use.
Storage & Reheating Tips
- Refrigerate/Freeze: Leftover pork chops should be covered and refrigerated promptly. They’ll keep for three days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Reheat: Individual portions can be reheated in the microwave. Heat the pork gently, using 50% power in 30 second increments. Larger amounts can be heated gently in a skillet. Overheating the pork will cause it to toughen and get dry.
- 4 boneless pork chops, 1½ pounds total, ¾ – 1 inch thick
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 large sweet onions, cut in half and sliced ¼ inch thick (such as Vidalia, Maui, Walla Walla, Texas)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Pat pork chops dry with paper towel. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Let the pork come to room temperature while you prepare the onions.
- In a large covered skillet over medium low heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, onions, and ¼ teaspoon salt, tossing to coat onions with oil.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Uncover, stir, and continue cooking, uncovered, for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently, or until onions are softened and lightly golden brown.
- Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for one minute or until fragrant. Remove onions and garlic to a plate. Carefully wipe out skillet with damp paper towel (this removes the sugars left behind from the onions, which will burn if left in the pan, alternatively, you could use a different pan).
- Return pan to stove over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add pork to pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown, flip, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together sauce ingredients: broth, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and thyme.
- Lower heat to medium low and return onions and garlic to pan along with the sauce mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until internal temperature of pork reaches 140 to 145ºF when checked with an instant read thermometer.
- Taste sauce and season as desired before serving immediately.
- This recipe can be gluten-free and Whole30 compliant, just make sure to read labels (chicken broth, mustard, and balsamic vinegar in particular).
- Leftover chops can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 3 months. Reheat gently so the pork doesn’t dry out.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.