How to Make Tender Marinated BBQ Pork Chops

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Marinated, grilled pork chops are moist and flavorful.
Marinated, grilled pork chops are moist and flavorful. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

There may be nothing more tantalizing than a grilled thick-cut pork chop glazed with a tangy barbecue sauce and cooked to juicy perfection. Though easy to prepare, pork chops can also quickly dry out during most methods of cooking -- especially grilling. To ensure a tender chop, marinate the meat for several hours. This culinary trick ensures moisture and adds depth of flavor. Start with the same foundation for all marinades, which is a combination of herbs, spices, cooking oil and an acidic component. Get creative with the ingredients and you can create your own take on classic barbecue pork chops.

Things You'll Need

  • Boneless or bone-in pork chops, 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Herbs and spices
  • Vegetable, canola or olive oil, optional
  • Soy or teriyaki sauce, optional
  • Worcestershire sauce, optional
  • Lemon or lime juice, optional
  • Charcoal or gas grill
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Instant-read thermometer

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, and set aside. Do not trim the fat from the chops as it will add flavor during the grilling process. Excess fat may be removed after cooking.

Make the marinade by combining herbs, spices, oil of choice and the acidic component. Consider the flavors of the barbecue sauce or finished dish when choosing the oil and acidic ingredient. Soy and teriyaki sauce complement most barbecue sauces, and also work with Asian-inspired pork. Worcestershire sauce is a popular choice as it contains tamarind and lends a sweet and tangy note to dishes. Lemon or lime juice is a great catch-all acidic component that is often used with Mexican flavors, such as cumin and oregano.

Place the pork chops in a food-safe plastic bag or large glass container. Pour the marinade over the chops, making sure each one is covered. If there is not enough marinade to fully cover the meat, you can turn the chops over once or twice during the marinating time. Cover the container, or if using a plastic bag, place inside a bowl to contain any liquid that might accidentally spill out. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, though ideally for several hours.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. The chops should cook over medium-high, direct heat. Place the chops on the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the chops over and brush generously with the barbecue sauce. Continue to grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. Apply more sauce and turn once more, cooking until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Actual cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the chops and your grill.

Remove the chops from the grill and allow to rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Residual heat will allow the chops to finish cooking to 145 degrees F, which is the safe temperature to consume pork. Resting also retains all the flavorful juices created during the grilling process. To avoid contamination, discard the remaining barbecue sauce used to coat the chops.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bone-in or boneless chops may be used, though boneless pork will cook more evenly on the grill.
  • You can find bottled barbecue sauce in most grocery stores, or search the ethnic section for internationally inspired sauces.
  • Search for recipes to make your own barbecue sauce and for ideas on how to pair herbs and spices when making a marinade.

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