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When done right, grilled pork chops can be very succulent and flavorful. It all depends on your pork cut, seasoning and getting the cooking temperature and times right. Whether you use a charcoal or gas grill, you can learn how to grill pork chops perfectly at home.
How to Buy Pork
The first important lesson in learning how to grill pork chops is to know your pork cuts. You don’t have to know each one by name; just how the thickness and amount of fat affects the flavor and cooking times. There are two major types of pork cuts: bone-in and boneless. Bone-in pork chops are known for being tenderer than the boneless variety, but they also cook for longer.
Some pork has more fat around the meat than others. Fattier pork chops can handle high heat better than leaner cuts. Lean cuts often need to be moistened with sauces and marinades to keep them from becoming dry. Breading is also an effective method of cooking lean chops. Pork is best when fresh, but frozen can work just as well if defrosted in the fridge or in cool water ahead of time.
How to Grill Pork Chops at Home
Before you send your pork chops to the grill, it is important to season them properly. Brining – a process of soaking meat in salt water overnight – is a great way to tenderize thick pork cuts. You simply add a tablespoon of salt for every cup of water into a bowl, and a tablespoon of sugar if you like pork sweeter. Marinades are ideal for lean cuts. Alternatively, you can put together a dry rub of fresh herbs and spices, or simply salt and pepper.
Once you’ve brined, marinated or rubbed your pork chops, you can pre-heat the grill or turn the heat up to medium-heat on the stove.
If you’re using a grill, add the pork chops and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. If pork chops are very thick, add an additional minute. If using a pan, make sure the chops fit comfortably in the pan and do not touch. Cook for 3-4 minutes on either side as well. Serve.
General Cooking Times and Temperatures for Pork Chops
In general, medium chops should reach at least 145F when a meat thermometer is inserted into the thickest part. For well done, the ideal temperature is 160F and above. A cut ½-inch is usually cooked in 6-8 minutes and 8-10 minutes for ¾ inch cuts. For pork cuts thicker than 1 ¼-inch, the recommended cooking time is 20 minutes to half an hour.
Instead of high-sodium marinades, you can make your own at home. For sweet pork chops, you can combine a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil and ¼ cup of honey. For a saltier marinade, soy sauce and a little garlic can go a long way. If you brined your chops beforehand, there is no need to add extra salt. Learn how to grill pork chops and serve with baked potatoes and vegetable sides.