Air Fryer Breaded Pork Chops

When you're craving a juicy pork chop with a crispy coating on the outside, but you don't want to pan fry with a lot of oil, the air fryer is your answer. These chops are juicy because they are brined first and the lightly oiled and seasoned panko crumbs give you the tasty crunch you're looking for.

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A white dinner plate on a rustic wooden table with an air fryer breaded pork chop, fries and green salad.

How to Make Juicy Pork Chops

Dry pork chops haunt many cooks, but they needn’t. While it is relatively easy to over-cook pork and dry it out, there are a few ways to easily avoid this problem in the kitchen and this recipe for air fryer breaded pork chops incorporates all of them.

The first way to avoid dry chops is to buy thicker pork chops. Very thin pork chops cook all the way through and dry out before the outside really has time to brown. Thicker pork chops, on the other hand, take longer to cook through, giving you enough time to get the exterior of the chops brown (or crispy if that’s what you’re going for) before they over-cook. 

The second way to avoid making dry pork chops is to brine the chops first. Now, this does take some forethought since brining should really be done for a minimum of 6 hours, but it is so worth it in the end.

The third way to make juicy chops is to use your air fryer. Air frying is faster than baking because of the intense heat and as a result the chops don’t have as much time to dry out. If you brine chops that are 1-½ inches thick and then air fry them, you’re destined for a nice juicy pork chop dinner!

Two pork chops in a shallow dish of brine with a grey and white striped towel.

Brining Pork Chops

Brining simply means to pre-salt your chops. You can dry-brine the chops with a salty spice rub (as is the case with these Honey BBQ Pork Chops), or you can wet brine the chops with a salty water solution. Either way, the salt draws moisture out of (yes, out of) the chops. But then the movement of water reverses and the chops draw the moisture back in. When that happens, the flavors that you’ve put into your spice rub or salty marinade also get drawn into the meat and you’re left with pork chops that are seasoned on the inside. That moisture and flavor remains in the chops when you cook and the increased moisture level makes it more difficult to over-cook the pork. Result: juicy pork chops.

Four images showing the steps in breading a pork chop. Blue dredging pans, one with flour, one with egg, one with breadcrumbs in the center of the image with a plate of pork chops at one end and an empty air fryer basket at the other end.

Breading Pork Chops

Once we’ve brined our thick chops and ensured they will be juicy on the inside, it’s time to dredge and bread the chops so that they are crispy on the outside. There is a right way to do this and it might not be naturally intuitive to you. You can read all about breading and dredging in this cooking school lesson, but at the most basic level you need to know that you always start dredging or breading with flour, THEN egg, THEN crumbs. Push the crumbs onto the chops to make sure they are well coated. 

Breaded pork chops sitting in an air fryer basket.

How Long to Air-Fry Pork Chops

Once the chops are coated, place them into your air fryer basket and give them a good spray with oil. It’s important for the crumbs to be evenly coated with oil so that they brown and crisp well. If you have patches of dry crumbs when you put the chops into the air fryer, you’ll have patches of dry, flavorless crumbs when they are done. That’s why I recommend using a spray bottle to coat your breaded food items – so that you can evenly coat the crumbs with oil without over-doing it. 

The time it takes to cook your chops in the air fryer will depend entirely on how thick they are. Bone-in chops that are about 1 ½ inches thick will take about 15 minutes. If your chops are thinner than that, they’ll cook faster so just drop the time down a little. When the chops are fully cooked, they will feel firm to the touch, but you can always check them with an instant read thermometer. They should reach 150ºF at their thickest point when cooked. 

Fully cooked air fryer breaded pork chops sitting in an air fryer basket.

To Go Alongside…

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what to serve with your beautiful juicy air fryer breaded pork chops, but if you were looking for inspiration, a potato dish would be nice. You could go for some homemade French fries or a delicious potato salad or some smashed potatoes. For a vegetable, you could make a quick green salad or this spring green salad, or you could serve some minted green peas or just some steamed broccoli alongside. Serve whatever vegetable you like. All eyes will be on the pork anyway!

Two dinner plates on a rustic wooden table with breaded pork chops, fries and salad.

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Air Fryer Breaded Pork Chops

  • Prep Time: 10 m
  • Cook Time: 20 m
  • Total Time: 30 m
  • Servings:
    2

Ingredients

Brine:
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup Kosher salt not table salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups ice cubes
Chops:
  • 2 bone-in pork chops 1 to 1½-inches thick
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable or olive oil in a spray bottle

Instructions

  1. Make the brine by bringing all the brine ingredients except the ice cubes to a boil in a saucepan. After the brine boils and the salt and sugar have dissolved, pour into a shallow dish and add the ice cubes to help cool the liquid. Once the brine is cool, add the pork chops and let them marinate in the brine in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours.
  2. Set up a dredging station with three shallow dishes. Place the flour in one dish. Place the beaten egg in a second dish. Combine the panko breadcrumbs, paprika, dry mustard powder and black pepper in the third dish.
  3. Remove the pork chops from the brine and rinse them under cool water. Dry the pork chops well with a clean kitchen towel and then dredge all sides of the chops in the flour. Transfer the pork chops to the egg and coat completely. Finally place the pork chops into the crumb mixture and coat all sides with the breadcrumbs. Pat the crumbs firmly onto the chops so that the coating sticks. Spritz the top of the chops with oil.
  4. Air-fry at 400°F for 10 minutes. (If using an air fryer oven, place the chops in the air fryer basket with the baking pan below and slide it into the middle position of the air fryer.) When the timer is up, flip the pork chops over and spritz with oil. Air-fry for another 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chops, until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 150°F on an instant read thermometer.

  5. Remove the pork chops from the air fryer and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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Comments (11)Post a Reply

  1. 3 stars
    I had the meat in the brine for approximately eight hours and the pork was indeed very tender. The bad news, however, is that the meat was far too salty from the brine. Their was no salt added to the flour, panko, or egg.

    1. Hi Norm. Some people do find brined food too salty. Did you rinse and dry the pork chops before coating them?

  2. Is it really 14,468 mg of sodium in each pork chop? That’s about a week’s total amount of sodium per person! Very unhealthy and possibly dangerous to some individuals health! Or is this a mistake? Please advise- I bought the ingredients to make this but now I might not!

    1. Hi Gary. No, it is not really that much sodium. There’s a lot of salt that goes into the brine, but not all that salt goes into the pork chops. Unfortunately, my nutritional analysis program can only use the total quantity. How much salt is absorbed by the meat depends on the type of meat, the amount of salt in the brine and the time spent brining. Cook’s Illustrated did an experiment on this and discovered the following (as quoted from the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

      “The editors at Cook’s Illustrated magazine once did a test in which they brined pork chops and skinless, boneless chicken breasts in a solution of 1/2 cup table salt in 2 quarts of cold water for 30 minutes. After cooking the meat, it was sent to a lab for analysis. The pork chops had a sodium content of 245 milligrams for 100 grams of meat, or slightly less than 1/8 teaspoon per serving, while the chicken breast had 353 milligrams, or just over 1/8 teaspoon per serving.”

      If you are on a low sodium diet, brining is not a good idea for you. Otherwise, I think the amount of salt is manageable for a daily intake of 1,500 mg or 1 teaspoon of salt.

      ML

  3. 5 stars
    I made these for dinner tonight. Out of this world. My husband took his first bite and said, oh my god! I made them in my oven on TruConvec because I don’t have an air fryer. I also added a chopped onion to the brine, but definitely a keeper.

  4. 5 stars
    These are without a doubt the best fried porkchops I have ever had. Quite tasty and juicy. I adjusted the brine ingredient amounts slightly but the 6 hour brine was perfect.

  5. 5 stars
    Those pork chops are so juicy and easy to make. I usually don’t have breadcrumbs at home, so I used crushed cornflakes. Because of the high sodium, I didn’t brine either, and still, that meat came out tender, juicy and just delectable. Dinner was gone in a flash but requested for the following week.

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