Citrus-Brined Grilled Pork Chops

GrillPork Chops

It's all about the citrus brine with these pork chops! Brining helps them stay tender and moist through the high heat of grilling, and the citrus adds a magical zing to the flavor!

Photography Credit: Nick Evans

Boneless pork chops seem to be a popular grilling option during summer because they are always available and are easy to season and toss on a hot fire.

But they also tend to dry out quickly and are easy to overcook.

That’s why I love this Citrus Brined Pork Chop recipe! The salty sweet brine keeps the pork chops really tender and moist, even if you do accidentally overcook them a few degrees.

WHY BRINING MAKES TENDER PORK CHOPS

Once you mix up the simple brine, the pork chops need to brine for at least an hour; overnight would be even better to allow the flavors to really penetrate.

The brine changes the structure of the protein in the pork slightly and actually tenderizes it, making it less likely to dry out later on the high heat of the grill.

Grilled Boneless Pork Chops grill the pork chops

THE BEST GRILL TEMP FOR PORK CHOPS

When you’re ready, heat your grill to medium-high direct heat, or until the grill feels hot when you hold your hand a few inches away from the surface.

If you don’t have access to a grill or the weather isn’t cooperating, you can also sear the pork chops in a hot cast iron skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat; cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side and then finish them in a 350°F oven, until they reach the desired temperature.

HOW LONG TO GRILL PORK CHOPS

Grill pork chops for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. The exact cooking time can vary depending on the pork chop and its thickness, so I’m always hesitant to give specific cooking times. If you have thinner ½-inch pork chops, they might be done in as little as 8 minutes total on the grill. If the cut is over 3/4 inch thick, it will take an extra few minutes to cook.

You should always use an instant-read thermometer and cook the pork chops to an internal temperature of 145°F. Keep in mind that the pork will continue to cook after it comes off the heat.

HOW DOES IT TASTE?!

The citrus elements from the brine are subtle after the pork chop has cooked, but definitely add a slightly fruity flavor and give a certain zing to the pork. Your guests might not be able to put a finger on exactly the flavor, but they will love it!

More Pork Chop Recipes!

Citrus-Brined Grilled Pork Chops Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Brining time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings

Trim any fat from the outer edges of the pork chops to help prevent flare-ups on the grill.

If you don’t have access to a grill or the weather isn't cooperating, you can also sear the pork chops in a hot cast iron skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat; cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side and then finish them in a 350°F oven, until they reach the desired temperature.

Ingredients

For the brine:

  • 1/2 white onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup Morton kosher salt (or 1/3 cup table salt)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups ice
  • 4 (8- to 10-ounce) boneless pork chops, trimmed of any fat

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Neutral oil, for grill

Method

1 Make the brine: In a medium pot, combine the onion, garlic, salt, honey, peppercorns, orange, lime, and lemon. Add two cups of water and bring to a slight simmer over medium-high heat. Stir until the honey and salt are dissolved.

Remove from heat and add ice to chill the mixture to at least room temperature.

Citrus Pork Chops on the Grill make the brine

2 Brine the pork chops: Once cool, transfer the brine to a large dish and add the pork chops. The pork chops should be covered by the brine. If they aren’t, use a small plate or bowl to keep them in the brine.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes, but longer is preferable. Don’t let them brine for longer than 24 hours—otherwise the proteins in the pork will start to cure and you’ll end up with something closer to ham.

Citrus Pork Chops on the Grill brine the pork chops

3 Prep the pork chops: When ready to grill, remove pork chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Stir together the spices for the rub in a small bowl, and season the pork chops liberally with the rub.

Grilled Boneless Pork Chops rub the pork chops with spices

4 Heat the grill: Preheat grill to medium-high heat and rub the grill grates with some neutral oil on a clean rag (or a few paper towels) to prevent sticking.

5 Grill the chops: Place the pork chops on grill and grill for 5 to 6 minutes on the first side. If you'd like pretty cross-hatched grill marks, rotate the pork chop 90-degrees after 3 minutes.

Flip pork chop and cook on the second side for another 4 to 6 minutes. The pork chops are done when an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chops registers 145°F. (This is the FDA recommended cooking temperature and it will give you slightly pink pork chops in the center).

If your pork chops are thicker than 3/4-inch, they will need a few minutes longer on the grill and you’ll have to watch the thermometer until they are done.

Grilled Boneless Pork Chops grill the pork chops

6 Rest the pork chops: Transfer the cooked chops to a plate and let them rest for about five minutes before serving.

7 Serve! Slice and serve the chops with grilled fruit such as pineapple and a green side such as grilled Brussels sprouts (grilled in a grill pan over high heat for a few minutes until charred in spots)!

Grilling Pork Chops

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Nick Evans

Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.

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7 Comments / Reviews

No ImageCitrus-Brined Grilled Pork Chops

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. CHRIS

    Yes they were really good, made them with corn on the cob had fresh pineapple slices for the grill but forgot till it was to late . Still really good

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Abigail

    It was way too salty to eat! I followed the directions exactly. What could have gone wrong? This is the first recipe I’ve made from your site that went wrong so I’m assuming user error somewhere but I was very careful to follow the recipe and double checked all my amounts.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    • Nick

      Hey Abigail, I’m sorry it didn’t work for you! My only three guesses on the saltiness are: 1) If you use a salt different from Morton kosher salt, it might have more salt in the same volume. Table salt for example,has way more salt in the same measurement because of smaller grains. 2) If you used thinner pork chops, they may have took on too much brine and ended up almost curing rather than just quickly brining. 3) If you leave them in the brine too long, they can get too salty as well.

      Those are my only three tips here… I hope they help and good luck in the kitchen! Cheers!

  3. Barb

    It was delicious but very salty. Next time, I will cut the salt in the rub to only a teaspoon.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Lynn

    Question…do I need to squeeze the juice from the orange, lime, and lemon after cutting them in half or just add as is to the brine muxture?

  5. Jenny

    Would this bribe work for chicken also?

  6. Carol

    Question. My husband is allergic to oranges, but can have tangerine juice. Can I sub a bit of juice for the orange? I’m guessing 1/4 to 1/2 cup juice. Thanks!

Grilling Pork ChopsCitrus-Brined Grilled Pork Chops