From juicy chops to fatty belly to fall-apart-tender ribs, versatile pork is the perfect "other meat" for your grilling menu. Handled properly, it's moist and flavorful, and picks up the smoke and char from the grill like nobody's business. It also takes well to being brined, rubbed, sauced, seared, and slow-cooked. We've got 17 recipes to really make it shine come Memorial Day weekend.
The Best Juicy Grilled Pork Chops
For the best pork chops, go for the rib chop, which has enough fat to stand up to the heat of the grill and delivers great flavor. To help things out, we soak our chops in a salt and sugar brine for an hour before cooking. The last step is to set up a two-zone fire, so that the chops can be seared first over the blazing hot coals, then finished in more gentle indirect heat away from the coals.
Competition Barbecue Pork Shoulder
To ensure juicy meat, we inject the pork shoulder with an apple juice and brown sugar mixture. Covered in barbecue rub and smoked or grilled on low heat for five to seven hours, it develops an intensely flavorful blackened crust. It's finished off in aluminum foil to lock in moisture. Shredded and sauced, this is the pulled pork recipe that dreams are made of.
Sheftalia (Cypriot Lamb and Pork Sausage)
Instead of being bound in traditional sausage casing, Cypriot sheftalia (lamb-and-pork sausage) is wrapped in sheets of caul fat, which gradually renders over a live fire. As the fat drips, little towers of flame lick the meat, creating a super crusty exterior that's still moist and juicy inside.
Smoked Char Siu Pork Shoulder Steaks
Combine the sweet, salty, and earthy qualities of Chinese char siu with smoky, tender meat and bits of luscious fat. The pork is seasoned with Chinese five spice powder rub and marinated for a day prior to cooking. Six hours in the smoker with a final brushing of thickened sauce, and you have a truly memorable holiday centerpiece.
Balsamic Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Nothing captures the defining barbecue trifecta of smoky, sweet, and tangy quite like ribs. This rendition combines a peppery rub with a low and slow cook over cherry wood. A brushing of balsamic barbecue sauce in the last half hour leaves them with a glistening sheen.
Smoked Pork Belly Marinated in Char Siu Sauce
Say hello to the ultimate in pork indulgence: smoked pork belly. It's slow-smoked over applewood for a moist, tender center with a crisp, burnished exterior that's seasoned with salty-sweet char siu sauce.
Sweet and Spicy Apricot-Glazed Pork and Pineapple Kebabs
Built with layer upon layer of flavor—first with a spicy, earthy rub and then with a sweet and fruity glaze—these pork and pineapple kebabs taste way more complex than their simple preparation suggests.
Cajun Spiced Barbecue Ribs
These ribs get a liberal coating of dry rub before slow-smoking for a few hours. Then each rack gets wrapped in foil along with a liquid seasoning packed with Cajun flavor. Smoked for an hour longer, they emerge with smoky and moist, with an herbal, earthy flavor.
This porchetta gets a double dose of pork: a brined pork loin on top of pork belly that's been scored and rubbed with an aromatic mixture of spices, herbs, garlic, and lemon zest. The whole affair is rolled, tied tightly, and slowly cooked on the rotisserie until the skin blisters and crackles. It's a one-way trip to crispy pork skin heaven.
Grilled Orange-Chipotle Pork Loin
For a lean piece of pork with a lot of flavor, marinate a loin in a simple but potent mixture of orange juice, olive oil, brown sugar, garlic, and chipotles. After an overnight soak, the marinade is poured out and reduced down with more orange juice to create a finishing glaze. This concentrated sauce is key, delivering a sweet, smoky, and spicy flavor that fully heightens the juicy piece of lean pork.
Mojo-Marinated Pork Kebabs With Mango
Sour orange and garlic serve as a base of this mojo marinade, and it gives the cubed pork-chop kebabs a nice, hot tang that gets a bit of contrast by way of sweet and fruity mangos. Use slightly firm mangos rather than fully ripe soft ones so that they stay on the skewers.
Orange and Leek Loukaniko (Greek Sausage)
While loukaniko can refer to any number of sausages in Greek, it's the orange-spiced version that's most associated with the name, and with good reason. The citrus gives these links a distinctive, bright flavor that gains depth from a mix of herbs, spices, and leeks, all of which come together to create a fresh-tasting sausage that fits seamlessly into a Memorial Day cookout.
Daeji Bulgogi, thin slices of spicy marinated pork, is perfectly tender and flavorful with a unique and bold spiciness. The gochujang, a fermented hot red pepper paste, provides most of the flavor. The fiery slices of pork are rolled up in Bibb lettuce, with a little kimchi and quick pickles thrown in there for good measure.
Smoky and Spicy Apricot-Glazed Barbecue Ribs
An earthy and spicy rub pairs with a fruity and sweet sauce made with apricot preserves to give these ribs a complex, layered flavor. Mist the ribs with apple juice after the bark begins to darken to help keep it from blackening.
Turn out juicy and flavorful skewers with the help of brining. It keeps the meat moist over the high heat of the grill, even if it stays over the flames a tad too long. Seal the deal with a great marinade, like this Moorish spice blend that gives the meat an earthy spiced flavor.
Memphis-Style Dry Ribs
Traditional Memphis dry ribs are cooked over charcoal, brushed with a vinegar mop every 15-20 minutes, and then finished with a dry rub. The result? Tender, tangy meat that showcases the hot-and-sweet herbal rub.
Tocino (Filipino-Style Grilled Cured Pork)
There isn't much to tocino: thinly sliced pieces of pork shoulder are cured in sugar and salt for a few days, then pan-fried and served with egg and rice for a hearty morning meal. The grilled version of this sweet and slightly crunchy pork is also a great middle-of-the-day grilled meat. Deceptively simple, it's the small things that make all the difference in this recipe, like the little pink salt to make a proper cure, and Anisette to add some depth to the otherwise sugary flavor.