Smoked Rack of Pork: A Delicious 5-Step Recipe!

August 28, 2023

A smoked rack of pork is a delicious cut of pork that is a showstopper at barbecues across the US. This large cut of meat is the perfect option for feeding a host of people without burning a hole in your pocket.

I learned how to prepare a smoked rack of pork at cooking school, and I’ve been preparing it at cookouts ever since. Today, I’ll show you how I do it. Continue reading, and you’ll become an expert by the end of this article. Let’s get started.

smoked rack of pork

How to Smoke a Rack of Pork?


  • 5 pounds of bone-in pork roast
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of BBQ rub
  • ½ cup of BBQ sauce
Raw Pork Ribs with Herbs and Spices


Step 1: Dry Brine the Cut

First, place the pork crown roast into an aluminum foil or stainless steel pan. Use a tablespoon of coarse kosher salt on each side of the rack of pork to dry brine the cut. Dry brining the pork rack makes it more tender and juicy.

Step 2: Apply the Rubs

Next, sprinkle the garlic on both sides of the rack and rub it in gently. Make sure you pay attention to the edges of the meat.

Recently, I’ve been getting excellent results when I combine spices like paprika and black pepper with a BBQ rub on the rack of pork. So, I recommend sprinkling the paprika and black pepper on the pork liberally. Afterward, apply the BBQ rub.

Now, place the seasoned rack of pork in the refrigerator so that the salt and spices work their magic on the meat overnight. The pork rack will ultimately taste better and be more delicate as a result.

Step 3: Prepare the Smoker

Fire up your smoker the following day and set it to 225°F. I use a Traeger pellet grill for this recipe, but a charcoal grill or gas grill also works fine. Next, add your flavored wood chips and let it simmer. I use apple wood chips at this stage.

Step 4: Smoke the Rack of Pork

Next, place the pan with the rack of pork in the smoker. If you like to cook the pork outside of the pan, you can also place the rack of pork straight on the pellet smoker grates. But I prefer smoking it in a pan because I can baste the meat.

This cut usually takes around 4 hours to cook when I smoke it at medium-low heat of 225°F. Cook the meat for 2 hours and baste the meat cut occasionally with a stick of melted butter and 2 teaspoons of the BBQ rub while it smokes. This basting sauce gives the meat an additional flavor layer and keeps the meat moist as it cooks.

Step 5: Finish Smoking and Serve

It’s time to take the slow-cooked pork out of the pellet grill when the internal temperature reaches 145°F and slather the cut of pork with sweet barbecue sauce.

Place the pan on a countertop, cover it loosely with a piece of foil, and allow the meat to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The temperature will increase while it rests, and the meat’s juices will also reabsorb into the cut, so you can slice the meat without losing tasty juices. Lastly, cut the smoked rack of pork between the bones and serve it with the bones attached.

Extra Smoking Tips

  • Even though picking a pork rack with some fat is good, you should cut off any excess fat before smoking. This will guarantee even cooking of the cut and prevent flare-ups. If you decide to keep the fat cap, trim off any extra and score it with crosshatches to let the rub permeate the meat. Also, cut off any silverskin –a thin, whitish membrane that covers the meat– so the meat will be less chewy.
  • Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your smoked pork to make sure it is cooked to the recommended internal temperature of 145 degrees.
Grilled Pork Ribs on the Grill

What is a Rack of Pork?

A rack of pork is a pork cut that consists of rib bones connected to the pork loin. You can enjoy the meaty flavor of the pork loin and the tastiness of the bone-in roast.

Although a rack of pork usually has fat on the top layer, pork loin is lean, making it easy to overcook. But the pork loin’s bones act as insulation and prevent it from overcooking.

The good thing about this prime rib roast is that you can purchase large roasts that almost have an entire rack of ribs on them or a smaller roast that has just a few bones.

Best Wood for Smoking a Rack of Pork

My favorite hardwoods for smoking racks of pork are sweet and mild-flavored woods such as apple, pecan, and maple. I’ve used apple wood in my recipe. Bear in mind that cherry wood is a good choice if you want to add a red hue to your rack of pork. This wood is renowned for giving meats like pork and chicken a layer of red.

You can also use more intense wood chips like oak or hickory, but I’ve found that the smoke can overpower the pork’s flavor. An effective in-between solution is to evenly mix the mild and intense woods.

How to Buy a Rack of Pork?

You must pay close attention to the bones when buying this pork roast. First, assume you’ll serve each guest one bone. Each bone contains a fair amount of meat, but if you are serving hungry meat lovers, it may be worthwhile to budget for one or two extra bones per guest.

Next, ask your butcher to French the meat’s bones. Frenching involves cutting the excess meat from the bones and scraping them to show about an inch of bone.

Another tip is to ensure the roast is fresh and natural. Some pork cuts are given saline injections to increase their raw weight. For this reason, I always recommend buying this meat straight from the butcher shop instead of a grocery store. The results are worth it!

Dishes to Serve with a Smoked Rack of Pork

A rack of pork is a versatile cut that can be served with different dishes. You can enjoy this flavorful cut with tasty dishes, including:

Macaroni and Cheese

Mac n cheese is one of the most versatile dishes out there. This dish tastes awesome with everything, and a smoked pork rack is no different. The tangy creaminess goes well with the sweetness of this flavorful meat cut.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Collard Greens

Collard greens pair nicely with this meaty rack. The trickiest aspect of this dish is cleaning and trimming 2 pounds of greens. That said, the effort will be worth it once you taste how well this light side dish complements your smoked rack of pork.

Collard Greens with Bacon and Onions

Baked Cheese Grits

Baked cheese grits combine milk, hot sauce, sharp cheddar cheese, and eggs to create a tasty dish that is baked and served in a casserole dish. This dish is an excellent option if you love a creamy side to pair with your tasty smoked rack of pork.

Baked Cheese Grits in the Pot

Potato Salad

Potato salad is a classic side to eat with ribs. The tangy dressing perfectly cuts through the rich flavor of the smoked rack of pork.

Potato Salad with Mustard Seeds and Fennel


My special summer coleslaw recipe combines green cabbage, fresh corn, and cherry tomatoes into a fresh package. Then it is finished with a garlic, lime, and mustard dressing. This coleslaw tastes great on its own. Now imagine it paired with your pork rib roast rack. Yum!

Fresh Coleslaw Salad on the Bowl

How to Store a Rack of Pork?

You can store a leftover smoked rack of pork in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Simply wrap the meat in foil and ensure the fridge’s temperature is below 40 degrees.

You can also freeze your raw or smoked rack of pork for up to four to six months. I typically don’t recommend storing raw pork ribs in the fridge; it’s always better to keep them in the freezer because the lower temperatures will slow down the rate at which the meat spoils. 

To store your favorite cut of pork in the freezer, wrap it in cling film and place it in a moisture-proof bag. Don’t forget to label the package with the storage date so you’re reminded of when to cook or reheat it.

How to Reheat a Smoked Rack of Ribs?

To reheat your leftover smoked rack of pork, wrap it in aluminum foil and heat it in the oven at 325 °F until it is heated all the way through and reached the desired internal temperature. Slather the meat with barbecue sauce to impart more flavor to the pork cut. If the pork is frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Related Reading


There you have it! My special recipe for a smoked rack of pork. Despite the large size, smoking this cut is quite straightforward. So, visit your nearest butcher shop, purchase a pork rack, and start smoking. Feel free to experiment with different spices, BBQ rubs, and sauce brands to discover which you like best.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. CatHead's BBQ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon (.com,, .ca etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
More like this ...
Hungry Yet? Lets Grill Some!
Copyright 2023 CatHead's BBQ, all rights reserved.