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The Ultimate Pork Chop Guide

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Are you feeling lost when it comes to grilling pork chops? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! With so many choices available, knowing which one suits your needs can be challenging. Together, we’ll explore each one in this ultimate pork chop guide.

Cooked Pork Chops
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First, it’s important to note that pork chop names can differ from region to region. However, we’ve done our best to address each one. Our guide highlights the most common pork chops and the best preparation methods. So, let’s get started with the basics, and remember to keep this ultimate pork chop guide close by for future reference. 

Thin vs. Thick Pork Chops

Thin-cut chops are usually under 3/4 inch thickness, while thicker chops are anything above 3/4 inch thick. Thin chops cook quickly and require a hot pan, oven, or high-heat grilling, while thick chops are typically cooked longer over low heat. 

Raw pork chops

A Brine Boosts Tenderness

Using a saltwater solution (or brine) on pork is beneficial. Submerge thick chops in a quick brine for 2-3 hours before cooking. Doing this will enhance the flavor and tenderness of the meat. 

Marinating Boosts Flavor 

marinating pork chops

Marinades infuse your pork chops with amazing flavor. A good marinade will not sink deep into the meat like a brine but will add a protective, flavorful layer to the chops. An excellent example of a basic marinade is oil, acid (vinegar or citrus juices), herbs, salt, and black pepper. Thin chops will be sufficiently marinated in 30 minutes, while thicker chops should marinate between 2-6 hours. If you don’t have time to brine or marinate, season your pork chops with herbs and spices. A spice rub won’t add moisture or tenderize the meat like a marinade, or brine but will add flavor. We recommend seasoning thick-cut chops at least 15-20 minutes before cooking.

Seasoning Tips

  • Before seasoning, pat the pork chops dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Doing this will help create a better sear and ensure your seasonings stick to the surface of the meat. Next, sprinkle both sides of the chops with a moderate amount of salt (1/2 teaspoon salt per pound of meat) to enhance the meat’s natural flavor. Don’t forget to add freshly ground black for subtle spiciness.
  • If you have a more complex rub, add spices and dried herbs like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, and sage.
  • Please note: Season with less salt if you are planning to brine the chops beforehand.

Types of Pork Chops and How to Grill Them

Rib chop
Rib chop

The Rib Chop, also known as the Bone-In Ribeye or Rib End, is cut from the lower loin and considered the best pork chop. Treat this cut like a good-quality steak. 

Center cut chop
Center-cut loin chop

The Center-Cut Loin Chop, also known as the Porterhouse or top Loin Chop, contains both loin and tenderloin sections. It’s usually a large cut and is best grilled at a higher temperature with a faster cooking time. 

Loin chop
Loin chop

The Loin Chop, also known as the Pork Loin End Chop, is similar to the Center-Cut Chop but with little or no tenderloin section. This cut will benefit from a brine and a salt-free spice rub and should be grilled at a higher temperature. 

Sirloin chop
Sirloin chop

The Sirloin Chop, also called the Sirloin Steak, contains different meat textures and colors. It’s best to marinate this cut for several hours before grilling. 

Boneless loin chop
Boneless loin chop

The Boneless Loin Chop, known as boneless pork chops, America’s Cut, New York Chop, or Pork Loin Filet, is a lean cut best used in stuffed pork chop recipes. If stuffing, gently sear the surface after cooking over low or indirect heat. If cooking it as is, we recommend using a brine first. 

Shoulder Chop- Pork Steak
Shoulder Chop

The Shoulder Chop, also known as Blade Chop, Pork Shoulder Steak, or Pork Steak, comes from the shoulder region and is tough and filled with connective tissue. It’s best to marinate this chop before grilling. It can also be smoked slowly to maximize tenderness and enhance flavor. When grilling thin-cut pork chops, they should be grilled hot and fast. The trick is to grill them like you would a steak—over intense heat, flipping as little as possible. 

Pork Chop Tips:

  • Choose bone-in, thick-cut chops for delicious, juicy meat. This cut is easy to find in the grocery store or online.
  • Brine thick chops for at least 2-3 hours before cooking
  • If using a brine, season chops with a low-salt dry rub afterward.
  • Cook chops to an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees F for best results.
  • Check the temp! Always have a temperature probe or instant-read thermometer handy.
  • Let the chops rest for 5 minutes after cooking. Doing this will help the muscle fibers relax, resulting in a tender pork chop.
  • Best woods for pork chops: Mild to moderate woods like apple, cherry, peach, or pecan (or pellets) work best for pork chops.

Pork Chop Recipes to Try:

With this ultimate pork chop guide, you can successfully make some delicious chops. Here are some of our favorite recipes to get you started! Please note that these recipes can be cooked on a pellet, gas, or charcoal grill, baked in the oven, or cooked in a skillet.

Derrick Riches
Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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Recipes

  • Bourbon BBQ Sauce
    This delicious bourbon BBQ sauce has the right amount of sweetness with a subtle tangy kick.
  • Grilled Achiote Shrimp Skewers
    Super easy, flavorful grilled shrimp skewers infused with achiote, citrus juice and savory spices.
  • Texas Pecan Pie
    This delectable pecan pie is a staple at holiday gatherings and potlucks across the Lone Star State.
  • Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken
    Grilled chicken breasts with zesty citrus and spicy pepper flavors – perfect for any occasion, from cookouts to quick dinners!
  • Blackstone Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches
    These delicious sandwiches are made with tender, juicy steak strips, and topped with sauteed onions, peppers, and gooey cheese!
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