Smoking a pork tenderloin is a delicious way to infuse it with flavor and create a juicy, tender texture. But how long should you smoke it for?
With so many conflicting recipes and methods out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Fear not, because we’ve done the research for you!
In this article, we’ll break down the best practices for smoking a 3-pound pork tenderloin, including cooking times, temperatures, and tips for achieving the perfect result.
Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner cook, this guide will help you smoke your way to pork perfection. So grab your smoker and let’s get started!
How Long To Smoke A 3 Pound Pork Tenderloin?
When it comes to smoking a 3-pound pork tenderloin, the general rule of thumb is to smoke it for approximately 30 minutes per pound. This means that your pork tenderloin should take around 1.5 hours to smoke at a temperature of 225°F (107°C).
However, if you’re in a hurry, you can increase the temperature to 275°F (135°C) and smoke it for about 20-25 minutes per pound, which would take approximately 1 hour to smoke.
It’s important to note that the cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of your pork tenderloin, so it’s always best to use a meat thermometer to ensure that it has reached an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
Preparing Your Pork Tenderloin For Smoking
Before you start smoking your 3-pound pork tenderloin, it’s important to prepare it properly to ensure that it turns out tender, juicy, and full of flavor. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Trim the excess fat: Use a sharp knife to trim any excess fat on the top of the pork tenderloin that is over 1/4 inch thick. This will help the rub penetrate the meat and prevent flare-ups during smoking.
2. Score the fat cap: Using a sharp knife, score through the fat cap of the pork tenderloin in a diamond pattern. This will help the rub penetrate the meat and also allow the fat to render out during smoking.
3. Apply the rub: Rub olive oil all over the pork tenderloin, making sure that it is fully covered. Then apply your favorite dry rub over the entire surface of the meat, ensuring that it gets into all the crevices and sears.
4. Let it rest: Once you have applied the rub, let the pork tenderloin rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. This will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat and also help it cook more evenly.
5. Insert the temperature probe: Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the pork tenderloin, being careful not to touch any bones or fat.
6. Smoke it: Preheat your smoker to 225°F (107°C) and place your pork tenderloin directly on the grill grates. Smoke it for approximately 1.5 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
7. Rest and serve: Once your pork tenderloin has reached its desired internal temperature, remove it from the smoker and tent it with foil for 10-15 minutes to let it rest. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and juicy pork tenderloin. Slice against the grain and serve with your favorite sides.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your 3-pound pork tenderloin turns out perfectly smoked every time!
Choosing The Right Wood For Smoking
When it comes to choosing the right wood for smoking a 3-pound pork tenderloin, there are a few options to consider.
Hickory wood is a popular choice for smoking pork, as it gives the meat an authentic smoky flavor that many people love. However, it’s important to note that too much hickory can make the meat taste bitter, so it’s best to combine it with sweeter woods like apple or cherry. Hickory is also great for larger cuts of pork, such as pork shoulders.
Maple wood is another great option for smoking pork, especially if you’re looking for a lighter, sweeter smoky flavor. It’s particularly well-suited for baby back ribs or pork butt, and can help render the fat down and infuse the meat with excellent flavor. Smoking over maple wood can also give your meat a bright golden crust.
Ultimately, the choice of wood comes down to personal preference and the flavor profile you’re looking to achieve. It’s always a good idea to experiment with different woods and see what works best for your taste buds. Just be sure to avoid using softwoods like pine or cedar, as they can contain harmful toxins that can ruin your meat.
Setting Up Your Smoker
Before you start smoking your 3-pound pork tenderloin, you need to set up your smoker properly. Here are some steps to follow:
1. Choose the right wood: Sweet woods like apple, cherry, maple, pecan, hickory, or a combination of a few are best for pork. These woods will add a delicious flavor to your pork tenderloin.
2. Preheat your smoker: Set your smoker temperature to 225°F (107°C) and preheat it for about 15-20 minutes before you start smoking your pork tenderloin.
3. Prepare your pork tenderloin: Pat the pork tenderloin dry with a paper towel and trim any excess fat on the top that is over 1/4 inch thick. Use a really sharp knife to score through the fat cap – cut down about 1/4 of an inch in a diagonal pattern. This will help the rub penetrate the meat better.
4. Season your pork tenderloin: Rub your pork tenderloin with olive oil, ensuring that it is fully covered. Then, apply the dry rub of your choice over the entire surface of the meat.
5. Place the pork tenderloin in the smoker: Place the pork tenderloin directly on the grill grates of your smoker and close the lid. Keep the water tray topped up while you are smoking the pork tenderloin so that it remains tender and juicy.
6. Monitor the temperature: Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of your pork tenderloin. You want it to reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) before removing it from the smoker.
7. Rest and serve: Once your pork tenderloin has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the smoker and tent it with foil. Allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing it against the grain and serving it.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your 3-pound pork tenderloin is perfectly smoked and deliciously juicy.
Smoking Temperature And Cooking Time
The ideal smoking temperature for a 3-pound pork tenderloin is 225°F (107°C). This temperature allows the meat to cook slowly and evenly, resulting in a tender and juicy pork tenderloin.
At this temperature, you should smoke the pork tenderloin for about 30 minutes per pound, which would take approximately 1.5 hours to smoke. However, if you’re pressed for time, you can increase the temperature to 275°F (135°C) and smoke it for about 20-25 minutes per pound, which would take approximately 1 hour to smoke.
It’s important to remember that the internal temperature of the pork tenderloin is what determines if it’s fully cooked. The recommended internal temperature for pork is 145°F (63°C). Therefore, it’s crucial to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your pork tenderloin before removing it from the smoker.
Additionally, the thickness of your pork tenderloin can affect the cooking time. Thicker cuts may require more time in the smoker, while thinner cuts may cook faster. It’s essential to keep an eye on the internal temperature and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Tips For Achieving Perfectly Smoked Pork Tenderloin
1. Brine your pork tenderloin: Brining your pork tenderloin before smoking it can help to keep it moist and tender. You can use a simple brine of salt, sugar, and water, or you can add some flavor by using apple juice, honey, and spices like thyme and black pepper. Let your pork tenderloin marinate in the brine for 2-3 hours before smoking.
2. Use a spice rub: A good spice rub can add flavor and depth to your pork tenderloin. You can use a pre-made rub or make your own using a combination of salt, sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices. Rub the mixture all over your pork tenderloin before smoking.
3. Preheat your smoker: It’s important to preheat your smoker before adding your pork tenderloin to ensure that it reaches the right temperature quickly. Set your smoker to 225°F (107°C) and let it preheat for at least 15 minutes before adding your pork tenderloin.
4. Use a meat thermometer: To ensure that your pork tenderloin is cooked to perfection, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the pork tenderloin and make sure it reads 145°F (63°C) before removing it from the smoker.
5. Let it rest: Once your pork tenderloin is done smoking, let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into it. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and ensure that it stays moist and flavorful.
By following these tips, you can achieve perfectly smoked pork tenderloin every time. Experiment with different brines and spice rubs to find your favorite flavor combinations and enjoy this delicious and versatile cut of meat!
Resting And Serving Your Smoked Pork Tenderloin
Once your smoked pork tenderloin has reached an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C), it’s time to remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful tenderloin.
During the resting period, you can tent the smoked pork tenderloin with aluminum foil to keep it warm. This will also help to retain the moisture that has built up during the cooking process.
When it’s time to serve, slice the smoked pork tenderloin into 1/2 inch pieces, cutting against the grain. This will ensure that each slice is moist and tender. You can serve the smoked pork tenderloin with your favorite side dishes, such as roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes.
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze the smoked pork tenderloin for up to 3 months. Just be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer.