Apple-Bourbon Brined and Smoked Pork Chops

Southern Kitchen

About the recipe

For the juiciest, most flavorful and tender pork chops, you can’t beat a two-hour brine and a 20-minute smoke. It’s easier than you may think.

Serves: 4 to 6

Hands On Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours and 35 minutes


2 cups apple juice

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons bourbon

12 whole peppercorns

4 whole allspice berries

2 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

2 cups cold water

4 to 6 rib-cut pork chops, 1 inch thick

2 cups hickory wood chips


In a medium saucepan, combine the apple juice, sugar, salt, bourbon, peppercorns, allspice, cloves and bay leaf. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from the heat and add the cold water. Let the brine cool to room temperature.

Place the pork chops in a glass baking dish with high sides or a leakproof zipper-lock bag. Pour the brine over the pork chops and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Cover and refrigerate.

One hour before you’re ready to smoke the pork chops, place the wood chips in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for 1 hour and then drain.

Cut a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil in half and divide the wood chips between the two pieces. Fold the aluminum foil over on itself and seal the chips up into pouches. Use a sharp knife to poke holes all over the aluminum foil.

Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the pork chops from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Set up the grill for indirect cooking: Turn the burners on one side of the grill on and leave the burners on the other side off. If you have a three-element grill, heat two sides and leave one off. Let the grill heat to 450 degrees.

Place the wood chip pouches directly on the flavor bars of a gas grill or directly on the embers if using a charcoal grill. Close the lid and heat until a steady white smoke emanates from the grill.

Reduce the heat to 350 degrees.

When the grill is emitting a steady white smoke, place the pork chops on the cool side of the grill and close the lid. Smoke the pork chops for 15 to 18 minutes (Do not lift the lid while smoking.)

Transfer the pork on the hot side of the grill and cook until the center registers 145 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.