Grilled zesty pork chops a juicy and flavorful dish that cooks up quickly are so easy to make. Mix up a quick marinade to insure the pork is tender the day before. When it comes time to grill, these chops are ready within 30 minutes. Serve them with your favorite side and a great salad and you become your friends and family’s favorite person.
All about Pork Chops
When you go to buy pork chops, there are lots of different-looking meat, all bearings some form of the term pork chop. What is consistent is all the chops are cut from the loin section of the pig which goes from the shoulder to the hip of the animal. The most common cuts contain some portion of the eye of the loin.
This bone-in pork chop (on the left) contains the loin meat attached to a rib (actually a single baby back rib bone.) The meat is tender and often has a thin layer of fat along the side where the bone connects to the meat. These rib pork chops (other names: center-cut rib pork chop, rib chop, rib end chop, or pork chop end cut) are cut from the shoulder to the middle of the loin section of the pig.
These pork chops (shown on the right) are cut from the center of the loin and have a T-shaped bone that has a large portion of the loin on one side and a smaller portion of the tenderloin on the other. Loin chops cut from the center to closer to the shoulder have little or no tenderloin portion. (Other names for this chop are top-loin chop, pork loin end chop, center loin chop, and porterhouse chop.) Because the loin and tenderloin cook at different rates which can make it difficult to cook properly. The marinade will help give you an extra boost. But be careful to not overcook any pork chop.
Boneless Pork Chop
Boneless pork chops are cut from the rib chop and the loin chop and are perfect for quick cooking methods like grilling, pan-searing, frying, and baking. Since they are boneless, the meat can overcook very quickly.
Sirloin chops (or sirloin steak) are a cheaper cut from the back of the loin area, the meat is composed of different muscle groups which make it best to cook with slow moist methods. You can identify this bone-in or boneless cut by the multi-colored portions of meat.
Tips for Zesty Grilled Pork Chop Marinade
- Look for thick pork chops. Minimun thickness desired is 3/4”. Double thick chops can be anywhere from 1-1/2” – 2” thick.
- This marinade will give an extra measure of flavor and moisture.
- Bone-in pork chops have some fat around the bone and protects the meat from overcooking. On the downside, these pork chops are larger and are harder to cut into single servings.
- Pat the marinade from the surface of the meat so the pork immediately begins to sear as soon as it hits the heat. This gives a beautiful look and flavor to the finished product.
- Cook to the proper internal temperature instead of relying on he clock alone. I’ve given timing as a guide not as a rule.
- Over the years, pork breeding have changed. There was a fear of trichinosis (a parasite found in undercooked pork) so the recommended internal temperature was 170°F. Since the farming methods have changed for decades, pork is safe to eat when there is still a little pink (145°F internal temperature), don’t cook beyond 155°F or the pork chops will be very dry.
- Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing or serving to allow the moisture in the meat to redistribute throughout the pork chop.
A simple zesty grilled pork chop marinade produces great flavor and insures your meat is tender and juicy.
- 4 (6-8 ounce) pork chops, either boneless or bone-in—look for chops that are at least 3/4”-1” thick
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- In a zip-close gallon size bag, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, mince garlic, dried oregano, pepper, chili powder and olive oil. Seal bag and using your fingers smush the bag until all the ingredients are combined.
- Add the pork chops and massage the bag so the marinade covers the meat. Place the zip close bags in the refrigerator and allow the pork chops to marinate for overnight or at least 6 hours an up to 24 hours.
- When ready to cook the pork chops, remove them from the marinade and pat the meat well on all sides to remove the surface moisture.
- Lightly oil the grates and preheat the grill or grill pan to medium-high heat (375°F)
- Place pork chops on grill and cook for 3-4 minutes (rotate each pork chop 90° after 2 minutes to get the cross hatch grill mark.
- Flip the pork chops over and continue cooking for another 3 minutes on the other side.
- Reduce the grill temperature to medium low and continue to cook until the internal temperature of each chop reaches 145°F,. Depending on the thickness of the meat and the grill conditions this could take anywhere between 6-15 more minutes). If using a grill pan, once you achieve grill marks, move the grill pan into a preheated 325°F oven and cook until the pork chops reach an internal temperature of 145°F.
- Remove the pork chops from the grill or grill pan and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve. If you want to add a kick, sprinkle a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes on meat while it rests.
Even 1 hour of marinating will improve the flavor and juiciness of the pork, the longer the marinate time (up to 24-36 hours) the better the marinade can penetrate the meat and boost the flavor. Longer marinating times can break down the meat fibers and make the flesh mushy, for a more in-depth discussion, check out this post.
For food safety, always refrigerate meat while it is marinating.
Take the time to pat the pork well before cooking. This helps the meat immediately start to sear as soon as it touches the heat, rather than steaming as the high temperature evaporates the surface liquid on the pork chops before beginning to sear.
Keywords: pork marinade, pork chop primer
What to Serve with Zesty Pork Chops