How to Grill Pork

How-To, Learn, Tips & Techniques

How to Grill Pork

From chops and tenderloins to classic ribs, pork is meant for the grill. The trick is to lock in the meat’s moisture and to make sure you don’t overcook it — two challenges that can intimidate people. Here are some guidelines for grilling the most common cuts; read on for tips, then see our favorite summer recipes here.

 

Chops

 

 

Go Thick, Not ThinGo Thick, Not Thin
Don’t try to grill thin pork chops. Bread them and fry them, and they’ll taste great. But if you put them on the grill, they will cook too fast and end up tough and flavorless. Buy chops that are at least ¾ to 1 inch thick. Bone-in chops – a gracefully curved rib chop or a husky T-bone (center cut) – cook more evenly and have more flavor than boneless chops.
Brine, Brine, BrineBrine, Brine, Brine
Brining pork chops, even for a short time, provides a little wiggle room on doneness. If you are forgetful and cook the chop for a minute or two too long, the brine will help keep the meat moist. And remember to pat the chops dry with paper towels so they sear, rather than steam, on the grill.
Watch the HeatWatch the Heat
Pork doesn’t like high heat. Put a chop over a hot fire, and you’ll end up with a tough piece of meat, even if you’ve brined it. Setting up your grill for indirect grilling is a good way to go. You can put a quick sear on both sides of the chop and then move it to the indirect-heat area for slower cooking.
Brined Pork Chops with Grilled Stone FruitRecipe
These Brined Pork Chops with Grilled Stone Fruit are simple to prepare; just work a day ahead so you have plenty of time to brine the meat. Pork and fruit make a perfect pairing, especially with the added flavor from the grill.

 

Tenderloins

 

Remove the Silver SkinRemove the Silver Skin
Nobody wants to eat the tough silver skin on tenderloins, but more importantly, it affects the cooking time. You can fold in the thinner part of the tenderloin and tie it with butcher’s twine — that way you have even thickness throughout the tenderloin.
Don’t OvercookDon’t Overcook
Pork is safe to eat by the time it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. Take them off the grill at about 145 degrees F, let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes, and let the residual heat increase the temperature to about 150 degrees F. This produces a fantastically juicy pork tenderloin cooked to medium, which will be a bit pink in the center. Also, cook them over medium heat; if the heat is too high, the meat will be tough.
Mustard-Glazed Pork TenderloinRecipe
Pork tenderloins cook quickly and can feed a lot of people, so they’re great for summer entertaining. Try our Mustard-Glazed Pork Tenderloin for bold, unexpected flavors.

 

Ribs

 

Remove the MembraneRemove the Membrane
Flip the ribs over so the backside is up. Slide a sharp knife under the corner of the thin membrane that covers the backside of the rack, then grab a corner of the membrane and rip it off (you can also use a paper towel to grab the membrane). The ribs will be easier to eat, will be infused with more flavor, and will cook more evenly.
Steam-Roast the Ribs in the OvenSteam-Roast the Ribs in the Oven
Loosely wrap the ribs in aluminum foil, add a little water to the package, and steam-roast the ribs in gentle heat in your oven for about an hour. This sets up an environment that guarantees moist ribs.
Mix Your Wood ChipsMix Your Wood Chips
Don’t use all hickory chips, which can give the ribs a bitter edge. Instead, use a mix of hickory and oak or a fruit wood.
Use Both Indirect and Direct HeatUse Both Indirect and Direct Heat
Cook the ribs over low indirect heat first, then, toward the end of cooking, move them to medium direct heat, and baste with the sauce.
Don't OvercookDon’t Overcook
Some people think that once the meat has pulled back from the bones 1 inch (2.5 cm.) or so, the ribs are done. In reality, those are overcooked and dried out. The best way to tell when a rack of ribs is ready is to grab the long side with tongs, and if the ribs bend without resistance, they are done.
Baby Back RibsRecipe
Traditional Baby Back Ribs are the holy grail of grilling. Here, the double-cooking method results in flavor-packed, ultra tender meat that will leave everyone licking their fingers.

 

Tip: Pork chops, loin roasts, and tenderloins should be cooked to a final temperature of 150° to 155° after resting. For perfect tenderness and flavor, ribs should be cooked to 170°.

 

Featured Recipe: Grilled Pork Chops with Caramelized Peaches and Basil

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