Thick Iowa Chops with Easy Stuffing Crust

This is one of my very oldest recipes, the way I've been baking my family's favorite "Iowa chops" in the oven for ever so long. The chops are topped with a stuffing-like crust made with bread crumbs, mustard and fresh herbs. These chops are kinda like stuffed pork chops except the stuffing's on top. Much easier!

Thick Iowa Chops with Easy Stuffing Crust ♥, just top pork chops with mustardy bread crumbs, then bake.

Real Food, Fast & Flexible. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Perfect for Dinner for One or Two.

Simple But Special.

Here’s a recipe for pork chops destined to become a household staple because of its simplicity and flexibility.

It’s simple enough for weeknight fare but special enough for guests. It makes up in minutes and can be made in advance.

Most of all, the recipe invites your culinary creativity.

Out of mustard? That’s okay, substitute a tangy horseradish sauce. No parsley? Try rosemary or tarragon or cilantro or oregano or …

French bread crumbs are soft and delightful but what about trying rye or pumpernickel? No time to make bread crumbs? Use dry crumbs (but cut the quantity by about half).

Prefer a bit more spice to your meat? Sprinkle the chops with cayenne pepper or chili powder. Not in the mood for pork? Experiment with chicken or fish or lamb.

But What Are "Iowa" Chops Anyway?

The Short Answer. An Iowa chop is a bone-in rib chop cut thick, usually an inch thick, some times 1.25 inches thick, some times a full 1.5 inches thick.

I like to think of Iowa chops as the "steak" of the pork world!

I was just twelve when my family moved to a small town in northeastern Iowa, a picturesque community of German heritage on the western bank of the Mississippi River. Even so, I remember my first bites of an Iowa-style education in pork, sweet corn and morel mushrooms.

The most popular pork dish in Iowa is something called a "tenderloin sandwich," the tenderloin pounded thin and deep fried: ugh, never really acquired the taste for that.

But Iowa chops? I swear, my family reveled on these things, especially hot off the grill, Dad cooking.

So what, exactly, is an "Iowa chop"? Just any ol' everyday pork chop from pigs raised on Iowa hog farms? Nope.

Iowa chops are thick, an inch or more, cut from the second most tender part of the animal. And while the meat is thick, the meat is tender and quick-cooking, perfect for weeknight meals.

You can also use a bone-in loin chop with its t-shaped bone, another tender cut.

The bones are important. They help equalize the internal temperature during the cooking process, this means it's easier to cook the chops without either under-cooking or over-cooking.

But most important? The bones are awesome to gnaw on! It's an old family tradition to sit at the table after dinner, finishing off the pork bones.

Iowa chops are thick enough to stuff, just cut into the chop from the side, creating a pocket inside the chop to fill with stuffing.

Better still? And easier? Just put the stuffing on top! That's what today's recipe is all about.

Five Easy Steps: How to Cook Thick Iowa Chops with Easy Stuffing Crust

The complete, detailed recipe is below but here are the highlights. You can do this!
  • If there's time, brine the pork chops, even 30 minutes will make a difference. But if there's not, no worries.
  • Spread a thin layer of mustard on both the top and the bottom of the chops. I like to use Dijon mustard because it's got such a nice mustard-y tang but any good mustard will do. If all you've got it yellow ballpark mustard, that'll be just fine, really. The mustard provides a little moisture and flavor and also helps the stuffing crust adhere to the top.
  • Mix a simple stuffing, just bread crumbs, more mustard and fresh herbs plus a little butter to hold it all together and turn the mixture all crusty brown in the oven. Evenly spread the stuffing across the top of the chops. See? The stuffing's on top!
  • Bake the chops until done, that is, until the safe internal temperature for whole cuts of pork is reached.
  • Some times but not always, the top crust may need a minute or two under the broiler to brown and crust up a bit.
  • That's it! So simple, yes?
Thick Iowa Chops with Easy Stuffing Crust ♥, just top pork chops with mustardy bread crumbs, then bake.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Oven time: 25 minutes
4 servings
  • 4 1-inch thick "Iowa" rib pork chops
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon or another good mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons good mustard
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs from French bread

Heat oven to 350F/175C.

CHOPS Coat the tops and bottoms of the chops with a thin coat of mustard. Lightly season with salt and pepper.

CRUST Stir together the crust ingredients and divide equally on top of chops. Press the crumbs lightly with back of a spoon to adhere to the chops. Transfer to lightly oiled heavy baking pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until meat reaches an internal temperature of 145F - 160F. (Why 145F - 160F? It's all explained here, Should Cooked Pork Be Pink?) If the crumbs don’t brown, place under the broiler for one or two minutes – watching carefully to prevent burning!

ALANNA's TIPS If your butcher looks puzzled by the term "Iowa chop", just ask for rib chops cut one-inch thick or even thicker if you prefer. If there's time, before baking, first brine the pork chops in a quart of water with 2/3 cup of brown sugar and 2/3 cup kosher salt for up to 24 hours. It will add moisture to the meat.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 397 Calories; 13g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 20g Carb; 1g Fiber; 320mg Sodium; 133mg Cholesterol; 46g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 9 & PointsPlus 10 & SmartPoints 9 & Freestyle 9 & myWW green 9 & blue 9 & purple 9 Iowa Chops are large, the “ladies” typically share a large chop, while the men go for whole ones.

More Ideas for Pork Chops

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Pork Chops & Rice Oven Dinner Juicy Pork Chops Thick Chops with Sauerkraut & Apples
~ more pork recipes ~

This 2003 column was published online for the first time in 2007 to accompany a special piece, The Heartbeat of Iowa, about my recent trip back to Iowa to visit some "happy pigs".

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. sti If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2003, 2007 (online), 2012, 2016, 2019 & 2020 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.