I first had smoked bacon wrapped pork loin at a friend’s house and I loved it! I asked for the recipe and the chef in me couldn’t help but meddle with it until I had it down to perfection. And, now, I get to share it with you!
In this post I will show you how to whip this recipe and show you all the tricks you need to know to get it just right!
Before I get started with the recipe, I first want to make an important distinction – pork tenderloin and pork loin aren’t the same cuts. The reason that I want to get this out of the way is because I am often asked if you can use pork tenderloins instead of pork loin for either smoked pork tenderloin or bacon wrapped pork tenderloin.
I know they sound similar, but they actually refer to two separate cuts of pork.
The loin is a wide and thick cut that is taken from the back, between the back fat and the ribs. This midsection that runs from the shoulder to the rear. While pork tenderloin is also taken from the line, it is cut from a section running along the spine, this meat is incredibly tender.
Pork loin is a much larger and has a fat cap running on top of it. As such, it can benefit from low and slow cooking unlike pork tenderloin.
Thus, if you want to smoke pork tenderloin or make bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, it isn’t such a good idea as pork tenderloin doesn’t really hold up well to a longer cooking time.
Preheat smoker to 225°F or 250°F.
Trim any excess fat, membrane, or silver skin off the pork loin.
Pat dry with a paper towel.
Mix the ingredients for the rub together.
Sprinkle over the pork loin and press into the meat.
Lay the bacon strips side by side in a line on the counter. Then, place the loin on top of it. Take the outermost strip and cross each side over the loin. Repeat this with every strip until you have a bacon weave.
If you are having trouble keeping the bacon from falling off the loin, use butcher twine to tie hold them together at various points.
Place the bacon wrapped pork loin in the smoker. Smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 120°F – this should take about an hour.
Take out and brush with maple syrup, if desired. Return back to the smoker and continue until the bacon wrapped pork loin reaches 130°F.
When the bacon wrapped pork reaches 120°F, you should begin preparing for the next step. Heat a cast iron skillet on a grill or even your stovetop.
Once the bacon wrapped pork reaches 130°F, take it out of the smoker and place in the cast iron skillet.
Cook until each side of the bacon wrapped pork is a dark, golden brown and you have a crispy bacon layer.
Make sure that the internal temperature is 140°F before taking the smoked bacon wrapped pork off the pan.
Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
For great tasting smoked bacon wrapped pork, you first need a good base – a great cut of loin. I can’t stress this enough – always cook fresh loin. Make sure to prepare the cut at least a day within buying it. Trust me, you can taste the difference.
Look for one with a pinkish red hue and that has a good amount of marbling and this results in a greater level of flavor. Now, you can find bone in pork loin but as you can imagine, this will not work for this particular recipe. You may find this cut referred to as a pork roast, so look out for this term when shopping.
If you want to cater to a bigger crowd, I would suggest buying a few smaller cuts – each about 1 to 1.5lbs in weight rather than getting one big cut. This way, you will be able to smoke each of them more quickly.
There is no right answer here – it all depends on your preference!
Streaky bacon cooks faster and it is easier to get a crispy exterior. If you are using thick cut bacon, this may take a little longer. However, you may find that the smoke flavor is better able to permeate the meat.
Also, when using thick cut bacon, you may find it a little trickier to keep the slices in place. Either use longer strips or wrap twine around the meat to keep it in place.
I know that some people struggle with the bacon weave. If you aren’t too fussed about the pattern, though, there is another trick that you can try.
Line up the bacon strips side by side, parallel to one another. Then, place the loin a couple of inches away from the vertical edge. Arrange the shorter edges off the bacon over the loin. Next, roll the pork loin so that it is covered in bacon as you go.
I know that some like to add sauce to the meats that they are smoking. They brush it on top of the bacon wrapped pork so it acts as a glaze or flavor layer on top.
Personally, I am not a fan of this method as I feel that it messes with the natural smoky flavor of the smoking process. Instead, I find that you are better off serving the smoked bacon wrapped pork with a side of BBQ sauce instead.
Of course, this decision is entirely up to you. If you are curious about what it may taste like with the sauce, go ahead and give it try.
For this recipe, I have used a Cajun seasoning based rub. However, it is up to you decide which seasoning works best for you. I find that lots of people like to add brown sugar to the mix as well as it adds a touch of sweetness.
Now, when smoking most meats, I would first apply a layer or yellow or Dijon mustard over the loin. This is so that the seasoning would adhere to the surface of the meat better.
As I am wrapping the loin with bacon, however, I have found this to be an unnecessary step. If you want to do it, though, go ahead. I have always found that pork and mustard are a great combination.
When it comes to pork, apple, cherry, and maple wood tend to be the most commonly chosen options. The sweetness of these woods really helps to set off the natural flavors of the pork.
If you want a slightly smokier flavor, then you can use a few hickory wood chunks. Make sure to use these sparingly, though, as they can be quite potent. Too much and you will end up with an overwhelmingly bitter flavor.
As you will have noticed, I have mentioned in the recipe that you can choose either 225°F or 250°F. With bigger cuts, there isn’t too much difference between the rate at which the meat cooks at either temperature.
That being said, I do like 225°F as it allows the bacon wrapped pork to smoke for a longer time. In doing so, you get gorgeous smoky bacon and loin. If you decide on choosing the higher temperature, though, make sure to keep a close eye on the internal temperature.
Another thing that you will have noticed with this recipe is that I have mentioned various internal temps here. Let me break these down for you. Make sure to use a meat thermometer to track the temperature every step of the way to ensure that your pork loin is done to perfection.
According to the USDA, you need to cook pork loin until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. At this point it is fully cooked and safe to eat.
It is best to take the meat out when it is around the 140°F mark, however. Due to carryover cooking, the internal temperature will continue to rise once it is taken out of the smoker. I like to take it out a little early to prevent the loin from drying out.
If you look at the recipe, you will notice that the first time you have to take out the loin is at 120°F. This is so that you can apply the syrup as a glaze. If you want to skip this step, then just keep the meat in until 130°F.
If you want to sear the meat and get a nice, crispy exterior, then you will need to take out the pork at this temperature. In case you don’t want to bother with this, let the pork smoke until 140°F.
If you are planning the meat, then make sure to use a cast iron skillet. This heats up evenly and retains heat well, ensuring a more even sear.
It is also important to preheat the pan. It needs to be hot enough to sear the meat immediately. Remember, you are going for that crispy texture and this is how you can get it.
I would also suggest using a thermometer to track the temperature to ensure that you don’t overcook the meat.
It is important to let the pork rest once it comes off the heat. Usually, around 10 minutes is enough, but a little bit more time can’t hurt. Taking this step ensures that your dish ends up tender and juicy with every bite.
Always use a sharp knife when cutting into this dish. This ensures that you are able to cut through all the layers cleaning, ensuring that nothing is falling apart.
Always slice off bigger pieces so that you get a good amount of bacon with each section as well. Otherwise, you don’t get to enjoy the full effect of the dish.
So, there you have it – all that you need to know about making this delicious smoked pork dish. I would highly suggest that you try it out, at least once – you are sure to make it again and again, after that!
And, now that you are armed with the proper guidelines as well as recipe, there is no stopping you from getting it right!