Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Salsa

DinnerGrillSalsaPork Chops

Grilled pork chops with a fresh, Italian-style cherry salsa made with onions, basil and balsamic vinegar.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Cherries are the first fruit to arrive in the summer here in Northern California, and when the trees are laden with them, you have to pick and eat as many as you can, before the worms and birds get to the rest.

Friends with cherry trees are good friends indeed, especially when they arrive with baskets filled to the brim!

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Mostly this is an opportunity to gorge, and engage in pit spitting contests. (I’m still mad that they’ve cross-bred the seeds out of watermelons, depriving me and thousands of kids of the summer rite of seed spitting, but am happy to engage with cherry pits.)

But if you want get all grown up on us, you can do other things with fresh cherries—clafouti, cherry fro yo, and sweet cherry pie—or make a simple cherry salsa to accompany pork chops or pork tenderloin.

Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Salsa

Now a note about salsa. Just because many of us are used to salsa served with tacos doesn’t mean that salsas are inherently spicy. Salsa is just the Spanish word for sauce.

In Mexico that usually means the addition of a spicy element such as dried red chiles or chopped fresh jalapeños. Salsa can also be Spanish or Italian inspired, without chiles, which is what we’ve chosen to do here.

I actually tried without success to make a spicy cherry salsa; any chile heat ended up detracting from the sweet flavor of the cherries. We finally settled on this simple version with red onions, a little lemon juice, and some balsamic and a touch of sugar to intensify the flavor of the cherries. Lovely served with grilled pork chops.

Any other ideas out there for savory spins on fresh cherries? Please let us know in the comments.

Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Salsa Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

If your cherries are juicy, the salsa will be juicy too. If you want the salsa less juicy, put the finished salsa into a fine-meshed strainer and strain off some of the excess juice.


  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds cherries, about 4 cups
  • 4 pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sugar


1 Mix onion with lemon juice: Mix the chopped onion with the lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside. The lemon juice will help take the edge off the onions.

2 Coat the pork chops in olive oil and sprinkle salt over them. Set aside at room temperature.

3 Pit and de-stem the cherries. A cherry pitter is magical for this task, but if you don't have one, use a small knife. Double check for stray pits, they always seem to find their way into dishes that call for fresh cherries.

4 Process cherries, onions, basil for salsa: Put the cherries, onions and chopped basil into a food processor. Pulse a few times until you have a chunky salsa, with differing textures of cherry. Alternately, you can chop everything by hand.

5 Add balsamic vinegar, salt, sugar to salsa: Mix in the balsamic vinegar, the 1/2 teaspoon salt and sugar. Add more of any of these ingredients to taste. Set aside at room temperature. You can make this salsa up to 8 hours in advance.

6 Grill pork chops: Prepare your grill for high direct heat. Grill the pork chops over high heat with the grill cover closed for 3 minutes. Turn them 45 degrees on the same side to get a pretty cross-hatch pattern, then close the grill cover and cook another 3 minutes.

Turn the pork chops over, but this time keep the grill cover open and cook for a final 2-3 minutes. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serve the pork chops with the cherry salsa.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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18 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. William Grandone

    I have done this with medallions of pork tenderloin and a cherry sauce made of whole cherry preserves cut with white wine and some red pepper flakes for a little zip without altering the flavor of the cherries. I imagine it would work with pork chops as well

  2. Lee Ann

    What type of cherries?

    Show Replies (1)
  3. janet

    made this this evening, family loved it! to add heat to the salsa, i added probably 2 tsp of pepper, gave it heat, but didn’t change the taste. this is definitely a keeper! thanks!


  4. Sara

    Made this tonight and it was awesome! I only made half the amount of the cherry salsa and found it to be plenty. My fiance and I both really enjoyed it – a great use for the cherries I picked up at the farmer’s market yesterday!

    I marinated my pork chops in red wine vinegar for about 45 minutes, then rinsed, dried, covered each side with salt and pepper, and cooked on the stove as described in your recipe for “mom’s perfect pork chops” – they turned out perfectly juicy and were delicious alongside this unique salsa! Thanks Elise!

  5. RachH

    My husband and I made this for dinner tonight, and it was superb!!! I’ve been a canning fool this weekend, but I could not bear to can any more cherries and still had 2 lbs. left. This recipe is a lifesaver, and I am so excited to have leftovers for tomorrow. Thanks for your wonderful site and recipes!


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