Pork loin is a wonderful cut of meat to smoke low-and-slow and is perfect to serve alongside your turkey in the holiday season. Pork loin is a lean cut of meat that can dry out easily, so it needs to be cooked a certain way to remain tender and juicy. I did some research to see how competition pitmasters tackle the pork loin.
The best way to smoke a pork loin is to set the temperature of your grill or smoker between 240°F and 270°F using a fruit wood such as apple or cherry. Cook the pork loin low-and-slow until the internal meat temperature reaches 145°F on your wireless meat thermometer. Wrap the loin in aluminium foil and allow the pork to rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Prior to cooking, apply a generous amount of seasoning to the loin using a rub that blends well with pork. For next-level pork loin, in the last stages of the cook, brush a glaze onto the meat using your favorite barbecue sauce. Pork loin is a lean cut of meat and can dry out easily, so another tip is to inject the loin with marinade the day before for some extra moisture.
- Rub Mix:
- Cumin – ¼ Cup
- Black Pepper – 2 Tablespoons
- Paprika – ½ Cup
- Kosher Salt – ½ Cup
- Brown Sugar – ½ Cup
- Garlic Powder – ½ Cup
- Onion Powder – ¼ Cup
- Binder: Yellow mustard or olive oil
- Glaze: Barbecue sauce
Seasoning. Apply a generous amount of barbeque rub. Once you’ve seasoned the loin, add a layer of your favorite pork barbecue rub. If you want the rub and seasoning to stick better, apply a binder using mustard or mayonnaise before sprinkling on the seasoning. You won’t be able to taste the binder, so don’t worry. Once your pork loin is seasoned, let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow time for the flavors to work their way into the meat.
Light your smoker. Fire up your smoker to about 240°F to 270°F and keep the temperature stable. Any hotter than this will draw all the moisture out of the meat, so we want to keep the temperature nice and low. It should take about 2 or 3 hours to cook a pork loin at this temperature, but we never cook to time, we always cook to internal meat temperature.
Smoking wood. If you’re using a charcoal smoker, throw on a few chunks of fruit wood like apple or cherry. Monitor the wood and top it up if needed so you get a steady flow of smoke for the entire cook. If you have a pellet grill, use fruit wood pellets and if you are smoking with an electric or gas smoker, use some apple or cherry wood chips.
Cook. Lay the pork loin in the smoker, making sure the meat is cold to attract more smoke. Don’t put meat in the smoker at room temperature, always chill the meat prior to smoking. If using a charcoal smoker, lay the loin on the opposite side to the fire when placing the meat on the grill so the meat can be cooked with indirect heat. Sit the meat above the water pan for extra moisture.
Keep the smoke rolling. After about an hour, throw on some more wood if the chunks have burned out and aren’t producing smoke. We want to keep a steady flow of smoke rolling over the pork loin for the entire cook, which should take about 2 or three hours.
Glaze. Apply the glaze to the pork loin once the meat hits an internal meat temperature of about 130°F. This should occur at about the 1.5 or 2 hour mark. For the glaze, brush on your favorite barbecue sauce with a basting brush and cover the whole loin. You can use a similar barbecue sauce to what you would use on pork ribs.
Finish. Once you have applied the glaze, close the lid of your cooker and leave it on until your meat thermometer alarms in the 140°F internal meat temperature range. The glaze should set in the last stage of the cook, taking your pork loin to the next level of delicious! The glaze is optional, so you can skip this step.
Rest. The perfect internal meat temperature for pork loin is 145°F, but some pitmasters remove the loin from the smoker at a 140°F internal and then wrap the meat in foil to rest. While resting in the aluminium foil, the meat will slowly climb up to a 145°F internal.
Slice. Once the pork has rested for 30-minutes, slice the pork loin into thin slices with a knife. Serve the meat with a cranberry or apple sauce.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 5.7gSodium: 982.8mgSugar: 1.8g
How To Choose a Pork Loin For Smoking
Most pork loins that you buy from the butcher will weigh between 4 to 5 pounds, which should fit perfectly into most smokers or grills. A whole loin weighs closer to 9 or 10 pounds, which is okay but you might need to cut it in half.
How To Trim a Pork Loin
Make sure the pork loin has the rind removed because smoke can’t penetrate the hard pork skin. Trim any excess fat and if the loin was vacuum packaged, give the meat a quick rinse. When you are at the butcher, make sure you don’t buy the pork fillet (pork tenderloin), because this is a different cut of pork which is not suitable for long roasting.
Pork Loin vs Pork Butt – What’s The Difference?
Pork loin and pork shoulder may come from the same animal, but they are very different cuts of meat. Pork butt/shoulder is a tougher cut with lots of fat and connective tissue, whereas the loin is very lean with little fat. A pork shoulder will have a different flavor and texture and will need to be cooked longer to allow time for the connective tissue to break down. We cook a pork shoulder until the internal meat temperature hits about 200°F, but a pork loin would be too dry if left in the smoker that long. The ideal internal temperature to cook a pork loin is to about 140°F to 145°F to ensure it’s moist and juicy.
Comparing Smoked Pork
|Pork||Temperature||Time Per Pound||Total Cook Time|
|Shoulder/butt||225°F – 250°F||2 hours per pound||10 – 15 hours +|
|Pork Loin||240°F – 270°F||30 min per pound||2-3 hours|
|Pork Leg||250°F||2 hours per pound||8-12 hours|
Can You Marinade Pork Loin?
To ensure you get a tender, juicy pork loin, consider injecting it with marinade the day before cooking. Meat injectors and inexpensive, easy to use and are a great way to get extra moisture inside the meat. Pork loin is a lean cut of meat, which causes it to dry out easily. Injecting the loin with marinade will help replace lost fluid during cooking.
The Best Marinades For Pork Loin
When it comes to marinades, there are few different options; you can either make your own, or buy a pre-made marinade online. Injecting the pork with a broth is the easiest way to get more liquid into the meat. Just make a simple broth with seasonings and pump it into the pork using a meat injector. If you’re after a store-bought marinade, I only use products from Butcher BBQ because these are the marinades used by the professionals in barbeque competitions. You can check out the Butcher BBQ Pork Injection here on Amazon here.
Shoud You Brine Pork Loin?
There is no harm in brining a pork loin prior to smoking, but it isn’t necessary. Dry brining is always the easier option and is as simple as rubbing kosher salt into the meat and allowing at least an hour to penetrate the meat. Salt adds extra flavor and helps the meat retain moisture while cooking.
Do You Need To Wrap Pork Loin?
You don’t need to wrap pork loin because it should take under 3 hours to cook if you have your temperature set in the 250°F range. We wrap meat to retain moisture for long cooks. Unlike tough cuts like pork butts and brisket, pork loin is a lean cut of meat and doesn’t need hours in the smoker. Tough cuts like brisket need hours to break down all the connective tissue, and because those cuts need hours in the cooker, they are at risk of drying out, which is why we wrap those roasts in foil. However, it’s a good idea to wrap the pork loin in foil while it is resting because this will hold in the moisture.
If you don’t already have a meat injector, Butcher BBQ also sells injector kits that come with a marinade mixture. Check them out here. Amazon has a wide range of cheaper meat injectors for under $20, but make sure to buy a stainless steel injector because the cheap plastic ones break easily.
Meat Injector Comparison
|Meat Injector||Description||Barrel Size||Needle Size||Popularity||Price||Where To Buy|
|Beast Injector||Made from |
grade stainless steel. Includes 3 needles
and lifetime warranty.
Weighs 9.3 oz. Dimensions 8 x 5.25 x 1.75 inches
|2 oz||Includes one 6″ angled needle, one 6″ needle with 12 holes, and one 3″ fine spray needle||Amazon Best |
Over 2k ratings.
|Ofargo||304-Stainless Steel. Includes 4 needles, spare silicone O-rings, needle cleaners, barrel brush, and ebook. |
Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 1.5 inches. Weighs 14 oz.
|2 oz||4 different needles |
(3x 6” plus
1x 3”) for
different applications. Made of #304
stainless steel, clog-resistant to both fluid and chunky marinades
|Amazon Choice. Over 600 ratings.||$30-|
|Ofargo Plastic Marinade Injector||Plastic barrel with stainless steel plunger and 2x stainless needles. Includes needle cleaning brush and ebook. |
Dimensions: 8.7 x 2.8 x 1.2 inches. Weighs 2.56 oz
|1 oz||2 types of needles||Amazon |
Over 4.5k ratings.
|Butcher BBQ Pistol Grip Gourmet Meat||Metal Handle 50cc Pistol |
Grip Syringe with 2
Different Needles a cleaning
Dimensions: 20.32 x 2.54 x 15.24 cm. Weighs 458 g
|1.69 oz||2 needles – side port hole and bottom port hole||Butcher BBQ products are produced |
by multiple World Barbecue Champion
or Butcher BBQ
My Favorite Tools For Smoking Meat
My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools
Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.
Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.
Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.
Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.
Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBooard website here.