How to Tenderize Pork Chops to Perfection Using Baking Soda: A Complete Guide

If you want juicy, flavorful pork chops with the perfect texture, using baking soda is the secret. This common pantry staple can transform even the toughest cut of pork into a melt-in-your-mouth dinner.

As a long-time food blogger and home cook, I’ve experimented with all kinds of methods for tenderizing meat. While marinades saltwater brines and acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar can help, I’ve found baking soda to be the easiest and most effective way to get deliciously tender pork chops every time.

In this complete guide, I’ll explain the science behind using baking soda as a meat tenderizer. I’ll also walk through a simple, step-by-step process for preparing, seasoning, and cooking pork chops with baking soda.

By the end, you’ll be able to achieve restaurant-quality chops loaded with flavor in your own kitchen. Let’s get started!

Why Baking Soda Tenderizes Meat So Well

To understand why baking soda works so wonderfully, you need to know a bit about meat structure. Meat contains long, bundled fibers made up of proteins like myosin and actin. These fibers are held together by connective tissue.

When the proteins bond too tightly, it makes the meat tough and chewy. This is especially true with pork chops, as they contain less fat than other cuts of pork.

Here’s where baking soda comes in. It’s an alkaline compound, which means it increases the pH and makes meat more basic when applied. This alkaline environment causes the proteins in the meat fibers to break down more easily.

As a result, the protein fibers loosen and unravel rather than bonding together tightly. This allows moisture to better penetrate the meat, leaving you with a more tender, juicy finished product.

So in a nutshell:

  • Baking soda alkalizes the meat’s pH
  • The meat proteins break down more readily
  • This leads to looser protein fibers that retain moisture
  • Resulting in incredibly tender and juicy pork chops

Now that you understand why it works so well, let’s look at how to do it properly.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Tenderizing Pork Chops with Baking Soda

With just 10 minutes of prep time, you can have perfectly tender pork chops ready for cooking. Here are the simple steps:

Step 1: Prepare the Pork Chops

  • Start with 1-inch thick, bone-in pork chops if possible. The bone adds flavor and moisture.

  • Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels. You want the surface to be as dry as possible.

  • Use a sharp knife to lightly score the fat cap side of the chops. Make vertical cuts about 1 inch apart. This prevents curling when cooking.

Step 2: Make the Baking Soda Mixture

  • In a medium bowl, stir together:

    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 cup cold water
  • You’ll use about 2-3 tablespoons of this mixture per average sized pork chop. Scale up as needed.

Step 3: Treat the Pork Chops

  • Place chops in a baking dish or rimmed plate so they lay flat.

  • Use a basting brush or spoon to coat the top of each chop with the baking soda mixture. Flip and repeat on the other side.

  • If needed, pour a bit more mixture over the chops so they are thoroughly coated.

  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

That’s all it takes! Now the baking soda can fully penetrate the meat for tender, juicy pork chops.

Step 4: Rinse and Pat Dry

  • After marinating in the fridge, pull the chops out and rinse them under cold water. This removes any baking soda residue.

  • Pat them completely dry with paper towels. They need to be dry before cooking or the baking soda can negatively impact browning.

Your chops are now ready for cooking!

Step 5: Cook as Desired

You can pan sear, bake, grill, broil or bread and fry your tenderized pork chops. Just follow these tips:

  • Pan searing: Get the pan very hot before adding oil. Use a fatty oil like avocado or coconut oil. Sear on both sides until browned, then finish in a 400°F oven until done.

  • Baking: Place chops on a rack over a baking sheet. Bake at 425°F, flipping once halfway through. They are done at an internal temp of 145°F.

  • Grilling: Get the grill very hot and oil the grates. Grill over direct heat just until well browned. Move to indirect heat, close the lid, and finish cooking.

  • Broiling: Place chops on a broiler pan and broil 4-5 inches from heat, flipping once, until browned and cooked through.

  • Breading/frying: Bread chops and shallow or deep fry until golden brown and 145°F internally.

No matter which cooking method you choose, your tenderized pork chops will turn out perfect every time. The baking soda gives you an insurance policy against dry, chewy meat.

Choosing the Right Pork Chops for Maximum Tenderness

Not all pork chops are created equal when it comes to tenderness. Here are a few tips for selecting chops that will turn out tender:

  • Go thick – Choose chops at least 1-inch thick, preferably bone-in. The bone adds moisture and flavor. Thin chops overcook too quickly.

  • Pick the right cut – Center cut, bone-in rib chops or center cut loin chops have the best marbling and texture. Avoid shoulder chops.

  • Check for marbling – Some visible fat marbling throughout the chop is ideal, rather than completely lean meat. Fat keeps the chops tender and moist.

  • Color is key – Opt for chops with reddish-pink color rather than pale pink. Darker color indicates higher myoglobin levels and better quality pork.

When starting with the right thick, well-marbled chop, the baking soda tenderizing method will take the texture to new heights.

Tips for Cooking Perfectly Tender Pork Chops

Using baking soda is a huge step toward tender, juicy pork chops. But your cooking method still matters. Follow these tips:

  • Don’t overcook – Use a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking. Pull chops at an internal temp of 145°F. They will continue cooking after removed from the heat.

  • Bring to room temp – Let chops sit out for 20-30 minutes before cooking so they aren’t ice cold. Cold meat cooks unevenly.

  • Preheat properly – Get your pan or grill very hot before adding oil and the chops. Searing develops flavor.

  • Rest before serving – Let chops rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking. This allows juices to redistribute so meat stays moist.

  • Use a meat mallet – For extra insurance, you can pound the chops before marinating in baking soda to further tenderize the meat.

Master these simple tricks for cooking pork chops and your baking soda marinated meat will shine.

Other Handy Uses for Baking Soda in the Kitchen

Tenderizing pork chops is just one of many ways to use baking soda in cooking. Here are some other clever baking soda kitchen hacks:

  • Freshen fruits and veggies – Make a baking soda paste to scrub away dirt, chemicals, and impurities from fresh produce.

  • Deodorize fish – Soak fish fillets for 20 minutes in cold water mixed with a bit of baking soda to kill odors before cooking.

  • Brighten coffee – Take away bitterness by adding a tiny pinch of baking soda to the coffee grounds before brewing.

  • Clean pots and pans – Make a paste with baking soda and water to remove burnt-on food residue from pots and pans. Let sit before scrubbing.

  • Fluff omelets – Add a small pinch of baking soda to your beaten eggs for loftier, fluffier omelet results.

  • Neutralize sauces – Stir in a bit of baking soda when making tomato sauces, chili, etc. to balance acidity.

As you can see, this humble pantry staple can make your cooking life easier while also tenderizing meats. Keep a box on hand!

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re new to using baking soda to tenderize pork chops, chances are you have some questions. Here are some common FAQs:

How much baking soda should I use on pork chops?

For each average sized 1-inch thick bone-in pork chop, mix together 1 tsp baking soda + 1/2 cup cold water. Use about 2-3 tbsp of this mixture to coat each chop before refrigerating.

Can I leave pork chops in baking soda overnight?

Yes, leaving the chops to marinate in baking soda overnight in the fridge is completely fine and allows the baking soda to fully penetrate the meat.

Should I rinse off the baking soda before cooking?

Definitely! It’s important to rinse away all baking soda residue under cold water before patting the chops dry and cooking them.

What happens if I use too much baking soda?

You may get an unpleasant chemical or metallic taste. It can also make the texture overly soft and mushy if overused. Stick to the recommended 1 tsp per 1/2 cup water ratio.

Can I tenderize chicken or steak with baking soda too?

Absolutely! The baking soda method works well for all types of meat. Adjust marinade ratios and timing as needed for different cuts.

Got another question? Feel free to reach out to me via my contact page.

Satisfy Your Tastebuds with Tender, Juicy Pork Chops

That covers everything you need to know to make incredibly tender, flavorful pork chops at home with just a simple baking soda marinade.

No more chewing your way through dry, tough meat. With these tips and techniques, you’ll enjoy restaurant-worthy chops and impress everyone at the dinner table.

For best results, be sure to start with quality, well-marbled chops that are at least 1-inch thick. Apply the baking soda mixture generously all over the meat before refrigerating for 1-12 hours.

Rinse the chops, pat them dry, and cook using your preferred method until browned on the outside and just cooked through.

Happy cooking!

How to tenderise pork chop? Baking soda?

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