Are you struggling with how to grill pork chops? Perhaps you are working your way up to becoming a grill aficionado, but need some extra tips and training to become a true grill master?
Picking pork chops and grilling them to new heights of tastiness is not as difficult as you might think, but it requires knowledge regarding the right cuts and techniques to reach the optimal texture and flavor. First, we will show you how to select just the right pork chop and prepare it for the grill. Next, we will walk you step-by-step through how to grill pork chops to delectable perfection.
Picking the Perfect Pork Chops
Consider Your Cut
Before you can learn how to grill pork chops, it is important to be educated regarding the differences and quality of thick and thin pork chops. The thickness of the meat affects the way you prepare and cook it. There is a wide variety of pork chop cuts, like loin, rib, bone-in, boneless, etc. However, the singular most important element to consider before you grill is the thickness of the cut of meat.
Thick vs. Thin
Chops considered thin are those which have a thickness of less than 3/4 of an inch, while thick-cut pork chops are over 3/4 of an inch in thickness. The thinner the chop is, the more prone it is to dry out during the cooking process. It is important to learn how to grill pork chops that are thinly cut with very high heat.
Alternatively, thick-cut pork chops take longer to grill because you have to make sure they are fully cooked in the middle. Since they must be cooked longer, it is important to reach the desired flavor and temperature without drying out the meat too much. Thick-cut pork chops can be cooked much slower than thin-cut ones.
Preparing Your Pork Chops for the Grill
Brine Your Chops
There are a few different ways you can prepare your meat for the grill before you learn how to grill pork chops. The first way is by brining. Brining is a useful method for moisturizing your meat and making the final product rich and juicy. It is especially helpful for thick cuts of pork. To make a brine, you will need a saltwater concoction of around one tablespoon of table salt, one tablespoon of sugar, and 1 cup of water.
Once made, you need to soak your thick cuts of pork in the brine for a period of around 2 to 4 hours. Just be sure to rinse off the chops before you grill them, so they do not taste too salty when you serve them later.
Marinate Your Chops
Another great way to prepare your meat before deciding how to grill pork chops is by marinating them. This method is best for thin cuts of pork. The marinade does not soak all the way through the meat as a brine would, but it provides a nice coating to the meat that boosts its flavor profile considerably.
There are many marinades you could use, so this is the part where you get to be creative if you so desire. One popular marinade is a simple Italian dressing made from oil, vinegar, water, spices, and herbs. You don't need to marinate pork chops as long as you would if you were brining them. Letting them soak in the dressing for about 30 minutes will suffice. The main thing is that the marinade will keep your meat tender and juicy while preparing it to handle the high heat of grilling.
Consider a Dry Rub
If neither brining nor marinading appeals to your culinary senses, you may try a dry rub. This works with any cut of meat and only requires you to use a seasoning mixture on your pork chops to your desired taste and flavor. You can use a special concoction of spices and herbs if you wish, or play it safe and stick with salt and pepper.
Dry rubs offer little regarding extra moisture or tender juiciness to the pork, but the flavor is unbeatable. Stick to a dry rub if you plan on grilling the pork chops to a low or medium point rather than well done. Otherwise, the meat will become overly dry and difficult to chew.
Or a Combination of Each
It is possible to use a combination of the preparation methods described above before proceeding with how to grill pork chops, but there are a few key items to remember. First, as brine is a salty solution, never use any other preparation method that will add further salt to the meat. You may use a brine and dry rub together, but make sure your rub does not contain any salt.
It is not typically advised to use a brine and marinade with one another because one process cancels out the other. Along the same lines, if you marinate your pork chops, it is unnecessary to add a rub because it is already included in the marinade.
How to Grill Pork Chops
As mentioned previously, there are some different approaches for how to grill pork chops depending on the thickness or thinness of your meat. We will start with thin chops. When learning how to grill pork chops that are a thin cut, you will need to cook them quickly on a very hot grill.
Once you put those chops on the grill, keep watch over them and do not walk away. The thin cuts cook so fast that if you turn your back for a few moments, you could return to dry and overcooked meat. The best way to learn how to grill pork chops that are thin cuts is by cooking them similarly to a steak. This means you need to grill over a very high heat with minimal flips.
Start by preheating the grill to the highest temperature it will allow. Next, take your pork chops and put them on the grill, closing the lid for around 1 minute. Then, take off the lid and turn the pork chops 45 degrees, but do not flip them. Put your lid on again for one more minute. Now, it is time to turn the chops over and put the lid on one last time. Finally, take the lid off, turn the chops another 45 degrees, and finish grilling. When you are dealing with a thin cut and a very high grill temperature, your chops should be done in as little as 4 to 5 minutes.
With a thick cut, learning how to grill pork chops will be a little different. You need to grill thicker chops on a lower heat so you can cook them all the way through without the meat becoming overly dry. Start by preheating your grill to the highest temperature. If you are using a charcoal grill, make the temperature hotter on one side and cooler on the other. The trick to grilling thick cuts to perfection is searing the surface of the grill to kick off the cooking process.
The next step in learning how to grill pork chops that are thickly cut is to place them on the grill and put the lid on top. Wait 1 minute, then take the lid off and flip your pork chops over. Put the lid on again and leave it for another minute. Now, you need to switch the heat of your grill to medium. If you have a charcoal grill, switch your chops over to the cooler area you prepared.
Turn the pork chops so they attract the crisscross grill marks and allow them to continue to cook away for around 3 minutes with the lid on top. After the 3 minutes have passed, take the lid off once more, flip your pork chops, and let them keep cooking for around 4 minutes. After this point, turn your grill down to low.
With a charcoal grill, this is the time to close the vents. Once the middle of your pork chops has reached a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, they are fully cooked and ready to serve.
One final step to learning how to grill pork chops to tasty perfection is to wait a few minutes to eat them after taking them off the grill. After you have cooked the pork chops to your desired level of doneness, switch off the grill and put the meat on a warm plate with aluminum foil on top for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Waiting this period of time is essential as it allows the meat to relax from the grilling process and makes the juices flow throughout the pork. The grilling process is incomplete without this step, so waiting that short period to let the juices moisten and tenderize the meat is well worth it.
So, now you know how to choose pork chops and how to grill them to perfection. By following the methods discussed above, you are sure to impress at your next backyard summer gathering.