Get tips for cooking pork chops on a pellet grill with this easy Traeger pork chops recipe. The ingredients for smoked pork chops on a Traeger are simple and the steps are clearly defined. There’s also a handy trick for upgrading an older pellet grill by adding a digital temperature gauge if your pellet grill doesn’t have one. Whether you are cooking thin pork chops on a pellet grill, boneless pork chops on a pellet grill, or any other smoked pork chops on a Traeger, you are in the right place. Learn how to make marvelous, tender, flavorful pork chops on a pellet grill and enjoy a delicious dinner experience.
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The Inspiration for this Juicy Grilled Pork Chops Recipe
For years, our favorite ham recipe included a special orange marmalade and mustard glaze. The flavor complimented the smoked pork amazingly well. One day, my husband had the idea to adapt the glaze recipe to cover smoked pork chops on our Traeger. The resulting pork chops were the most delicious, juicy smoked pork chops we had ever eaten. Best of all, the incredible glaze only takes three ingredients and is easy to put together. In case you’re wondering, we use our Traeger year-round. The smoked meat tastes so moist and tender when it’s done. Ready for a marvelous culinary experience with these pellet grill boneless pork chops? Learn how to make these easy smoked pork chops today!
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How Long Does it Take to Smoke Pork Chops on a Pellet Grill?
For our recipe, the total cooking time is about 50 minutes. Our Traeger is an older model, so we don’t use the degree setting. Ours just has three levels, low, medium, and high. It’s not very high tech, but it has served us well. We’ve had it for quite a few years, and haven’t seen the need to upgrade.
We watch the thermometer gauge and adjust the heat setting to reach the desired temperature.
It takes a little time for the smoker to come to the desired temperature. On newer models, you can preset the Traeger to heat to the precise temperature you need. If you count the prep time for the glaze and letting the pork chops sit in the glaze, the process takes about 2 hours.
Important Update: Installing a Digital Thermostat Kit
Have an older Traeger like the ours with a dial temperature gauge and want to go to a digital gauge? Now you can, and you don’t even need to get a different Traeger. Instead, get a digital thermostat kit. The one we bought was very reasonably-priced and only took my husband about half an hour to install. It works like a charm! Just preset the temperature on the digital thermostat and watch the Traeger go to work. No more back-and-forth trips to check on the temperature dial! This is definitely a great addition to our trusty smoker.
What Temperature are you Supposed to Cook Pork Chops at?
The recommended cooking temperature for pork chops is an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). This temperature ensures that the pork chops are safe to eat while still retaining some juiciness and tenderness. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other food safety authorities recommend cooking pork to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens.
For this smoked pork chops recipe, the temperature the pork chops are cooked at changes during the course of the smoking process. Preheat the pellet grill on high with the lid closed. After about 15 minutes, reduce the setting to low and start cooking the pork chops. After 30 minutes of cooking on low, raise the heat to medium and cook for about 20 more minutes. Detailed temperatures are given in the recipe instructions below. Here’s a model that is newer than ours and is reasonably priced. The temperature control is much more precise than our Low-Medium-High temperature setting.
Ingredients for Smoked Pork Chops
4 or 5 pork chops, bone-in or boneless, 3/4 inch thick
1/2 cup orange marmalade or rhubarb orange jam
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
Directions for Smoked Pork Chops
Place the pork chops in a baking dish in a single layer. Mix the glaze ingredients together.
Spread the glaze over the pork chops.
Cover the pork chops and refrigerate.
Turn the Traeger grill on high and heat to 180 degrees with the lid closed. After about 15 minutes, reduce the heat to smoke. At this point, I usually use a metal brush to scrape the grill. Bring out the pork chops and place on the grill.
With the temperature still at 180 degrees, smoke for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, turn the grill to high and cook for 20 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. If you have a grill that has a temperature you can set, set the grill to 500 degrees. Check the meat with an instant-read meat thermometer before removing from the grill.
Let the cooked pork chops or pork loins rest for 3 minutes before serving.
Common Smoked Pork Chop Questions
Does it Matter if the Pork Chops are Bone-In or Boneless?
This recipe works well with bone-in or boneless pork. The thickness does make a difference, though. Some cuts of pork tenderloin can be 1-inch thick, so you would have to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Whether you choose bone-in or boneless pork chops depends on your personal preferences, but both types are delicious when prepared according to this recipe for smoked pork chops on the Traeger. Here’s how bone-in and boneless pork chops differ:
Bone-In Pork Chops:
- Bone-in pork chops typically have a bone that runs along one side of the meat. This bone can add flavor and moisture to the chops during cooking.
- The bone can act as an insulator, helping to prevent the meat from drying out during cooking.
- Because of the bone, bone-in pork chops may require slightly longer cooking times than boneless chops to ensure that the meat closest to the bone is cooked thoroughly.
- Some people prefer bone-in pork chops for their flavor and the way they look on the plate.
Boneless Pork Chops:
- Boneless pork chops are leaner and easier to eat because there are no bones to navigate around.
- They tend to cook more quickly and evenly than bone-in chops because there are no bones to slow down the cooking process.
- Boneless chops are often preferred when a quicker meal is desired, and there’s no need for the added flavor that bones can provide.
- They are also versatile and well-suited for various cooking methods, including grilling, pan-frying, baking, and smoking, as with this recipe.
The thickness of a pork chop can make a difference in the smoking time. Some cuts of pork tenderloin can be 1-inch thick, so you would have to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Do Pork Chops Get More Tender the Longer You Cook Them?
Pork chops, like other cuts of meat, follow a general rule when it comes to tenderness and cooking time: they become more tender as you cook them longer, up to a point. However, there’s a balance to strike to achieve the best results:
Tenderness Improvement: As you cook pork chops, especially those with some fat and connective tissue, the heat gradually breaks down the collagen and connective tissues within the meat. This process can improve tenderness and make the chops more enjoyable to eat.
Optimal Tenderness: The optimal level of tenderness for pork chops is usually achieved when they reach an internal temperature of around 145°F (63°C), which is considered safe and medium-rare to medium. Beyond this temperature, the meat can start to dry out and become less tender.
Overcooking: If you continue to cook pork chops well beyond the recommended internal temperature, they will become progressively drier and tougher. This is because the proteins in the meat start to contract and squeeze out moisture. The smoked pork chops on the Traeger will get tough if overcooked.
To get the best-tasting and most tender pork chops, it’s essential to use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. As previously noted, cook the chops until they reach 145°F (63°C), and then remove them from the smoker. Allow the pork chops to rest for a few minutes, during which they will continue to cook slightly (carryover cooking) and reach the desired level of tenderness while remaining juicy.
Do You Need to Flip Pork Chops When Smoking?
With this recipe for smoked pork chops on the Traeger, flipping the chops is optional. Some of the glaze may be lost in the flipping process. If you decide you prefer to flip your pork chops, here is my recommendation. After the pork chops have been smoking for about half of the total estimated cooking time, gently flip them over using tongs or a spatula. This ensures that both sides of the chops are exposed to the smoke and heat.
What is the Best Thickness for Smoking Pork Chops?
When smoking pork chops, the best thickness depends on your preferences and the cooking method you plan to use. Pork chops come in various thicknesses, typically ranging from 1/2 inch to 1 inch or more. Thick pork chops are well-suited for smoking in this recipe because they can withstand longer cooking times without drying out. They also absorb more smoky flavor due to their thickness. If you want a deep smoky flavor and a juicy interior, thicker chops are a great option. They provide more room for error in terms of cooking time.
How Can You Tell if Pork Chops Are Done?
To determine if pork chops are done and safe to eat, you should use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Pork chops should reach a specific temperature to ensure they are cooked thoroughly and safe for consumption. Here’s how you can tell if pork chops are done:
Use a Meat Thermometer:
The most accurate way to check the doneness of pork chops is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the pork chop without touching the bone. This will give you the most precise reading of the internal temperature.
Check the Internal Temperature:
Pork chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). This temperature ensures that the pork is safe to eat and has reached the recommended level of doneness according to food safety guidelines.
Wait for the Temperature to Stabilize:
When inserting the meat thermometer, wait for a few seconds until the temperature reading stabilizes. This ensures that you get an accurate measurement of the pork’s internal temperature.
Remove from Heat and Let Them Rest:
Once the pork chops reach the desired internal temperature of 145°F (63°C), remove them from the heat source, whether it’s an oven, grill, or stovetop. Place the pork chops on a clean plate and allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Check for Juices:
Another visual indicator of doneness is the color of the juices. When pork chops are fully cooked, the juices should run clear. If the juices are pink or have a reddish tint, the pork chops need more cooking time.
It’s essential to use a meat thermometer because visual cues, such as the color of the meat or the appearance of juices, can be unreliable indicators of pork chop doneness. Relying on the internal temperature is the safest and most accurate method to ensure your pork chops are both safe to eat and cooked to your desired level of doneness.
Remember that the 145°F (63°C) temperature recommendation is for pork chops that are still slightly pink in the center. If you prefer your pork chops well-done, you can cook them to a slightly higher internal temperature, but be cautious not to overcook them to the point of dryness.
The USDA website has an excellent chart with guidelines for many different cuts of pork. The guidelines do not include specific instructions for smokers like a Traeger, but the information is very useful regarding the handling and safe cooking of pork.
Can Pork be Pink in the Middle?
If pork is pink in the middle, it does not necessarily mean it is not cooked. Yes, pork may be slightly pink in the middle. The important thing is the internal temperature. Additionally, when the meat is cut, the juices should be clear.
How do You Heat up a Fully Cooked Smoked Pork Chop?
When I’m not in a hurry, I like to heat up leftover, cooked pork chops in the oven. I have a weakness for vintage pyrex, especially the baking dishes with lids. If there are any pork chops left over after a meal, I store them in a covered pyrex dish. When it’s time to reheat them for another meal, I keep the lid on the dish and pop the whole thing into the over at 250 degrees to heat slowly. After about 20 minutes, the pork chops are ready to eat. The covered dish keeps them moist, tender and juicy.
How do I Cook Thin Pork Chops on a Pellet Grill?
Cooking thin pork chops on a pellet grill can be a delicious and relatively quick process. Just follow the directions in this recipe, with a few added steps to ensure your pork chops are moist and tender:
Place the Pork Chops on the Grill:
Once the grill is preheated, place the glazed pork chops directly on the grates. Arrange them in a single layer, ensuring there is space between each chop for even cooking.
Grill and Monitor Temperature:
Thin pork chops cook quickly, so keep a close eye on them. Instead of smoking for 30 minutes as listed in the recipe, smoke for 15 minutes. Turn the heat up as directed in the recipe and smoke for 10 more minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chops. Pork should reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for safe consumption. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chop without touching bone.
Rest and Serve:
Once the pork chops reach the desired temperature, remove them from the grill and place them on a clean plate. Allow the chops to rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the juices redistribute, ensuring a more flavorful and tender result.
Cranberry-Glazed Smoked Pork Chops
For a special holiday smoked thin pork chop variation on a pellet grill, try substituting cranberry glaze for the orange glaze in this recipe. It would be the perfect main dish for a fall or winter grill party.
Smoked Pork Chops on a Traeger
- Traeger smoker
- Instant-read meat thermometer
- 4 or 5 pork loin chops, bone in or boneless ¾ inch thick
- ½ cup orange marmalade
- ⅓ cup Dijon mustard
- ½ cup brown sugar firmlh packed
- Place the pork chops in a baking dish.
- Mix the glaze ingredients together.
- Spread the glaze over the pork chops.
- Cover and refrigerate the pork chops.
- Turn the Traeger grill on high and heat to 180 degrees with the lid closed.
- After about 15 minutes, reduce the heat to smoke.
- Use a metal brush to scrape the grill.
- Bring out the pork chops and place on the grill.
- With the temperature still at 180 degrees, smoke for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, turn the grill to high and cook for 20 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
- If you have a grill that has a temperature you can set, set the grill to 500 degrees.
- Check the meat with an instant-read meat thermometer before removing from the grill.
- Let the cooked pork chops or pork loins rest for 3 minutes before serving.
What Goes Well with Orange-Glazed Smoked Pork Chops?
My favorite condiment to serve with pork chops is applesauce. Every year I make applesauce from the heirloom apples in our orchard using my favorite applesauce recipe.
I also like to serve easy oven-roasted red potatoes using a recipe from our daughter-in-law. The potatoes are seasoned with garlic and rosemary. Delicious! For a refreshing dessert, try easy pea pickin’ cake, a southern favorite.
Other Easy Main Dishes You Might Enjoy
If you are a fan of easy meals, here are some other recipes you might want to try. The ingredients are simple, and the preparation takes very little time. Some of these recipes make use of leftovers to make your food budget stretch farther. Check out these delicious options:
- Easy Curried Turkey
- Easy Ham and Potato Hash
- How to Make Easy Lasagna
- Easy Cola Chicken Recipe with 4 Simple Ingredients
- Easy French Onion Soup with Sausage in the Slow Cooker
Are You Now Craving Moist, Glazed, Smoked Pork Chops on a Traeger?
Thinking of working these smoker orange-glazed pork chops into your recipe rotation? It’s always nice to have a plan when it comes to meals. If you’re looking for a way to get more organized with your meal planning efforts, I’ve got something for you. Free, editable meal planners! The templates can be used over and over, as often as you need them. You can make as many duplicates as you like, and you’ll be able to save old meal plans for future reference. I hope it simplifies things for you.
Have fun experimenting with delicious recipes on a grill!
Lisa Mitchell is a wife, mom, and school librarian who likes to create and share recipes, often using fresh ingredients from her family’s small Pacific Northwest farm. To learn more about what this website has to offer, click on over to the Welcome page.
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