Grilled pork chops make a tasty weeknight meal or the centerpiece of a family cookout. Not only do barbecue grilled pork chops dazzle guests, but they’re an incredibly cheap way to feed a huge group of people, and (best of all) grilling pork chops is super easy.
If grilled pork chops aren’t a part of your BBQ arsenal, it's time to give them a chance. That’s why we’ve strung together this comprehensive guide that will walk you through selecting the perfect pork chop, the best wood for smoking pork chops, how to smoke pork chops on a pellet grill, grilled pork chops recipes, and more.
A lot of people tend to assume there’s only one kind of pork chop. Actually, there are four easy-to-find pork chops. All four come from the loin of the pig:
First and foremost is the rib or ribeye pork chop. The rib chop tends to be the most preferable for grilling. That’s because it comes from the center of the loin of the pig — the most tender part. The cut comes with a long, dramatic, flavor-soaked bone to match and tends to generate the perfect balance between tender meat and juicy fats.
Next, you’ve got the loin chop, also called the porterhouse or t-bone pork chop. The loin chop comes with a T-bone down its middle, and so it has two types of meat on it: loin and tenderloin. That makes loin chops a little bit trickier to grill because you’ve got two different meats that usually cook at different rates. You can grill a loin chop to perfection, but you’ll have to nurse it and give it lots of attention.
You can also go for a boneless chop. These can be cut from either of the other cuts. The boneless chop is the leanest pork chop available, which is preferable to some eaters. But with that leanness, you’re also going to run the risk of overcooking very quickly. Because the boneless chop has less fat and connective tissue, it dries out a lot quicker than normal chops. You’ve got to pay close attention to make sure you get it off the grill in time.
Finally, there’s the shoulder chop. The shoulder chop is filled with fat and tissue, so it's a good candidate for low and slow. But, if you like a chewy, fatty bite, you can also grill shoulder chops.
Regardless of the pork chop cut you choose, make sure it’s at least one inch thick. A thicker cut means slower cooking, so you'll get more smoke flavor and have a better chance to avoid overcooking.
Wood pellets are the best choice. They burn far hotter and way slower than standard wood chips, which gives master grillers a lot more control over the temperature of their pork chops. Hardwood pellets also provide you with more smoke consistency without the build-up – and they come in a wide range of blends that are ideal for pork chops.
The blend you go for really depends on what you’re looking for in a grilled pork chop. Apple pellets are always a dependable choice if you’re on the hunt for that light, slightly fruity flavor a lot of your guests naturally associate with grilled pork chops.
If you want to play around a bit, our all-natural pecan hardwood pellets give pork chops a trace of nuttiness, while our signature blend of hickory, maple, and cherry hardwood adds a full-bodied kick of flavor.
First, generously rub the chop down with salt and rub of your choice. Blackened Traeger Saskatchewan rub is the perfect blend and adds a kick of garlic to your chop, or you could go for our delicious and reliable Traeger Pork & Poultry rub. Regardless of the rub you choose, after massaging in your spices you should let your pork chops rest for around 15 minutes before grilling.
Once your pork chops are rested and you’re ready to cook, start your Traeger and set the temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat with the lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the grill has reached the proper temperature, place the pork chops on the grill.
For a 1 1/2 inch pork chop, grill for 15 minutes, flip the chops over, and grill the other side for 15 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes. If you're working with a thinner or thicker chop, adjust accordingly. You want the internal temperature of the chop to reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once that happens, remove them from the grill, let ‘em rest for five minutes and that’s it.
One popular way to get the most smoke flavor, the perfect cooking temperature, and those appetizing grill marks, is to reverse-sear the pork chops.
Set the Traeger grill temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat, with the lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Because of the lower temperature, you'll more than double the cooking time. Cook at the same temp for 60 minutes (flipping halfway through at the 30-minute mark).
After you reach an hour, you should remove the pork chops from your grill and set your temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the grill is hot, place the pork chop back on the grill and sear for three minutes per side or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (whichever comes first). Then rest for at least three minutes and serve.
Pork chops that are 1 1/2 inch thick, grilled over high heat, will take approximately 15 minutes per side for a total of 30 minutes of grilling time. Reverse-seared pork chops, cooked over lower heat and then finished over a hot grill, will take closer to 1 hour.
Regardless of the cooking method, you want to cook until the pork chops reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a 3 minute rest — this is considered medium, and is the recommended safe temperature for pork chops. Some cooks are comfortable cooking their pork chops to lower temperatures, like 135 degrees Fahrenheit, which can give you more tender meat.
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The Traeger Pro Team is a star-studded cast of expert BBQ pit masters, cookbook authors, outdoors experts and recipe developers. Simply put, they're damn good at their jobs. From choosing the right cut of meat to pulling together the perfect gathering, they're sharing their culinary secrets with you.Learn More