How to Smoke a Pork Loin with 7 Easy Steps

Everybody wants a juicy, smoky cut of pork to serve to family and friends, but few people know how to smoke a pork loin.

Through trial and error we have made the smoking process simple enough that anybody can pull it off.

I am going to show you, step-by-step, how to properly cook smoked pork loin with just a few ingredients and without any electric smoker.

Things to Consider

Many people never try smoking meats because they think they have to buy an expensive smoker.

This is not at all true, because you can use other alternatives to smoke meat. Down below, I have listed a few inexpensive options and how to set them up for smoking.

Basically, there are just a few requirements for any smoker setup:

  • Heat – You can use charcoal or propane to produce your heat. Ideally you want to arrange your coals so they are not directly below your meat.
  • Wood – You can use wood chips or wood chunks. Just soak them in water for 30 minutes before putting them over your heat.
  • Moisture – You should find a place to put a water tray. This will keep your meat from drying out.
  • Cover – You need a lid to hold in the smoke and moisture.

How to Setup Smoker for Cooking Pork Tenderloin

Propane Grills – To arrange a gas grill with several burners and use it as a smoker, leave one burner off and set your meat over it. Turn On the rest of the burners and place a tray of water and a tray of wood chips over them.

Charcoal Grills – The key to smoking on a normal charcoal grill is to set up the coals on one side and put the meat on the other side. You can put your soaked wood right on top of your lit coals and set the water tray above.

Ceramic Smokers – Set this up exactly the same way as a charcoal grill.

Bullet Smokers – This setup is tall and narrow. Your coals and wood go in the bottom and there is a rack for your water tray just below the grill.

Firebox and Electric Smokers – These are professional setups that have a designated place for the coals, wood, and water. Electric smokers are very easy to use and most of the time you can get one for a relatively cheap price.

Required Ingredients

For the Smoker:

  • 1 Large Bag of Charcoal (not match light)
  • 1 Medium Bag of Apple or Cherry Wood Chunks or Chips
  • 1 Oven Thermometer if your smoker does not have one
  • 1 Meat Thermometer

For the Rub:

  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon White Pepper
  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ Teaspoon Fresh Grated Nutmeg

You will need 1 Pork Loin weighing 4-6 lbs along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

For Optional Apple Topping:

  • 2-3 Sweet Apples
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Paprika
  • ½ Teaspoon White Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar

Cooking and Smoking Pork Loin Process:

The cooking process of smoked pork tenderloin is typically more difficult and time consuming than regular grilling or cooking.

For this reason, I have made the process of smoking easy for you, by dividing it into a few simple and short steps:

Raw Pork Tenderloin Cut

Raw Pork Tenderloin Cut

Step 1: Prepare the Meat

The first thing to do is to prepare your pork tenderloin by trimming the fat and membrane off and let it sit out for a few minutes to get closer to the room temperature.

Step 2: Make and Apply the Rub

While you wait for the meat to get to the room temperature, mix all of the upper mentioned rub ingredients in a bowl.

Take your meat and apply the olive oil to it and then sprinkle the prepared rub all over.

Step 3: Start Your Fire

If using charcoal, try to avoid using lighter fluid as it leaves a weird taste on the meat. Get your coals going, place your soaked wood and water tray where needed, and close your lid.

Step 4: Carefully Check the Temperature

The temperature while smoking meat is one of the most important factors and it must stay the same through all the process.

You can use your oven thermometer if needed and make sure the temperature is at 225°F.

Step 5: Adjusting the Temperature

If your temperature is too high, you will need to turn down your burners or limit the flow of air to your coals.

Most grills and smokers have vents at the top and bottom, so adjust them to cut down on the air.

Check your temperature again in 10 minutes.

Step 6: Place the Meat on the Grill & Cook

Put your prepared pork tenderloin on the grill making sure that it is not directly above your coals.

It is recommended to cook it at 225°F for 2-3 hours.

Step 7: Check the Internal Temperature


Starting at the two hour mark, use your cooking thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat at the thickest point.

If it has reached 155°F then pull your meat. If not, check again 20-30 minutes later.

Preparing the Optional Apple Topping

Step 1: Slice your apples and combine with other upper mentioned ingredients in a small sauce pan.

Step 2: Bring to a boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer.

Step 3: Let the sauce reduce to ½ or when apples become soft and sauce coats the back of a spoon. After it has reached at this point, remove it from the heat.

How Long to Smoke Pork Tenderloin?

The cook time of smoked pork tenderloin depends on several factors. Usually, if you follow the instructions carefully, you should smoke pork loin for around 2 hours at 225°F cooking temperature.

After 2 hours, you should do a quick internal temperature check and if the smoked pork hasn't reached the recommended 155°F temperature, let it cook for another hour.

Should you Let your Smoked Pork Loin Rest?

​One of the most important steps you can take when learning how to grill properly is to let the food, especially meats, rest in order to allow the juices to settle before you cut into it.

If you have ever had dry pork, the cooker may have skipped this step and didn't let the cooked meat rest.

The same thing applies for smoked pork tenderloin. You should leave it 10-15 minutes after pulling it out the smoker, allowing the juices to settle before cutting it. 

How to Serve a Smoked Pork Loin?

If you successfully completed all the upper-mentioned steps and though that you finished, then you are wrong.

Another important part of the smoking ​process is the serving part. You have to know how to properly serve in order to reach its maximum taste. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Rest your meat

Place your meat on a plate and wrap with foil. Lay a towel on top and let it set for 15 minutes.

How to Serve Smoked Loin

Step 2: Carve your meat

Use a sharp knife to slice the meat into discs about 1 inch thick. The smoking process will leave them a bit pink in the middle, but that is normal.

Step 3: Apply your sauce

Remove the sauce from the heat and spoon a small amount over top of the meat.

12 Tips and Tricks on Smoking a Pork Loin

I grew up spending summers on my grandfather’s hog farm. I knew from a young age that pork was fatty, juicy, and delicious.

However, this cut type can easily be dried out in the smoker and there are several situations where you can ruin your delicious cooking.

Here are some tips you can try and learn to make the most of your cooking every time.

  • Internal temperature is everything when it comes to juicy pork. Keep your meat thermometer handy and always pull your meat somewhere between 155 and 170°F.
  • We know it is tempting to check on every few minutes, but fight the urge. Opening the lid lets heat, smoke, and moisture out of your smoker.
  • Basting with liquid is one way to add moisture. I have used everything from apple juice to wine to baste pork with a brush, but just a few times is plenty.
  • The wood you choose makes a difference. Use wood from fruit trees such as apple and cherry to give it a sweet flavor.
  • If you choose to use barbecue sauce, wait and apply it at the very end. Most sauces have sugar that can burn if you put it too early.
  • Placing your meat away from your heat source is also important for temperature control. Pork will drip fat as it cooks. If that fat hits the heat source it will flare up and increase your smoker temperature.
  • If you are using a gas grill and do not have a tray for your soaked wood chips, you can wrap them in aluminum foil and poke holes in it. This will slowly release smoke into your grill.
  • Pork always goes well with sugar. You can add a little sugar or brown sugar to your rub to create a sweet crust on the outside of the meat.
  • Serve it as soon as it is done resting. Once you remove the foil from the meat and cut into it, it starts drastically losing heat.
  • You can smoke it for much longer than two to three hours to increase the smoke flavor. However, this will make it drier and it may end up like pulled pork.
  • To make your charcoal last longer, do not light it all at once. Put down a layer of coals, then a layer of soaked wood chips, and then place your lit coals on top.
  • If you want to easily light your coals without lighter fluid, buy or build a charcoal chimney. This is a metal tube with a grate at the bottom. You fill it with charcoal and can light it from the bottom. It will let the coals ash over before you dump them into your smoker.

Final Thoughts

Many people spend all day over a smoker when they first start experimenting. This is because they either get no guidance or the wrong guidance. That is not what smoking is about.

We hope that through this article you learned how to make smoked pork tenderloin at home. We know it can be intimidating, but smoking should be fun. It is also pretty darn tasty.

If you have found this article useful or get the chance to try out our recipe, please take the time to share your thoughts down below.

We here at FuriousGrill love your feedback and appreciate your likes and shares on social media.

About Kendrick

Kendrick is an outdoor cooking enthusiast, living in Kansas. He loves to share his passion about outdoor cooking with everyone on various Social Media platforms (Read More)

4 thoughts on “How to Smoke a Pork Loin with 7 Easy Steps”

  1. Was helpful
    Have smoked lots of ribs & pork shoulders
    But its bin several years since I ‘ve smoked a loin
    Your info was very helpful
    Thanks bill

    • Hello Kristin,
      It can depend on your smoker type but usually, the water tray goes under the food/meat or over the fire.
      I hope this helps,
      Cheers, Kendrick.


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