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You don’t need a smoker for juicy smoked pork loin! Learn how to smoke a pork loin on your charcoal grill.
If you love smoked pork butt, but you don’t have 10 hours to smoke a butt, let it rest, and then pull the meat, then this smoked pork loin is the next best thing! It’s kind of like the lazy man’s pulled pork, because you only need a few hours to cook it, and then you don’t have to stand hunched over your kitchen counter for an hour pulling the meat with a fork.
Smoked pork loin is also really versatile! You can slice it thin for the BEST smoked pork loin sandwiches, put it in enchiladas, or even pile it on some homemade barbecue pork pizzas. Since the pork loin meat itself is pretty neutral in flavor, it pairs well with a wide variety of spices from Mexican to Greek and, of course, Barbecue.
Plus, at less than $2.00 per pound, it’s very affordable… perfect for feeding a crowd!
So why would you want to smoke a pork loin versus cooking it using a different method? A pork loin is very lean, so with the absence of fat you also get less moisture. By smoking a pork loin low and slow on a grill, the meat stays moister.
Here’s how to smoke a pork loin:
- boneless pork loin – My pork loin was about 4 1/2 pounds and, technically, the grocery store calls it a “boneless pork half loin”.
- yellow mustard
- your favorite BBQ seasoning – I have yet to find ONE store-bought BBQ seasoning that I like, so I combine 3 bottles of seasoning in a large Ziploc bag, toss them all together and then pour the seasoning mix into shaker bottles.
- your favorite BBQ sauce – I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet Golden Mustard BBQ Sauce.
How Long to Smoke a Pork Loin?
This is probably one of the most common questions on how to smoke a pork loin, or any meat for that matter… How long do I cook it?
The time needed to smoke your pork loin will vary depending on a number of factors, like the temperature of your meat when it goes on the grill and the amount of fluctuation of your grill’s temperature. However, a good rule of thumb is to smoke your pork loin for about 1/2 an hour per pound.
The pork loin that I smoked here weighed 4.38 pounds, and I smoked it for about 2 hours and 20 minutes at 250 degrees.
Just be sure that the internal temp of your smoked pork loin reaches about 140-145 degrees before you take it off the grill.
What Temperature Do You Smoke a Pork Loin at?
250 degrees! That’s the “sweet spot” when smoking meat, whether it’s ribs, smoked pot roast, smoked whole chicken, or smoked pork loin.
How to Smoke a Pork Loin
Step 1: Set up your grill for smoking.
You can make smoked pork loin on a smoker or on a charcoal grill, like I did. If you’re going to be smoking your pork loin on a charcoal grill, then be sure to check out my post on how to use a charcoal grill as a smoker before you get started! That post shows the EXACT amount of charcoal to use, how to maintain your temperatures, and where you want your charcoal to go.
After you’ve got your charcoal piled up on one side of your grill and lit, add a few apple wood chunks to the pile. Then close your grill lid, adjust dampers, and dial in your temperature to 250 degrees. You can also check out Oklahoma Joe’s recommendations for picking the best smoking woods.
Step 2: Prep your meat.
While your grill is heating up, prep your pork loin for smoking. First you need to deal with the fat on the loin. You can score the fat in a diagonal pattern by cutting diamond shapes with your knife blade about 1/4″ deep, or you can remove the fat if you wish.
My pork loin had quite a bit of silver skin and a hard, thick fat layer, so I chose to remove it.
After you’ve trimmed your pork loin to your liking, coat it with a thin, even layer of yellow mustard. Don’t worry, the mustard taste on your cooked pork loin will be hardly noticeable. The mustard acts as a good insulator to help keep your meat juicy, and it gives your barbecue rub something to stick to.
Once your pork loin is rubbed down with mustard, sprinkle it liberally with your favorite BBQ rub or seasoning. Remember, pork loin is very lean, and most cuts are pretty thick so don’t be afraid to do a good thick coat of seasoning on your meat.
Step 3: Put your pork loin on the grill.
Insert a probe style thermometer into your pork loin before putting it on the grill. A 2 way probe thermometer is great because it will give you the internal temp of your meat AND the temp of your grill at the grill grates near your meat at the same time. *You can read more about why you need a 2 way probe thermometer in this post on how to set up your grill like a smoker.
When you put the thermometer in the pork loin, try to insert it into the middle of the loin so that you get an accurate internal temp. Then place the pork loin on the grill grates, on the opposite side of the grill than your charcoal.
Step 4: Smoke the pork.
Once you’ve got your pork loin on the grill, you shouldn’t have to touch it. Just let it smoke until done, being sure to watch your grill temp to make sure that it stays right around 250 degrees.
Basting the Pork
This step is completely optional, but I was smoking my pork loin to make smoked pork sandwiches, so I wanted a good sweet, caramelized crust on my meat.
If you want to baste your pork loin with barbecue sauce to add some extra moisture to the meat, then start basting when your meat is about 10 degrees away from the target temp, so when your internal temp is about 130-135 degrees.
You can see from the photo above that I heated a Carolina-style barbecue sauce in a small cast iron skillet right on my grill grates. Then, brush on a good amount of sauce on the top of your pork loin, wait for a few minutes, flip the loin, and baste the other side.
You can repeat these steps a few times to develop a nice sweet crust on the outside of your smoked pork loin.
Step 4: Remove your smoked pork loin from the grill, and let it rest before slicing.
Once the internal temp of your smoked pork loin reaches about 140-145 degrees, it’s time to take it off the grill and let it rest. And don’t you dare cut into it right away. You’ve just spend 2.5 hours smoking a delicious pork loin, so the last thing you want to do is slice it right away and lose all of that flavorful juice.
You should wait about 20-25 minutes before slicing your meat. If you want, you can tent it with some aluminum foil, but I don’t find that necessary.
Then slice your pork loin and serve!
Here’s the smoked pork loin recipe for you to print out… trust me, you’ll want to make this the next time that you’re craving a big, juicy pork sandwich!
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