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How to Grill Pork Chops That Are Flavorful, Tender and Shockingly Juicy

You’re hosting a barbecue and loading up at the supermarket. You could go for chicken, but that’s a bit unexciting. Burgers and dogs are a safe bet too, but maybe not fancy enough for the vibe you’re after. On the other hand, steaks for a crowd will get expensive fast. Might we suggest choosing pork chops instead? They’re affordable, lean, versatile and quick-cooking, plus none of your guests will see ’em coming. Read on to learn how to grill pork chops for every cookout and picnic you ever host.

Psst: Want the TLDR on how to grill pork chops, before you go any further? Essentially, you just soak the chops in a salty brine or acidic marinade to tenderize them and keep them moist, then sear and cook them until the thickest one reaches an internal temp of 145°F.

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McKenzie Cordell

What You’ll Need

  • Pork chops
  • Marinade of your choice (or a saltwater brine)
  • Dry spices (like salt and black pepper)
  • Gas or charcoal grill
  • Grill brush
  • Vegetable oil
  • Basting brush
  • Tongs or a spatula

Tips for Grilling Pork Chops

  • Choose the perfect chop. Go for rib chops, which are lean and smooth without being too chewy, or center-cut chops, which boast both the loin and tenderloin. If you use blade chops from the pig’s shoulder, cook them over a lower heat to render out all their tasty fat. Take your pick of bone-in or boneless—just be sure that the chops are at least 1 inch thick so they don’t overcook and dry out. (Thin pork chops are best left for frying.)
  • Marinating or brining the pork chops is technically optional, but it never hurts. Not only does a wet marinade help maximize the chops’ flavor, but it also keeps them from drying out. A brine (aka cold water with salt) is especially great at keeping the meat moist. Let the chops sit for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, and feel free to zhuzh up the mixture with dry spices, citrus peels or even sugar, which will help them develop a drool-worthy outer crust.
  • Whether you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, the grates need to be hot and clean before the chops hit them. While the pork chops marinate or brine, scrape the grates clean of any debris with a grill brush. (It will come off even easier once the grill is heating up.)
  • Don’t crowd the grill, since overpacking it will lower the temperature and prolong the cooking process. Leave at least 1 inch of space between each chop.
  • The USDA recommends letting pork chops rest for three minutes before cutting or eating them for maximum juiciness.

How to Grill Pork Chops

Grilling pork chops only takes about 20 minutes once they’ve been marinated or brined, so in total, it should take you about 50 minutes to cook them, unless they’re super thick. Before you begin, let the pork chops come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. If they’re too cold, the exterior will overcook before the center is cooked through. Letting them warm up after leaving the fridge all but guarantees a tender interior and impressive outer crust.

pork chops marinating in a bag
McKenzie Cordell

Step 1: Brine or marinate the pork chops

To make a brine, stir ¼ cup kosher salt into 4 cups of water. Place the pork chops in a shallow container and pour the brine over them. Let them sit for 30 minutes (you can leave them for longer, but no more than 2 hours). For a marinade, include some sort of acid to tenderize the pork chops, like lime juice, soy sauce or pineapple juice.

a person preheating a grill
McKenzie Cordell

Step 2: Preheat the grill

While the pork marinates, get one half of your grill to high heat (about 450°F) and the other to medium heat (about 350°F). The hot side is perfect for searing, but the chops will need to finish cooking on the medium side, so they don’t burn on the outside while the center cooks to temperature. For a charcoal grill, pile the coals high on one side to create the hot zone, leaving them lower in the medium zone. On a gas grill, simply adjust your burners accordingly.

a person sprinkling dry seasoning on pork chop
McKenzie Cordell

Step 3: Season the pork chops

Once 30 minutes have passed, remove the pork chops from the brine or marinade. If you brined them, pat them dry with paper towels and season them with pepper, a spice rub (like this cacao mixture) or dry seasonings of your choosing that don’t include salt. If you marinated them, do not pat them dry, and feel free to brush on more marinade after every flip.

pork chops cooking on a grill
McKenzie Cordell

Step 4: Sear the pork chops

Scrape the grates clean, then brush them with oil. Place the pork chops on the hot side of grill for about 3 to 4 minutes per side to sear. Flip when the chops release from the grate easily without sticking. Both sides of the pork chops should have distinct, dark char marks.

a person checking on pork chops on a grill
McKenzie Cordell

Step 5: Finish cooking the pork chops

Move the pork chops to the medium heat zone and grill until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 7 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the chop. Keep the grill closed so the heat doesn’t escape—this will lower the temperature and slow the cooking process.

grilled pork chops on a platter
McKenzie Cordell

Step 6: Serve the pork chops

Transfer them from the grill to a clean plate or serving platter and let them rest for 3 to 5 minutes before enjoying. Use a large slicing knife with a slight scalloped edge to cut the chops, if you’re divvying them up for people. Slice them into ¼-inch-wide pieces against the grain (meaning across the lines of muscle fiber in the pork chop, in order to make them easier to chew).

Ready to eat? Here are a few of pork recipes to try, along with our favorite sides to serve with them:

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Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.