Learn everything you need to know about how to smoke a whole pork loin style roast on your grill or smoker! The perfect family friendly BBQ pork recipe.
Pork is the perfect protein for smoking low and slow on the grill. I love these crispy pickle brined pork chops, crispy pork belly, classic hot and fast ribs (still takes a handful of hours), and even this mole smoked pork tenderloin recipe too.
While you can’t go wrong with throwing down any cuts of meat I mentioned above, I wanted to create a pork loin recipe on the Big Green Egg (or other preferred grill/smoker you have at home).
Why smoke a whole pork loin? Cooking it low and slow adds a ton of flavor to a somewhat mild and lean cut of pork. It’s a great way to add flavor with spice rubs, marinades, or simply the kiss of smoke we all love.
Get the full recipe below, but be sure to read through this whole guide. I’ll outline everything from the preparation, how to set up your grill, cooking techniques and tips, and the best way to serve and store your roast. Let’s dive in!
- Sharp Knife and Cutting Board
- Spray Bottle
- Foil Pan/ Tray
- Instant Read Probe Thermometer
- Cooling Rack
- Butchers Twine (see notes in post)
Here is everything you need to know before getting started on this recipe.
What is the difference between a pork loin and a pork tenderloin?
A whole pork loin roast is actually not the same as a pork tenderloin. While the preparation methods and cooking techniques are going to be somewhat similar from a smoking standpoint, the cooking times and approaches will need to be quite different. Therefore, you can not substitute one for the other in a recipe.
The pork loin roast is a much larger and wider cut of meat that comes from the back of a pig. Whereas the tenderloin is much more narrow and smaller in size and runs along the actual backbone. Both are great, lean cuts of pork and adapt well to different flavors. A tenderloin will cook much faster than a pork loin roast.
- Pork Loin Roast- Find a a boneless pork loin that’s around 3 lbs. for this recipe. I purchased mine at whole foods, but most stores will carry them. Find one that also looks even in size and shape for even cooking.
- Mustard (or other binder) – I prefer using regular yellow mustard for my binding agent on pork. This is the flavor I really like in classic BBQ, but you could also use olive oil, hot sauce, or a thin layer of BBQ sauce too.
- Spicy Cajun BBQ Dry Rub – This is one of my favorite rub recipes. It has a nice balance of flavor and doesn’t contain white sugar/ brown sugar (I don’t like sugar in rubs because I think it can add too much caramelization to your meat sometimes). You can also try this keto all purpose BBQ dry rub recipe.
- Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – Once the bark on your pork loin sets, you will want to spray it every 30 minutes or so with a water diluted apple cider vinegar mixture or your can use regular apple juice too if your prefer. This keeps the bark moist and helps the smoke to adhere.
BBQ Pork Loin Preparation Methods:
Depending on the way your pork loin comes, you will possibly need to do some trimming and prep work to the meat. Mine had very little fat cap remaining when purchasing, so I opted to not crosshatch or score the fat cap (because it basically didn’t have one). I did inspect the meat and removed the silver skin and large pieces of connective tissue.
Use a little bit of mustard to finely coat the pork loin roast to prepare it for your rub. You want to see the meat through the binder you’re using. A little is all you really need here.
Evenly coat your meat on the top, bottom, and on all four sides. Pat it down as needed so it adheres. I wanted to maintain a rounded shape to my roast so I decided to tie it every few inches with butchers twine. This is simply for looks and has no other purpose, do so if you choose!
Preparing Your Smoker:
Grills and smokers often vary, so it helps to know how to dial in your grill and set it up per your manufacturers instructions. I used a ceramic kamado style grill (Big Green Egg) for this cook.
My grill was set for indirect heat, low and slow at 250 degrees F. You can even set it a little lower 225 degrees F. to give yourself some wiggle room if need be. I like 250 degrees F.
Place a foil drip pan below your grates or under your actual pork loin roast (I used a disposable foil pan with a cooling rack over the top for air flow). You can also cover your heat deflector plates in foil to prevent fat and juices from making a big mess. I’m all for fast and easy clean up whenever I can get it!
What Woods Pair Best With Smoked Pork?
Lighter, fruit based woods are your best bet when working with pork based proteins on the smoker. Too strong of a wood (mesquite or hickory) will greatly overpower your meat and ruin the dish. Stick to one of the following:
- Pecan Wood
- Cherry Wood
- Apple Wood
- Peach Wood
I opted for a 1:2 ratio of cherry wood to pecan wood for this cook. The cherry gave it a nice beautiful color and the pecan layers beautifully as well. Place the wood throughout your charcoal pile so it doesn’t all burn up at once.
Smoking Your Pork Loin (Tips/ Techniques):
Get your pork loin on the smoker. Insert an internal probe thermometer into the roast so you can track the internal temperature as needed. I like to get it on the grill, close the lid, and let it go at least an hour to hour and a half before checking it. This is so the bark can set and the temperatures stays regulated.
Once the bark sets, spray your meat with the diluted ACV roughly every 20-30 minutes or. Spraying is a great way to keep the bark moist during the smoking process and to help more smoke adhere to it too.
How Long Do You Smoke A Pork Loin Roast?
Cooking times will vary based on the size of your roast. I would say you’re roughly looking at a minimum of 2.5-3 hours of total cooking time give or take. Mine took about 2.5 hours and was around 3 lbs.
The best indicator to knowing that it’s cooked is when it reaches an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F. Do not let it overcook, it’s a lean meat and can easily dry out. Pull the pork and let it rest 15 minutes or so before slicing into thin pieces.
Serve this up with my popular Keto Carolina Mustard Sauce or this smoky low carb KC style sauce on the side. I like a lot of the meat sliced thin and served with a side of pickles, some grilled cauliflower mac and cheese, keto cornbread muffins, and this delicious brussel sprout slaw recipe!
- 1, 3 lb. Pork Loin Roast
- 2-3 tbsp. Yellow Mustard
- 4 tbsp. Spicy Cajun BBQ Dry Rub
- Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar
- Preheat your smoker to 250 F. and set it for indirect heat. Choose lighter, fruits woods. I used a 1:2 ratio of cherry to pecan wood in this recipe. See the post notes above for more details.
- While the grill preheats, remove any silver skin from your pork loin. If you have a fat cap on your loin, create crosshatch pattern across the top. Mine did not have one so I added butchers twin every two inches just to keep a round shape to the final product.
- Coat your entire pork loin in the mustard binder. See substitutes in the post above.
- Next, coat the entire roast in the spicy Cajun BBQ dry rub. It should go on in a nice, even layer (top, bottom and sides).
- Place it on a cooling rack over a foil pan. If placing directly on your grill grates, have a pan to catch the drippings. Place it on the grill and insert a probe thermometer to track the internal temperature.
- Cook for roughly 1 hour or so for the bark to set. After it sets, spray every 30 minutes with the diluted ACV (or apple juice) or until it reaches 140-145 F. internally. This will take anywhere between 2.5-3 hours or so.
- Remove it from the grill and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing into thin pieces and serving.
Pair with my Keto Carolina BBQ mustard sauce for the perfect way to dip and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 296Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 182mgCarbohydrates: 1gNet Carbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 40g