This grilled pork loin roast creates the best, most tender pork chops ever. The pork loin takes a dunk in a marinade or brine made with garlic, cumin, and paprika and then is grilled and sliced into chops. Here’s how to cook juicy pork chops every time.
There’s a time and place for everything. And this grilled pork loin technique proves to us the best time to slice a pork loin into chops is after grilling, not before. The brilliance lies in leaving the roast whole so it retains its juiciness while being exposed to the heat of the flames. Then, and only then, are they sliced ever so simply into what we consider some of the best pork chops we’ve ever experienced. Dare you to disagree.–Renee Schettler
Spice-Glazed Grilled Pork Loin
For the brine
- 5 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons grated or finely chopped sweet white onion
- 10 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 6 cups cold water
For the grilled pork loin
- Two (2 1/2-pound) pork loin* preferably boneless
- Canola oil or vegetable oil
For the spice glaze
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
For the finishing sauce (optional)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Sea or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Grated lemon zest
- Chopped chives
Brine the pork
- Combine all the brine ingredients except the pork loin and oil in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Mix and mash the ingredients with your hands. Dump half the brine into a second bowl or plastic bag.
- If desired, score the fatty side of your pork loin at 1/4-inch intervals, making 1/4-inch deep cuts in a crosshatch pattern to increase the surface area of the meat. This helps the brine penetrate more readily.
- Place a pork loin in each bowl or bag of brine and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
Make the spice glaze
- Combine all the spice glaze ingredients in another resealable plastic bag.
Grill the pork loin
- Prepare a grill for indirect cooking and bring it to 325°F (162° C).
- Drain the pork loin, discarding the brine. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Rub the meat with just enough oil to make it glisten.
- Carefully oil the preheated grill rack using a paper towel lightly dabbed with oil and long-handled tongs. Place the loin on the well-oiled rack, fatty side up. Close the grill lid and cook, covered, for 45 minutes.
- Move the pork loin to a plate. Cut off a bottom corner of the plastic bag of glaze and drizzle the glaze over the pork, turning it to completely coat it.
- Return the loin to the grill and cook until it registers 160°F (71°C) on an instant-read thermometer, an additional 45 minutes or so. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Make the finishing sauce (optional)
- Combine the finishing sauce ingredients on a clean cutting board.
- Slice the rested pork loin, place it on the finishing sauce, if using, and turn to coat each slice. Serve immediately, preferably with a cold beer.
*What's the difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin?Pork loin is a bigger and flatter cut of meat that is mild flavored and has a little bit of fat to it, making it taste "meatier". It isn't a particularly tough cut so it doesn't need a low, slow braise. Compared to a tenderloin, which is smaller, leaner, and cooks quickly, the loin takes well to a quick sear followed by some time in the oven. The fattiness in a pork loin also makes it the perfect candidate for grilling, whereas a tenderloin will often dry out on the barbecue. Pork loin is also priced better, which makes it one of our faves.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This grilled pork loin is a wonderfully fabulous recipe. I’m a brine nut and this one is incredible—it contains lots of ingredients that work together very well. Honey and cumin are such a lovely combination, and the chives added just that tiny bit of something. I’d make this again and again. I’m practically licking my chops just thinking about it! Sure, it requires a touch more work than some recipes, but it’s oh so worth it.
As noted in the instructions, cross-hatching the fat really enables the brine (and then the glaze) to penetrate. My pork was in the brine for 24 hours. We used applewood chips, which gave the pork incredible flavor and depth. Grilling added yet another dimension. And then another dimension on top of that is the sublime glaze. (There’s no need to pour drizzle it. You can just brush it on.) I must confess to cooking it to just 150°F instead of 160°F as we prefer our pork pinkish.
This grilled pork loin is full of flavor and very tasty. A little labor-intensive but well worth the results for a very succulent pork dish. I liked this brine for a variety of reasons, one being that it didn’t leave the pork with an overly salty flavor. There was a good balance of herbs and the sweetness of the brown sugar.
I put the pork loin in the brine for about 5 hours. I used applewood chips that were soaked in white wine. This really gave the pork a mild, smoky flavor without drying the pork out. The glaze was very good, though I didn’t think I needed to put this in another bag to drizzle on the pork. I just mixed it up in a measuring cup and slowly drizzled it over the meat and then rolled the pork loin in the excess on the platter before putting it back on the grill.
Next time, I’ll double the glaze recipe and put half of it aside to pass with the pork when serving. This was a hit with everyone, no leftovers here!
Originally published September 14, 2010