Smoked Pork Chops

5 from 18 votes
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You need smoked pork chops in your life.

I have a thing for really thick pork chops. It’s one of the few farmed meats I miss, and I almost always order them when I see them on a restaurant menu. So I decided to do something about it.

Closeup of smoked pork chops on a cutting board
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

My friends Christian and Kate of Ham Sweet Farm in Michigan raise really good hogs of all varieties. including ossabaw crosses. Ossabaw is a classic Southern pig that lays on a fair bit of fat. They had a hog available, and shipping was surprisingly cheap, so I bought one.

I asked for real pork chops. No less than two fingers thick, and ideally three. Double bone chops. Chops that make you shout, “America!” This is what you want for smoked pork chops.

Keep in mind this is a recipe for smoked pork chops, not barbecued pork chops. That’s another recipe. This is a straight up smoke, no sauce. And it… is… amazing.

See all that fat? First off, it’s so unsaturated that when you eat some, the heat of your mouth melts it. So good. Second, what you don’t feel like eating, you put in a pan to render. If you have never cooked with smoked lard, your life is incomplete. Trust me on this one.

As for how to eat your smoked pork chops, you can simply eat them for dinner right out of the smoker, or you can let them cool and slice off bits to eat as a knee-buckling snack. No mustard needed, although I won’t think ill of you if you do.

Render the fat and cook some potatoes or greens with it, or add a spoonful to your rice. Or use it as the fat in cornbread. Or do what I do, and use it as my secret ingredient in homemade flour tortillas.

And do not toss the bones! They are too good for your dog. Even if you have a very good dog. Use the smoked bones to make a quick stock to cook beans in, or collard greens. You’re welcome.

Can you make smoked pork chops with thin pork chops? Yeah, I suppose. But they won’t be as nice.

A pair of smoked pork chops on a cutting board.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Also, you need the curing salt to get the full effect. The chops get a little hammy, and stay a rosy pink. You can of course skip it. You will get a grayer meat, though, more porky and less hammy. Both are good, but I prefer a fully cured smoked pork chop.

You can buy curing salt here. You will also need a kitchen scale because this method of curing works by weight — it also keeps your pork chops from getting too salty, so it’s worth it. I like this scale, but anything that can measure to 1 gram works.

Closeup of smoked pork chops on a cutting board
5 from 18 votes

Smoked Pork Chops

This recipe is designed for domestic pork, but you can of course use wild hog chops, too. I just like the extra fat I get with farmed pigs. You can scale this recipe up if you'd like. 
Course: Cured Meat
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 thick pork chops
  • kosher or sea salt (See instructions below)
  • Instacure No. 1 curing salt (See instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (optional)

Instructions 

  • Weigh your pork chops in grams. Yes, you need a scale for this recipe because I have no idea how heavy or thick or large your chops are. Once you have your weight, measure out 1.25% of that weight in grams of sea salt, or kosher salt. Now measure out 0.25% - that's one-quarter of one percent - in curing salt if using. If you are not using curing salt, sub in more regular salt. 
  • Mix the salts and the sugar, if using, together and massage that into the pork. Ideally, you then vacuum seal the pork. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, put the pork chops in heavy freezer bags. Set them in the fridge to cure. You will need to cure these chops for a minimum of 2 days, and for chops as thick as mine, up to a week. Don't worry, this method of salting them prevents the pork from every getting too salty. You can leave the chops in there for 10 days if you wanted. 
  • When you are ready, get the smoker going. Any wood you like works, but I prefer apple or cherry. Rinse the pork chops in cold water and pat dry. You want them still damp. 
  • Smoke at 200F for at least 4 hours. You want them to be fully cooked inside, about 150F to 160F. Serve hot or cold. 

Notes

NOTE: Recipe time does not include cure time. 

Nutrition

Calories: 241kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 291mg | Sugar: 25g | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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29 Comments

  1. Thank you for the recipe. I did some 1.5 inch thick boneless loin chops for 6 days and they came out great!

    Will the recipe work with an uncut half boneless loin? If so, how many days you think?

    1. Randy: If you use the equalization method, e.g. weighing the meat and then weighing out 1.5 percent to 2 percent salt, plus 0.25 percent cure, you can cure it for weeks without it getting too salty. I’d give it a week in the fridge to be sure.

  2. Hank, not sure you’re still monitoring this recipe for comments, however what I like about it is that you measure your salt and cure by weight. That being said….what’s the percentage for sugar?

    1. Rog: Sugar I don’t do by weight because it’s less critical. It’s primarily for flavor, and a little more or less won’t hurt anything, unlike salt.

  3. Gave this a try a year and a half ago and we have made it 3 times since. It’s an absolute hit, the only thing is that there is always left over’s as the we get the chops cut at a 2 inch thickness. But don’t take that as a complaint in any form, the leftover are as good as the initial meal!

  4. I made this the other day and it was wonderful! My family loved it! Since then, my husband has learned he is allergic to tomatoes. I wondered if you might have any suggestions for a good substitute? I’m thinking of maybe adding some beef or veggie broth for the liquid, and maybe some black beans for substance? Just wondering if I should add some extra seasonings too, and/or if there are some other things you might recommend. Thank you!

  5. Ratios are spot on. Definitely aim for 10 days (7 minimum).
    A Carolina style mustard-based bbq sauce is an epic pairing with this recipe….not that it needs anything.
    Thank you HS

  6. I was going to mention in my last comment, Hank, we tossed in a splash of Makers Mark to the glaze and it added a nice hint to complement the sweetness of the honey/molasses.

  7. Hello Hank!

    We used this recipe on some of our homegrown pork chops and they turned out fantastic!

    Curious–is there any benefit (or harm for that matter) in lowering the smoker temp so they take longer to reach internal temp? Will this impact meat quality, smoke impregnation, etc?

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  8. I have managed to harvest a couple of feral hogs (both sows) in south Texas last week. Has anyone tried this on feral hogs? I was going to do this recipe with the loins.

  9. Made this today, after leaving the meat in the cure for a little over 5 days. Turned out looking almost exactly like the picture, except not as thick…my fault entirely. 🙂

    And they tasted, well, they tasted really…really…good.

    Anyone (Hank?) have ideas for other seasonings that would work well here? Not that it’s needed…more just curious.

  10. Tried this one last week with some boneless pork chops cut 1-1/2” thick. Cure ratio seems perfect. Just like you said, great right out of the smoker or cold. Still enjoying them!

  11. I have some uncured, unsmoked thick ham steaks. about 1600 grams of meat in one steak. Curing now. Looking forward to the smoking and eating next Sunday.

  12. Hi there again from Australia mate!
    I think I’ll have to give this a run in the treager. Need some big pork chops but. I have a friend whose property I hunt bunnies on and they grow pigs so I you have inspired me to give them a call and see if I can buy a pig, head out for a weekend and butcher it. I can cut the chops as thick as I like then!

  13. Lol! I think every home cook who cures meat uses the same exact scale. Digging Dog Farms has a great cure calculator. I need to go looking for heritage pork products.

    1. David: With this method of curing it’s not needed, because there is no excess salt to remove. But you can if you really want to.

  14. Hank is clear an American Icon. He keeps it real, he keeps it simple, and he can make it classy! I have two of his books and they’re great. Thanks for sharing with us. Best,
    Joe

  15. This sounds wonderful,and I hope to try. However, I caution against giving dogs pork or chicken bones, as they can splinter and slice the intestinal track open. Years in a veterinary clinic showed me really unhappy results.

  16. The kids even go crazy for smoked pork chops. I do almost the same but make a brine instead of just the sufar n salt but i am sure this is just as good! I have 12 chops sitting at the ready as i type.