How to Smoke Pork Tenderloin in a Smoker

How to smoke a pork tenderloin

One of the most common meat that I smoke (aside from ribs of course!) are pork tenderloins. I love the smoke flavor and the meat of the tenderloin is incredibly tender. I often get asked how to smoke a pork tenderloin in a smoker. It could not be easier!

One of the reasons I like to smoke tenderloins so much is that, once sliced, they are great to add to many other dishes from appetizers, pasta, wraps, beans, sandwiches and more. The smokiness of the meat can add a wonderful flavor dimension to a dish. It is so tasty that I love pork tenderloin on its own as well.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin-3

These come out perfect in my Bradley Digital 4-Rack Smoker and I even tried them in my newly acquired Bradley 2 Rack Compact Smoker and they were awesome! There are many different rubs and sauces that work well with pork tenderloin.

Pork tenderloin is a very lean cut of meat, but there is sometimes some chunks of fat along the outside of the meat. I like to trim it of any excess fat, and it is quite simple to do, usually almost coming off with a bit of a tug.

Along one section of the tenderloin there is a thin layer of silverskin. If desired, you can remove this. I often take it off with a sharp knife and I find that its removal makes slicing the meat after the smoking easier.

Before you smoke the pork tenderloin, you want to rub it down with a your choice of seasoning. Normally, I use my basic bbq rub, but there are so many different options depending on the flavour profile you are going for.

Here are some great rub recipes that work really well with pork tenderloin!

If I am smoking a pork tenderloin with some rub or sauce, I like to smoke it more low and slow, so I will have the smoker temperature set at 225F. Smoke it until the internal temperature is at least 145F. Then let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

I usually brush the tenderloin with BBQ sauce right when it comes out of the smoker. If desired, you could brush the meat midway through the smoking session. That allows the sauce to caramelize itself on the meat.

Here are some of my BBQ sauce recipes:

Sometimes, I will stuff a pork tenderloin and wrap it in bacon. The bacon adds a wonderful flavour to the pork tenderloin. In this case, I smoke at a higher temperature – usually around 275F. This is a better temperature for crisping up the bacon.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin-2

If you are wanting to smoke a pork loin, like a centre cut loin roast, check out this recipe!

Here are a number of different recipes for smoking pork tenderloins.

How to Smoke Pork Tenderloin in a Smoker

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How to smoke a pork tenderloin using an electric smoker like a Bradley Smoker, Masterbuilt or a Kamado Grill like a Big Green Egg. Use rub of choice and wood like hickory.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 3 tbsp rub of choice
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce

Instructions

  • Start smoker, using wood of choice (I usually use hickory or maple) setting the temperature of the smoker for 225F.
  • Trim pork tenderloin of any fat or silver skin.
  • Generously rub the spice mix all over the meat.
  • Place meat in the smoker and smoke till the internal temperature is 145F, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  • Brush the meat with BBQ sauce when there is about 30 minutes left to go in the smoker.

Nutrition

Per serving:

Calories: 404kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 55gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 506mgFiber: 2gSugar: 12g

Nutrition Disclaimer

How to smoke a pork tenderloin

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How to smoke a pork tenderloin

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78 comments

  • 5 stars
    Just got a MasterChef 4 rack elec. for my birthday, will try your recipe tomorrow. Thanks for all the great tips.

    • Reply
  • Great instructions! Turned out excellent.

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  • Okay okay first off I don’t take my work as a package until I’ve injected it with my sauce marinade. And I let it sit in the package but it comes in and let it sit for 6 hours. I take it out of my package I put my rub on it some like Maples some like Hickory some like brisket like with the Mesquite. I cook it at 200 on a smoker so it gives it a chance to get my bark. Then when the temperature inside hits 130 I check it out of the smoker and wrap it with butcher paper like you would have brisket. It hits 140 I open my butcher paper up and I put my sauce on that I make homemade. I wrap it back in the paper and I take it off the grill. I let it sit for 1 hour before I cut into it it’s still cooking in the paper even though I took it off the grill that slows it down you got your bark and you got Tinder meat. I’ve even been known to throw pineapple slices in when I wrap it with the brown paper.

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  • 4 stars
    Made today, excellent recipe. Used a commercial sriracha rub and a tangy BBQ sauce. Turned out great in 21/2 h at 225 . Apple wood worked well.

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  • I set my Bradley at 225 degrees and checked the loins at the 2.5 hour mark to add the sauce. The internal temp was already at 175. So they were a bit dry but the family still loved it. Will keep a closer eye on temp next time.

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  • I,m going to smoke a pork tenderloin tomorrow on my smoker . Will let you know how it turns out!

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  • I have not tried it yet due to the whether. And I have no cover for the smoker

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  • It looks very tasty but it also looks like there could be a more of a smoke ring to this loin. I smoke mine for 4 hours. I just use salt and pepper.

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  • Easy and simple great recipe

    • Reply
  • 4 stars
    Removed all fat and silver skin
    Rubbed w Pappys Smokehouse Rocket Rub
    Placed in refrigerator for 24 hrs on rack to dry
    Skewered with Weber skewer
    Hickory chunks with Lump coal in a Weber Smokey Joe
    Indirect heat for 60 min then direct heat for 10 min until 140 internal temp
    Wrapped in foil and rest for 20 min before slicing
    Delicious

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  • Wow I just can’t understand why I haven’t spent the money and purchased one of these long before now ?? But yes I have one now I got one for a Christmas gift and yes we are going to fire it up tomorrow for first time , I am so excited I will keep you posted

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  • Ok so I thought pork tenderloin done this way would be too dry and I wanted more of a pulled pork but didn’t have a butt thawed. I rubbed both generously with a wonderful pork rub that had brown sugar, paprika cayanne, etc.
    I put in a tin pan with red onions, a honey crisp apple, a tiny bit of water and apple cider vinegar. Will this work? Smoker is set for 300.

    • Reply
    • 5 stars
      Don’t follow pork butt rules. Butts are up to 60% fat where this is probably no more than 10-15%. That means much lower ending temperature for this unless you want dry shoe leather for dinner. You cook a butt to 200ish to get it tender whereas this is already tender once you hit safe temp of 143-145

      You can certainly cook this at 300 if you want or even 350, but the higher the temp the shorter time it has to absorb smoke. It’s also likely that the perimeter will be cooked to a much higher temp before the inside hits done.

      • Reply
  • 5 stars
    I will try smoking pork tenderloins tomorrow. We have a Masterbuilt electric smoker that a neighbor put on the curb with a “Free” sign on it. The digital controller is fine but the heating element was burned out. Rather than wait for a delivery of a replacement heating element I put a 1000 Watt hot plate in its place and connected it to the wires that ran from the controller to the heating element. The digital controller controls the hot plate and it has worked fine for us. We get good smoke from wood chips in a stainless steel vented box directly on the hot plate element. I wonder if putting a pan of water in the smoker will improve the meat moisture? Thanks for your great advice and recipes.

    • Reply
  • 5 stars
    Hey Steve, Just wanted to let you know we love your recipe so much we featured it as part of our 101 favorite smoker recipes! You can check it out here – https://bbqonmain.com/101-smoker-recipes/

    Thank you for pushing yourself in the kitchen and sharing it with us all =]

    • Reply
  • Ermagerd….this my first smoke on a ‘lil chief’ ….excited doesn’t even begin to describe this feeling.
    ??

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  • Thank you for the great rub recipes and the recipe for smoking pork tenderloins. We are new at this smoking business. I have 3 pork tenderloins that are each about 2 1/2 pounds. I want to try your basic BBQ rub, sweet and smoky chipotle rub, and curry powder spice rubs. We have a Louisiana smoker. I want to smoke them all at the same time. My questions are: Since each tenderloin will have a different rub, will the flavors through smoking mix together and mess up the tastes? And, will it take 3-3 1/2 hours to cook all three at once, especially knowing they are each larger than a pound? I just hate telling people when we’re eating and having the side dishes ready and then the meat takes another hour or more. Thank you!

    • Reply
    • Hey Michelle! Using different rubs for each tenderloin will not impact their flavour at all. I would imagine 3-3 1/2 hours should be okay but it is hard to know since every cut of meat is a little different. Do you have a digital thermometer? I would suggest a using that to test the doneness of the meat and remove from the smoker when they are ready. Hope they turn out well!!

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      • Thank you so much. Yes, we do have a digital thermometer. I can’t wait to try out your different rubs!

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  • Pork loin and pork tenderloin are not cut from the same part of the animal, and in fact, look really different — pork tenderloin is thin and small, while a pork loin is wide enough that you can cut steak-like pieces from it. Steve Cylka’s comment on the Bradley Smoker are absolutely correct on the water pan. It also prevents puts out the used burnt wood that creates a smoke taste not wanted. I have used a Bradley for 5 years. It is just great. Only downside is that you have to buy the pre shaped chips, but the selection from Bradley is very wide and exceptional.

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  • We purchased a propane smoker and cooking two pork tenderloins for the first time. Is there a difference in cooking time between an electric and propane smoker? Is propane more inconsistent?

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    • Yes propane is more consistent at maintaining the temperature compared to electric. You may find the length of time will be shorter. I would just monitor the internal temp of the meat. Happy smoking!!!

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      • Hi Steve! Just a follow-up, we smoked two pork tenderloins, the first time we’ve ever smoked anything. We followed your temp and time directions and they came out perfect! Best tasting tenderloins we’ve ever had and they were so moist! Now that our confidence it up a little, we are going to try a turkey. We are having a lot of people over for Thanksgiving and plan on smoking one turkey. We are testing one this weekend to make sure we smoke it correctly. Any tips?

        • Reply
  • Hi Steve!
    I am appreciating all of the information you post! Glad I came across your site as I am a smoking novice!
    Just received my electric smoker and as I type this the husband is assembling:) Then I will season it. If you would be so kind to answer a few questions….First I am going strait to the jerky recipe. I always read reviews and am unclear as to add the water or not for drying out purposes? Second, I am making a pork tenderloin, 4.5 lbs. with your basic rub, can you please give me an estimated time for this as I am so new to smoking. Oh and lastly will mesquite chips work well for both? My Apple chips are on the way.
    Many thanks!
    Lisa

    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa! Welcome to the world of smoking. You guys are going to love it! With regards to your jerky question and using water, i’m not exactly sure what you mean. Are you wondering if you should still use the bowl of water at the bottom smoker to catch the wood bisquettes? Is your smoker a Bradley? If that is your question then yes you always need to use the water because otherwise there’s a chance those used up wood pieces could catch fire. You always want them to be advanced and fall into the water. If that’s not what you mean, let me know and I’ll try and answer what you were thinking. With your question About smoking a pork tenderloin and how long it will take it really does depend on what is in the smoker and what the temperature and wind is like outside. Is this one pork tenderloin that’s 4 1/2 pounds? That seems pretty big for a pork tenderloin. Are usually find that it takes me about three hours to smoke a pork tenderloin when I’m smoking at 225°F. If there’s a bunch of other stuff in the smoker sometimes it takes longer. Mesquite wood chips do work OK for pork. It’s definitely one of the stronger smokes so I usually save it for smoking beef or lamb. You will definitely love applewood for pork! Feel free to fire anymore questions my way as I’m happy to help!

      • Reply
      • Thank you so much for the prompt response Steve!
        I have an electric smoker with a water pan. I’m conflicted on using water as some say this inhibits the drying out of the jerky. I was going to use non soaked mesquite chiunks and smoke low and slow, based on what I’ve read. They have been marinating over night, and I think I will add additional pepper to half. What do you think?
        As far as the pork loin, it’s probably 2 in the package. Thinking about grabbing some Hickory and mixing them with apple chips for that.
        Also, and this may sound like a stupid question, should my vent in the back of the unit stay partially open during the whole smoking process?
        I’m so excited, as I love smoked everything! I usually use a lot of spice and liquid smoke for my marinades…I know, not the same!
        Next week I’m planning turkey breast, Cornish hens, cheese and olives!
        Thanks for all your help! I appreciate it:)
        Lisa

        • Reply
        • Sounds awesome! Personally I would still use the water pan. I have not found it inhibits he drying for jerky. I keep the vent open for jerky as I find that helps drying. I love a little extra pepper on my jerky as well. Should be great. I have never smoked Cornish hens. I’d love to hear how that turns out!

          • Reply
          • Yup! I should of used the water pan! lol. I think it would of helped decrease the bottom burnt mess left from the marinated jerky, also the bottom rack of meat got too crisp and the top was perfect! Should of rotated racks and and went with 165 instead of 200 ( many reviews said both temps ) ….based on what I read I figured the higher temp was best with a cool rainy day. Smoke and learn!
            Today, send positive vibes for that 4.5 lb. pork loin I’ve had marinainating in your rub overnight! 225 with apple chips. Going to put a drip pan under that beast! My husband needs a rest after cleaning up that jerky mess! lol

        • Lisa!! How did the 4.5 lbs tenderloin go? The work wants to know!! Thank you!

          • Reply

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