Although I make smoked pork butt or pork shoulder more often, nothing beats the tender, delicate flavor of smoked pork loin roast. A pitmaster friend introduced me to one of their recipes and I have been tinkering with it ever since!
In this post, I will show you an excellent smoked pork loin recipe and offer up top tips to make sure it turns out great. Let's begin!
I know, I know - this seems like an unnecessary lesson considering you are here to learn how to smoke a pork loin roast.
Nevertheless, I need to do my due diligence and make sure that you know exactly which cut you are roasting.
The pork loin is a large cut of meat that is taken from a section running from the shoulder to the middle of the pig. The reason that it is referred to as a roast is due to is size - the pork loin roast is usually about 2 to 4lbs.
The main distinction that I want to make here, though, is the difference between loin roast and pork tenderloin.
Now, these two cuts may come from a similar area, but pork tenderloin is a lot more tender and contains less fat. This cut is fairly small too.
Between you and me, the main reason to know the difference between these two cuts has to do with the fact that pork tenderloin is a lot more pricier than the loin roast!
Due to this, make sure to specify to your butcher which cut you want to smoke.
Personally, I find pork loin roast to be an excellent cut for smoking. The end result is a crispy layer atop moist and tender meat.
This cut also absorbs that smoky flavor beautifully, ensuring a delicious smoked pork loin each and every time.
The amount of trimming that you will need to do will depend on the particular cut that you have. Some cuts are sold with a thick layer of fat.
If this is the case, then you will need to trim some of this excess fat. While fat is great for keeping the pork loin nice and moist, too much fat can interfere with the smoking process.
You should definitely get rid of any silver skin or tough or sinewy tissue surrounding the meat. Make sure that the pork roast is in somewhat of a uniform shape as well.
I would suggest doing this only if you have a very thick fat cap on your loin roast and you don't want to trim it too much.
In this case, scoring the pork loin fat cap in a diagonal pattern will allow the rub ingredients to penetrate deeper. Remember to not cut into the meat itself, though.
If there isn't too much fat on the pork loin, however, you can skip this step. Cutting into the meat can cause moisture to escape, drying out your smoked pork loin.
Usually, I am a big fan of slathering on a dry brine before smoking meat. This is a great way to help the cut stay moist and add flavor. In the case of smoking pork loin, though, I find it to be unnecessary.
This is because due to the level of fat in this cut, I feel like brining is just a waste of time. Of course, you are free to give it a try.
If you are dry brining, though, just make sure to skip the kosher salt in the rub. Otherwise, your smoked pork loin may end up too salty.
Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F.
Combine the ingredients of the dry rub in a small bowl.
Apply the mustard or olive oil to the entire pork loin roast.
Sprinkle on the dry rub and press into the meat.
Place the pork loin in the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 145 F.
This may take up to 2 hours or a little longer.
Take the pork loin out of the smoker and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
The key to the best smoked pork loin is choosing the right roast for the job.
I do prefer choosing smaller cuts of pork loin instead of whole pork loin as they cook faster. If you are feeding a crowd, I would suggest buying several smaller sections instead of a larger loin roast. Of course, the choice is up to you!
The next decision that you will need to make is whether to choose bone in or boneless pork loin.
The reason that most people go for boneless pork loins is because they tend to be easier to cook. They smoke faster and often cook more evenly.
Not to mention when it comes time for slicing, there is no hassle at all!
Still, there is something to be said for bone in pork loin. For one thing, these hold onto moisture a little better. I have also found that they taste better too.
I would suggest experimenting with each type of pork loin to discover what works best for you.
Finally, there is the fat cap.
Don't buy a roast where the cap is too thick. You will simply end up trimming it off and then needing to score through it. Thus, it will end up being a waste of money.
Ideally, look for a roast that has a layer of fat that is around 1/4th of an inch thick.
My smoked pork loin rub is pretty similar to the other rubs that I use for my smoked meat. In essence, it keeps things simple.
Now, this is important to remember when seasoning pork. In general, the taste of pork is pretty mild. This makes it easy to overpower this natural flavor profile, if you aren't, careful.
This is why I like to keep the spice rub rather standard, in line with the best smoked pork loin recipes.
The one thing that you shouldn't be afraid to do, though, is to take the sweetness level up a notch. Somewhat sweet itself, pork tastes amazing when paired with a sweeter profile.
As you will have seen with the ingredient list, I have included yellow mustard or olive oil as an option.
This allows the rub to stick to the surface of the meat, forming a nice and tasty layer.
Personally, I prefer mustard. I have always found mustard and pork to be an excellent combination.
Despite this, I know that the pungent flavor of this condiment isn't for everyone. If you fall into this category then you can use olive oil instead.
In case you do this, add about 1/4th of a teaspoon of dry mustard to the spice rub to make up for it.
If you are using a charcoal grill or smoker, then you will be looking for wood chips or wood chunks. In case you have a pellet smoker, then you need to choose pellets.
When it comes to choosing wood or pellets for your pork, I like to keep it mild. As I already mentioned, pork loin has a delicate flavor. Choosing a strong wood would completely detract from the natural flavors.
As I stated above, sweet is the way to go with pork. Thus, apple wood, cherry, or maple are the best options here.
If you would like something a little smokier, oak works pretty well with pork too.
Can you kick up the smoke flavor up a notch? Sure, you can add a hint of hickory wood into the mix. Make sure to add plenty of apple or cherry to balance it out, though.
Remember, too much of a wood like hickory and you could end up turning your pork bitter.
It is all about going low and slow with smoked pork loin roasts. This is why 225 degrees F or 250 degrees F is the best choice here.
Interestingly enough, pork will more or less cook at the same rate at either of these temperatures. However, I would keep a slightly closer watch on the pork loin at 250 F.
Avoid going above this temp, though.
This is an argument that has been going on for quite a while but it turns out that there isn't a right or wrong answer.
Instead, place the pork loin so that the fat side is facing toward the heat source. Now, in most smokers, the heat source is above the meat. As such, you need to face the fat upwards.
Doing this ensures that the fat takes the brunt of most of the heat, allowing the rest of the cut to cook more slowly.
Use a meat thermometer or temperature probe to keep track of the internal temperature of the pork loin at all times.
The last thing that you need is for the pork meat to dry out. Thus, when the meat reaches 145 degrees F, take it out of the smoker immediately.
No, there isn't any reason to do this. Typically, you wrap meat to overcome the stall. However, the stall only occurs in larger cuts such as the pork butt. This is unlikely to happen with your loin roast.
I know that some people like to spray apple cider vinegar or apple juice onto the meat during the smoking process. They believe that it helps the meat retain its moisture.
This isn't what happens at all. See, at the temperature that the pork loin is smoking, any small amount of liquid sprayed onto the meat will evaporate almost immediately.
In fact, all that you will be doing is cooing the area around the pork, resulting in it taking longer to smoke.
Well, this is up to you! I prefer a spice rub alone but if you like a glaze, you can certainly try one.
There is no need to get fancy with it. Just some good quality or homemade BBQ sauce.
About half an hour before the pork loin is done, use a pastry brush or new and clean paintbrush to apply a thin layer of sauce on the meat.
Let the pork smoke for about 15 minutes more and then apply another thin layer. Smoke until done.
Resting the meat is just as important as all the other steps. Once you take the pork out of the smoker, place it on a cutting board and let it sit for up to 15 minutes.
This will give the meat enough time to reabsorb any lost juices, making it that much more tender.
Then you can slice and serve.
When it comes to pork loin leftovers, I find that slicing it prior to freezing is the best. Then, place it in a Ziploc bag and squeeze all the air out before freezing.
When reheating, you can either heat up in the pan or the oven. You can add a little bit of broth or water for extra moisture.
At this temperature, it can take your pork loin about half an hour per pound to cook.
At 225 to 250 F, a pork loin that is around 3lbs will take about 2.5 hours to smoke.
The exact time will depend on the temperature and the weight of the pork loin. It will typically take upwards of 2 hours to smoke.
Well, if you want the best ever smoked pork loin roast, you know now how to make it happen! Follow this recipe and the guidelines and you will have no trouble turning out a masterpiece!