Smoked pork chops deliver juicy double-cut meat carrying the incredible flavors of wood-fired backyard cooking. From choosing the right marinades to best smoking woods, here’s how to barbecue smoke pork chops.
What are Pork Chops?
Pork chops are tender, fast-cooking cuts of meat from a pig. There are several different cuts that can be considered chops, so the specific kinds you cook with can vary. Some of the most common chops include:
- Pork loin chops (T-shaped bone on one side)
- Pork sirloin chops
- Pork rib chops (lower loin, steak-like meat)
- Pork top loin chops (can be sold boneless, also called pork loin fillets)
- Pork shoulder chops
These cuts all come from either the loins of the pig, the ribs, or the shoulder. You can use the same recipe and cooking methods on any of the different pork chops listed above. You may need to adjust cooking times to account for thicker cuts of meat, though.
Because pork chops cook quickly, it’s very easy to overdo them. When this happens, they lose their tenderness and become tough and dry.
Bone-In vs. Boneless Pork Chops
You may be wondering if there’s actually a difference between bone-in and boneless pork chops, and in fact, there are a few. Each option has its pros and cons.
Bone-in pork chops are primarily rib cuts and center cuts. These cuts are often very flavorful because both the bone and the fat provide extra flavor. The bone also releases moisture as it cooks, which can keep your chops from getting too dry.
Bone-in chops are also more affordable, and they make for a nice presentation.
On the other hand, bone-in pork chops typically have less meat. Instead, much of the chop is bone and fat. Finally, bone-in pork chops take a longer time to cook.
A boneless pork chop will have the same kind of meat as bone-in, but both the bone and the fat get removed before packaging.
Many people prefer boneless chops because there’s less hassle involved in the cooking process. Since the fat and bone portions are already gone, you can eat the entire pork chop rather than leaving bits behind. These cuts are also leaner, healthier, and easier to find.
The low fat content makes boneless cuts less suitable for barbecue smoking. However, the easy meat prep and suitability to high-temperature cooking means grilled boneless pork chops are a much better way to use the meat.
In today’s recipe, we’re going to be making smoked pork chops. The ingredients we’re going to be using will ensure that your chop has the best smokey flavor while maintaining its natural juiciness.
One of the most important parts of this recipe will be your brine, which consists of salt, brown sugar, peach nectar, and water.
Beyond that, you’re going to need two double-cut pork chops weighing about 1.5 pounds each, along with a fantastic dry rub. If you have a favorite recipe or seasoning you love, feel free to use that.
Otherwise, we’ll show you how to make a great one below using brown sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
Time & Temperatures
When working with a nice, thick pork chop, you’re looking at a cooking time of about 60 to 90 minutes in the smoker. Of course, the most important element to monitor during the smoking process is the temperature – not necessarily the time.
Pork is safe to consume once it hits 145 degrees F. This temperature ensures that your meat is safe and edible, but keeps it juicy, moist, and bursting with flavor. The best way to reach this flavor without overcooking is to heat your smoker to 225 degrees F.
Be sure to always have a meat thermometer handy!
The best way to prepare your pork chops for smoking is to brine them. Loin meat, which is what most pork chops are, is very lean, which makes it more susceptible to drying out during the cooking process.
Brining your meat over-hydrates it, so when you lose water while cooking, you have excess moisture to spare. Brining takes four to six hours, so be sure to prepare ahead of time. Once you’ve brined and dried off your chops, they’re ready for the dry rub seasoning.
Dry Rub Seasoning
A dry rub seasoning is a mixture of various dried species that you rub directly on your meat before cooking. It’s a nice alternative to a marinade, which is wet and requires you to let your meat sit for several hours.
In our dry rub seasoning today, we’re going to use the following ingredients:
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- ½ cup Kosher Salt
- 4 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
- 2 tablespoons Coarse Black Pepper
- ½ tablespoon Cumin
- ½ tablespoon Onion Powder
- ½ tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
A good dry rub will feature a blend of sweet, savory, and spicy. The sweet component (brown sugar) forms a caramelized crust, while the savory ingredients punch in the flavor. Spicy ingredients like cayenne pepper add a little kick at the end.
What Wood is Best for Smoking Pork Chops?
The best wood for smoking pork chops is apple, maple, or pecan wood. These flavors meld perfectly with the meat for a mouth-watering smokey experience.
What to Serve with Pork Chops?
Pork chops go with just about everything, but here are a few of our favorites:
- Brussels sprouts
- Scalloped potatoes
- Glazed carrots
- Southern-style fried apples
- Mac & cheese
These are just a few sides. You can never go wrong with steamed veggies, either.
How to Smoke Pork Chops
Smoking a good pork chop is easier than it sounds. Simply follow the steps below.
- Prepare your smoker by preheating to 225 degrees F. Use your choice of pecan, apple, or maple wood.
- Use your favorite rub or the recipe above to season your chops.
- Place your chops on the smoker, cooking until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. This should take about 60 to 90 minutes.
- Once you reach 145 degrees F, remove the chops from the smoker and put them on a plate. Tent the plate with foil and rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Serve as-is or with your favorite barbeque sauce.