How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 37

When peo­ple ask me what the hard­est thing to bar­be­cue, I almost always say brisket. The stall on a brisket is mad­den­ing. And while brisket is prob­a­bly the hard­est, grilling the per­fect pork chop is a close sec­ond. There is a per­fect storm of rea­sons for this. First, the pork chop is gen­er­al­ly from the pork loin, which is very lean and thus there is a small win­dow for get­ting them right. Sec­ond is the myth that pork has to be cooked to well done. Not the case any­more. The USDA has decid­ed that pork only has to be tak­en to medi­um rare. That’s right, 135–140 degrees. Now that we have those two things out of the way, time to get grilling.

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop


3 mas­sive pork chops (these are 2 inch­es thick)
1 qt apple cider (sub­sti­tute apple juice)
1/4 cup salt
2 cloves gar­lic, minced
10 turns black pep­per
10 turns white pep­per
Your favorite BBQ rub
Stubb’s Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce

There are 7 steps to this process for grilling the per­fect pork chop.

  1. Brine
  2. Season/Rub
  3. Smoke
  4. Sear
  5. Sauce
  6. Smoke some more
  7. Serve

Brine — What is brin­ing? It’s soak­ing meat in a salt water solu­tion. I take it to the next lev­el and brine in apple cider if I can find it and apple juice when I can’t. The salt pushed the liq­uid into the meat mak­ing it juici­er. It also adds fla­vor (remem­ber, it’s apple juice and gar­lic), and the salt also ten­der­izes. Brin­ing is absolute­ly nec­es­sary for the per­fect pork chop. Remem­ber when I said pork chops dry out real­ly quick. Well brin­ing expands that win­dow so it makes it hard­er to dry them out. Brin­ing adds liq­uid, fla­vor and ten­der­izes the meat. So basi­cal­ly it makes meat juici­er, tasti­er and more ten­der. Uh, hel­lo. Win, win, win!

Here’s what you will need for the brine:

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 2

Com­bine the apple cider or juice with the salt and pep­per in a reseal­able plas­tic bag and swish around until the salt is dis­solved. Add the gar­lic and the pork chops and place in the fridge for 2–12 hours. I don’t like to brine more than 12 hours as it can start to cure the meat and it will be more like ham.

After the pork chops come out of the brine bath it’s time to sea­son or rub them

Season/Rub - There’s noth­ing to this. Pat the chops dry with paper tow­els and coat one side of the pork chops with your favorite rub. No need to add any salt. The pork chops are essen­tial­ly salt­ed from the brine so all they need is a dust­ing of rub:

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 4

Only season/rub one side while on the cut­ting board. If these chops were flipped over to sea­son the oth­er side, most of the rub on the bot­tom will stick to the cut­ting board. Sea­son the oth­er side on the grill.

Smoke - Some of you are won­der­ing why I didn’t say sear first. Yes, sear­ing browns the pork chops which caramelizes the pro­teins and adds a ton of fla­vor to any meat. The prob­lem is, if the chop is seared first, it won’t take on much smoke fla­vor. So smoke THEN sear which is the best of both worlds. It’s called the reverse sear method.

I cranked up my pel­let smok­er to 225 and added my mon­ster pork chops, sea­soned side down and applied the rub to the top:  How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 27

Notice that probe insert­ed into the pork chop? It’s vital that you have some way of check­ing the temp of the chops. Once they hit about 115–120, you’re going to want to sear them.

Sear - Luck­i­ly, my pel­let smok­er has a sear sta­tion on the side. Time to caramelize some pro­teins. Noth­ing to this. Just crank up the heat to as hot as it will go and put some grill marks on both sides of the chops:

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 32

Once the chops have grill marks on both sides, back to the smok­er to sauce:

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 15

Sauce - I hit these soon to be per­fect pork chops with some Stubb’s Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce which has an out­stand­ing bal­ance of sweet­ness and spice.

Now make sure to slather it on good on both sides:

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 34

Time to smoke some more.

Smoke again - I know, I know. I said that once pork chops are seared they don’t take on any more smoke fla­vor. The chops won’t but the sauce will! Extra lay­er of fla­vor, com­ing up! When the the per­fect pork chops reach an inter­nal temp between 135 and 150, pull them from the grill to serve. I pulled these at around 148 sim­ply because some peo­ple are still a lit­tle freaked out about pork with too much pink.

Serve - Put them on a plat­ter:

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 20

Might as well serve sides on a sep­a­rate plates as these per­fect pork chops prac­ti­cal­ly fill a din­ner plate:

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 38-4

Time to and dive in with tines and blade. How did I do?

How to Grill the Perfect Pork Chop - 41-2

Let’s see if we’ve achieved the per­fect pork chop. We have the extra sweet­ness from the brine as well as added ten­der­ness and juici­ness. We have rub that meld­ed into the out­side of the chops as they smoked. We have that smoke ring. We have the caramelized pro­teins from the sear and the sweet and spicy Stubb’s Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce also infused with smoke. That my friends is lay­er upon lay­er upon lay­er of fla­vor per­fec­tion! Just remem­ber — BSSSSSS:

  1. Brine
  2. Sea­son
  3. Smoke
  4. Sear
  5. Sauce
  6. Smoke again
  7. Serve

If you have any ques­tions, feel free to leave them below or send me an email.

Stubb’s BBQ Sauce com­pen­sat­ed me for this post

How to Grill the Per­fect Pork Chop
Recipe type: Entree
Cui­sine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
The 7 step process to grill the per­fect pork chop — Brine, Sea­son, Smoke, Sear, Sauce, Smoke Again and Serve
  • 3 mas­sive pork chops (these are 2 inch­es thick)
  • 1 qt apple cider (sub­sti­tute apple juice)
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 2 cloves gar­lic, minced
  • 10 turns black pep­per
  • 10 turns white pep­per
  • Your favorite BBQ rub
  • Stubb’s BBQ Sauce
  1. Com­bine the cider or juice in a plas­tic bag with the salt, gar­lic and pep­per
  2. When the salt is dis­solved, add the pork chops and brine for 2–12 hours
  3. Remove from the brine and pat dry with paper tow­els
  4. Sea­son one side with your favorite BBQ rub
  5. Place the pork chops, sea­soned side down, on a smok­er or grill set up to smoke with an inter­nal temp of 225
  6. Sea­son the oth­er side and close the lid
  7. Remove the pork chops from the smok­er when they reach an inter­nal temp of 115–120 and sear them on anoth­er grill or a side burn­er
  8. Once they have good grill marks on both sides, place them back on the smok­er and sauce them with the Stubb’s BBQ sauce
  9. Close the lid and smoke them until they reach between 135–150 degrees
  10. Serve



Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Orig­i­nal Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to col­lege with a suit­case and a grill where he over­cooked, under­cooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thou­sands of fail­ures, and quite a few suc­cess­es, near­ly two decades lat­er he start­ed a web­site to show step by step, pic­ture by pic­ture, fool­proof instruc­tions on how to make great things out of doors so that oth­ers don’t have to repeat the mis­takes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool­Porn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
Oh my wow! There is so much per­fec­tion right there! 😲✔️👍😎 . Video shot by the insane­ly tal­ent­ed @carlaocarvalho77 …… — 3 weeks ago
Scott Thomas

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one comment

I need to try some of this Stubbs. I like their orig­i­nal for beef ribs.


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