Smoked pork loin is a low-cost, big-flavor roast that pairs beautifully with many dishes. Give this lean cut the special treatment with a dry brine and slow applewood smoking. The inexpensive pork loin delivers a high payoff – incredibly tender and loaded with smoky flavor.

As a relatively low-fat cut, pork loin needs gentle low heat and ample salt to keep it moist and delicious. Choosing the right wood for smoking achieves the perfect smoky balance.

Make enough for leftovers! A big pork loin feeds a crowd or makes extra to use as sandwich meat, in tacos, in a creamy pasta dish, on a salad and however else you can imagine.

The Difference Between Pork Loin and Pork Tenderloin

While pork loin and pork tenderloin sound very similar and even look the same from a distance, they’re actually quite different. They come from different parts of the animal and there’s a difference in the size, texture and fat content of each. 

Pork loins are much larger than tenderloins and are often either used for roasts or cut down into smaller portions as pork chops (and check out the smoked pork chops recipe). They are a great way to feed hungry crowds and are quite inexpensive. Pork tenderloins are much smaller, and cook very quickly because of the smaller size and thickness, and lower optimal finished temperature. Tenderloins are super lean, are the most tender part of the animal, and are also great cooked on the grill or sous vide.

Both cuts are much smaller and have less fat than pork butts or pork shoulders.

Smoked Pork Loin ingredients including a pork loin, rub and salt.

What You’ll Need

A few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry are all you’ll need.

  • Boneless Pork Loin Roast – The center-cut loins can range anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds. It depends on how it was cut and if the fat cap was left on. Whatever you have will work great for this recipe. When buying, figure about 8 ounces per person.
  • Kosher Salt – I prefer Diamond Crystal brand.
  • Dry Rub – A simple sweet dry rub with brown sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and dark chili powder is all you need. You can customize it, using whatever you have in your pantry. **Note that if your dry rub already contains salt, you will want to reduce or eliminate how much salt you add separately.
  • Wood for Smoking – Sweet woods like apple, cherry, maple, pecan, hickory or a combination of a few are best for pork.
    Use chunks for a charcoal smoker, chips for an electric smoker and pellets for a pellet smoker.
  • A Smoker – Any type will work. I used my Weber SmokeFire EX4 pellet smoker for this one.
  • Remote Thermometer Alarm – I love the Thermoworks Smoke so I can monitor the temperature of the meat and the smoker remotely and get notified when it reaches the temp I set.
  • Sharp Knife for slicing the cooked roast and for trimming or scoring the fat.

Jump to the full recipe card for specific quantities.

How to Smoke Pork Loin

Let’s go step-by-step for how to make the juiciest and most flavorful smoked pork loin. Whether you are using a Traeger or similar pellet smoker, a charcoal smoker like a Big Green Egg or even an electric smoker, the method and technique is the same.

  1. Prep and Season (1 to 2 days in advance): Trim off excess fat and remove any silver skin from the loin.
    If the fat cap is on the loin, score it with a 1/4″ crosshatch pattern on the fat side.
    Drizzle on some canola oil and season with Kosher salt (a dry brine) and a sweet dry rub. Refrigerate uncovered.
seasoning pork loin with sweet dry rub
Dry brine on a pork loin for roasting.
  1. Remove the pork from the refrigerator to temper for 30 minutes prior to cooking. Insert a remote probe thermometer into the side of the roast to remotely monitor the internal temp and know exactly when it’s done without having to open the lid.
  2. Set up your smoker to cook with indirect heat and preheat to 225° F.
pork loin cooking in a smoker
  1. Smoke the pork loin until the internal temperature reaches 135° F, which will continue to rise 5 to 10 degrees for a diminished target temperature of 145° F for a medium cook.
  2. Rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and rest roast for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
    Tip: I like to only slice off what will be served immediately to keep the rest as juicy as possible.

How long to smoke a pork loin?

Smoke a pork loin at 225° F for approximately 30 minutes per pound, or about 1 1/2 hours total for a 3-pound roast (longer for a larger roast) until the internal temperature reaches 145° F. Remove the roast 5° F prior to your target temperature, as it will continue to rise as it rests.

Use a meat thermometer to verify doneness and cook to temperature and not by time for best results.

Always cook to temperature rather than by time.

Top Tips for Success

  • Season early with a dry brine of kosher salt and a spice rub. Use 1 teaspoon Diamond kosher salt (or ¾ teaspoon Morton kosher salt) per pound of pork. Seasoning at least a day in advance, up to 2 days, will make a big difference.
  • Cook low and slow using indirect heat for even cooking, and to keep it juicy and tender.
  • Don’t overcook it! Pork loin is a relatively lean cut that gets dry and tough as soon as it overcooks. It’s best to cook to a medium temperature of 145° F, pulling it out of the smoker 5 to 10 degrees before that target temp as there will be some carryover cooking.
  • Use a sweet fruit wood like apple or cherry wood for the smoke.
  • Don’t skip the all-important rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute after it’s cooked so they don’t run out.
  • Slice against the grain with a long sharp knife for the most tender bites.

Make It Bacon-Wrapped and Glazed

As great as it is brined, dry rubbed and smoked, it can get even more bacony delicious when you bacon-wrap it and slather it with a maple-bourbon glaze. Just follow this bacon wrapped pork tenderloin recipe, but substitute your your pork loin.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

To Store Leftovers:

Allow the smoked pork loin to cool completely. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap or place in an airtight food storage container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
For longer storage, vacuum seal or tightly wrap in a double layer of plastic and foil. Then freeze for up to 6 months.

Reheating:

For reheating, preheat oven to 300° F and place leftovers in a baking dish with a few tablespoons of broth or water to create moisture. Cover tightly with foil to prevent drying out. Reheat slices for 15-20 minutes, whole roasts for 30-40 minutes, until warmed through to 140° F.

Leftover smoked pork loin is also great enjoyed cold on sandwiches or salads.

Serving Suggestions

More Delicious Smoked Pork Recipes

Check out all the smoker and pork recipes →

smoked pork loin overhead

Smoked Pork Loin

Juicy, tender and bursting with sweet-smoky flavor in under 3 hours with just 4 ingredients – cooking pork loin in the smoker is all about succulent, inexpensive perfection that's easy to achieve.
5 from 4 votes
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Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 172kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 to 4 lb boneless pork loin roast (center cut is preferred)
  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil (such as canola or avocado oil)
  • Kosher salt per pound of pork (see note)
  • 1/4 cup sweet dry rub

Instructions

Prep the Pork Loin (up to 2 days in advance)

  • Trim any excess fat and remove the silver skin membrane from the loin. If there is a fat cap, you can leave it on and score it in a 1/4" crosshatch pattern using a sharp knife.
  • Rub the loin all over with the oil, then generously season with the salt and the dry rub blend. Refrigerate uncovered for 1-2 days to dry brine (if possible).

Smoke the Pork Loin

  • 30 minutes before cooking, remove the pork from the fridge and insert a remote probe thermometer into the thickest part of the loin.
  • Set up your smoker for indirect 225°F cooking with apple wood chunks/chips added for smoke flavor (see note for other wood options).
  • Place the pork loin in the smoker furthest from the heat. Cook until the internal temperature reads 135°F on the probe, about 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on loin size.
  • Transfer the smoked loin to a cutting board and let rest for 15-20 minutes covered with foil before slicing against the grain. The residual heat will bring it to the perfect 140-145°F medium doneness.
  • Remove from the smoker and rest on a cutting board for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing against the grain. Enjoy!

Notes

  • For optimal flavor and texture, it’s best to season the pork loin with the salt and dry rub 1-2 days in advance (referred to as dry brining) before smoking.
  • If your pork loin is labeled “enhanced” or “self-basting”, reduce the added salt amount as salt has already been introduced.
  • Use 1 tsp Diamond Kosher salt (or 3/4 tsp Morton’s) per pound if your dry rub does not already contain salt.
  • Ideal woods for smoking pork are apple, cherry, maple, pecan or hickory. Apple is my favorite.
  • The target internal temp of 135°F accounts for carryover cooking, resulting in perfect medium doneness at 140-145°F when rested. For medium-well, pull at 140°F for a finished temp of 150-155°F.

Nutrition

Calories: 172kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 439mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 58IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

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10 Comments

  1. Should a person cover the meat after it is taken out of smoker to keep it hot my wife doesn’t like cold meat. My 3.6 loin roast took about 2 and half hr. And I followed ur recipe.

    1. That sounds right to me. I had 1 1/2 to 3 hours estimation in the recipe. 🙂
      Sure, you can cover it with foil to keep it nice and hot. 🙂

  2. I put in a 3.6 lb loin roast and put in in at 3 thirty and it was suppose take an hr. and half it is almost 5 thirty and still has not hit 135 internal temp so I bump it up to 235 F. did I do something wrong

    1. Hi Tom. You didn’t do anything wrong. There are a lot of variables. Did you put the roast in the smoker right out of the fridge? Do you have a thermometer in the smoker that is separate from the built in one? Sometimes the built-in ones can be off. But sometimes it usually takes longer than you expect.

  3. 5 stars
    I have a 3.6 lb roast and would like to put in smoker. I have a masterbuilt elec. smoker with 4 racks just wondering what rack I should put it on?

    1. The lower it is the closer to the heat. I’d go with the middle rack for a nice even cook and use a water drip pan below it. 🙂

        1. Water in the pan as well and you am a start with hot water so the smoker doesn’t cook down while heating it up. Having the water will make the smoker’s environment more humid, which is good!

  4. 5 stars
    Ok, so we usually buy these pork loins from Costco and cut them up into pork chops. After trying dry brining and smoking the whole thing, we’re definitely hooked. Such a great way to feed a party or have extra for sandwiches all week.