How to Cook Pork Chops on a Charcoal Grill

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Cooking pork chops on a charcoal grill requires care.
Cooking pork chops on a charcoal grill requires care. (Image: pork chops on grill image by robert lerich from Fotolia.com)

Cooking pork chops on a barbecue grill is an exercise in the culinary arts. Decisions must be made regarding grilling thick or thin chops; whether to season the chops by brining, marinating or dry-rubbing; and whether to grill with direct or indirect heat. Choosing the type of wood to sprinkle among the charcoal to provide just the right addition of flavor is also an important consideration. Producing a juicy, well-seasoned pork chop on the grill is not a project to be undertaken lightly.

Things You'll Need

  • Charcoal grill
  • Stiff-wire brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Canola oil
  • Pork chops
  • Seasoning blend
  • Starter cone or chimney starter
  • Tongs
  • Meat thermometer

Scrub the rack that the meat will sit on with a stiff-wire brush, removing all buildup. Spray the rack thoroughly with canola oil and set aside.

Clean the grill pan by removing the charcoal and using the brush to remove any buildup of grease. Replace and replenish the charcoal in the grill pan. Fill two-thirds of the grill pan with charcoal, leaving one-third charcoal free. Lay the charcoal out in smooth, level layers for an even distribution of heat. There should be about 3 inches of space between the charcoal and the grill rack.

Place a starter cone or chimney starter, available at home improvement stores, in among the charcoal. Using either of these items allows you to set the charcoal ablaze without tainting the chops with the flavor of lighter fluid. Light the cone or starter 30 minutes prior to cooking, so that the charcoal will be reduced to glowing coals when it comes time to put on the chops.

Choose chops at least 1-inch thick but preferably closer to 2-inches thick. Rub chops with a seasoning blend such as barbecue, lemon pepper or any other personal favorite. Chunks of hickory or mesquite wood can be soaked overnight in water and laid among the coals to add flavor to the chops.

Place the chops directly over the glowing coals. Use a pair of tongs to turn the chops every 3 to 4 minutes. Close the lid occasionally to allow the wood smoke and seasonings to permeate the meat. At a high temperature, approximately 450 degrees, it will take 2-inch-thick chops 20 to 25 minutes to cook evenly throughout to a 155 degree internal temperature. If the outside cooks faster than the inside, move the pork chops to the area of the grill without charcoal underneath.

Use a stem-style meat thermometer to check the temperature of the chops after they have browned evenly. The internal temperature of pork, for maximum flavor and juiciness, should be at least 155 degrees since it will attain the food-safe temperature of 160 degrees as it continues to cook once removed from the grill.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep a spray bottle of water nearby to use on flame-ups, so the pork chops don't singe. If a major flame-up occurs, close the lid to put it out.
  • Supervise children carefully since the grill body becomes very hot during cooking.
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