What To Do With Leftover Pork Chops

What's more comforting than warm, tender pork chops on a frosty winter night? Maybe even serve them with oven-baked potatoes and some red wine, for total decadence. But what do you do the next day, with the many leftover pork chops that nobody wants? Cold sandwiches? Microwaved chops for lunch? If these don't sound amazing, luckily there are few foods more versatile than pork chops — just cut them down and mix them up with fresh ingredients for a complete transformation.

As shown by Tasting Table, there are at least 23 amazing recipes you can concoct with leftover Thanksgiving food (of course, this usually entails turkey, unless you're part of Gen Z, which is currently rewriting Thanksgiving history with pizza). From simple club sandwiches to party delights such as butternut squash bruschettas and cranberry brie bites, there's just about anything you can do to revamp that cold turkey, fruit, and veg. The same applies to pork, especially if winter is around the corner. Here are the many things you can do with leftover pork chops.

Pork fried rice

Fried rice is by far one of the easiest ways to transform leftover food and use up whatever ingredients you've got left in your pantry. As per Mashed, pork fried rice is as quick as it's delicious, and there are just a few basic steps to keep in mind. First, boil your white rice, then let it cool down as you gather the rest of your ingredients: carrots, peas, green onions, garlic, a couple of eggs, and grated ginger. Fried rice is a Chinese dish, so for an authentic taste, make sure you get a bottle of Chinese rice wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. Of course, don't forget the leftover pork — chop it up into bite-sized pieces.

Before frying anything, mix all sauces together in a small bowl. Then, heat up a large wok and throw in the diced carrots along with one spoon of vegetable or olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add the pork, garlic, and grated ginger. Don't wait for too long — the pork is already cooked and you don't want dry, chewy bits as the end result. So after a few minutes, throw in the rice, sauce mixture, peas, onions, and whatever else you want to add for extra flavor — or to get rid of from the fridge. Finally, cook the eggs, fried or scrambled, and mix them into the rice in any way you like.

Pork and potato hash

Since meat and potatoes are usually a given in non-vegetarian families' fridges during winter, this recipe is easy to make — you simply combine everything you have at home and turn it into something fresh. So for a tasty pork and potato hash, you can use leftover potatoes, too, as long as they're not too old (according to USDA, cooked potatoes are okay to store in the fridge for three to four days). Needless to say, the pork chops work perfectly for the recipe; you can turn them into small cubes or just cut them into medium-sized chunks — cubes are easier to eat, but chunks make for a more aesthetically-pleasing presentation.

First, heat up a skillet and melt a dollop of butter. Sauté little bits of onion and celery, then add milk, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce. For a more flavorful twist, you can even add a little cream of mushroom soup to the mix. While this mixture simmers, throw in the potatoes and pork, and add diced carrots and peas. Let all the juices combine nicely over low heat for 10 minutes, then add spices to your taste (such as salt, pepper, and paprika). This is a sure way to turn the somewhat dry leftover pork chops into juicy bits of winter comfort food.

Cuban sliders

Preparing Cuban sliders with leftover pork chops basically earns you a glorified leftover sandwich: they're bite-sized, warm, and much more party friendly. And before you cut them into pleasant-looking cubes, you can start off with a regular Cuban sandwich. As Tasting Table suggests, the foundation of a perfect Cuban sandwich (or slider) comprises fresh white bread, pork, pickles, and cheese. Oh, and a panini press.

So if you can, get yourself a fresh loaf of Cuban bread, or even medianoche sandwich bread — their rich taste and texture go hand-in-hand with the pork and melted cheese that's about to come. If not, white French or Italian bread will do just fine. Halve the loaf, just like you would for any regular panini. At the base, place the pork — but don't just throw the leftover pork chops in there. Make sure you break them into tiny pieces that mimic the roast pork normally used in Cuban sandwiches. Then, add pickle slices and as much cheese as you can handle. And if you're feeling double-or-nothing, you can even add cured ham to the mix, then into the panini press it goes. Then, without burning yourself, cut it up into bite-sized squares and let that cheese melt all over your plate.

Pork stir fry

Stir fries are a slightly healthier, more vegetable-rich recipe that completely transforms those leftover pork chops. As per Mashed, you can go for the five-spice pork stir fry recipe: Don't worry, you don't have to actually go hunting for fennel, ground cinnamon, star anise, clove, and Sichuan peppercorns — most large supermarkets sell Chinese five-spice powder. Once you have this at home, chop up the leftover pork into small chunks and cover each and every one of them in five-spice powder.

Then, create a sauce mixture out of soy sauce, oyster sauce, honey, and red pepper flakes. Next, heat up your wok and fry the pork for about five minutes. As soon as it's nice and crispy, throw in some garlic and ground ginger, and all the vegetables you want and/or you have. The most traditionally used ones are red peppers, snow peas — or any peas as long as they're in their pods — carrots, and mushrooms. Cook it over low heat for a few minutes, then add the sauce, and you're done. You can serve the pork stir fry with white noodles or rice. Either way, it's a tasty dish so different from the original pork chops, you might even forget it's a leftover recipe.

Loaded (or mini) nachos

The choice lies in your hands — loaded nachos make for an amazing, hearty meal, but they're pretty tough to share, especially if the party size is big. So you can switch it up to mini nachos, which basically means you'll be cooking them in separate, smaller piles. The ingredients, however, stay the same, and leftover pork chops — cut into fine pieces — are once again the protagonists. According to Mashed, the list of ingredients also includes diced tomatoes, red onion, red and yellow peppers, olives, shredded cheese of your choice, sour cream, guacamole, and jalapeños — if you want to spice it up. But we say you can get even wilder with nacho toppings, replacing sour cream with tzatziki and adding beans, chili, and even fried eggs to the mix.

Since the leftover pork chops are already cooked, nothing needs to sit on the burner before it goes into the oven. So line a baking tray with foil and fill it with tortilla chips, a layer of cheese, pork, vegetables, and another layer of cheese (making sure you get all that melted goodness at the end). Needless to say, the cream/tzatziki and guacamole are the only ones that do not go into the oven — they're always served fresh, on the side. The tray should stay in the oven for about 10 minutes at 375 F, then you can enjoy.

Thai pork salad

This is a slightly fancier meal, as it requires ingredients you might not already have at home. But once you do have the ingredients, it's very quick and light, which might come in handy after overindulging in pork chops the night before. As per Tasting Table, the heart and soul of a Thai pork salad is its vinaigrette, which is made from fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, lime leaf, and fresh herbs ( such as mint, lemongrass, chiles, and any other fresh, sweet, spicy, or sour ideas you have).

The salad itself is a mix of fresh lettuce, radishes, scallions, shallots, and roasted peanuts. And don't forget the lime wedges on the side. When it comes to the leftover pork chops, you can go two ways: Either cut it up into thin slices and throw it into the salad, or sear it in a pan first to get a naughtier, warm version of the salad. Either way, you'll obtain a very fresh and pungent take on the obsolete pork chops.

Pork pot pie

Turning your leftover pork chops into a hot pot pie can have an amazing effect on a party of hungry guests, and it's also super effective: Similarly to the hash, it gets rid of several other leftovers in your fridge or pantry — if you have some puff pastry lying around, even better. Tasting Table gives the recipe for a chicken pot pie that works perfectly with pork, too.

Melt some butter in a deep skillet or Dutch oven. Then, throw in some onion and garlic (staples of any great comfort food), and if you have them, mushrooms. Cook them until brown, then add potatoes, carrots, and celery. Then, top it all off with a bit of flour, but make sure you stir continuously — it's easy to get lumps at this stage. When it all looks like one big happy family, add milk, stock, and of course, your pork chops — cut these into tiny cubes that will cook nice and tender. 

Leave this tasty mixture over a low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, then let it cool down. Finally, assemble the pie — you can make one big pot pie or several tiny ones if you have the right dishes (and kitchen confidence). The latter might make for a stunning dinner party presentation, but both are equally delicious and comforting.

Pork mofongo

Adding Caribbean flavors to leftover pork chops is guaranteed to disguise them into a brand-new dish. Our Puerto Rican pork mofongo recipe is pretty much perfect in this respect. The pièce de résistance of any mofongo is a good green plantain — or several, peeled and cut into tiny pieces. The same goes for your leftover chops: Break them apart into thin shreds or small cubes.

Cover your pork with Caribbean seasoning: sazon, adobo, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Fry your plantains until golden, and in a separate pan, fry the pork in vegetable oil for a few minutes so that all the seasoning mixes in nicely. Now, prepare your pilon, otherwise known as mortar and pestle. Before you add the protagonists, make sure you have some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and ground garlic at the bottom of the dish. 

Then, add the plantains and smush them with the pestle until turned into a chunky paste. Make sure you leave a hole or valley in the middle — that's where the pork goes. Sprinkle it with some leftover grease from cooking the pork. And if you're feeling especially decadent, you can fry a bit of bacon, break it up into tiny pieces, and sprinkle that on top as well. Almost done: Flip the dish upside down onto a plate and sprinkle it with cilantro, mint, oregano, or any herb you like.

Pork lo mein

Lo Mein is too often associated with takeout food, but it's easy to make at home, and it's definitely a quick way to reinvent your leftover pork chops. Tasting Table shares Chinese Tuxedo chef Paul Donnelly's recipe for a perfect mapo pork lo mein — simply replace the ground meat with the pork chops and cut these into tiny pieces that will soak up that delicious marinade. Speaking of the marinade, make it from fish sauce, soy sauce, granulated sugar, garlic, and baking soda. Let the pork sink in while you make the mapo sauce.

Turn ginger, chile, and garlic into a paste, using a food processor or a mortar and pestle. Fry it in a skillet for a minute or so, then add chili paste and sweet bean sauce to the mix, cooking it for another two minutes. Then, throw in the pork and cook it all together for about five minutes or when everything looks golden and caramelized. Finally, sprinkle it with some Lao Gan Ma, or spicy chili crisp — if you want your lo mein on the hot side.

Then, of course, don't forget to cook your lo mein noodles. But wait until the very end — they usually don't take more than four minutes to cook, and they're best served hot. Mix it all together or plate the noodles separately, adding the mapo pork on top, and you're all set.

Banh Mi sandwich

Possibly the easiest recipe of them all, the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich is an excellent — and tastier — alternative to the regular leftover pork chop with mayo on toast. According to Tasting Table, there are just about a million ways you can make a Banh Mi, from classic grilled chicken to crispy fried fish and the original charred pork and cold cuts. Of course, the last one is what you want to revamp those chops.

First, assemble your perfect Banh Mi: Cut a baguette longitudinally and toast both halves, or fry them on one side only, so that you get that perfect fluffy-crispy contrast. Spread some mayonnaise on the bottom bit, then fill your sandwich with pork loaf slices (or any kind of ham that you prefer), pickled carrot, pickled daikon, cucumber (or gherkins, or, why not, both), peanuts, red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, and shallots.

To make those leftover chops Vietnamese, simply cut them into thin bits, throw them into a skillet at high heat for a couple of minutes, then add some red nuoc cham sauce on top. Now, they're ready to go into the Banh Mi sandwich and take it to the next level.

Pho or Ramen

The list is endless when it comes to Asian delicacies based around pork, and if you want to make your leftover pork chops juicy again, we recommend turning them into a soup. Vietnamese or Japanese? Your choice.

If you want to go for a fragrant pork Pho, start by toasting all your spices for a couple of minutes (via Mashed): cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, star anise, cloves, grated turmeric, and ginger. Then, add bone broth — or beef stock — and fish sauce, bring it to a boil, then let it all simmer for about an hour. Cook a big batch of vermicelli noodles, then add to the broth, along with the leftover pork chops (cut into bite-sized pieces). Add toppings to your liking: Bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and mint, basil, and Sriracha all make for classic Vietnamese options.

If you're more into the Ramen game, though, here's what Mashed recommends: Bring six cups of chicken broth to a simmer along with ginger, garlic cloves, red onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, and lemongrass. Meanwhile, soft boil as many eggs as there are dinner guests, and cook your ramen noodles. As for the leftover chops — heat them up and slice them thinly, so as to imitate a shoyu ramen pork slice. Strain all the spices from your broth, plate the noodles, then add the broth, the pork, and toppings such as jalapeño, onion, cilantro, and bean sprouts.

Pork and pineapple skewers

Pork and pineapple skewers make another great bite-sized dish that's perfect for parties and very different from the original pork chops. The star of this dish is not the pineapple but the yogurt marinade, which will revamp those chops into fresh, juicy bits of goodness. Tasting Table recommends using yogurt, olive oil,​​ chopped cilantro, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and salt. Marinate your pork for half an hour before adding it to the skewers. Make sure you alternate the pork and pineapple for both aesthetic and taste reasons.

The pork and pineapple skewers can easily be cooked both on an outdoor grill or indoors, on a grill pan — both should be on a medium-high heat. But whichever method you choose, make sure you don't leave the skewers alone — they can easily be scorched in just a few minutes. Flip them every two or so minutes, until all sides look perfectly charred. Serve them on tiny, good-looking plates, along with lime wedges and fresh cilantro.

Cheesy pork enchiladas

What's wrong with cheesy comfort food on a cold winter's day? Not much. So if you aren't feeling full from yesterday's pork chops, then go crazy with some leftover pork chop enchiladas. Tasting Table shares an excellent loaded beef enchilada, and you can easily swap the beef for tiny cubes of leftover pork. The list of ingredients is short and easy: flour tortillas, cheese (Mexican blend, cheddar, or anything that you like and will melt), salsa, sour cream, white onion, enchilada sauce, green chiles, and cilantro.

First, cook your onions over medium heat until golden. Chop your leftover pork into tiny bits and throw it in, but only for a minute or two (avoiding the old risk of already-cooked food drying up). Mix the salsa and sour cream in a bowl, and line your oven dish with enchilada sauce. Spread the salsa and sour cream mixture on every tortilla, then add the pork and green chiles and roll them. Line them neatly in the oven dish, pour the rest of your enchilada sauce on top, and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Bake them at 350 F for about 10 minutes — everything's already cooked, bar the cheese, which needs to melt to perfection. Serve this amazing dish to your guests, and they'll never guess leftover pork chops were responsible for it.