Are you going to host a large family gathering? Or your group of friends is coming by? A smoked pork loin is one of the delicious yet simple BBQ dishes you can add to the menu. Remember – the two things which can drain out all the taste, tenderness and flavors from a pork loin are temperature and timing.
So, for how long to smoke pork loin so that it stays as the delicacy you intended? What temperature should you maintain? And what’s the best pork loin recipe? Keep reading to find this and much more.
Pork Loin VS Pork Tenderloin – Understand the Difference
Often mistaken as synonymous to each other, pork loin and pork tenderloin come from different parts, have a different taste pattern, and require a different cooking technique.
The cut for pork loin is taken from the back of the pig. The large meat pieces are available in both bone-in and boneless options. The pork loin can be later cut into smaller pieces for cooking chops or steaks. When cooked, they have a mild flavor and the thick fat cap melts to give juicy and perfectly moist meat.
Pork tenderloin is boneless and comes from the backbone of the animal. Since it is thin, the cooking time is short and the meaty flavor is delicate. If you want to grill something really quick, we suggest opting to cook a pork tenderloin; this won’t take more than an hour of yours.
But if you are hosting a big gathering, looking for an affordable option or just want to try out a new smoking recipe, then pork loin is the most suitable choice. Besides, if cooked right, it can be flavorful and tender just like any other piece of meat.
How Long to Smoke a Pork Loin?
One problem which makes pork loin notorious is that it takes only a matter of minutes to turn the perfectly cooked meat into a slice of tough and chewy meat. So, you need to babysit the grilling process until your pork loin is completely cooked.
As mentioned earlier, the cooking time and temperature are the two parameters that will decide how your smoking experience is going to end.
Unlike chicken or beef, whose doneness can be identified by visual indicators, the pork loin will not grant you any such leeway. Hence, a meat thermometer is the only thing that can save you from missing out on the tenderness of the meat. Monitor the heat using this thermometer and continue cooking until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 145°F.
Generally, it takes around 2 to 3 hours to smoke a pork loin. The cooking time is determined by the type of smoker used, the maintenance of heat and the meat thickness.
How to Smoke a Pork Loin? Step-by-Step Guide
Pork Loin (6-8 pounds)
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Apple Juice (1/2 quart of both)
- Kosher salt (1/4 cup)
- Grounded black pepper (2 tablespoons)
- Brown sugar (1/4 cup)
- Kosher salt (1 tablespoon)
- Grounded black pepper (2 teaspoons)
- Cayenne pepper (1/2 teaspoon)
- Garlic powder (2 teaspoons)
- Mustard powder (1 teaspoon)
- Onion powder (2 teaspoons)
- Smoked paprika (2 teaspoons)
Step 1: Prepare the Meat
Check for any excess fat on the pork loin. Trim it using a knife. But don’t remove all of the fat, or you will end up drying out the meat. Next, take a sharp knife and score diagonally through the fat cap of the pork loin. The scoring should be around 1/4 inches deep. This will let the brine and rub ingredients penetrate throughout.
Step 2: Prepare the Brine
Combine all the brine ingredients in a large bowl. Stir them until all the added sugar and salt have dissolved. Put the pork loin in it. Add some water if the meat is not completely submerged in the brine. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
Step 3: Make the Rub
After brining, take a bowl and mix all the rub ingredients such that no clumps are present. Take the meat out of the brine and coat it generously with the prepared rub. Leave for 1-2 hours.
If there is any leftover dry rub, you can store it for up to a month in an airtight container.
Step 4: Put the Pork on Grill
Bring the temperature of your smoker to 230°F. If you want to add extra flavor and odor, burn wood like hickory or apple chips alongside. Place the pork loin on the grill and let it cook for around 2-3 hours or until an internal temperature of 145-150°F is achieved.
Step 5: Wait, Slice, and Serve
Let the smoked pork loin rest for around 10-15 minutes after cooking. This time will allow the flavors and meaty juices to sink back into the meat. Now, carve it against the grain; your smoked meat is ready to serve and eat.
The Bottom Line
This is a basic recipe for grilling a pork loin. One learnt; you can try out multiple other recipes to make pork loin a favorite dish of your friends and family. Be creative, and serve it with salads, baked beans, fried potatoes or mac and cheese.
Besides, what about the leftover meat? Well, there’s no need to dump it. Just dice the remaining pork loin and add it to different dishes including a tortilla, fried rice or simply an omelet. So we hope after reading this guide, not only you’ve learned how long to smoke a pork loin, but also, the best pork loin recipe for your BBQ night.