Most people think of thin, dried out pieces of meat when thinking about pork chops, but these quick brined pork chops smoked on the Traeger will have you begging for more. These Traeger pork chops are reverse seared, which means they’re smoked low and slow first and then finished with a hot sear to add a nice crust to the outside. Juicy, tender, flavorful, and budget friendly!
- 4 thick cut bone-in pork chops, AKA rib chops
- 2 tablespoons Traeger Pork & Poultry rub, substitute favorite pork rub
- 1 tablespoon high smoke point oil, like canola
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 ThermoPro Instant Read Thermometer, completely optional
Brine the pork chops
In a medium sauce pan add the brine ingredients plus a few pinches of the Traeger Pork & Poultry rub. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the salt, sugar, and rub have dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and cool completely. Once the brine is cool add the pork chops to a large container or zip top bag and pour in the brine. Add the pork chops and place in the refrigerator. Make sure to completely submerge the pork chops. Brine up to 4 hours.
Season the pork chops
After 4 hours, remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry with paper towels. Apply a generous coating on all sides of the pork chops with the Traeger Pork & Poultry rub and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour on the counter. This will allow the rub to adhere and the pork chops to come to room temperature.
Preheat the Traeger
Preheat the Traeger smoker to 225°F. If your Traeger has the "Super Smoke" setting turn it on. This will add more smoke flavor to the pork chops.
Let's get smoking
Place the pork chops on the smoker and continue smoking until they reach an internal temperature of 130°F. If you Traeger has a meat probe, insert it into the thickest part of one of the pork chops. Set the probe alarm to 130°F to ensure you don't overcook them.
Crank up the heat while pork chops rest
Once the pork chops reach the desired temperature, place them on a carving board and tent loosely with aluminum foil. While they're resting, increase the heat of the Traeger to its hottest setting and place a cast iron skillet or griddle on the grill. Close the lid. Alternately, you can sear the pork chops in a piping hot pan on the stove top. If using a smaller plan, work in batches to not overcrowd the pan.
Sear the pork chops
Once the grill reaches its hottest temperature, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and once shimmering add the pork chops and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side to form a nice crust.
Let the pork chops rest
Remove pork chops from pan, place on the cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and rest for 10-20 minutes. The ideal finished temperature for these Traeger pork chops is 145°F.
Do you have to brine the pork chops before smoking?
Brining isn’t strictly necessary, but it has some great benefits. Pork is a milder flavored meat on its own, so brining the chops before cooking them will give you another opportunity to inject flavor. The brine also adds moisture that will be retained during cooking to keep the chops juicy. The extra moisture also helps prevent the pork chops from overcooking.
Are there better types of pork to use?
For this recipe, the boneless chops were hand-cut from a boneless pork loin that was sent to me, but they can also be purchased pre-cut. Bone-in chops will take a bit longer to cook, but the added flavor and juiciness are worth the extra time. The bone-in chops also add a buffer from overcooking, so definitely go bone-in if possible.
There are also different types of breeds of pig that lend different flavors. Typically, you won’t know which breed of pork conventional chops are sourced from, but you won’t be disappointed if you seek out chops or loin to cut into chops from heritage breeds like Berkshire pigs. These heritage breeds have more marbling and flavor-packed into the chops than those that have been bred to be leaner.
What thickness of pork chops is best?
Whether you choose bone-in or boneless pork chops, using a thick-cut 1.5” chop will yield the best results between smoking and searing for a juicy, tender Traeger pork chop. Pork has been bred to be much leaner, so maintaining juiciness is easiest with a thick-cut chop. Another type of pork chop that will be thick enough is usually called “double-cut” at the butcher or meat counter.
How do I thaw frozen pork chops?
Pork chops freeze well, so you can buy a large pork loin, cut it into chops, and use the chops as they’re needed. To thaw chops, place the frozen chops in a large pan or bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator overnight. Bone-in chops may need slightly longer to thaw.
You can also thaw the pork chops in cold water, but you will need to take care not to allow the temperature to drop too far, as food poisoning is a risk. Place the pork chops in a zip-tight freezer bag, and submerge the chops in a bowl of cold tap water. Replace the water every 30 minutes until the chops have thawed, which might take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.
How to store leftover Traeger pork chops
If you happen to cook extra pork chops, they can be stored for later use. Store the chops along with any leftover juices in a tightly sealed glass or plastic container, and keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
How to reheat pork chops
The oven is ideal for reheating already cooked pork chops, but there are a few methods that work well to reheat the chops and retain moisture.
For the oven method, preheat the oven to 350 F and place the cooked pork chops in a baking dish. Add some moisture to the baking dish, such as chicken broth - you won’t need much, a few tablespoons per chop should do the trick. Cover the pan with foil, and bake for up to 15 minutes. Bring the temperature of the pork chops back up to 165 F.
For reheating in the microwave, place the pork chops on a plate but don’t stack them on top of each other. Add a wet paper towel over the top of the pork chops, and heat at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time. Test the pork chops after each time to see how hot they’ve gotten until they reach 165 F.
Ideas for leftover Traeger pork chops
You can use the leftover pork chops as-is with added side dishes. You can also chop up the meat and use it in other dishes, such as macaroni and cheese, or even as an addition to tacos, chili, or other stews. Experiment with flavor combinations and new ways to use leftovers. Cooking extra pork chops is a great way to speed up dinner prep on other nights as well!