Pork loin is one of the most popular cuts of meat for smoking, but for the best results, you may have to wait a little longer than with some other meats.
We take a look at how long it takes to smoke different pork loin sizes, and how best to store pork loin so you can enjoy it for longer.
What’s Pork Loin?
Pork loin is a lean cut of meat from the spinal area of the pig. Pork loin is often cooked at high temperatures to achieve a crispy crust.
The key to achieving a crisp crust is to cook the pork loin until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cooking pork loin requires a slightly different cooking technique compared to some other meats, such as pork butt.
If you want to get the most out of your pork loin, you should start checking the internal temperature after 30 minutes. This way, you’ll know exactly when to remove the loin from the smoker.
On average, pork loin is between 2 and 5 pounds in weight. It’s usually cut into slices, which are called pork loin chops.
The entire pork loin is known as pork loin roast because it requires a typical roasting technique for cooking.
Typically, pork loin is sold without bones. However, you can also buy this type of meat with bones. This pork loin is then called a center cut rib roast.
If you are planning a big BBQ with plenty of mouths to feed, then a full pork loin is an excellent choice. However, it does require a much longer cooking time, so needs some careful planning.
What’s The Difference Between Pork Loin And Pork Tenderloin?
They may sound very similar but pork loin and pork tenderloin are different cuts of meat. Both require a different cooking method to get the best taste from them.
Pork loin comes from the back part of the pig while pork tenderloin comes from the front. They both have unique qualities that make them perfect for different types of meals.
Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the pork loin or pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin can cook at a faster rate of around 25 minutes (per pound) at a temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
In comparison, pork loin is much thicker and requires long and slow cooking.
They also differ in taste. Whereas pork tenderloin is tender and lean without much flavor, pork loin is round and thick with a strong meat flavor.
There is also a significant price difference. Pork loin is cheaper than pork tenderloin.
How To Choose The Best Pork Loin
Choosing the right pork loin for your meal is important. You need to consider several factors before making a purchase.
First off, you need to choose a pork loin that has been properly aged. Aged pork loins are more flavorful than fresh ones.
You should also look for a pork loin that is free of any bruises or cuts. If there are any signs of damage, then you should pass up on buying the meat.
Finally, you should check the quality of the packaging. Make sure that the package is sealed tightly. You don’t want anything leaking inside.
For the best meat, it’s a good idea to visit your local butcher who can offer fresh meat.
The pork loin should look overall pink in color. If you spot any darker red spots, that’s fine, as this is caused by the muscles.
You should not buy any pork cuts that are unusually light in color. Also, avoid any green or gray patches which could hint at bacteria or mold.
How To Cook Pork Loin
When cooking pork loin, you need to pay attention to the internal temperature.
This means that you need to be able to measure the internal temperature of the pork loin using a thermometer.
It’s recommended that you use a probe thermometer for checking the internal temperature of your pork loin. A probe thermometer is easy to read and gives accurate readings.
You should always cook pork loin until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you overcook pork loin, then it becomes dry and tough. This makes it chewy and not very pleasant to eat.
To ensure that you get the most out of your pork loin, you should follow these tips:
- Keep the oven door closed during the whole cooking process. This prevents the heat from escaping.
- Don’t touch the surface of the roast with your bare hands. Always wear gloves when touching raw meats.
- Do not cut into the pork loin until it has reached the desired internal temperature.
- Let the pork loin rest after cooking. Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
- Use a basting brush to apply some sauce to the pork loin. This helps prevent the meat from drying out too quickly.
How Long To Cook Pork Loin Per Pound
When you set your grill’s temperature at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, then you can expect your pork loin to cook at around 30 minutes per pound.
Considering that the typical pork loin comes in at a weight of around 4 pounds, then you should plan for 2 hours of cooking time.
This is just a rough guide as cooking the perfect pork loin depends on a few other factors, such as the exact size of the cut.
As mentioned, the cooking temperature is another essential factor when it comes to getting the right results with your pork loin.
225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit is the best smoker temperature. However, this may vary depending on how old your grill is.
The best way to get an optimum temperature is to check your smoker’s temperature and the internal temperature of your meat regularly.
When your pork loin gets to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, then you can let the meat rest.
How Long To Smoke A Large 5 Pound Pork Loin
If we stick to the mentioned calculation of 30 minutes per pound of meat, then a large 5-pound pork loin roast will take around 2.5 hours.
This can be achieved with a smoker’s temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit. The pork will cook faster if you turn up the heat of your grill.
For example, at a temperature of 275 degrees Fahrenheit, your 5-pound pork loin roast will get to 145 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s cooked in under two hours.
However, it’s better to use a lower temperature. This will allow the fat inside the pork loin to render, making the meat more tender and juicier.
If you are in a hurry to get your meat done, we would recommend a maximum smoker temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit for your 5-pound pork loin.
This will cook the meat in 90 minutes.
The Best Way To Store Pork Loin
You should buy pork loin when it’s fresh and try to cook it the same day. If you don’t want to use it the same day, then you can keep pork in the fridge for around 3 days.
If you don’t plan to use your pork loin for longer, you can also easily freeze it at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bear in mind that prolonged freezing will affect the texture of the meat, so we would recommend cooking it within 6 months.
Can You Use Pork Loin For Pulled Pork?
No, we wouldn’t recommend using pork loin for pulled pork because it’s much too lean.
For pulled pork, you will need meat with a lot of fat. The fat ensures a stronger meat taste.
If you cook pork loin for too long to get the pulled pork texture, then it won’t taste anything like meat anymore.
Cooking pork loin correctly is essential if you want to enjoy a juicy and flavorful piece of meat.
We hope that our guide helped you understand how to cook pork loin at the optimum temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Wrap Pork Loin When Smoking?
No, it’s best not to wrap pork loin in foil when you cook it. When you put foil around the pork loin, then the smoke flavor can’t penetrate the meat, so it will change the taste of your pork loin.
In addition, pork loin is very tender and lean, and wrapping it in foil will dry out the meat much faster during cooking.
Does Pork Loin Get More Tender The Longer You Cook It?
Yes, pork loin does get more tender the longer you cook it. However, the meat will also lose its taste when you cook it for too long.
A smaller pork loin will cook faster than a larger one, which means that you’ll have to adjust the time accordingly.
What Should I Do With Leftover Pork Loin?
It’s best to store leftover pork loin in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 days. Alternatively, you can also free pork loin for up to 6 months.
Pork loin has a strong smell, so you might want to cover the container with plastic wrap before storing it in the fridge.
How Do You Keep A Pork Loin Moist When Smoking?
To keep a pork loin moist while smoking, you should add some liquid to the bottom of the pan.
When you place the pork loin on top of the liquid, this will create steam, which will help to prevent the pork loin from drying out.
When you’re ready to serve the pork loin, just drain off any excess liquid.