Secrets to the Best Grilled Pork Chops
5 simple tips, a few ingredients, and boom, a juicy, tasty, 30-minute recipe to put on repeat
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Article, recipe, and photographs by Marrekus and Krysten Wilkes of Cooks with Soul
Have you ever heard the expression “the other white meat”? The '80s advertising slogan may refer to pork's light color, but to me it means meat that's versatile and juicy, like chicken at its best. That is what you get when you have grilled pork chops done right.
My fondest memory of having pork chops as a kid was them deep-fried until golden brown, doused in hot sauce, and served between 2 pieces of Wonder Bread. That was a meal fit for a king. When I grew up and got into barbecue I started grilling the chops, but they kept coming out dry because I was trying to grill the same, thin type of chops that I was used to having fried.
One day I was in my local butcher shop and saw that they had some big, bone-in chops that were about an inch thick with some nice marbling. I asked my butcher how to cook them. That was the start of a few experiments I did to learn the best way to grill pork chops. It turns out it's easy to cook chops that are juicy and packed with flavor.
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5 tips for tasty, juicy grilled pork chops
If you are looking for juicy pork chops that are simple to cook, then this is the recipe for you.
1. Go for thick chops
The first thing you want to do is get a hold of some thick, bone-in or boneless chops. I found some nice 1-pound chops about 1-inch thick that were absolutely perfect for this recipe. Thicker chops are going to hold the juices much better than thin ones. If you can get your hands on a bone-in pork loin (or ask your butcher to do it), you could actually cut the chops to the size and weight that you like and they might come out cheaper as well.
2. Keep the seasonings simple
With just a few ingredients, this recipe lets you put together a top-notch dish that can be used for an easy weekday meal or for any special occasion when you want to break out the big guns in the kitchen but don't have a lot of time.
Salt, pepper, and garlic are the only spices you need to take these chops over the top. Toss together the spices in a bowl and give them a quick mix. You want to make sure you cover your chops liberally with the rub, as they are thicker cuts and can take it. If you have any rub left over, sprinkle it on your veggies or any sides that you have prepared.
3. Grill over direct, medium heat
No need to break out the smoker or set aside an entire day to cook this meal. After you have seasoned your chops, get your grill set up for direct medium heat (350°-450°F). Direct heat (with the fire right under the food) lets you cook your meat faster and it also gives you a nice char on the chops. Cooking these thicker chops between 350°-450°F allows for an even cook, rather than at a super high heat that may cause them to burn before they reach the desired internal temperature.
4. Don’t overcook the meat
One thing I've found is you can cook thicker-cut chops almost like a nice steak. A 1-inch-thick chop grilled to about 145°F internal temperature will give you one of the juiciest cuts of meat you have ever had. The USDA says it’s safe to cook pork chops to 145°F, which leaves them a little pink.
To monitor the temp, I use the awesome Yummly Smart Thermometer and select the rosy setting in the preset options for pork chops. With this ultimate kitchen tool, you will never have to worry about overcooking your meats again.
5. Let the meat rest
Once your chops are up to temp you want to let them rest to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. When they're off to the side resting is the perfect time to get your peaches on the grill.
How to grill peaches to go with pork chops
After playing around with recipes and different styles of sauces, I finally decided to go with a simple accompaniment that could be repeated over and over with delicious results. Who knew that peaches would be the perfect complement to pork? I have seen tons of pork recipes with apples and even applesauce, but I think peaches are a hidden gem. We went to our local farmers’ market and found some nice ripe peaches to use for this recipe.
Once the chops come off the heat, give the grill a quick brush to clean the grates. Mix a little melted butter and brown sugar in a bowl and generously baste the cut sides of the peaches. Now lay the peaches on the grill basted side down, again over medium heat (350° to 450°F).
Grilled peaches do not take long at all. You’re just going for some grill marks and a little char. About 4 minutes per side works for me and my grill set-up. The charred sugars and the natural sweetness from the peaches give the perfect balance to the saltiness from the pork chops.
What to serve with grilled pork chops and peaches
For serving, set the chops on plates, slice the peaches, and lay them on top of the pork chops. You can pair this dish with some leafy greens, baked potatoes, or our favorite side dish, grilled asparagus.
Get the recipe
The simplicity of this recipe and the flavor-packed, easily repeatable results will definitely make this a go-to meal, and your family will not be disappointed.
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Try more easy grilling recipes
If you love the idea of cooking over a fire but aren't too sure about the details, read on for more tips and easy recipes.