Smoking a Pork Loin for Pulled Pork (It’s Just As Tasty as Pork Butt)

We all LOVE pulled pork! It’s perfect in a burger or tacos or even just on its own! It is so juicy that you barely need to add any sauce!

But you might be wondering if you can make smoked pulled pork with pork loin or pork tenderloin?

Most people will tell you to use pork shoulder or pork butt. But those aren’t the only options out there for making excellent pulled pork. We have test both cuts and found that pork loin can work just as well, we have also included the recipe below.

Now if you want to make it yourself (you should it’s bloody easy!) you might be wondering…What is the best cut of pork to make pulled pork?

If you want to make a small batch of pulled pork with a simpler process, we highly recommend going for pork loins. We’ll go over how to prepare pork loins as well as how to smoke them to make the perfect pulled pork.

Pork Tenderloin Vs Pork Loin – Which Should You Use?

Pork loin is different from the pork tenderloin cut. While their names are similar and they’re often mistaken as being the same cut of meat.

While they are both typically grilled or roasted then sliced thinly, neither of these cuts are perfect cut for pulled pork compared to pork butt or shoulder. However if your looking to enjoy pulled pork without all the extra calories we have some good news. After lots of testing and tweaking were able to make some delicious pulled pork with pork loin and we have included the recipe below for you too follow.

However we found it tough (literally) to cook pork tenderloin to point when it was able to be pulled and shredded. After trying all the cooking methods, of smoking, slow cooking and braising. But it usually ended up dry, so we reccomend just using tenderloin for quick cooks and slicing it it.

Smoked Pulled Pork Loin Ingredients

Pork Loin

Dry Rub – Store brought or use the ingredients below to make your own

Brown Sugar

Kosher Salt

Smoked Paprika

Ground Black Pepper

Cumin

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder

Cayenne Pepper/ Chili Powder

How Long to Smoke Pork Loin for Pulled Pork?

It takes about 5 hour to cook the pork loin for pulled pork. First you want to cook low and slow at 225°F for around 4 hours, your pork should reach about 160°F.

Then the pork is wrapped and placed in braising liquid and cooked at 300°F until the internal temperature reaches 203°F – 205°F. Allow at least 30 minutes for resting, then it time for adding your sauce and shredding the pork.

How to Prepare Pork Loin for Smoking

You may need to trim the loin. Although pork loin is usually pretty lean. If you flip the piece of pork over, you’ll notice that the underside may have a thick layer of fat.

While this fat adds flavor to meat and keeps the meat moist and juicy while it’s cooking. Although, if the layer of fat is too thick then it’s quite difficult for the smoke to penetrate the meat properly during the cook. 

This is why we recommend that you use a sharp knife to just trim away some of that excess fat. You don’t want to get rid of the entire fat cap, because it helps add moisture and flavor, but you’ll want to thin out that layer of fat.

Should You Brine the Meat?

While I don’t brine the pork loin in this recipe you can try it if you like. The goal is to season the meat while tenderizing the pork loin at the same time. As a result, when you leave your pork in the brine, you not only flavor it, but also increase its moisture content.

If you’re planning to add a finishing sauce or BBQ sauce to your pulled pork after shredding it, then you don’t need to bother with the brining process as that will add flavor and moisture

Flavor — The Importance of a Good BBQ Rub and Your Wood Choice

While you can skip the brine, you should never underestimate the importance of a good rub. A dry rub is pretty much essential for every smoked meat recipe.

And the great thing about them is that while you can certainly buy a bottle at your local shops, it’s usually easier to just whip up your DIY dry rub.

Homemade Dry Rub

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoon paprika

Simply combine all of the dry ingredients and store them in a large mason jar. DIY dry rubs are great because they are easy to make and can be kept for one to two years!

But it doesn’t matter what type of dry rub you use, as long as it contains salt, sugar, and some sort of spice. After you’ve decided on your choice of rub, use your hands to generously cover the pork.

What Wood Should You Use For Pulled Pork?

We recommend using a mild woof like cherry wood applewood for pulled pork. Since we’re working with pork, try not to use stronger woods like hickory or mesquite, as it will become the dominant flavor.

Smoking meats with different types of wood chips can drastically affect the meat’s overall flavor. So feel free to experiment with all of the different kinds of wood available. This will help you find out how flavor combinations you enjoy and work best for the protein your cooking.

What Temperature Should You Smoke At?

To ensure you smoke your pork loin correctly, you should start at 225°F, once you reach an internal temperature of 160°F wrap the pork and increase the temperature to 300°F

Now, the usual consensus is that pork loin should be taken off the heat once its internal meat temperature measures 145°F. However, you do not want to follow this rule if you’re looking to shred your pork loin

Sure, this is the ideal temperature that you should strive for when cooking pork loin. But you will not be able to shred the meat properly if it’s only cooked to 145°F. 

Smoked pork loin needs to reach an internal temperature of 205°F for you to be able to shred it perfectly. This is because the point in which the connective tissue and gelatine while have broken down.

How Long Will Pork Long Take To Cook At 220°F?

Pork loin cooks at a rate of 35 minutes per pound at 220°F. However, as we mentioned above you should monitor the internal temperature of the meat. Then once the meat the reaches 160°F you need to wrap the meat and increase the temperature of the smoker to 300°F

Using a Pellet Smoker?

Want to use a pellet smoker? We gave a detailed recipe here for smoked pork loin, it also includes a delicious gravy to serve with it.

What to Serve With Pork Loin?

Need some yummy sides for your smoked pork loin?

Zesty Potato Salad With Wasabi

Smoked Corn

Smoked Zucchini

See what else to serve with smoked pork loin here.

Smoked Pulled Pork Loin

Charlie
Want to use smoked pork loin for your pulled pork? We will show you how with this recipe
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, main, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Barbecue, bbq, dinner, grill
Servings 10 servings
Calories 489 kcal

Equipment

  • Smoker

Ingredients
  

  • 3-5 lbs Pork Loin
  • 1.5 cups apple juice
  • 1.5 cups BBQ Sauce

Dry Rub Ingrediants

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoon paprika

Instructions
 

  • If your making your own rub, mix together the ingredients in a bowl. Then coat the pork loin and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
  • Preheat the smoker at 225°F for 10-15 minutes and place the meat on the grills and close the lid.
  • Let the cut of meat cook or smoke for around one and a half hours or until its internal meat temperature reads around 160°F – 165°F this will take around four hours make sure you use a meat thermometer to monitor this.
  • Combine the apple juice with the BBQ sauce in a aluminum pan, place the pork in the tray and cover with foil.
  • Increase the temperature to 300°f and allow to cook until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 203°F-205°F.
  • Take it off the heat, and allow the meat to rest for around half an hour before placing the pork loin in a bowl. Then shred it with a pair of forks or bear claws. You can add the sauce from the aluminum pan to pulled pork if you want it more saucy
Keyword pork loin, pulled pork

And that’s all there is to make pulled pork out of pork loin! It’s not only simple to make, but the results are wonderful and extremely flavourful. You don’t need to rely on a cut of pork shoulder or pork butt to make a scrumptious serving of pulled pork.

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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3 thoughts on “Smoking a Pork Loin for Pulled Pork (It’s Just As Tasty as Pork Butt)”

  1. 5 stars
    Hi…I followed the recipe and the pork came out perfect so juicy and tender and we were able to pull it!
    We did use two loins, instead of using a cup of apple juice and a cup of BBQ for each, they split the 2 cup total for each loin
    Then we wrapped the loins tight, they made a boat for them and then he covered them, but the ends were exposed. It was more like a tent than a wrap.

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