Pork chops are one of the most delicious cuts of pork. Part of their popularity comes from the fact that there are so many ways you can cook them.
You can bake them, sear them, roast them, or grill them in your pellet grill. You can even smoke pork chops in your propane smoker.
However, cooking pork chops can be harder than it seems. Even if you cook the pork chops exactly as directed, there’s still a chance you could end up with dry pork chops.
That’s why I always recommend marinating pork chops, especially if you’re a newbie. Marinating pork chops will enhance their flavor.
However, the secret to delicious pork chops is knowing how long to marinate them.
What Does Marinating Do to Pork Chops?
Marinating pork chops serves several purposes. First, marinades add flavor to the pork chops.
It will enhance the pork chop’s natural flavor, whether it’s an acid-based marinade or one that contains herbs and spices.
Marinades also add moisture to the pork chops. Most marinades usually contain oil which will add moisture to the meat. Other ingredients that impart moisture include coconut milk, yogurt, and buttermilk.
Marinades also help tenderize the meat. If the marinade contains acid, it will interact with the proteins on the surface of the pork chops, tenderizing the meat.
Grills may produce cancer-causing carcinogens because of the high temperature the food is cooked at.
If you are firing up your portable pellet grill to grill the pork chops, a marinade could prevent producing heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
Marinating pork chops can decrease HCA production between 92% and 99%. Scientists are not exactly sure why marinades have these effects.
It may be because the marinades form a protective barrier between the grill and the pork chops, or the marinade ingredients may have protective effects.
Types of Marinades
Now that you know why you should marinate pork chops, let’s discuss the different types of marinades.
There are 4 different types of marinades: dairy, enzymatic, dry, and acidic marinades. Enzymatic marinades involve marinating meat in fruits such as pineapples and kiwis.
These fruits have a special enzyme called protease, which causes the structural proteins in the meat connective tissues of meat to soften, decreasing the toughness of the meat.
Dry marinades function like a dry BBQ rub. These marinades consist of spices such as smoked paprika and cayenne pepper that are massaged into the meat and allowed to sit for a few hours before it is cooked.
The spices mildly disturb the pork chop’s tissues and absorb the spices’ flavors.
Acidic marinades are probably the most popular type of marinade for meat. They work wonders for tougher cuts like flank steak, the eye of round steak, and pork chops.
Citrus juices like lime or lemon are the most popular forms of acid in a marinade. The citrus juices will cause the meat protein fibers to relax, stimulating a tender cut of beef.
Vinegar is also another popular acidic ingredient. It does the same thing as citrus juices. However, vinegar can give meats a tart flavor when used in excess.
Dairy marinades also contain acid but in lesser amounts. Therefore, you can soak your pork chops in it long enough to tenderize the meat without it taking on a mushy texture.
Nevertheless, if you are marinating your pork chops in enzymatic or acidic ingredients, proceed with extreme caution. These types of marinades work in no time, so do not marinade them for too long.
Can You Marinate Pork Chops Too Long?
Yes, you can marinate pork chops for too long. Acids and enzymes in marinades can damage the meat’s surface, causing it to develop a mushy texture.
The meat can also become tough and dry. This is why you should only marinate the pork chops for a specific amount of time.
How Long to Marinate Pork Chops
Pork is a little different than chicken or salmon. It is denser than chicken and seafood, so it will last longer than 1-2 days.
Marinated pork chops will last for 3-4 days. However, this is only as it relates to safety.
This timeline tells you how long the pork chops will last before they start to spoil. It does tell you how long to marinate pork chops.
Pork chops should be marinated for at least 6-12 hours. Remember, even though pork chops are lean, they are still thick, so it takes a little longer for the marinade to penetrate the meat.
Six hours gives the pork chops time to absorb most of the marinade’s flavor. However, if you really want tender pork chops, marinate them for 12 hours.
You can marinate pork chops for up to 48 hours.
However, leaving pork chops in the marinade for more than 2 days defeats the purpose of marinating them, especially if you are using acidic marinades, as they will literally ruin the flavor and texture of the pork chops.
How to Marinate Pork Chops
All of this talk about pork chops is definitely making me hungry. So, it’s no surprise that you are craving juicy grilled pork chops right now.
To marinate your pork chops, combine vegetable oil or another neutral flavored oil with vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, herbs like parsley, and garlic in a mixing bowl, then pour it into a ziplock bag.
Add the pork chops to the zip lock bag, seal the bag, and massage the marinade into the pork chops.
Place the marinade into a container and refrigerate it for at least 6-12 hours.
Massage the pork chops a few times while they are marinating in the fridge to ensure the marinade is evenly distributed.
Thirty minutes before you intend to grill them, remove the marinated pork chops from the fridge. Set up your natural gas grill or charcoal grill and preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
Grill the marinated pork chops for 5-6 minutes per side until they have an internal temperature of 140°F.
Let the grilled pork chops rest for 5-10 minutes before you dig in.
Marinating does wonders for pork chops. It makes them tender, moist, and so darn juicy.
However, if you marinate pork chops for too long, you will be met with mushy, tough, and dry pork chops, so do not marinate them for more than 6-12 hours.
You might also be interested in the following:
- How Long to Marinate Beef Jerky
- How Long to Marinate Ribs
- How Long to Marinate Chicken Thighs
- How Long to Marinate Tofu
- How Long to Marinate Flank Steak
- How Long to Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk
- How Long to Marinate Shrimp
- How Long to Marinate Salmon
- How Long to Marinate Steak
- How Long to Marinate Chicken
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.