Boneless pork chops seem to be a popular grilling option during summer because they are always available and are easy to season and toss on a hot fire.
But they also tend to dry out quickly and are easy to overcook.
That’s why I love this Citrus Brined Pork Chop recipe! The salty sweet brine keeps the pork chops really tender and moist, even if you do accidentally overcook them a few degrees.
WHY BRINING MAKES TENDER PORK CHOPS
Once you mix up the simple brine, the pork chops need to brine for at least an hour; overnight would be even better to allow the flavors to really penetrate.
The brine changes the structure of the protein in the pork slightly and actually tenderizes it, making it less likely to dry out later on the high heat of the grill.
THE BEST GRILL TEMP FOR PORK CHOPS
When you’re ready, heat your grill to medium-high direct heat, or until the grill feels hot when you hold your hand a few inches away from the surface.
If you don’t have access to a grill or the weather isn’t cooperating, you can also sear the pork chops in a hot cast iron skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat; cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side and then finish them in a 350°F oven, until they reach the desired temperature.
HOW LONG TO GRILL PORK CHOPS
Grill pork chops for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. The exact cooking time can vary depending on the pork chop and its thickness, so I’m always hesitant to give specific cooking times. If you have thinner ½-inch pork chops, they might be done in as little as 8 minutes total on the grill. If the cut is over 3/4 inch thick, it will take an extra few minutes to cook.
You should always use an instant-read thermometer and cook the pork chops to an internal temperature of 145°F. Keep in mind that the pork will continue to cook after it comes off the heat.
HOW DOES IT TASTE?!
The citrus elements from the brine are subtle after the pork chop has cooked, but definitely add a slightly fruity flavor and give a certain zing to the pork. Your guests might not be able to put a finger on exactly the flavor, but they will love it!
More Pork Chop Recipes!
Citrus-Brined Grilled Pork Chops Recipe
Trim any fat from the outer edges of the pork chops to help prevent flare-ups on the grill.
If you don’t have access to a grill or the weather isn't cooperating, you can also sear the pork chops in a hot cast iron skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat; cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side and then finish them in a 350°F oven, until they reach the desired temperature.
For the brine:
- 1/2 white onion, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup Morton kosher salt (or 1/3 cup table salt)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 orange, halved
- 1 lime, halved
- 1 lemon, halved
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups ice
- 4 (8- to 10-ounce) boneless pork chops, trimmed of any fat
For the rub:
- 1 tablespoon Morton kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Neutral oil, for grill
1 Make the brine: In a medium pot, combine the onion, garlic, salt, honey, peppercorns, orange, lime, and lemon. Add two cups of water and bring to a slight simmer over medium-high heat. Stir until the honey and salt are dissolved.
Remove from heat and add ice to chill the mixture to at least room temperature.
2 Brine the pork chops: Once cool, transfer the brine to a large dish and add the pork chops. The pork chops should be covered by the brine. If they aren’t, use a small plate or bowl to keep them in the brine.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes, but longer is preferable. Don’t let them brine for longer than 24 hours—otherwise the proteins in the pork will start to cure and you’ll end up with something closer to ham.
3 Prep the pork chops: When ready to grill, remove pork chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Stir together the spices for the rub in a small bowl, and season the pork chops liberally with the rub.
4 Heat the grill: Preheat grill to medium-high heat and rub the grill grates with some neutral oil on a clean rag (or a few paper towels) to prevent sticking.
5 Grill the chops: Place the pork chops on grill and grill for 5 to 6 minutes on the first side. If you'd like pretty cross-hatched grill marks, rotate the pork chop 90-degrees after 3 minutes.
Flip pork chop and cook on the second side for another 4 to 6 minutes. The pork chops are done when an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chops registers 145°F. (This is the FDA recommended cooking temperature and it will give you slightly pink pork chops in the center).
If your pork chops are thicker than 3/4-inch, they will need a few minutes longer on the grill and you’ll have to watch the thermometer until they are done.
6 Rest the pork chops: Transfer the cooked chops to a plate and let them rest for about five minutes before serving.
7 Serve! Slice and serve the chops with grilled fruit such as pineapple and a green side such as grilled Brussels sprouts (grilled in a grill pan over high heat for a few minutes until charred in spots)!
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