You Should Never Cook Cold Pork Chops. Here's Why

Every cook has been there. It's the end of a long work day and you just want to get dinner on the table as fast as humanly possible. You remember you have pork chops on hand and think, "Yes! Those cook quickly." Add a vibrant side salad and a glass of wine and you're in business, right? But if you plan on taking those cold chops straight from the fridge to your frying pan — you'd better think again. 

While the thought of hastily searing up a chop and popping it in the oven to finish while you throw together a tasty salad may sound like a dream, the reality amounts to a much harsher chop to chew — the last thing you'd want at the end of a hectic day. In fact, according to The Spruce Eats, taking cold chops directly to the pan is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when cooking pork chops.

Why cold chops won't cut it

What's the cardinal sin of all sins when it comes to cooking meat? Serving up something that's tough or dry. There's nothing worse than sitting down to dinner and tucking into a dry piece of meat. And pork chops, by their lean nature, run the risk of ending up dry, flavorless pucks. 

Tips abound on the internet to help you keep your chops moist — everything from brining or marinating to only searing one side. Bon Appétit says that their method, which employs the latter tip as well as a sprinkle of sugar on the seared side, "prevents dryness in a few ways." But even if you've got a nice bit of fat on your chop, the best brining solution, and the perfect searing style on your side, if your pork starts out fridge cold, the battle to keep those chops juicy will be on. That's because, as Cook's Illustrated notes in a piece on carryover cooking, the surface of the food gets hot a lot faster than its center.

What does that mean for your cold pork chop? It means you risk overcooking those chops in your rush to get everyone fed. As The Spruce Eats puts it, "By the time the interior temperature reaches the desired 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the outer crust will be much hotter (and drier)."

How to get fast and juicy chops

Still want those pork chops in a hurry? You can have it all. You just need to add one little step to your plan. As Bon Appétit notes, to get the juiciest chops, allow the meat to come up to room temperature before cooking it. The idea is that a chop with an even overall temperature will cook more evenly, as the cold center won't be lagging behind the warmer outside. 

Still, letting raw meat sit out for any length of time may be scary for some. The Food Safety and Inspection Service advises that food shouldn't be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours — and less than that in hot temperatures. However, leaving your chops out for a few minutes before you prepare them is unlikely to put them in the dreaded danger zone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that "the risk of trichinellosis from commercially raised and properly prepared pork is very low," so just be sure to cook the meat to the proper temperature.

So, take those chops out of the fridge and put them on the counter while you mix up a little dry rub. Add the rub to your chops and let them sit for an additional 20 to 30 minutes to soak in the flavor as they come up to room temperature. While your pork chops sit marinading in spice, you can busy yourself gathering and prepping ingredients for your favorite salad and a light vinaigrette.