Grilled Pork Chops are restoring my relationship with this inexpensive, versatile cut of meat.
A lemon rosemary rub, picking the right kind of chop, and grilling to the correct temperature are the secrets to perfect grilled pork chops that taste nothing like the dry, hockey puck-esque chops that I dreaded as a kid (I had to do a lot of bartering for dessert on pork chop night).
Due to said dry pork chop trauma, I shied away from cooking pork chops for most of my adult life.
Thank goodness I did, because I realized I’ve been missing out on a key protein that can add enjoyable variety to your dinner routine, especially if (like me) you get stuck in a Grilled Chicken Breast rut.
That’s where grilled pork comes in! (Be sure to also check out this Grilled Pork Tenderloin for another yummy, healthy option.)
Throw pork chops on your grill alongside Grilled Brussels Sprouts or Grilled Potatoes for a complete meal that’s easy enough for a weeknight and special enough for company, with (I love this part) pretty much zero clean up.
How to Grill Pork Chops Without Drying Them Out
Follow these four cardinal rules for perfect, juicy grilled pork chops.
- Use Thick-Cut, Bone-In Pork Chops. A thicker chop (preferably 1 ½ inches or more) can better withstand the heat of the grill. The bone also helps insulate the meat and keep the pork chop moist.
- Marinade or Dry Rub the Pork. Coating the pork with a rub or marinade that contains salt is key to ensuring that the pork turns out juicy, not dry. Salt tenderizes meat and helps it retain water, keeping your pork chops moist. (Even stuffing the pork can help maintain moisture, as Stuffed Pork Chops can attest.)
For the best results, marinade pork chops (or let them sit with the rub) for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- Let the Meat Come to Room Temperature Prior to Grilling. This will ensure the pork cooks evenly. If you throw the meat on the grill cold, by the time the inside comes to temperature, the outside will be overcooked.
- DO NOT OVER COOK. Like with Grilled Swordfish, there is no recovery from an overcooked pork chop. Use an instant read thermometer like this one to check the pork chop’s internal temperature for doneness. Be sure to take the temperature of the meat, not the bone.
TRICK FOR PERFECTLY COOKED PORK CHOPS
- Pork is considered safe to eat at 145 degrees F. Its internal temperature will continue to rise as the pork rests, however, so if you wait until your pork chop hits 145 on the grill, it will be overcooked by the time you eat it.
- I prefer to pull pork from the grill when it reaches 135 degrees F, covering it, and letting it rest for 10 minutes to let the carry over cooking finish the job and the meat’s juices to reincorporate. This method yields perfectly cooked, juicy pork every time!
- Pork Chops. The best cut of pork chop for grilling is thick-cut, bone in pork chops. I do not recommend grilled boneless chops, as they are but guaranteed to dry out. (You’re better off cooking boneless pork chops in a skillet on the stove.)
- Pork Rub. For this grilled pork chop recipe, I use a simple rub made with salt, garlic, lemon zest, and rosemary. Pork can stand up to (and craves) bold flavors like these.
- Fresh Herbs. While you can serve these as plain grilled pork chops without any additions on top, I love to add a handful of whatever herbs are in my refrigerator. In addition to making for a pretty presentation, they give the pork chops freshness.
In addition to using the lemon zest for the rub, squeeze the lemon juice on top of the grilled chops. The bit of acidity helps to cut the richness of the pork and adds brightness.
- After patting the pork chops dry, prepare the marinade in a small bowl.
- Rub the mixture all over the outsides of the pork. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Cook the pork chop on the grill over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, then flip to the other side for another 4 to 8 minutes, or until the pork reaches 135 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.
- Let rest for 10 minutes, then ENJOY!
You can also make grilled pork chops on the stove. Use a grill pan and be careful not to crowd it or the pork chops will not brown properly. If needed, cook the pork in batches. Prior batches will stay warm on a plate covered with aluminum foil.
HOW LONG TO COOK PORK CHOPS ON THE GRILL
One of the best parts about grilling pork chops? It is FAST!
The amount of time you need to cook pork chops on the grill will vary based on the thickness and whether you choose bone-in or boneless.
- My recommended 1 ½ inch, bone-in pork chops cook in 9 to 12 minutes over medium high heat. Flip them once halfway through.
- Check the pork early. You can always put your pork back on the grill to cook for longer, but once it’s overcooked, there is no return.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover pork chops in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm pork chops in the air fryer or oven at 350 degrees F, in the microwave, or in a skillet on the stove.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftover pork chops in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Prep the pork with the rub and refrigerate up to 1 day in advance. Let it come to room temperature, and you are ready to grill.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Lemon Zester. 10-inch zester with cover. Cleans easily too.
- Thongs. I love the locking feature that keeps these organized in my drawer.
Pork chops, I’m so happy we’re friends!
Grilled Pork Chops
- 4 pork bone-in loin chops 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inches thick
- 1 small lemon
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cloves minced garlic about 1 tablespoon
- Chopped fresh parsley basil, or herbs of choice (optional for serving)
- Pat the pork chops dry on both sides.
- Zest the lemon into a small bowl. Add the rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic. With your fingers, rub to combine. It should smell very fragrant. Slice the lemon into wedges and reserve for serving.
- Rub the lemon/rosemary mixture all over the outsides of the pork. Cover the pork chops and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature or refrigerate up to overnight. Let come to room temperature prior to grilling.
- When ready to grill, heat a grill or grill pan over medium high heat. If you are using a grill pan, you will need to cook the pork in batches (if the chops are too crowded in the pan, the chops will steam and not sear properly). Place the pork chops on the grill. Cook on the first side for 5 minutes, until the pork chop easily releases from the grill.
- Flip and cook on the other side for another 4 to 8 minutes (the cooking time will vary based upon your grill temperature and the thickness of your pork), until the pork reaches 135 degrees F on an instant read thermometer (it will continue to cook and the temperature will keep rising as it rests). When the pork chops are done, they will feel just firm to the touch, the juices will run slightly pink, and the meat will look rosy in the center. Place on a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest 10 minutes.
- Once the pork chops have rested, serve hot with reserved lemon wedges. Enjoy!
- TO STORE. Refrigerate leftover pork chops in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT. Gently rewarm pork chops in the air fryer or oven at 350 degrees F, in the microwave, or in a skillet on the stove.
- TO FREEZE. Freeze leftover pork chops in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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