How to Grill Pork Chops
Our Test Kitchen shares expert tips for how to grill pork chops. You'll have juicy, flavor-packed chops in no time!
When I’m dreaming up my dinner menus, pork chops always fall to the bottom of the list. They take the back seat to favorites like flaky baked salmon or juicy grilled chicken. The reason? No matter what I do, I tend to overcook them—leaving my meal dull, dry and desperate to be drenched in applesauce.
This is a shame, because I know pork chops can be moist, tender and flavor-packed. Former Taste of Home deputy editor James Schend shared his best tips for how to grill pork chops.
What Cut of Pork Chops Are Best for Grilling?
James suggests picking out 1-inch rib chops. Why? A thicker chop has a higher tolerance for direct heat. This means it’ll yield a nice sear without overcooking. Plus, rib chops have more fat than other chops—and fat equals flavor. Lastly, choosing a bone-in chop is important, too. The bone helps insulate the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful as it cooks.
Should You Brine Pork Chops Before Grilling?
Yes—brining isn’t just for the Thanksgiving turkey. A saltwater bath helps tenderize the meat, preserving its delicate texture and keeping it nice and juicy. Time matters, too. Our Test Kitchen determined that pork chops should be kept in brine for 8 to 12 hours for best taste. Use thawed or mostly thawed pork chops for this step.
Do You Season Pork Chops Before Grilling?
Yes! Spice blends are easy to experiment with and customize to your liking. Start with a couple tablespoons of paprika and a teaspoon of pepper, and add your favorite herbs and spices to the mix.
How Long Does It Take Pork Chops to Cook on the Grill?
Cook for 4 to 6 minutes on each side.
How to Grill Pork Chops
Follow the recipe below for a step-by-step guide to grilling tender, juicy pork chops.
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups ice water
- 4 bone-in, center-cut pork rib chops (1 inch thick and 8 ounces each)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
For the Rub:
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin and ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
Step 1: Brine the pork
To create the brine, combine salt, sugar and 2 cups water in a large saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat. When the salt and sugar have completely dissolved, take the pan off the burners. Then cool the brine down to room temperature by adding 2 cups of ice water.
Place the pork chops in a large resealable plastic bag and carefully pour in the cooled brine. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Gently turn it over a few times to coat the chops in the liquid. Place the brining bag in a 13×9-in. baking dish and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
Test Kitchen Tip: Set a timer on your watch or phone to remember to retrieve your pork chops. If the meat sits in the brine for longer than 12 hours, it risks becoming salty and tough. Remember the motto: Rise and brine. Start this step in the morning so your pork will be ready just before suppertime.
Step 2: Add the rub
Remove the pork chops from the brine. Gently rinse each under the tap and pat dry using a paper towel. You can discard the brine, too. Next, prime the pork chops by brushing a light layer of oil on both sides.
Test Kitchen Tip: Check that each pork chop is completely dry before adding the oil. The less moisture there is on the surface of the meat, the quicker that satisfying golden-brown crust will form.
It’s time to make the rub. In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, ground mustard and ground peppers. Then, using a small handful at a time, rub the blend over the pork chops. Gently pat the spice blend onto the chops until they are evenly covered. Let the meat stand at room temperature 30 minutes. (But don’t just wait there! Go ahead and move on to step 3.)
Step 3: Grill the chops
At last, it’s time to fire up that grill. While the meat is making its way to room temp, double check to see if your grill is squeaky clean. Stuck-on food can cause the chops to stick! All good? Oil the grates. If you’ve already fired up the grill, the best way to oil it is to use a pair of long-handled tongs and a greased paper towel.
Now, rev up the flame to medium heat.
Test Kitchen Tip: If using a charcoal grill, you can gauge the temperature by holding your hand 5 inches above the cooking grate. If you can keep it there comfortably for 4 to 6 seconds, it’s at medium heat.
Gently lay the pork chops on the cooking surface, then cover. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes on each side.
Test Kitchen Tip: Use long-armed tongs or a spatula to turn over the chops. If you pierce the meat with a fork, you risk losing those precious juices that are locked inside.
Step 4: Check for doneness
When your pork chops are just about ready, use a meat thermometer to measure their internal temperature. This is the single best way to ensure that your pork chops are cooked to perfection. For accuracy, insert the thermometer into the side of the chop. Take the meat off the grill when the thermometer reads 140°F and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Test Kitchen Tip: Why the 5-minute wait? For this recipe, we use a method called carryover cooking. This means the meat is removed from the heat before it has finished cooking. As it sits, the pork chop’s internal temp will continue to rise (from 140° to the optimal pork temperature of 145°) leaving you with a tender (and perfectly cooked) chop.
Step 5: Dig in!
You did it! Now that your chops have rested, they’re ready to serve. Carve each piece into slices or served them whole for a heftier meal. If you enjoyed this, then you must try this juicy oven-baked bone-in pork chops recipe.
Tips for Grilling Pork Chops
Customize your seasoning blend
Here are a few ideas for how to customize your rub:
- Smoky: Substitute smoked paprika in place of regular paprika.
- Spicy: Add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper to rub mixture.
- Sweet: Add 3 tablespoons brown sugar to rub mixture.
Get the perfect grill marks
Here’s a tip for picture-perfect grill marks: After the chops have seared for 2 to 3 minutes, rotate them a quarter turn and cook 2 to 3 minutes more before flipping. Repeat on the opposite side.
Keep pork chops moist
To keep pork chops juicy, don’t overcook the meat. Take the meat off the grill when the thermometer reads 140°. Concerned about the color of your meat? Don’t be alarmed. Pork can be pink and still safe to eat. A truly moist, tender pork chop will look faintly pinkish on the inside.
What to Serve with Pork Chops
Take a step up from applesauce with these crowd-pleasing recipes.
- Go hearty. These creamy ranch potatoes will round out your meal. Bonus: It’s an easy recipe for your slow cooker.
- Go fresh. A vibrant green salad will lighten up the heavy dish. Better yet, cube the pork and toss it into a chopped salad to fuel lunches for the week.
- Get back on the grill. Complete your cookout with our top-rated grilled vegetable recipes. Smokin’ sides, here we come!