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

Chops from a spice-glazed grilled pork loin on a cutting board with a glass of stout.

Spice-Glazed Grilled Pork Loin

4.86 / 7 votes
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.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories573 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time15 hours 30 minutes


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 .


  • 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.
Buy the cookbook: BBQ 25

Adapted From

BBQ 25

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 573 kcalCarbohydrates: 26 gProtein: 64 gFat: 22 gSaturated Fat: 5 gCholesterol: 179 mgSodium: 524 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 23 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 Adam Perry Lang. Photo © 2010 David Loftus. All rights reserved.

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!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. When you say covered, does that mean grill lid down or actually cover with foil? Also, fat cap up, correct?

    1. tennille, excellent questions. Yes, grill lid down. And yes, the pork ought to be situated on the grill rack so that the fatty portion is on top, that way as the fat warms and melts, it will bathe the roast as it drips down, keeping it moist. We reworded the recipe to make it clearer to other readers. We so appreciate your query, and would love to know what you think of the recipe when you make it….

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for the great recipe. This was my 1st brining experience and I’m now a believer. I had actually started brining a whole boneless pork loin (halved) in a gallon of water, 1 1/2 c kosher salt, and 1/2 c brown sugar. My loin was almost 9 lbs. I had alredy been brining overnight and found this recipe in the morning and added the spices, garli, and herbs. Doubled them all as I had far more liquid and continued the brining for another 9 hrs for a total of 24 hrs. Removed from brine, rinsed, patted dry, and allowed to come to room temperature for an hour before smoking in a Weber with hickory. Just put a large pile of coals on one side and the halved loin on the other, rotating after an hour. My BBQ temp was probably less than you had and I glazed when internal temp was 120 degrees. Removed the meat to rest around 150 internal temp. Next time I’ll pull at 145, as taking it to 160 on the grill would, I think, overcook it. I confess to thinning the glaze just a little with the juice of one of the zested lemons. The glaze was still VERY thick, but I simply slathered it on with a spoon and a silcone brush. I had doubled THAT recipe, too, and had a little left over. Made the board sauce, but most passed it by. The pork stands alone very well and makes GREAT sandwiches the next day! I’d like to try it in eggs benedict. Very like a good Canadian bacon. The pork loin was the most juicy and tender I have ever had. I’ve smoked them before but they’ve been on the dry or tough side. Thanks again!

    1. Terrific, Mark! You’re quite welcome. And thank you for letting us know your approach. Love how you just sorta MacGyvered things. Looking forward to hearing which recipe from Leite’s you try next….

    1. Hi Annie, in indirect grilling, the food is placed next to the heat source as opposed to directly on top. To indirect grill on a gas grill, light one side on high and cook the food on the other. This method functions as a type of outdoor oven, and can cook larger cuts of meat over a longer period of time without burning or drying out the meat.

      1. Thank you! As you can tell, I have not used that grill much. However, this looks awesome and my freezer is full of cuts from our 300+ pound hog. I’m looking forward to trying it.