4 Easy Tips for Juicy, Flavorful Grilled Pork Chops
07.13.2020 Meat Tip Monday
If you’re looking for something quick and easy to throw on the grill, skip the usual burgers, brats, and hot dogs. Instead, head right over to the pork section for juicy, flavorful grilled pork chops! This lean meat is versatile, grills in no time, and won’t be dry as long as you follow four simple tips. Slice it up for salad or whip up a quick sauce and dinner is done! Here’s 4 easy tips for perfectly grilled pork chops every single time.
1. Rib or Center-Cut Pork Chops at Least 1-inch Thick are the Best for Grilling
When shopping for pork chops, there are several options to choose because chops can be cut from different areas of the pork loin. The section at the front of the loin near the shoulder, called the blade end, is the fattiest cut. Rib chops are leaner and have a large, smooth section of meat. Bone-in center-cut chops have both the loin and tenderloin, and the sirloin is from the back end and has lots of muscles.
For grilling, we recommend rib or center-cut chops since they’re tender and don’t have too many chewy muscles. If you like nibbling on the meat attached to the bones, then bone-in pork chops are the option for you! If not, boneless chops will work just as well. We also recommend choosing pork chops that are at least 1-inch thick as thinner chops tend to cook too quickly before they have a chance to develop a nice crust on the outside.
2. Always Brine Pork Chops Before Grilling
It’s a good rule of thumb to always brine pork chops before grilling. Because pork chops are fairly lean, submerging them in a brine does two things. First, it keeps the meat moist by adding extra moisture which provides a little insurance in case the meat gets a little overcooked. Second, the brine evenly seasons the meat beyond just the surface.
The base of a simple brine is just cold water whisked with salt. You can also add some sugar to help the pork chops brown on the grill as well as throw in aromatics like citrus peel, peppercorns, or bay leaves (or all three!). We recommend using an equal weight, not volume, of salt since the size of the salt granules vary greatly across brands and weight is the most accurate measurement.
Brining doesn’t have to be elaborate or take a long time. Even brining pork chops for 30 short minutes does wonders – and that’s about how long it’ll take to heat up the grill! The chops can sit in the brine for up to two hours, but don’t go beyond that or the texture of the meat can get spongy. You can even brine individually frozen pork chops – just put them in the brine for the full two hours. They will be defrosted and ready to grill at that point.
3. Season the Pork Chops with Your Favorite Spice Rub – Without the Salt
After the pork chops are brined, there’s no need to rinse them off with water – simply dry them very well with paper towels. You can simply sprinkle on some black pepper, your favorite spice, or spice rub. Just make sure the spice rub doesn’t contain salt as you’ve already seasoned the chops with it during the brining process.
4. Heat Your Grill to 2 Levels of Heat
When preparing an outdoor grill for pork chops, you’ll need to heat it for two levels of heat. The chops get seared over high heat to get those gorgeous grill marks for about three minutes per side, then moved over to medium heat to finish cooking, which will take anywhere from four to seven minutes depending on the thickness of the chops. This creates a nice crust on the outside and juicy meat inside. Remember to keep the grill covered the whole time so that the heat doesn’t escape.
The pork chops are ready when the thermometer reads 145°F in the thickest part of the chop, but don’t serve them just yet — let them rest for five minutes so that the juices in the meat redistribute themselves and the muscle fibers relax. If you want to add extra flavor, serve your grilled pork chops with some chimichurri or sweet and tangy barbecue sauce on the side.