Chuletas Fritas, or Puerto Rican pork chops, are flavorful center-cut, bone-in pork chops marinated with garlic cloves and other spices popular in Puerto Rican cuisine. These pan-fried chops are juicy inside with a crispy crust on the edges. If you ever need a quick, easy-to-make entree for dinner, this easy recipe will be one of your favorites.
*This recipe is an update of the original published in September 2020. The recipe now includes metric measurements.*
What Are Chuletas Fritas?
Chuletas fritas, pronounced CHOO-leh-tahs FREE-tahs, means pan-fried pork chops. They are a staple in the Puerto Rican and Dominican Republic cuisines. This recipe is for Puerto Rican fried pork chops, but the Dominican version is identical. Chuletas aren’t a special occasion dish. They are commonly eaten throughout the year because they’re so easy to make and relatively inexpensive. This was my late mother’s favorite meal, along with arroz con habichuelas (white rice with stewed beans) and a green salad (no dressing). I still think of her whenever I take a bite out of a chuleta frita.
Chuletas are economical, so I stock up when I find pork chops on sale at the grocery store. When I get home, I prep and marinate the meat before storing them in the freezer. Prepping ahead like this makes this pork chop recipe even easier.
Where Does This Recipe Come From?
Chuletas fritas are a popular recipe among Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. The marinade of sofrito, garlic, adobo, and sazón are telltale indicators that this is a Hispanic-Caribbean recipe.
Dominican cafeterías, called cuchifritos in most places like New York City, are known for their juicy, heavily-seasoned chuletas fritas. A typical menu offering is a plate of chops, rice and beans, a simple salad, and a beverage. Pork chops are definitely a part of the Puerto Rican food culture, though they’re not exclusive to it.
What’s the Best Cut of Pork To Use When Making Chuletas Fritas?
I prefer a center-cut, bone-in pork chop to make chuletas fritas. Known as “America’s cut,” this particular cut of meat has a good amount of tender meat and a little bit of fat. Something about a crisp bit of fat on the edge of a chuleta makes me giddy. But, if you’re not a fan of fat, there are center-cut options that have the fat trimmed away.
Stick with sirloin chops, ribeye, or New York (center cut) pork chops, as they are the most tender. The latter is also the most economical. When in doubt, talk to your butcher man. Butchers LOVE to chat about meat and will guide you to their best in the meat case.
For this recipe, avoid double-cut pork chops. They’re too bulky, take longer to fry, and are extra (money and effort) for a recipe as simple as this. One-inch thickness is perfect for this recipe. I also avoid boneless pork chops because there’s something special about sucking the marrow out of the bone after frying them.
What Else Do I Need To Make This Recipe?
To make chuletas fritas, you need pork chops, sofrito, mashed fresh garlic (or garlic paste), sazón, black pepper, dried oregano leaves, onion powder, adobo, kosher salt, and white wine vinegar to make the marinade. If you don’t have white wine vinegar, regular white vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, or bitter orange juice are all good substitutes. Avoid balsamic vinegar because the flavor profile is too sweet and floral for this recipe.
You need a neutral-tasting fat- vegetable oil, peanut oil, or lard to fry the pork chops in. I fry my pork chops in a cast-iron skillet or stainless steel skillet.
How Do I Make the Marinade For Chuletas Fritas?
The marinade for chuletas fritas is vinegar-based and heavy on the garlic, which is what gives them so much flavor.
Because there is an acidic element, I don’t recommend marinating them in the fridge longer than 24 hours. While the quantity of vinegar used isn’t enormous, marinating them too long will result in a less desirable texture. This changes if you marinate the meat and immediately freeze it. The “cooking” or firming of the protein by the acidic vinegar is halted as the meat freezes. So you can totally freeze them after marinating without the same concern.
Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl until combined.
Add the sofrito, garlic paste, and spices to the oil and vinegar mixture and whisk until smooth. What’s great about this marinade is that you can use it on more than just pork chops. Try it on your pork shoulder, boneless pork loin roast, or any other pork roast. It’s also amazing on chicken.
You can store the prepared marinade in the refrigerator for up to a week. Making the marinade ahead is great for making this an easy dinner entree.
How Do I Marinate the Pork Chops?
The marinade does double duty: in addition to seasoning the meat, it infuses it with moisture, so ending up with dry meat is less likely to happen. For a juicy pork chop, don’t skip out on marinating if you can help it.
Add the pork chops to the bowl with the marinade and rub it into each chuleta to coat it completely.
Transfer the pork chops to a food storage bag or a covered, non-metallic bowl after marinating them. Avoid marinating the meat in a metallic bowl because the acid in the vinegar may react with the metal and impart a tinny flavor to your meat. Use a ceramic or glass bowl instead.
Put the bowl into the fridge and marinate the chuletas for at least 3 hours but no longer than 24 hours. Marinate your chuletas for at least 12 hours (or overnight) if you want them to have a lot of flavor.
Now, if you find yourself in a hurry to get something on the table and don’t have time to marinate the meat overnight, that’s okay. You can marinate the chuletas for 30 minutes or an hour, and it’ll still taste delicious.
How Long Do I Have to Cook Chuletas?
Chuletas fritas are usually fried in lard, but you can fry them in your favorite frying oil. Fill your frying pan with a small amount of oil; usually, a cup of oil is enough to fry in a 10-inch skillet. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add two or three pork chops to the pan.
Fry the chuletas for 5 minutes on the first side. Carefully flip the pork chops over to the second side and fry them for 4 to 5 minutes longer or until golden brown.
The recommended internal temperature for pork chops is 145°F (63°C) with a blush of pink in the center.
Transfer the pork chops from the pan to a wire rack set over a sheet pan or platter lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Keep the fried chuletas in a warm (170°F/77°C) oven while you fry the remaining meat.
Can I Bake the Pork Chops Instead?
Because I want you to enjoy this recipe, and because I know not everyone can eat fried foods, I’ll tell you a secret: these chops also taste amazing baked.
To bake chuletas, preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C), then line a sheet pan or baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake the chuletas for 8 minutes. Flip them after 8 minutes and finish cooking on the other side for 5-6 minutes.
How Do I Serve Chuletas Fritas?
The most common way to serve chuletas is with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) or arroz con habichuelas (steamed rice with stewed beans), a side salad, slices of avocado, and maybe tostones (twice-fried green plantains). My mother also used to serve chuletas fritas with applesauce. That’s totally a German thing, which is crazy because my mom was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY.
French fries go great with these chops, as do yuca frita (fried yuca).
Cold chuletas, straight from the fridge, are amazing for breakfast. Or, you can serve them with a fried egg and home fries.
How Do I Store Leftover Pork Chops?
Store leftover chuletas fritas in an airtight food storage container in the refrigerator for 3 days. To reheat the pork chops, microwave them on high for 1-2 minutes or until warmed through. You can also reheat them in a 200°F (93°C) oven on a sheet pan until warm.
Can I Freeze Chuletas Fritas?
You can freeze pork chops both before cooking (after marinating) and after cooking them.
To freeze marinated (or raw) pork chops, place them in a freezer-safe storage bag and freeze them for up to 6 months. Freeze cooked pork chops for 2 months, max.
Thaw the chuletas (raw or cooked) under refrigeration, cook per the instructions above or reheat in the microwave or oven (see above) until warmed. Cooked chuletas tend to dry out easier upon reheating after being frozen, just FYI.
Chuletas Fritas are one of my favorite Puerto Rican dishes, and this recipe will help you make perfect pork chops that your whole family will love. Use my side dish recommendations above to make this a complete meal and take a trip to the Island of Enchantment.
Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments below. Pin the recipe for later, and don’t forget to share this Chuletas Fritas recipe with your world!
Chuletas Fritas (Pan-Fried Pork Chops)at Sense & Edibility
- 10 to 12" skillet
For the Marinade
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil
- 1/4 cup (66 grams) sofrito
- 5 cloves (2 tablespoons or 25 grams) garlic mashed
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) adobo
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (1 packet or 6 grams) sazón con achiote
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) granulated onion
- 1 teaspoon (1 gram) oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt optional
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the Chuletas Fritas
- 4 (about 2 1/2 pounds or 1 1/4 kilograms) center-cut pork chops
- frying oil vegetable, peanut, or lard (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
Prepare the Marinade (up to 24 hours ahead)
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar and olive oil until combined. To the vinaigrette in the bowl, add the sofrito, mashed garlic, adobo, sazón, granulated onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Whisk the marinade until smooth.
Season the Pork Chops
- After mixing the marinade add the pork chops to the bowl. Rub the marinade onto the chuletas coating each completely. Transfer the chops to a food storage bag or place them in a covered, non-reactive bowl after seasoning them.
- Put the bowl with the seasoned pork into the fridge and marinate anywhere from 3-24 hours. At least 12 hours (or overnight) is my preferred length of marinating time.
Fry the Chuletas
- Fill a 10 to 12" frying pan with a 1/2" of oil (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of lard or oil). Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add two or three pork chops to the pan. Ensure you're not crowding the pan.
- After adding the chuletas into the pan, fry them for 5 minutes on the first side. Carefully flip the chops over to the other side and fry for another 4-5 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 145°F.
- Transfer the pork chops from the pan to wire rack place over a sheet pan or platter lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Keep the fried chuletas in a warm (170°F/77°C) oven while you fry the remaining meat.
- Serve the chuletas with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) or arroz con habichuelas (steamed rice with stewed beans) and a simple side salad.
Chuletas al Horno (Baked Pork Chops):
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C) and line a sheet pan or baking dish with aluminum foil.
- Bake the chuletas for 8 minutes.
- Flip them after 8 minutes and finish cooking on the other side for 5-6 minutes.
Swaps and Substitutions:
- White wine vinegar, regular white vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, or bitter orange juice are all good substitutes for white wine vinegar.
- You can use the marinade on pork shoulders, boneless pork loin roasts, pork roasts, or chicken.
Tips and Techniques:
- You can store the prepared marinade in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Avoid marinating the meat in a metallic bowl because the acid in the vinegar may react with the metal and impart a tinny flavor to your meat. Use a ceramic or glass bowl instead.
- You can marinate the chuletas for 30 minutes or an hour, and it'll still taste delicious.
- Store leftover chuletas fritas in an airtight food storage container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
- To reheat the pork chops, microwave them on high for 1-2 minutes or until warmed through.
- You can also reheat them in a 200°F (93°C) oven on a sheet pan until warm.
Freezing Instructions:You can freeze pork chops both before cooking (after marinating) and after cooking them.
- To freeze marinated (or raw) pork chops:
- Marinate the pork chops as instructed.
- Place the meat in a freezer-safe storage bag and freeze them for up to 6 months.
- To freeze cooked pork chops:
- Allow the chuletas to cool, then transfer them to a freezer-safe container or storage bag.
- Freeze cooked pork chops for 2 months.
- Thaw the chuletas (raw or cooked) under refrigeration, cook per the instructions above or reheat in the microwave or oven (see above) until warmed. Cooked chuletas tend to dry out easier upon reheating after being frozen.
In case anyone is wondering, YES, they are PERFECT the next day in your migas.
Y’all are welcome.
Thank you, Liz!
These are the juiciest pork chops I’ve ever had! I knew I had to try this recipe after my family enjoyed your mofongo stuffed version.
Thanks for your support, Jazz!
I live for this recipe! Juicy, tender, flavorful – everything you want in a quality restaurant meal except it’s made at home!! My husband thought I ordered takeout when I made this. They were absolutely delicious!
I’m so glad you all enjoyed it, Britney!
I always refuse to make pork chops because I thought I didn’t like them. MIND OFFICIALLY CHANGED. They were tender, juicy and so flavorful. Amazing.
LOL!! Glad to know we can never say never!