Oven frying pork results in a tasty, crunchy exterior paired with a juicy interior. To achieve the ideal texture when oven frying pork, preheating your oven and using the right temperature is key.
What is Oven Frying?
Oven frying, also known as oven baking, is a cooking method that uses dry heat to cook food in an oven rather than frying it in oil on the stovetop. To oven fry foods like pork chops or chicken, the food is coated in breadcrumbs or flour and then baked at a high temperature which causes the coating to become crispy and browned.
The main benefits of oven frying over traditional stovetop frying include:
- Uses less oil – Only a small amount of oil is used to coat the breading rather than submerging the food completely in oil.
- Healthier – With less oil used, oven fried foods tend to be lower in calories and fat than deep fried foods.
- Minimal mess – There’s no hot oil splattering out of a pan.
- Even cooking – Food cooks evenly in the dry environment of an oven.
While oven frying doesn’t yield quite as crunchy of an exterior as deep frying, it still produces a tasty, crispy coating with some careful cooking technique.
Ideal Oven Temperature for Frying Pork
When oven frying pork, use a high temperature to make the exterior coating crispy and browned while cooking the interior fully. The ideal oven temperature range is:
- 350°F – 400°F (177°C – 204°C)
Cooking at the lower end of this temperature range will result in a gently fried coating while using a temperature towards the higher end will produce a crunchy, crispy exterior.
Factors That Affect Oven Frying Temperature
Several factors impact what oven temperature you should use when oven frying pork:
- Thickness of the pork – Thicker cuts of pork like pork chops may require a lower oven temperature around 350°F to ensure the inside cooks through without the outside burning.
- Breading – What the pork is coated in affects the ideal temperature. More delicate breadcrumbs require lower heat while heartier panko-style crumbs can handle higher heat.
- Doneness – For pork cooked to a lower internal doneness like 145°F, use a lower oven temp. For well-done pork cooked to an internal temp of 165°F, higher heat is ok.
- Quantity – When cooking a larger batch of oven fried pork, it may require a slightly lower temp to prevent over-browning.
Step-by-Step Guide to Oven Frying Pork
Follow these simple steps for perfectly oven fried pork chops, tenders, or cutlets:
- Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C).
- Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings.
- Dredge pork in flour, egg wash, then breadcrumbs to coat.
- Arrange breaded pork on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a wire rack.
- Mist the top of the pork lightly with canola or vegetable oil spray.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping pork halfway through, until exterior is crispy and inside is cooked through.
- Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Tips for Oven Frying Pork
Follow these tips for the crispiest oven fried pork possible:
- Use bone-in pork chops or chops at least 1-inch thick which stay juicier than thin chops.
- Brush chops lightly with oil or spray before breading to help the coating stick.
- Press breading mixture firmly so it adheres.
- Space chops apart on the baking sheet so air circulates.
- Broil for 1-2 minutes after baking to really crispen the coating.
How Long to Oven Fry Pork Based on Thickness
The cooking time for oven fried pork depends on the thickness of the cut. Here are general guidelines for how long to bake pork chops or other cuts based on thickness:
|Pork Thickness||Cook Time at 375°F|
|1/4 to 1/2 inch||8 to 12 minutes|
|3/4 inch||12 to 15 minutes|
|1 inch||15 to 20 minutes|
|1 1/2 inches||20 to 25 minutes|
The pork is done when it registers an internal temperature of 145°F for medium or 160°F for well-done on a meat thermometer.
Tips for Testing Doneness
Here are some tips for checking the doneness of oven fried pork:
- Use an instant-read thermometer for the most accurate reading. Insert into the thickest part of the chops.
- The pork should be slightly firm when pressed.
- The juices should run clear when poked with a fork.
- Cut into a chop to check the inside is just barely pink (for medium doneness).
What You Can Oven Fry
While pork chops are most commonly oven fried, many types of pork lend well to oven frying including:
- Pork chops – Bone-in or boneless
- Pork cutlets – Thin boneless chops pounded thin
- Pork tenderloin – Sliced into medallions
- Pork cubes – For oven fried pork nuggets
- Chicken fried steak – Cubed steak breaded and oven fried
You can bread the pork in flour, panko, cornflake crumbs, or homemade breadcrumb mixtures before oven frying.
Best Breading for Oven Fried Pork
To get the crispiest coating when oven frying pork, use a breading with a crunchy texture and ability to brown. Good options include:
- Panko bread crumbs – Japanese-style crumbs that remain ultra crispy.
- Pork rinds – Ground into crunchy low-carb breading.
- Cornflakes – Crisp up nicely when oven baked.
- Crushed crackers – Such as Ritz or saltine crackers.
For added crunch, use a combo of flour and breadcrumbs. Flour helps the breading adhere while breadcrumbs provide crispy texture.
Follow these tips for the best oven fried pork breading:
- Use very coarse breadcrumbs rather than fine.
- Spread flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs in separate shallow dishes for easy dredging.
- Let breaded pork sit 5-10 minutes before baking so coating firms up.
- Press breading on firmly so it sticks and provides a thick coating.
- Spray breaded pork with oil right before baking for enhanced browning and crunch.
Oven Frying vs. Air Frying Pork
While oven frying produces a tasty crispy pork dish, using an air fryer can achieve even crispier results. Some differences include:
|Oven Frying||Air Frying|
|Cook time||15-25 minutes||10-15 minutes|
The intense circulation of hot air in an air fryer makes it difficult to beat for creating insanely crispy pork without loads of added oil. However, oven frying still produces satisfying results.
Toppings for Oven Fried Pork
Oven fried pork is delicious on its own but can also be served with tasty toppings and sides like:
- Gravy – For pork chops smothered in savory gravy.
- Applesauce – A classic pairing that balances the richness.
- Sauteed veggies – Such as zucchini, peppers, or onions.
- Tomato salad – Freshly sliced tomatoes in a vinaigrette.
- Smashed potatoes – Crispy pork atop creamy, buttery potatoes.
- Mac and cheese – For a hearty and comforting meal.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and top oven fried pork with your favorite flavors!
Oven frying is a simple cooking method that produces juicy, tender pork coated in a crispy, golden breading. While deep frying may yield slightly crunchier results, oven frying is a healthier and less messy option. For best results when oven frying pork, use a high heat between 350-400°F and fry bone-in chops or thicker cuts which stay more moist. Dredge the pork in flavorful breadcrumbs like panko or crushed crackers before baking. Oven fried pork chops are hard to beat, but also try oven frying pork tenderloin, cutlets, or nuggets. Top oven fried pork with savory gravy and sides for a delicious home cooked meal.