A fabulous pork chop marinade for extra juicy, flavorful, succulent pork ever time!
This pork chop marinade is AMAZING! It produces pork chops dripping with so much intoxicating flavor you will be obsessed. The pork chop marinade is infused with maple, orange juice and chipotle for a sweet and tangy multidimensional flavor with just the right punch of sassy heat. It’s perfect for grilling or baking so you can enjoy its mesmerizing flavor rear round. To make, simply whisk the marinade together, marinate, and then grill or bake with zero cleanup! Serve your marinated pork chops with crock pot mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli or and drool.
Pork is always a welcome way to break up the monotony of chicken! If you love pork, you’ll love my INSANELY popular garlic butter herb pork tenderloin, grilled pork tenderloin, carnitas and skillet pork chops with apples!
PORK CHOP MARINADE RECIPE
Pork chops are seriously underrated. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to prepare and can emerge as flavorful and as juicy as a steak when marinated. Best of all, this pork chop marinade recipe couldn’t be any easier or more delicious! The marinade does all the heavy lifting and takes less than 5 minutes to whisk together making dinner time a breeze. You can even prep the marinade in advance or double or triple the recipe and freeze for later.
Now, let’s talk flavor. The chipotle maple pork chop marinade is slightly adapted from my Chipotle Maple Chicken because I am obsessed! And I’m not the only one. Recently a reader commented on that recipe:
I just made this tonight and I gotta say…easily one of my favorites. That glaze/marinade is LIFE! I could honestly put it in a bowl, grab a spoon, and go to town. As always, thanks for another amazing recipe. 🙂 – Melissa
This reputed pork chop marinade creates melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy pork chops with complex sweet, tangy, and spicy notes. It’s made with pure maple syrup, orange juice, apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar and splashes of soy sauce and Dijon mustard along with chipotle chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano and orange zest for a rainbow of flavor in every bite.
If you’re worried about the spice level, you can control the heat simply by adding more or less chipotle chile pepper to make it YOUR perfect pork chop marinade.
WHAT KIND OF PORK CHOPS ARE BEST?
If you don’t have much experience cooking with pork chops, it might seem overwhelming to select which pork chops to use in this pork chop marinade recipe. Pork chops all come from the loin of the pig which runs along the back from hip, and are the most tender part of the animal but some cuts are better than others and some are just better for different cooking techniques.
I always recommend bone-in pork chops for grilling because they are juicer, cook more evenly and are slightly fattier which equates to more flavor. Pork rib chops are the most desirable cut. Sometimes packages will mix pork rib chops with bone-in loin chops (like I used in this recipe) which is also a good option. Here is a breakdown of the different cuts of pork chops:
PORK RIB CHOP – RECOMMENDED
- Other names: bone-in rib chops, rib pork chop, center-cut rib chop, pork chop end cut, pork rib cut chop, rib end cut.
- Where it’s from: This cut of pork comes from the center of the pork loin and is my recommendation for this pork chop marinade recipe. It is one of the best pork chops you can buy. It includes a T-shaped rib bone (actually baby back ribs) that has been cleaned which helps the pork cook evenly and makes the pork harder to overcook.
- About: These bone-in pork chops are the most desirable cut of pork chop. They are wonderfully tender and meaty with a mild pork flavor. I recommend them over boneless pork chops because they have a little more fat which = more flavor and the bone serves as a conductor which helps them cook evenly, keeps them wonderfully juicy and makes them hard to overcook.
- Other names: America’s cut, pork loin filets.
- Where it’s from: This cut of pork comes from the center of the pork loin and is essentially rib chops with the bones removed.
- About: The boneless pork chop is lacking all the benefits of the bone. Without the bone, the delicate pork is prone to overcooking because there is nothing conducting the heat within the meat for an even sear. It also contains less fat which means it is less flavorful. Even though boneless chops are the most common type of pork chop in American grocery stores, they are best reserved for slow cooking.
PORK LOIN CHOPS (BONE-IN AND BONELESS)
- Other names: center loin chop, pork loin end chop, center-cut loin chop, loin pork chop, top-loin chop, pork loin chops-bone-in, boneless pork loin chops.
- Where it’s from: This cut of pork comes from the hip and loin toward to the back of the animal. It can include the tenderloin or not, depending on where it’s cut. For example, top loin chops will not include the tenderloin.
- About: Loin chops are probably the most confusing because they include different types of loins: bone-in and boneless pork loin chops.
- Pork loin-chops, bone-in (also called loin chop or center loin chop): are a large cut of pork which comes from the hip part of the loin. It has a T-bone in the middle separating the loin and tenderloin sections.
- Pork loin-chops, boneless: is created by removing the tenderloin from the T-bone. The boneless pork loin is lean and not as flavorful/juicy.
BENEFITS OF MARINATING PORK CHOPS
This pork chop marinade tenderizes and flavors your protein so all you have to do is marinate and cook! A good marinade with the proper balance of acid, fat, salt and flavor enhancers will:
- lock in moisture so lean cuts of meat stay juicy
- tenderize the protein by breaking down muscle fibers
- help with digestion because tender meats/broken down fibers are easier to digest
- add flavor from the inside out
- helps to reduce carcinogens by protecting the pork from becoming damaged by high heat
How does a marinade work?
Now that we know the benefits of a marinade. How does it work?
- FAT: the olive oil distributes the oil-soluble flavors evenly throughout the protein and fully unlocks the flavor. Fat also adds moisture to the protein so it’s especially important on lean cuts such as pork chops and chicken breasts.
- ACID: the orange juice and balsamic vinegar help tenderize the meat by breaking down lean muscle fibers. The fresh, bright, tangy flavor citrus also balances the sweet maple.
- SALT: in thiscase, soy sauce and salt, create a brine, which increases the moisture capacity of the protein, helping it become juicer and more flavorful. First, the salt hydrates the muscle tissues via osmosis; second, it changes the cells’ structure so that they can no longer contract when cooking. This means less water will be squeezed out and lost, resulting in juicier protein. Finally, the brine draws the aromatic flavor further down below the surface into the protein and enhances all of the flavors. You can pile on herbs and seasonings but if a marinade is missing salt – it will taste bland.
- SUGAR: balances the acid, adds complexity and helps promote a browning when cooked for more enhanced flavor. 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- FLAVOR ENHANCERS: add flavor to the meat. In this pork chop marinade, the flavor enhances include chipotle chile pepper,garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme and pepper.
PORK CHOP marinade recipe ingredients
This pork chop marinade recipe is easy to make once you gather your ingredients. You will need:
- Olive oil: use quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Maple syrup: use quality pure maple syrup and not the imitation breakfast kind.
- Orange juice: you will need 2 oranges to make ½ cup orange juice. Use freshly squeezed because we also need the zest.
- Balsamic vinegar: adds a fruity tang. Use quality balsamic vinegar for the best flavor.
- Apricot preserves: are my sublime secret ingredient to add fruity sweetness.
- Soy sauce: use reduced sodium soy sauce. Soy sauce balance the sweetness and helps brine the pork better than just salt.
- Dijon mustard: I promise it won’t make your pork chops taste like mustard! It adds a depth of tanginess.
- Seasonings: chipotle chile pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme and pepper add layers of flavor.
- Chipotle chile pepper might be the only seasoning you don’t keep stocked. I use it ALL the time in my Mexican recipes, so I highly suggest purchasing it. It is easy to find at your grocery store under any of the following names: “chipotle chile pepper,” “ground chipotle chile,” or “chipotle powder.” It is made of smoked jalapeno peppers so it’s not just spicy but smokey too!
PORK CHOP MARINADE VARIATIONS
- Swap citrus. Swap the orange juice for pineapple juice with a tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Swap vinegar. Swap the balsamic for red wine vinegar.
- Swap maple. Swap the maple for honey or brown sugar (I haven’t personally tried this).
- Add herbs: You can swap the dried herbs for fresh herbs; the ratio is 3 times fresh to one time dried. You can also add additional chopped herb such as cilantro, green onions, parsley, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
- Swap seasonings. Mix up the flavor profile and swap the seasonings in the recipe for Cajun seasonings, Fajita seasonings, or Asian inspired seasonings such as Chinese 5 Spice, ginger, garlic and toasted sesame oil.
- Make it spicy. Add additional chipotle chile pepper or swap for red pepper flakes.
HOW TO MAKE PORK CHOP MARINADE
This pork chop marinade recipe is a quick whisking together of pure maple syrup (not the imitation breakfast kind), apricot preserves (my favorite secret ingredient), orange juice, balsamic vinegar, splashes of soy sauce and Dijon mustard and a bevy of spices including chipotle chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano and orange zest.
Next, remove 1/3 cup to use later to baste the pork chops which amps up the flavor. Add pork to the marinade in a freezer size bag and turn the bag over a couple times so it envelops the pork chops. Marinate for 4-12 hours.
MARINADE FOOD SAFETY TIPS
When it comes to marinating any protein, there are some safety rules to follow to avoid cross contamination. Follow these simple rules to maintain sanitary conditions and food safety:
- Use food safe containers. I prefer food-safe sealable plastic bags such as freezer Ziploc bags. They really allow the marinade to envelop the protein vs. a dish in which the marinade might not cover all of the protein. Sealable bags are also great for easy cleanup – just toss them! You may also use food grade plastic, stainless steel, or glass containers and cover with plastic wrap if they don’t have a lid.
- Squeeze out excess air. When using a plastic bag, make sure to squeeze out excess air before sealing then roll up the bag so the protein is nice and snug.
- Flip protein occasionally. If you marinate the protein in a shallow dish, make sure to flip the protein over occasionally so it marinates evenly.
- Marinate in the refrigerator. Always marinate protein for a prolonged period of time covered in the refrigerator and not at room temperature to avoid food-born illness. Only remove it from the fridge to the counter 30-60 minutes before you’re ready to cook to help bring it to room temperature so it cooks evenly.
- Don’t reuse marinade. Never reuse a marinade even for basting unless you boil it first to destroy any harmful bacteria. If you want to use the marinade for basting, drizzling or dipping, it is best to reserve a portion before you add the protein like I do in this pork chop marinade recipe.
- PRO TIP: You can also reserve a couple tablespoons of mojo marinade (not contaminated) to drizzle on veggies before grilling or cooking like I do in my chicken fajita recipe and many kabob recipes to make them uber flavorful without any extra work!
SHOULD YOU POKE HOLES IN PORK CHOPS BEFORE MARINATING?
In contrast to popular belief, you should NOT poke holes in pork chops before marinating. This actually drains out the valuable juices and will result in less juicy meat.
CAN YOU FREEZE PORK CHOPS IN THE MARINADE?
If you can’t get to cooking your marinating pork chops within 12 hours, just pop it in the freezer – another perk of using sealable plastic bags. When it’s time to cook, just thaw and cook!
HOW LONG DO YOU MARINATE PORK CHOPS?
6-12 hours is the optimal time to marinate pork chops because they are a lean cut of meat and relatively thick. After 6 hours, the pork chops will have absorbed a lot of the flavor but by 12 hours they will have become more tender. I recommend marinating your pork chops for the maximum 12 hours for optimal flavor and juiciness but you can get by with whatever you have time for because the glaze is extremely flavorful.
Don’t over-marinate. This pork chop marinade contains both orange juice and balsamic vinegar so it is highly acidic which means you don’t want to marinate the pork chops much longer than 12 hours because the acid in the marinade will begin to change the structure of the meat and the muscle fibers can break down and become mushy.
HOW TO COOK PORK CHOPS
This pork chop marinade recipe contains sugar in the form of maple syrup which adds great flavor but can easily burn, so it is best suited for grilling or baking and not pan frying.
How long does it take to grill 1-inch pork chops?
For 1-inch thick pork chops, grill pork for 4-6 minutes per side over medium-high heat with the lid closed for a total of 8-12 minutes. Let pork rest 5 minutes before serving.
HOW TO GRILL PORK CHOPS
- Let pork chops sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat, clean and generously oil the grates.
- Add the pork chops to the grill and cover. Grill for 4-6 minutes per side or until the thickest part of the meat registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Baste the pork chops with reserved marinade the last 30 seconds of cooking on each side.
OVEN-BAKED PORK CHOPS
- Let pork chops sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray (I like to line with foil first for easy clean up)
- Transfer pork chops to prepared baking dish and roast for 15-20 minutes, turning once half way through, until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. You may need to bake up to 25 minutes if you have extra thick pork chops.
- Transfer pork to a plate and brush with desired amount of remaining reserved marinade. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I like more salt).
PORK CHOPS INTERNAL TEMP
Juicy pork chops are not overcooked pork chops. According to USDA guidelines, pork chops are done when an internal thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reaches 145 degrees F – this is the sweet spot for the juiciest pork. This temperature means the pork chops will be slightly pink inside which is OKAY.
This 145-degrees temperature is 15 degrees less than the old standards of 160 degrees F which would mean the pork would be completely cooked through without any pink. The research shows, however, that 145 degrees F is the same safety-wise as cooking pork to 160 degrees F AND yields much more tender pork.
TIPS FOR THE BEST PORK CHOP MARINADE
- Use bone-in rib pork chops. Pork is much leaner than beef, so it is important to set yourself up for success by purchasing bone-in pork chops. The bone acts as a conductor and protects the pork chops from overcooking and helps the chops cook more evenly resulting in juicer pork chops. The bone also has some fat around it that makes it more flavorful and more moist than boneless pork chops.
- How to select pork chops. When choosing pork chops, look for ones with the most marbling because marbling = flavor. You can also ask the butcher for the most deeply marbled rib pork chops they have. Also look for pork chops that are deeply rosy rather than pale pink. Deeper colored pork chops mean deeper flavor and paler meat is generally less quality.
- Don’t over-marinate. Due to high amount of acid in this pork chop marinade recipe, don’t marinate the pork longer than 12 hours or it can become mushy.
- Bring pork to room temperature before cooking. You always want to let any protein sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking (and larger cuts even longer). The logic is that room temperature protein will cook more quickly and evenly if started at a higher temperature which means the outside is less likely to overcook and less time for moisture to be released while cooking.
- Clean grill. Clean the grill very well before cooking for beautiful grill marks and to prevent sticking, especially due to the maple syrup in the marinade.
- Use a hot grill. Heat up the grill with the lid closed cranked to the maximum temperature so it can achieve temperature more quickly; plan on 10-15 minutes. Once the grill is hot, you can adjust the temperature. Don’t add the pork until the grill reaches temperature or you won’t get those beautiful grill marks.
- Flip only once using tongs. After you add the pork chops to the grill, don’t attempt to flip or move them before 4 minutes. You need enough time for the pork to sear and then it will naturally release from the grill. Once you can easily move the pork, then you can flip it over using tongs.
- Turn down heat. If your pork chops are cooking too quickly and the outside is staring to burn, turn the heat down.
- Don’t overcook! Pork chops are lean and therefore can dry out if overcooked so it is important to use a meat thermometer to achieve the correct temperature. Cook pork just to 145 degrees F. You can’t depend solely on recipe cooking times to achieve the correct temperature because there are always variables such as pork chop thickness, their starting temperature, temperature of the grill and desired doneness/internal temperature. A meat thermometer will eliminate all of this guess work.
- Test individual pork chops for doneness. Pork chops are often different thickness, which means they can be done at different times. If this is the case, take care to check the temperature of each chop and remove them as they finish cooking.
- Let pork chops rest. After your protein is finished cooking, transfer it to a plate and let rest 5 minutes before serving so it has time to reabsorb the juices that have pushed towards the outside of the protein when cooked. If you cut into the pork chops immediately after cooking, valuable, moisture-giving juices will run out.
- Salt to taste. Pork needs a lot of salt, so I suggest tasting your pork first and if it’s not jaw-dropping delicious, it probably just needs a bit more salt.
- Scale spice level. The chipotle chili powder adds a smoky heat to balance out the sweet maple and is a tantalizing must in this recipe. I think 1 1/2 teaspoons has as nice kick and would suggest this to most readers because you can add less glaze at the end if you want less heat. If you know you don’t like spice at all then use 1 teaspoon. You will also want to reduce the maple syrup to 1/3 cup or it will be too sweet without the requisite balance of heat.
- Freeze protein in marinade. If you can’t get to cooking your marinated pork chops within 12 hours, then you can freeze the pork in the marinade to use later. That’s a benefit of using the freezer bags – you can just toss them right into the freezer for later!
HOW TO STORE MARINADE
Transfer pork chop marinade to an airtight container such as a sealable bag or jar with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to five days in the refrigerator. Transfer to the freezer if not using before that.
HOW TO STORE and REHEAT COOKED PORK CHOPS
- Serve: don’t leave the marinated pork chops at room temperature longer than 2 hours because they can start to grow harmful bacteria. If you’re taking them to a potluck or barbecue, plan accordingly.
- Storage: transfer grilled pork chops to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- Microwave: transfer pork chops to a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 60 seconds then at 15 second intervals as needed.
- Skillet: drizzle some olive oil in a nonstick skillet and heat to medium heat. Add pork chops, cover and cook until warmed through, flipping once.
- Oven: Transfer pork chops to a baking sheet, cover with foil and reheat at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or just until warmed through.
HOW TO FREEZE
You can freeze just the marinade, pork chops in the marinade or cooked pork chops. Here’s how:
- Freeze marinade: transfer marinade to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator 24 hours before using.
- Freeze pork chops in marinade: add uncooked pork chops to the marinade and freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use, the protein will marinate as you thaw in the refrigerator.
- Freeze cooked pork chops: cool pork chops to room temperature then transfer to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for 2 to 3 months.
Whisk the marinade ingredients together in an airtight container up to 5 days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator WITHOUT the pork chops.
WHAT GOES WITH MARINATED PORK CHOPS?
Marinated pork chops pair well with pretty much everything from potatoes to rice to salad to fruit. We love serving them with our favorite backyard barbecue foods in the summer and our favorite comfort foods in the winter.
Here are some of our favorite sides to serve with marinated pork chops:
- Potluck Favorites. Baked Mac and Cheese, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Corn Casserole, Elote (Mexican Street Corn), Grilled Corn on the Cob and Corn Casserole.
- Pasta Salad. Italian Tortellini Salad, Greek Pasta Salad, BLT Pasta Salad, Cowboy Pasta Salad, Bacon and Pea Pasta Salad and Greek Orzo Pasta Salad.
- Potatoes: Mashed Potatoes, Hashbrown Casserole, Smashed Potatoes, Pesto Mashed Potatoes, Twice Baked Potatoes, or Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
- Rice and pasta: Rice Pilaf, Parmesan Risotto, Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries, Creamy Mushroom Orzo, Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti, Cacio e Pepe.
- Vegetables: Roasted Carrots, Roasted Parmesan Broccoli, Roasted Parmesan Asparagus, Roasted Root Vegetables, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Lemon, Butter or Roasted Brussels Sprouts are all superb.
- Salad. Wedge Salad, Strawberry Avocado Broccoli Salad, Strawberry Salad, Spinach Berry Salad, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Mexican Salad and Corn Salad.
- Fruit. Grilled Pineapple, Creamy Grape Salad, Summer Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad, Tropical Fruit Salad or Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone.
- Bread. Corn Bread, Garlic Bread, Breadsticks, Dinner Rolls or Hawaiian Rolls.
Want to try this pork chop marinade RECIPE?
Pin it to your dinner, pork or grilling Board to SAVE for later!
Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes! I am always pinning :)!
©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
Carlsbad Cravings© Original