I will be the first to admit that pork loin is not the first cut of meat I reach for when looking to cook some barbecue. If not smoked properly, you will be left with dried out meat due to its lack of fat content. This is why so many recipes call for wrapping or stuffing pork loins to add flavor and moisture to the cook. With that being said, we have had some great results cooking pork loins on our MAK 2 Star pellet grill. Let’s take a look at two different cooks we did with drastically different techniques.
Cook #1: Molasses Pork Loin on MAK Pellet Grill
For this cook, we wanted to keep it simple. Because pork loin is so lean, I wanted to smoke it slower at a lower temperature to help preserve moisture. We have cooked pork loins at higher temperatures in the past, but moving forward, we will probably stick with 225F. The lower temperature and wrapping in butcher paper resulted in moist slices of pork loin.
- MAK 2 Star General pellet grill
- (1) 8-9lb pork loin from Costco, no trimming
- Brer Rabbit Molasses applied to outside of pork loin
- SuckleBuster’s Hog waller seasoning, heavy coat
- Some extra black pepper
- Let sit in Saran Wrap overnight
- Top rack at 225F for 2.5 hours
- Wrapped in butcher paper, internal temp around 135F
- Set MAK to SMOKE mode (175F)
- Left pork loin on MAK pellet grill upper rack until guests arrived
- 4 hr 45 min total cook time, internal temp around 149F
- let rest ten minutes on counter
- Awesome, most and juicy
We had some Brer Rabbit Molasses sitting around, so I decided to rub the outside of the pork loin with this first before adding my seasoning.
Hog Waller seasoning made by SuckleBuster’s is great on all cuts of pork. It is a blend of sweet and spicy with the perfect amount of salt. I usually add a little more black pepper because we like a good bark on our barbecue.
The pork loin cooked on the top rack of our MAK 2 Star pellet grill at 225F for about 2 1/2 hours before we wrapped it in butcher paper. The internal temp was around 135F, which is about ten degrees away from pulling off the pit at around 145F internal. Our guests weren’t arriving for a couple of hours, so I decided to wrap it in butcher paper to hold in the moisture. Because the pork loin was getting close to being done, we set the MAK pellet grill to “Smoke” mode, which is around 175F.
I was pleasantly surprised how moist this pork loin was. When I opened the butcher paper, it had captured some good juice from the fat that rendered off the loin, which I could later pour over the slices. The fat on the loin was rendered great, and the meat was not tough. This was the first time I wrapped a pork loin in butcher paper. Wrapping in paper at the end of the cook allowed the internal temp of the pork loin to slowly rise the final ten degrees to reach around 145-150F internal. This also allowed us to hold the pork loin on the pellet grill until the guests arrived, so we could slice it hot off the pit.
One of the true advantages of using a pellet grill is the ability to easily raise and lower your temperatures. I have used the Smoke mode on our MAK 2 Star pellet grill many times to hold meat until I was ready to service. One of the big advantages is it frees up the kitchen oven to be used for other things when you’re having a large gathering. You could be cooking a casserole or keeping side dishes warm until you’re ready to serve the meal.
Cook #2: Stuffed Pork Loins on MAK Pellet Grill
This cook was far more exotic than our first cook. We chose to go with a higher temperature around 275F, thinking it would help render out the bacon wrapped around one of the pork loins. Each pork loin half was prepared differently, and each one was butterflied open and stuffed with goodness.
- MAK 2 Star pellet grill, upper rack at 275F
- Lumber Jack Competition Blend wood pellets
- (2) 8.5lb pork loins cut in half
- We ended up with (4) pork loins around 4lbs each
- Four different styles smoked on pellet grill
- Regular with salt, pepper, and garlic (SPG)
- Mediterranean with spinach, feta cheese, pecans, olive oil, sun-dried tomato’s
- French Onion sautéed onions, parsley, Italian dressing, Gruyère cheese
- Bacon Wrapped stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeño
- Wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in refrigerator overnight
- Smoked on upper rack at 275F
- Total cook time, 2 1/2 hours
- Came out great!
Like I mentioned above, we started with (2) 8.5lb pork loins. We cut each one in half, so we ended up with (4) chunks of loin around 4lbs each. The plan for this cook was to do four different variations for a little variety. To stuff the loins with ingredients inside, you need to cut them open, so the top half folds over flat.
These are the ingredients laid inside the Mediterranean stuffed pork loin. There is spinach, feta cheese, pecans, olive oil, and sun-dried tomato’s. Next, we fold over the top flap of the loin, and you can tie the loin together with butchers twine.
Wrapping a pork loin in bacon will add flavor and moisture to the cook. This variation was stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeño inside, which also helps to add moisture. Bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeño is always a hit to anything you add it to.
After preparing the four different variations of pork loin, we wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge overnight. The next day we took them out and let them sit on the counter for about thirty minutes or so while the pellet grill heated up.
The four pork loins we prepared fit great across the width of the full top grate on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill. We smoked these loins at 275F for about 2 1/2 hours until the internal temperature was 145F. The final product turned out great, but unfortunately, we did not get photos of the stuffed pork loins sliced. We had a lot of family over when these came off the pit, and we forgot to capture final photos showing the stuffed ingredients inside.
Pork Loin FAQ’s
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about smoking pork loin.
What Temperature For Smoking a Pork Loin?
225F is best for a lean meat like pork loin.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Pork Loin?
At 225F, it should take about 3 hours to smoke an 8-9lb pork loin. If you increase the temperature to 275F, it will take around 2-2.5 hours.
Do I Need to Wrap a Pork Loin When Smoking?
Yes, wrap your pork loin the last hour of your cook with foil or butcher paper to help hold in moisture and juices. Once you slice your pork loin for serving, you can pour the juices over the slices of pork loin to add moisture and flavor back to the meat.
What is the Difference Between Pork Loin and Pork Tenderloin?
Pork loin is a long, thick cut of pork with a fat cap. It usually weighs around 8lbs. A pork tenderloin is a wider, flatter cut of pork with no fat cap that usually weighs around 1-3lbs.
Both cooks went very well using different recipes and smoking techniques. If you’re looking to keep things simple, season the outside of your pork loin and wrap it in foil or butcher paper once it gets some good color. If you want to make things interesting, try some stuffed pork loins. The recipes for bacon wrapped, Mediterranean, and French Onion pork loins can be found online in many variations. If you’re feeling froggy, you can create your own recipe with ingredients you love. Just being outside and smoking some barbecue is a reward in itself.