Smoked pork loin has been one of my go-to meat cuts for cookouts for many years. In fact, I rarely have any leftovers after the BBQ. There are several reasons why smoked pork loin is a regular at many of my barbecues. This versatile meat cut cooks quickly and can be seasoned in different ways.
Today, I’ll share how I cook this flavorful meat cut. Pay close attention, and you can start preparing your own mouthwatering smoked pork loin in no time. Let’s begin!
How to Smoke a Pork Loin?
My favorite method for smoking pork loin is to prepare it with a rub and cook it on low, consistent heat using a pellet grill. Here is my smoked pork loin recipe.
Step 1: Preheat the grill to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Load the smoker with your preferred wood pellets or wood chips. (I personally love using pecans.)
Step 2: Use a paper towel to dry the pork loin roast. Trim away any excess fat that is thicker than a quarter inch. To complete the preparation, use a sharp knife to cut a quarter inch deep diamond pattern on the meat.
Step 3: Rub the meat evenly with olive oil. Then, coat the loin with your favorite rub. In case you don’t have a spice rub recipe in mind, get a bowl and mix a teaspoon of sugar, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. If you don’t have all these ingredients, kosher salt and black pepper will suffice.
Step 4: Afterward, place the seasoned pork loin on the grill grates. Close the smoker’s lid and cook until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. From experience, the cooking time could take two to three hours.
Step 5: After removing the smoked pork loin roast from the smoker, I recommend letting it rest in a foil tent for ten to fifteen minutes. Once you’ve allowed the meat to rest, serve it, and enjoy.
Pro tip: Bear in mind that the pork loin fat side should face up while smoking. Why? More moisture and flavor are produced because the fat renders and bastes the meat as it cooks.
Smoked Pork Loin Tips
Follow these tips to make a juicy smoked pork loin at home:
- Remove the layer of silver skin before you smoke the pork loin. Silver skin is a thin, transparent membrane that surrounds a cut of meat. If you notice this thin layer on your meat, use a knife to cut and pull it off. You can also ask the butcher to help you remove the skin.
- Don’t forget to score the pork loin. Scoring your meat makes it look more inviting and helps the seasoning cover more parts of the meat. It also lets the extra fat baste the meat. To score your meat, use a sharp knife to cut a diagonal crisscross pattern through a quarter inch of the fat cap.
- Always remember your meat thermometer. Using your thermometer to monitor your meat’s cooking temperature ensures you get consistently tasty results. To measure the meat’s internal temperature, stick the thermometer’s probe in the thickest part of the meat. A pork loin roast can take two to three hours to cook. After two hours of smoking, begin monitoring the temperature at fifteen-minute intervals and be careful not to overcook the loin.
- Rest the meat before serving. Moisture will quickly escape if you cut the smoked pork loin roast while it’s still hot. If you rush and cut the meat without letting it rest, you risk making the meat tough or dry. For this reason, tent the pork loin with foil to keep the meat’s juices inside and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes so the meat can absorb all its juices.
- You can store your smoked pork loin in the fridge for three to four days. Ensure that the refrigerator’s temperature is consistent and place the meat in an airtight and moisture-proof container.
- To reheat your pork loin, use a cast iron skillet and bake the meat for about 20 minutes at 300°F oven temperature.
To Wrap or Not to Wrap?
I generally avoid wrapping my pork loin roast in foil because it limits the smoke from seasoning the piece of meat. Most pit masters use foil to cook thicker pork cuts faster. However, since pork loin is a lean cut, the foil shouldn’t remain on the meat for long. Or else, you risk losing some smoky goodness!
What is a Pork Loin?
A pork loin is cut from the area along the side of the backbone. The loin is a long, lean cut that can be bone-in or boneless. The pork loin roast is typically divided into smaller cuts of chops, roasts, or steaks. Bear in mind that bone-in roasts will require a little more time to cook than boneless pork loin roasts.
How to Select Pork Loin?
When selecting a pork loin roast from a butcher’s shop, look for meat with a pink color and substantial marbling. Ensure the meat’s fat is not soft or yellow but firm and white.
I recommend buying only fresh-cut pork loin. However, if you buy a pre-packaged piece of pork loin, make sure the product is within the specified expiration date.
Best Smoked Pork Loin Side Dishes
Smoked pork loin pairs well with several delectable side dishes. Here are some of my favorites:
- Vegetables: Roasted veggies, such as carrots, asparagus, potatoes, green beans, or Brussels sprouts are a tasty and healthy side dish to serve with pork.
- Baked beans: A delightful and filling side dish, baked beans taste deliciously well with smoked and barbecued pork.
- Rice: Rice is a starchy dish that can be cooked in different ways. This meal is one of my favorite side dishes for smoked loin.
- Salad: To balance the meaty flavor of the pork, a snappy and zingy salad can make a wonderful side dish. My personal favorite is pairing smoked pork loin with coleslaw.
Feel free to experiment with a combo of different sides to find the right match for your taste buds.
How to Flavor Pork Loin?
Pork can taste bland when cooked alone. However, this neutral flavor profile gives cooks enough room to experiment with unique preparation techniques. Before cooking, flavor can be added with a dry rub, brine, or even injection. You can even try three of these methods to impart even more flavor to the pork. Let’s discuss more about these techniques.
Dry rubs are a mix of herbs and spices that add a punchy flavor to your pork loin roast. Rub the spices into the pork loin on all sides and leave it for five to ten minutes so the meat can absorb the flavorful spices. Refer to my above-mentioned recipe for a unique dry rub mix for your pork loin.
Although it’s not necessary, brining a pork loin before smoking is an excellent way to keep the meat moist and flavorful. To brine your delicate pork loin, combine water, salt (or sugar), and any additional desired ingredients or flavors.
Put the pork loin submerged in the brine for about 5 hours or leave it overnight. Once you’re ready to smoke the loin, pat it dry and place it on the smoker.
To make a brine, pour 16 cups of water in a pot and let it boil. Then, add half a cup of sugar and one cup of salt and stir until they are completely dissolved. Afterwards, add any other ingredients of your choice. I usually add garlic, thyme, rosemary, and peppercorns to the mix.
However, you can always try new recipes for a more unique flavor. After adding the remaining ingredients, stir the mixture and turn off the cooker. After allowing the brine to cool to room temperature, put the pork loin in a large container and pour the brine over it until the meat is entirely submerged.
Pork loin can be injected with liquid, just like other large pieces of meat. This technique adds more flavor and prevents the meat from drying out while cooking. You can experiment with several injectable mixtures. Personally, I mix apple sauce with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and water and inject the mixture into my pork loin.
Pork Loin vs. Pork Tenderloin
Pork loin and pork tenderloin aren’t the same meat cuts. Let’s look at four of these differences.
These meat cuts are located at the back of the pig. The tenderloin is found farther back and closer to the backbone, whereas the loin is located more centrally.
Pork loins are bigger than pork tenderloins in terms of size. A complete loin typically weighs 5 to 10 pounds, while a tenderloin weighs around a pound. This means that a pork loin can feed more people than a pork tenderloin.
A pork loin roast has a tougher texture than pork tenderloin. That’s one reason the loin takes longer to cook than the tenderloin.
Smoking a small to medium tenderloin might take up to an hour. Larger pork loin roasts will probably take about three hours to cook.
The Best Smokers for Cooking Pork Loins
Pork loins cook well on most smokers. Here are three of my favorite smokers for cooking pork loins.
Pellet smokers cook meat in a sealed chamber using flavored wood chips. A pellet smoker takes longer than other smokers to cook your meat. However, the longer cooking time may be worth it because you get a smokier flavor on your meat.
Smoking pork on a pellet grill is straightforward. The smoker fans the chamber and mechanically feeds pellets into the heater. So, you only need to occasionally check the meat at regular intervals.
A charcoal grill is another excellent choice to smoke a pork loin. One feature that stands out is its compactness. Moreover, this alternative is more cost-effective and much simpler to clean.
Remember to turn the meat every now and then to avoid any burned areas. Of course, charcoal is used in a charcoal barbecue, providing you with low, direct heat. However, you may also use flavor-infused wood to add a smoky scent to your meat.
This smoker is the best choice if you don’t have much space in your backyard. However, it can be messy using this smoker, so it’s best to wear an apron and gloves.
Electric smokers use wood chips as fuel and produce smoke via heating rods. Additionally, the pork is smoked using convection, which gives it a unique flavor.
Electric grills often cook at a lower temperature for a longer period. With this smoker, you won’t have a fire in the open. Moreover, you can find out the smoker’s internal temperature with the built-in thermometer.
Note that if you don’t pre-heat the smoker, you might notice a faint plastic flavor in your meat. Summarily, I like electric smokers because they are easy to use and typically come with the newest features.
The Best Wood Chips for Smoking Pork Loin
There are several excellent options available when deciding what kind of wood chips to put in your smoker. If you prefer a stronger smoky flavor, I recommend hickory and mesquite. On the other hand, if you want a lighter flavor, use fruit wood chips like maple, apple wood, or pecan.
How Much Does Pork Loin Cost?
A pork loin roast is a pricey cut of meat. The high price is mainly because of the delicious flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Budget $6 to $17 if you’re shopping for a pound of pork loin. In my experience, a bone-in pork loin is usually less expensive per pound than a boneless cut.
However, remember that the location of the butcher shop or grocery store has a major impact on the price. This meat cut may seem like an exorbitant purchase, but I assure you it is worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many people does 1 pound of pork loin serve?
A pork loin roast weighing one pound can serve roughly two people. Moreover, a single pound of pork loin can even give you three or more smaller servings.
2. How should I store pork leftovers?
Let the meat cool, then place it in an airtight container. The meat should last for up to three days in the fridge.
3. Can I freeze smoked pork loin?
You can freeze smoked pork loin with no hassles. Simply wrap the loin in aluminum foil and place it in an airtight bag or container. This step also works great for pork chops, pork butt and so on. The meat can last for up to six months in the freezer.
4. How can I prevent my pork roast from drying out?
The easiest way to smoke pork roast without it drying out is to cook it at a low temperature so the juices can baste the meat. Additionally, brining the meat makes it more tender.
5. How long should I smoke pork loin?
Your pork loin roast must reach an internal temperature of at least 145° F to be tender and juicy. At 225°F to 250°F, the cooking time is approximately two to three hours. Obviously, the cooking time of each cut varies depending on the weight, size, and shape of the meat.
Every barbecue should have smoked pork loin on the menu! This lean cut has a tender mouthfeel and delicate flavor profile. Feel free to try out my smoking recipe, and don’t forget to brine the meat for even tastier results.
Remember to smoke the loin with the fat at the top so the meat continuously bastes itself, keeping it moist and flavorful.