Smoking Made Easy: Pork Tenderloin

Perfect And Delicious Smoked Pork Tenderloin

Pork is one of the most delicious and versatile meats to cook with. Great on its own, all it would take is a few simple modifications in cooking method or seasoning used to transform it into something completely new and just as sumptuous. This would include, of course, smoking it. We’ve already covered grilling methods, but today let’s focus on something new.

When it comes to smoking pork, it's all about the cut. Different cuts of meat can benefit from different spices and different cooking times and techniques. Today, we'll be taking a look at how to make the perfect smoked pork loin and what you'll need to cook it. What techniques will you need to learn? What kind of spices work best? Let's dive in and find out.

In order to get started on a smoked pork tenderloin, you'll need to grab a few things to get started.

For the best smoking experience, choose a wood that compliments the flavors and tenderness of your meat. In this case, hickory is a nice wood to use when smoking a pork tenderloin. You might also add some fruit woods like apple or cherry to enhance the flavor even further and provide some extra variety, too.

Cooking the Meat

When all your materials are assembled, you can finally begin work on smoking meat.

Step 1: Prep the Pork Tenderloin

Take this prep time for the best final results with your smoked pork tenderloin. To begin, take a sharp knife and carefully trim your pork tenderloin (or loins if you plan to make more than one) of any excess fat or silverskin. Only trim the fat hanging off the loin and avoid cutting off more than you need to. Be cautious not to remove any of the meat, as well.

Once trimmed, dry rub your tenderloin generously with a spice rub mixture and wrap it securely in plastic wrap to store in the fridge overnight, letting the flavors develop until you're ready to cook. The spice rub you choose to use can vary, as there are many rub recipes and store bought varieties that will do the job. The only rule of thumb is that you'll need about 3 tablespoons worth of rub for every pork tenderloin you intend to cook. If you'd like to try making one on your own, use this recipe and adjust the seasoning to your liking as you go:

  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
Prep The Meat Make Spice Rub

Step 2: Prep the Smoker

A half hour before you plan to cook your pork, begin prepping your smoker. Additionally, remember to set out your tenderloin around the same time to let it warm up prior to being smoked, as well as soak any wood chips you might be using in hot water. Depending of what kind of smoke flavor you want to get, choose your wood. You can find more info on that in pretty much any smoker recipe on the blog! Fruit woods, like applewood, is always a good place to start.

Fill your smoker up with chunk charcoal and light it, closing the lid to let it heat up. You're aiming for a temperature of about 225 degrees Fahrenheit, so ensure you monitor the air intake and coal level as you go to reach the optimum heat level. About ten minutes before cooking begins, fill the water tank of your smoker, add in your wood, and place on any more charcoal you might need before adding the grill grate and closing the lid, letting smoke and steam build up prior to placing the meat on the heat.

Step 3: Cook the Meat

With the smoker preheated, you can finally start cooking. Lay your meat down onto the grates and close the lid. Try to maintain as consistent a cooking environment as possible, meaning you'll have to monitor the charcoal, wood, and water levels continuously, as well as adjust air intake as needed. Total cook time, depending on the size of your tenderloin, will be about 3 hours.

Every half hour, open the lid and spray the meat down with apple juice or apple cider to help enhance the flavor and keep the outside moist. Additionally, turn the pork over about halfway through the cooking process to help it smoke evenly on all sides. Finally, in the last half hour of cooking, brush on a layer of your favorite barbecue sauce to the outside to give it a deliciously caramelized outer crust.

Cook The Meat Add BBQ Sauce

Step 4: Rest the Meat

Your pork tenderloin will be done when it registers a temperature of 135 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. Measure the temperature using a digital thermometer. Take it off the heat and tent it loosely with aluminum foil for half an hour. During the resting process, the meat can relax and becomes more tender, as well as more flavorful as it reabsorbs some lost juices. It will also rise in temperature about 10 degrees, making for a perfect 145 degree tenderloin. The total time won't get much longer, but you really don't want to skip this step!

Step 5: Serve the Tenderloin

Once your meat has had the chance to rest, all that's left to do is to eat it. Serve up your perfectly smoked pork tenderloin alongside some extra barbecue sauce. The way you eat it depends on your tastes, and bbq sauce you decide to make depends on that, too. Check out some sauce recipes we have on the blog for more inspiration! With thick cuts as a main dish or thin slices for sandwiches being two popular options. Whatever you pick, though, it'll surely taste good.


Now you have all the instruction needed to make a real perfect smoked pork tenderloin whenever you like. ​With a good spice rub recipe, a fine cut of meat, and a little patience, you too can cook a delicious meal your friends and neighbors will be talking about for years to come. Smoking pork tenderloin has never been that easy!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Pork Loin and Pork Tenderloin the Same Thing?

Can You Shred a Pork Tenderloin?

What Temperature Should You Cook a Pork Tenderloin?

How Do You Smoke a Pork Tenderloin?

Do You Have to Remove the Silverskin from Pork Tenderloin?

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