There’s a lot of pulled pork in the BBQ world, but another cut is just as tasty and rewarding: the pork tenderloin.
When done right, pork tenderloin is juicy, tender, and packed with flavor. Not to mention it’s lean, which makes it better for you, and it’s loaded with protein.
A super underrated cut of meat, this is a must-try recipe for an easy method to smoke pork tenderloin that results in a tasty bite every single time.
Smoked Pork Tenderloin
Because pork tenderloin is so lean it can be easy to overcook. To avoid dry tenderloin you need to pay special attention to the internal temperature when smoking it.
This is one of those times an instant read thermometer comes in handy.
I like my pork a little bit sweet so I use our Honey Garlic rub and then brush on a maple bourbon glaze at the end.
This is one of those recipes that can be easily modified though, so feel free to use any rub you have on hand.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Pork tenderloin – pork tenderloin should be easy to source from your local butcher or supermarket, or you can treat yourself to a tender Kurobuta tenderloin from Snake River Farms.
- Olive oil
- Smoke Kitchen Honey Garlic rub
- Pure maple syrup
- Butter – unsalted.
- Dark brown sugar
Equipment you’ll need
What is pork tenderloin?
Pork tenderloin is a long, narrow muscle that runs along the backbone of the pig. It’s extra lean and tender and comes packaged boneless.
Don’t confuse it with standard pork loin, though. That’s a different cut that is wider and flatter and comes from the back of the pig.
A typical pork tenderloin will weigh between 1-2lbs, and be enough to feed 3-4 people. I like to double up and smoke two at a time.
How to make Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Maple Bourbon Glaze
Open the pork tenderloin and pat dry with paper towels.
If you see any excess fat or silver skin, trim it off with a sharp knife.
Coat the pork all over with the olive oil binder, then season with the Smoke Kitchen Honey Garlic rub. This will give the pork sweet and savory notes and add great color.
Feel free to substitute with your rub of choice and check out our free rub recipes for inspiration.
2. Fire up the smoker
Set up the smoker for indirect heat at 250°F. Once it gets to the target temperature, add your smoking wood of choice.
I’m using my PK Grills 360 along with pecan wood chunks. If you don’t have pecan, fruit woods like apple or cherry are great with pork. Just be careful not to over-smoke the tenderloin, one small chunk should do.
With the smoker up to temperature and rolling with smoke, place the pork tenderloin on the grates away from the heat source and close the lid.
Smoke the tenderloin until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F. Roughly one hour depending on the size of your tenderloin.
4. The glaze
This is a simple glaze that will add a light sweetness to the meat without overpowering the dish. It’s meant to add another layer of complementary flavor rather than take over the bite.
Simply mix together the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, and bourbon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low when it starts to bubble up, then continue to simmer until the mixture is reduced to almost half.
Once the glaze cools down, it will thicken some. If you want a thicker glaze, you can add one tablespoon of powdered sugar and whisk it in until you reach your desired consistency.
When the tenderloin reaches 135°F, increase the smoker temperature to 300°F.
Start glazing the pork with a layer of the maple bourbon glaze and continue to cook. Glaze every ten minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145°F – roughly thirty more minutes.
Reserve some of the glaze to add to the meat after slicing, just before you serve.
At 145°F, remove the pork tenderloin from the smoker and tent with foil.
Let the pork rest for 10 minutes.
Slice the pork against the grain and brush on a little more maple glaze just before serving.
Get some more pork on your fork with these recipes
- Buffalo Garlic Pig Wings
- Competition Pork Spare Ribs
- Smoking Your First Pork Butt
- Hot Honey Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- 19 Leftover Pulled Pork recipes
Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Maple Bourbon Glaze
Maple Bourbon Glaze
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 oz Bourbon
- Trim silver skin and excess fat off pork tenderloin and coat with olive oil. Season with honey garlic rub on all sides.
- Set your smoker to 250°F and add one chunk of pecan wood.
- Once the smoke is nice and clean add the pork tenderloin directly to the grill grates on the opposite side of the heat source.
- Smoke the pork tenderloin until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F.
- Increase the temperature of your smoker to 300°F and glaze the pork with maple bourbon glaze every 10 minutes until the internal temperature of the pork is 145°F.
- Remove pork from the smoker and rest for 10 minutes. Slice against the grain and brush on a little more glaze to the meat just before serving.
Maple Bourbon Glaze
- In a small saucepan, mix together the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, and bourbon over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low when it starts to bubble up, then continue to simmer until the mixture is reduced to almost half.