Smokey Cacao Nibs Encrusted Pork Chops

A savory hit of chocolate is the perfect compliment to pork chops!

A savory hit of chocolate is the perfect compliment to pork chops!

I LOVE all things chocolate.  Sweet and savory alike, I love the deep, delicious flavors found in cacao.  A few months ago, I posted a recipe for Roasted Poblano and Pumpkin Chili in which I seasoned it with cocoa powder.  So delicious!  Today’s recipe also draws from the earthy and smokey flavors present in unsweetened chocolate.

In August of last year we headed to Boston to attend AHS 2012.  What an awesome event!  A number of amazingly generous vendors set up booths outside of the lecture halls and offered plenty of samples to attendees.  One of our frequently visited booths was Taza Chocolate.  We first came across their products on a trip to St. John, USVI a few months earlier.  We were grocery shopping and were enticed by little rounds of dark chocolate with intriguing flavors like salt and pepper, salted almond, and cinnamon.  We were so excited to see Taza at AHS and sample more of their products as well as learn how the chocolate is made.  One of the products we picked up was Organic Roasted Cacao Nibs.  Mmm!


Yesterday was a quick meal night – no time for an hour or more of prepping and cooking.  Pork chops are my go to in this case.  They fry up super quick and you can pair them with just about anything and it will be delicious.  I’d say my little experiment with cacao nibs was a success.  Hope you agree!

Smokey Cacao Nibs Encrusted Pork Chops


  • 2 Tablespoons Cacao Nibs
  • 1/2 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pork chops (we prefer pastured and bone-in when available)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of fat of your choosing to fry the pork chops – I used ghee, but butter, bacon fat, or coconut oil would also be delicious

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, crush the nibs to the size of tiny pebbles.  Careful if you use a spice grinder – only 1 or 2 pulses!  Then combine with the paprika, sea salt, and cayenne.  Rub the pork chops with half of the mixture, saving the other half for the second side of the chops when they are in the pan.  Let the chops sit for about 15 minutes to come to room temperature.  In the meantime, prepare a salad or check your email.

When you are ready to fry the chops, melt the fat in a oven-proof skillet.  Let it get nice and hot and then place the pork chops seasoned side down in the pan.  Fry for 2 minutes.  While they are frying, coat the bare side of the chops with the remaining cacao nibs mixture.  After 2 minutes, the chops should lift easily from the pan with some tongs.  If they are sticking, give them 30 seconds to a minute more.  Flip and fry the second side for 2 minutes.  Transfer the pan to the preheated oven for 5 minutes.  Remove the chops from the oven and place them on a warm platter or plate to rest.  Do not leave them in the pan as they will continue to cook and be way to tough and dry!

The recipe was shared at Food Renegade.

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