These Perfect Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet BBQ Pork Rub need to be on the menu for your next outdoor cookout or barbecue! These succulent, juicy, bone-in pork loin chops with this homemade barbecue rub made with a little brown sugar and spices are sure to get rave reviews.

This post was sponsored by Iowa Pork. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

An image of a perfect grilled pork chop with sweet bbq rub.

Perfect Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet BBQ Pork Rub

I’ve been so excited to share these pork chops for my American Eats series as one of the foods that Iowa is known for!

Did you know that around one-third of the pork raised in the United States comes from Iowa? Most of that pork is eaten here in the United States and when you buy pork at almost any grocery store across the U.S., you are supporting family farms in Iowa and the United States. Be sure to visit Iowa Select to learn more about Iowa pork farms.

I feel like pork chops get overlooked, especially during grilling season. But you guys! They can be so amazingly juicy and tender and good that they rival any other barbecue favorites!

The key to a perfect grilled pork chop is using both sides of the grill (one with direct heat and the other with indirect heat) and using a reliable digital meat thermometer. Another big factor is using an amazing sweet and savory rub, like the one I’m sharing here.

Also, be sure to use tongs to turn the pork chops rather than stabbing them with a fork while they are on the grill. The juices are what make properly grilled pork chops so mouthwatering and good, and you lose a lot of them when you pierce the meat. Definitely don’t cut into the meat while it’s on the grill to check to see if it’s done!

An image of four grilled bone-in grilled pork chops with grill marks.

What kind of pork chops should I buy for grilling?

There are three kinds of pork chops that I like to buy for grilling:  rib chop, loin chop, and boneless chop. Regardless of which pork chop you choose, you will want them to be at least 1-inch thick. I will even ask the butcher to cut a 1 1/2-inch bone-in center cut rib chop or loin chop for me if I don’t see pork chops that look thick enough, because thin pork chops just don’t work well for this type of grilling.

Rib Chops

A lot of people consider a center cut rib chop to be the best cut of pork chop. A rib chop grills up super tender with wonderful pork flavor, which is why so many people like it. It comes from the rib section and has a large bone on one side. 

Loin Chops

I used thick-cut pork loin chops when I took pictures for this post. You will notice in the pictures that this pork chop cut has a t-bone in the middle, with two different kinds of meat on either side. There is lighter loin meat on one side and darker tenderloin meat on the other side.

An image of a thick-cut bone-in pork loin chop.

Boneless Chops

Truthfully, I usually don’t grill boneless pork chops unless I’m planning to brush the grilled pork with plenty of tangy barbecue sauce. Boneless chops are the leanest cut of pork and it is very easy to overcook it, resulting in pork chops that are not as tender and juicy as bone-in grilled pork chops. 

You can certainly make boneless pork chops work on the grill if that’s what you have on hand, just watch your meat thermometer closely and maybe think about basting the chops with barbecue sauce, in addition to the rub I’m sharing here.

How to grill pork chops

To grill pork chops, you are going to set up your grill for two different cooking zones so there is a hot zone over direct heat (i.e., right over the flame or heat source), and another zone over indirect heat (i.e., not right over a flame). If you have a charcoal grill, stack your briquettes off to one side to create an area with more heat for the initial sear, with less briquettes on the other side.

If using a gas grill, leave the burners off or just turn them to low on one side so that you have a spot for cooking over indirect heat. Then do the initial sear of the pork chops directly over the flames before transferring the meat to the other side of the grill for let them cook through more slowly. 

The initial sear caramelizes the sugar in the sweet BBQ pork rub and seals in the juices, but the low heat side of the grill lets the pork chop cook all the way through without drying it out.

An image of pork chops on the grill.

How long does it take to grill pork chops?

First, a little disclaimer:  The time it takes to grill pork chops will depend on the particular cut (bone-in pork chops tend to take longer than boneless), the thickness of the pork chops, and the grill and meat temperature before you start grilling.

That said, a 1-inch thick boneless or bone-in pork chop usually takes around 10 minutes to reach 145°F on the grill. Thicker 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch thick pork chops typically take around 15 to 20 minutes. I find I have the best results using 1 1/2-inch thick bone-in pork chops, which is why I will often go talk to the butcher if I don’t see the particular cut or thickness I want on the shelf.

Keep in mind though that while having a timeframe is helpful for grilling pork chops, it’s no substitute for a good meat thermometer.

What temperature should grilled pork chops be?

Grilled pork chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. To check doneness, I always use a digital meat thermometer to measure the temperature at the thickest part of the meat, making sure not to touch any bone which can give you a skewed reading. Once you reach the desired internal temperature, remove the meat from the heat and let them rest for three to five minutes for the juices to redistribute.

People used to think pork needed to be cooked to higher temperatures to ensure food safety, but that’s no longer true.

It’s totally fine for there to be a blush of pink inside when you slice the pork chop! In fact, that’s what I’m shooting for! It means your pork chop is going to be super juicy and delicious rather than dry and tough. This Iowa Pork site has helpful information on safe pork temperatures.

An image of a slice of grilled pork chop with a blush of pink on the inside on a plate with boiled corn on the cob.  

Sweet BBQ Pork Rub Ingredients

  • brown sugar
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • paprika
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • dried oregano

An image of the ingredients in a sweet bbq pork rub.

How to Make Perfect Grilled Pork Chops

  1. Combine all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Preheat the grill on medium high heat for 10 minutes until it is around 400°F. Turn off the burners on one side of the grill so that you have a zone of direct heat and a zone of indirect heat.
  3. Rub the pork chops all over with the olive oil, then sprinkle generously with the sweet bbq rub, massaging it into the meat.
  4. Place the pork chops on the grill over direct heat and sear for 2-3 minutes, then flip and sear the other side for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Move the pork chops to the indirect heat side of the grill and cook for another 5-6 minutes per side until the internal temperature of the pork chops reaches 145°F when measured with an instant read meat thermometer.
  6. Remove the pork chops from the grill and let them rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

An image of two bone-in pork loin chops on a tray next to a bowl of homemade spice rub. An image of a hand rubbing a bbq spice rub into pork chops for grilling.

What should I eat with grilled pork chops?

Pork is a protein powerhouse, so any of your favorite barbecue side dishes that you would typically pair with other barbecue favorites will go well with grilled pork chops. Potato salad, BLT pasta salad, Hawaiian macaroni saladgrilled corn salad, this fluffy cottage cheese jello salad, and of course boiled corn on the cob all go really well with grilled pork chops.

You can find out lots more about the nutrition benefits of pork at Iowa Pork!

An image of a perfectly juicy grilled pork chop with grill marks on a plate with corn on the cob.

More Pork & Pork Chop Recipes You Might Like

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Perfect Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet BBQ Rub
Yield: 4 servings

Perfect Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet BBQ Rub

These Perfect Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet BBQ Pork Rub need to be on the menu for your next outdoor cookout or barbecue!  Succulent, juicy, bone-in pork loin chops are incredible with this homemade barbecue rub made with a little brown sugar and other spices.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in, thick center cut or rib chop pork chops
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Sweet BBQ Pork Rub

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Preheat the grill on medium high heat for 10 minutes until it is around 400°F. Turn off the burners on one side of the grill so that you have a zone of direct heat and a zone of indirect heat.
  3. Rub the pork chops all over with the olive oil, then sprinkle generously with the sweet bbq rub, massaging it into the meat.
  4. Place the pork chops on the grill over direct heat and sear for 2-3 minutes, then flip and sear the other side for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Move the pork chops to the indirect heat side of the grill and cook for another 5-6 minutes per side until the internal temperature of the pork chops reaches 145°F when measured with an instant read meat thermometer.
  6. Remove the pork chops from the grill and let them rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 9g Cholesterol: 42mg Sodium: 1099mg Carbohydrates: 7g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 5g Protein: 12g

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Curious about foods from other states in my American Eats series? Check them out below!

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Iowa • Louisiana • South CarolinaTexas