Smoked Pork Chops with Apple Sauce & Apple and Beets Slaw

Reverse seared pork chops served with crisp apple and beets slaw and homemade apple sauce (aka the Awesome Sauce).
grilled pork chops

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Have you smelt pork chops cooking on a BBQ, only to be served something that resembles the sole of a shoe when trying to chew it?

Following this method, you are guaranteed to get the most succulent, incredibly tender smoked pork chops, each and every time.

I’ll also show you how to make a super tasty slaw that goes perfectly with smoked pork chops and will have you craving more with each mouthful, and a yummy apple sauce.

How to make smoked pork chops

To make the best pork chops, you want to get center cut rib chop with the skin removed, around 1 and ½ inches thick.

Since we are going to dry brine and then reverse sear the pork chops, thin cut pork chops just won’t work.

Plus who isn’t happy to get more meat on their plate.

You also want to use bone-in pork chops for this recipe. While the bone might not actually add that much extra flavor, I find it helps protect the meat. While boneless pork chops have a tendency to dry out, bone-in smoked pork chops turn out juicy and tender.

two pork chops, knife and salt on a chopping board
Look for 1 and ½ inch thick pork chops for this recipe

If you’re not sure just ask your butcher for thick cut pork chops with the bone in. I say this in most of my recipes because it is true. Get to know your local butcher and you’ll be surprised at how much they are willing to source exactly what you want and need for your cooks.

And if you can’t find anything good locally, you can get these thick cut pork chops from Crowd Cow delivered.

Items that will help you cook pork chops are:

Want to watch the video version of this smoked pork chops recipe? Check out the YouTube video below.

General tips for smoked pork chops

  • I like to smoke pork chops first, and then finish with a sear (AKA reverse sear). This gives you more control over the temperature, locks in the smoke flavor and helps guarantee perfectly cooked pork chops.
  • Try and avoid using thin or boneless chops as they can dry out using this cooking method.
  • For this smoked pork chops recipe, I keep the flavor simple with salt and pepper, but you can easily use a BBQ rub to amp up the flavor.

How long does it take to smoke pork chops?

Depending on how hot your smoker is it will take around 45 minutes to get your pork chops up to 120 degrees F. Allow a total time of an hour including the sear and a quick rest.

How to tell when pork chops are cooked?

We are aiming for an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. For best results use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. If you don’t have one, you have to look for slightly pink meat in the middle.

Contrary to popular belief, pink pork is safe to eat so long as it is cooked to 145°F.

Prepping the pork chops for the smoker

With the pork chops laid out on a chopping board, we just need to trim off any excess outer fat. It won’t all render down and it is the meat that we want to taste.

pork chops with trimmed off outer fat
Carefully trim off any excess outer fat from pork chops

Now place the pork chops on a wire rack on a drip tray. We want to give these a sprinkle of salt and place them in the fridge. You can dry brine pork chops for an hour or even up to 2 days.

For this recipe, I brined these in the morning and cooked them later that day, for an 8 hour brine.

What is the point of salting or dry brining the pork chops you ask?

Since pork is such lean meat, the salt brine helps retain moisture during the cooking process. It also acts as a tenderizer, as the salt dissolves and is drawn into the pork flesh, it breaks down the muscle proteins.

pork chops on a wire rack sprinkled with kosher salt
Sprinkle pork chops with salt and let them sit in the fridge for at least one hour

If there is any visible salt left on the flesh when you are going to cook pork chops, use the back of a butter knife to scrape off any excess.

The most notable difference in dry brining when you reverse sear the pork chops, is that you will get a much better outer crust and we all know crust equals flavor. You cannot tell me you want less flavor.

The best method for BBQ pork chops

There are so many cooks that can benefit from using a two zone cooking area. It is so versatile as you have a cooler zone for either slowly raising the meats to the required internal temperature and then a hotter zone for searing meat.

I will reverse sear the pork chops and this is the very reason we need a thicker cut pork chop. Thinner, boneless pork chops have a tendency to dry out using this method, mainly because this is a lean cut with little to no intramuscular fat.

I’m using a 22” Weber Kettle, so I’ll start off by lighting ½ of a chimney of charcoal briquettes. Once that is fully lit and ashed over, I’ll dump that on one side of the charcoal grate. This side will be our hot zone.

weber kettle with two zone cooking area
Create a two zone cooking area by placing fully lit and ashed charcoal on one side of the grate

What is the best wood for smoking pork?

For this cook, I’ll be using a chunk of apple smoking wood to give a nice smoky flavor to the pork chops. Depending on the type of smoker you are using you can use pellets or wood chips as well.

Pork works well with just about any smoke wood, especially any fruit wood so don’t worry if you don’t have apple wood lying around. Other great options for a delicate smoke flavor include cherry, maple, or pecan wood.

It’s just another way of adding depth of smoke flavor to your cook.

Place the chunk of apple wood on the cooking rack just above the lit briquettes.

Smoking pork chops

Once you have added the charcoal and smoke wood, place the lid back on with the lid vent directly over the cooler zone (the opposite side the briquettes are) and open all the vents. This will help draw the heat over the entire grill. 

After 5 minutes the grill should be hot enough. Give it a quick scrub with a grill brush and a light oil. I tend to use grill tongs and some lightly oil soaked paper towel to do this.

Place the seasoned pork chops on the cooler zone and put the lid back on, remember to keep the lid vent directly over the meat, this will help draw the heat directly over the chops.

The foil package is for the apple sauce I’m making, if you want to make that to there are steps further down the page.

uncooked pork chops on a grill
Lightly oil the grill grates and place pork chops on the cooler zone

I like to keep an eye on the internal temp of the pork chops. Once they hit an internal temp of 110 degrees F, I light another ½ chimney of briquettes. 

Then when the chops have reached an internal temp of 120 degrees F, we can remove the pork chops off the heat and let them rest under some loose foil with a lot of butter to let the juices redistribute.

grilled pork chops resting on a board with butter on top
Let the pork chops rest under foil with a generous piece of butter before cooking directly over the heat source

I’ll then put the other half chimney of lit briquettes in the kettle.

I’m using a set of cast iron grates, such as GrillGrates to get extra good grill marks on the smoked pork chops. The Grates can fit over the top of any grill and give you an extra hot temp for searing.

You definitely don’t have to use cast iron grates though. After adding the extra charcoal allow 5 minutes to get to temp; we are aiming for 600 degrees F.

Once the Grill Grates are at temp, then we can start to grill our pork chops directly over the high heat source with no flare ups.

pork chops on the Grill Grates
Rotate pork chops nearly 45 degrees to get nice grill marks

I tend to put the pork chops down and time them at 1 minute and 30 seconds, then rotate them nearly 45 degrees to get a diamond shape sear mark.

I’ll tend to put the lid back on while each sear section happens in the cook and clean the Grill Grates between each turn. This is purely for appearance, so up to you if you bother with that.

cooked pork chops on a wooden board
Sear pork chops over high heat until they reach 145 degrees F internal temperature

Our target temp for the pork chops is 145 degrees F internal.

If after grilling both sides of the pork chops, they are under 145 degrees F. Just place them back in the cooler cooking zone to finish cooking.

Apple and Beets Slaw

This apple coleslaw recipe is a great side dish for smoked pork chops and for adding into burgers. My friends and family request it all the time as it’s super tasty and really crisp and fresh. 

Start by peeling and coarsely grating the beets and place them into a large bowl.

grating beets into a bowl
Peel the beets, grate them and put into a bowl

Then cut the apples into matchsticks, and cut the sticks in half. You can peel the apples first but I actually prefer the texture the skin adds into the slaw. 

Finely slice up the cabbage and add to the bowl as well. Followed by the parsley.

sliced apples and cabbage
Slice apples and cabbage and add to the rest of the ingredients

Now that all the chopped ingredients are ready, it’s time to add the rest of the ingredients. With all of the other ingredients measured out, add them all into the bowl and mix thoroughly.

apple and beets slaw
This apple coleslaw is a great side dish for smoked pork chops

I prefer to always make this slaw up ahead of time, it just allows the sugars to dissolve and the flavors to properly mix, a couple of hours is usually enough. Although it isn’t 100% necessary.

When serving it up, I like to freshen it up with a little lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice.  

Apple Sauce – it’s addictive

First things first, apple sauce and pork go together like Bert and Ernie.

apple sauce ingredients
Granny Smith apples are a great choice for this sauce

Being Australian, I love my Granny Smith apples and knowing they are readily available in America and one of the most popular types of apple to choose from, you can replicate this awesome sauce. Yes, that’s the name now, “Awesome Sauce”.

We need to peel and slice the apples into 1/3 inches thick pieces. Now lay them into a heatproof baking dish or a foil tray like I’ll be using.

Drizzle with the lemon juice. Now sprinkle the apple slices with the sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup, and lemon zest.

apple slices sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and lemon zest
Sprinkle apples with sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and lemon zest and cover with foil

Cover this with aluminum foil and place it into the Weber at the same time as the pork chops go on.

The mixture will take about an hour to warm up and soften enough to blend.

apples in a food processor
Use a food processor to blend softened apples until smooth consistency is achieved

I find once the grill grates are on warming up, I’ll put the apple sauce mixture into a food processor and pulse until I have a nice smooth sauce consistency.

Serving suggestions

Now we could just throw the smoked pork chops all down on a plate and attack it like Wolverine but we are trying to be civilized and we spent a bit of time preparing the meal.

Because these smoked pork chops are quite large, you’ll find one smoked pork chop more than enough for the average adult. So I’d suggest a good serving of the apple and beet slaw, this stuff tastes so good that the more the merrier you put on the plate.

grilled pork chops with apple and beets slaw and apple sauce
Pair this juicy and tender smoked pork chop with a generous serving of coleslaw and apple sauce

I like to lean the smoked pork chop over the slaw, it’s a nice way of presenting it and we eat with our eyes as much as our taste buds. If it doesn’t look appealing, we don’t want to try it.

Off to the side, I like to put a good sized dollop of the applesauce. This I’m sure you will be asked if there is anymore. Yes, it seriously is that good.

grilled pork chops

Smoked pork chops with apple sauce and apple & beet slaw

Reverse seared pork chops served with crisp apple and beet slaw and a homemade apple sauce (aka the Awesome Sauce).
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Brining time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 484kcal
Author: Dean “Schuey” Schumann

Ingredients

  • 6 pork chops 1½ inches thick
  • 2 tbsp Kosher salt for dry brining
  • 3 tbsp butter

Apple and Beet Slaw

  • 1 large beet coarsely peeled and grated
  • ½ head red cabbage sliced
  • 2 green apples peeled and cored, cut into matchsticks then cut in half again
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
  • ½ cup fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns freshly ground
  • 1 lemon zest and juice for serving

Apple Sauce

  • 3 Granny Smith apples or any tart apple, peeled and sliced in ⅓ slices
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 lemon zest off and juice

Instructions

For the Pork Chops

  • Trim any excess fat off the pork chops and then dry brine them by lightly salting with salt for at least 1 hour (8 hours – 2 days is best).
  • Set up a two zone cooking area in your BBQ by lighting ½ a chimney starter of charcoal briquettes and when they are fully lit, dump them on one side of the charcoal grate. Place the lid back on, making sure the vent is directly over the cool zone where there is no charcoal and all vents are wide open.
  • Aim for a temp of 160°F to 180°F in the cool zone.
  • After 5 minutes, the grill should be warm enough to clean with a grill brush and give a light oiling to stop the pork chops sticking.
  • Place the pork chops on the cooler cooking zone, put the lid on and make sure the lid vent is directly above the meat, this will draw the heat over the pork chops.
  • Once the pork chops reach an internal temp of 110°F, light up another ½ charcoal chimney of briquettes, ready for the searing part of the cook on the hot zone.
  • When the pork chops have reached 120°F, remove them and loosely cover with some aluminum foil and butter.
  • Dump in the other ½ chimney of briquettes and wait until the grill temp reaches above 600°F, this should take another 5 minutes after the new charcoal was put in. Or you can use a laser thermometer to check.
  • Set up a timer, grill the chops for 1½ minutes then turn them nearly 45 degrees to create a diamond sear pattern.
  • We are aiming for a finished internal temp of 145°F, if after the searing is done and the chops are under 145°F, just put them back in the cooler cooking zone until they come up to temp.

For the Apple and Beets Slaw

  • Place the beets, cabbage and apple into a bowl.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients, stir well and then add to the bowl with the beets. Toss to combine.
  • I suggest making it an hour in advance as it also allows the sugars to dissolve and the flavors to mix a little longer.
  • Adding some lemon zest and lemon juice is a great way to freshen it up.

For the Apple Sauce (or the Awesome sauce)

  • Spread the sliced apples onto a baking tray.
  • Drizzle with lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and lemon zest.
  • Cover with foil and bake for an hour.
  • Once pieces are soft, put into a food processor and blend until a smooth sauce consistency is achieved.

To Serve

  • Start by placing the slaw side dish on the plate first; I’d put down a large helping. Then adding some lemon zest and squeeze of juice.
  • Lean the perfectly grill marked smoked pork chop over the slaw. These are large smokled pork chops, so one smoked pork chop should be more than enough for the average adult.
  • Add a large dollop of the sauce to the side of the smoked pork chops, make sure it’s a large amount, as you will be asked to serve more.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 484kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 2893mg | Potassium: 933mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 1469IU | Vitamin C: 56mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 2mg

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