Would you believe me if I told you my kids like these Crock Pot Cranberry Pork Chops better than the holiday dinner that gave us the leftover cranberry sauce? I guess the fact that these chops come out ultra tender and delicious works very much in their favor 😉
Whenever we have cranberry sauce left over from a holiday meal (or even a regular meal, call me crazy but we love the stuff all fall and winter long – not just for Thanksgiving and Christmas), I know I need to use it up ASAP or it will inevitably end up forgotten in the back of the fridge.
Sometimes I’ll warm it up and serve it with Swedish Meatballs, but more often than not I’ll throw together these easy slow cooker pork chops – exactly because they are so fuss-free and low maintenance. Just what you need to relax after the holiday craziness!
These truly are a fix it and forget it kind of deal – place everything in the crock and go. You could technically brown the chops before adding them. I’ve done it, and it DOES at some extra flavor. But I will go through the trouble only very occasionally, as I’m usually carrying a kid or two.
The sauce is like magic – sweet and tangy and all things that are good about cranberry sauce. I stir a little balsamic and BBQ sauce into mine to make it extra-special, but feel free to leave those out if you don’t have them on hand.
I hope you’ll be putting your leftover cranberry sauce to good use with this recipe. And if you don’t have any leftovers… It’s not that hard to open a new can 😉
For the pork chops:
- 4 thick pork loin chops (I used boneless; about 5oz each)
- salt & pepper, to taste
For the sauce:
- 1 (8-oz) can jellied cranberry sauce
- 1/3 cup cranberry or apple juice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon mustard (I used Dijon)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce OR ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons cranberry or apple juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Prep the pork chops: Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on either side, then place them in a 3-4 quart slow cooker. It's fine to overlap them.
- Make the sauce: Add all ingredients for the sauce to a large measuring jug and whisk together until combined. You'll need to mash down the cranberry sauce first, it will start breaking up easier in the liquids that way (don't worry if it isn't smooth, it will melt once hot).
I like to lift each chop a little to let some sauce run underneath once everything is in the crock.
- Cook the pork: Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours, or until pork is tender.
- Thicken gravy: Once the pork chops are tender, remove them from the crock pot and keep them warm. Transfer the juices to a saucepan. Combine the 1/4 cup juice and cornstarch in a small bowl, then whisk into juices. Bring to a boil, cook and stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Serve over the pork chops.
Pork chops: I used boneless pork loin chops, but you can use bone-in pork loin chops instead. The cooking time doesn't change. It's also tasty with chicken thighs in place of the pork!
Cranberry sauce: I use the smooth kind because my kids won't eat the gravy with whole berry sauce. Feel free to use either.
Juice: If you don't have any juice on hand, feel free to substitute chicken broth or water; you may need to add an extra tablespoon of sugar. You can also use BBQ sauce in place of the juice if you want to go for a more intense BBQ flavor. I do not recommend using ketchup as a substitute for the juice, as it makes the sauce too tomato-y.
Brown sugar: If you don't want to use sugar, you can replace it with honey or maple syrup without any issues.
Mustard: I like using a smooth, mild Dijon mustard here - again, the kids like it that way. It's also tasty and a little different with a whole grain mustard, or a spicy brown mustard.
Note: The balsamic vinegar and BBQ sauce can be left out, but they do add a nice touch to the sauce.
If you want, you can brown the pork chops in a skillet before adding them to the crock pot for some extra flavor. Use the drippings from the pan in the sauce!
Do not open the crock pot during cooking, or you'll need to increase the cooking time by 15-30 minutes!
To turn this into an easy meal, you can add baby potatoes and baby carrots to the crockpot along with the pork chops; use an about 6 quart crock pot in this case.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 437 Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 113mg Sodium: 424mg Carbohydrates: 41g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 32g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 38g