Pork Loin - First Attempt

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Original poster
Mar 1, 2014
Helena, MT
I am fairly new to smoking - and have much to learn.

Yesterday I decided to try smoking two pork loins.  Each was just under 2 lbs.  I have grilled this size pork loin many times with great success, but have never tried to slow cook one.

To be honest, I was not very happy with the results.  The meat turned out great, but the taste was not to my liking, I think because of the rub.  It was just too spicy for my liking - either because of the ingredients or that I may have applied too much rub.

The rub I used was as follows:

2 Tbls Dark Brown Sugar

2 Tbls Paprika

1 Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Garlic

1 Tsp Ground Pepper

1 Tsp Sea Salt

1/2 Tsp Ground Mustard

1/2 Tsp Ground Chipotle Pepper Powder

1/8 Tsp Celery Seed

I applied the entire mixture to the two pork loins.  Here is a picture of them going onto the grill.

I use a smokenator on a 22.5 weber kettle for smoking.  I have decided to eliminate their water pan (just too small), and now use a bigger one resting on top of the grate above the coals.  Based upon today's cook, I think this setup would allow about 3 hours of smoking before having to refill the water pan.  That's about twice as long as I was experiencing with the water pan provided with the smokenator. 

I set up my smokenator with about 60 Kingsford standard blue charcoal briquettes - removed 12 and lit those - added them back to the smokenator and added two cherry wood chunks.  I filled the water pan about 3/4 with boiling water.  I also used four large 1+ inch big black paper clips to keep the lid tight.  No smoke coming out from under the lid this time!

In the past I thought I had a hard time keeping temps down, but today was the opposite.  This is the first time I used a thermometer at the grate level, so my past thoughts may have just been wrong; or it may have been due to a tighter seal this time in the lid due to the large clips.  In any event, it took about an hour to get the temp up to 200, and I got there only after opening the bottom vents all the way and the top vents about 67%.  I'll need to play with this setup more to get the temp where I want it.

In total I cooked the pork just under 2 hours, pulling it off the grill when it reached IT of 150.  Here is what it looked like just before pulling it off the grill.

I then wrapped it in tin foil and let it sit for 30 minutes.

The rub overpowered the smoke flavor, and again, was just too hot for my liking.  I liked my prior efforts much better just grilling it after an overnight marinade of Italian dressing.

I think I will try again, but this time adjust the rub to make it less spicy by leaving out the cumin and chipotle, and maybe adding some Italian spices; and using much less rub so that the smoke flavor is not overpowered.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.
Rub is the culprit for the too spicy. We like spicy so I'd probably have liked the rub you listed.

Another thing that kept your temps down was the larger water pan. Any type of thermal
Mass will help regulate temps. Water is one that will cool.
I have made the mistake of using too much rub because just about everyplace you read about rubbing meat the words "liberally apply" can usually be found. I now tend to use much less rub on smaller cuts of meat like those tenderloins you have there. I am very careful these days with the rub. A 9 lb shoulder is a different story. Pack it on!
I have found that pork will take on seasonings more than other meats. Especially the onion and garlic. Sometimes overpowering the smoke flavor. They look pretty though!!
Pork loins are too lean to take long cook times. Stick with grilling.
I'm afraid I have to kindly disagree with that. I smoke a lot of loins & they always come out great - very moist & flavorful.



Jrat - Don't give up on smoking your pork loins - they can be quick, easy & taste great! Check around a bit on here - you will find a lot of people smoking pork loins 

Best wishes on your next ones 
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Ahhh, I just saw the connection from the OP about slow smoking the loins.  I do pork loins and tenderloins hot and fast, 300F-325F usually  Always come out juicy and flavorful.  Never tried one low n' slow except when I made Canadian bacon.       
Loins do fine at low temps just as long as you pull them a little earlier than 145.
If foiling for a rest I pull at 137/138... 140 if not foiling. It always reaches 145(safe temp)
I season the hell out of them if slicing for sandwiches and I'm a bit more conservative with rub if serving thick slice for dinner.
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