Smoked BBQ Pork Tenderloin


If brisket is more or less the Cadillac of BBQ smoking, pork tenderloin is the ultra reliable VW of BBQ. At least once a month I smoke a group of pork tenderloins for my family that last us a few days. The prep and cook is overall one of the easiest you can do, and from the time you start the cook to ready-to-serve is 1.5 to 2 hours. This allows you to have a life the day of the cook!

The Prep

My wife normally likes to hit Costco for the bulk proteins I’ll end up making for the family to enjoy, and Costco has some killer pork tenderloin. You pick up one pack of pork tenderloin and you get 4 tenderloins to cook. I always take the tenderloins out the evening before I plan to cook and rinse them off before I bath them in brine for minimally 24-hours. My brine is simple with the classic quarter cup of kosher salt per gallon of water. I’ll also add in a little apple juice or one of my favorites, Squirt grapefruit pop.

The Cook

The day of the cook, I pull out the pork tenderloins from the brine and use paper towels to dry them off. Once dried off you need to apply a binding agent, yellow mustard or olive oil. My family sees the yellow mustard out and immediately freaks out, but not to worry that binding agent burns off during the cook and leaves zero taste behind. I’ll use yellow mustard for the traditional BBQ pork seasonings like Meat Church’s Honey Hog BBQ or Honey Bacon BBQ rubs. Otherwise, use olive oil, on the more traditional pan-seared pork tenderloin seasonings with rosemary, thyme, salt, and black pepper, but I wouldn’t recommend this seasoning combo for smoking pork tenderloins. Season you tenderloin(s) with a heavy hand and let it rain down on the loins while letting the seasoning set for about 5 minutes before flipping to get the other side. Don’t neglect the sides and ends in the seasoning process! I also take a steel bowl and fill it with some water and apple juice or Squirt with my seasoning mixed in to act as my “mop sauce” during the cook.

While seasoning, you can fire up the smoker and get the temperature to 225 (enable Super Smoke on the Traeger for the best results). Once the smoker is ready and you tenderloin(s) are seasoned, throw them on with a temperature probe measuring the internal temp at the thickest part of the tenderloin. I set my MEATER to 140 since I brined for 24-hours, but if you didn’t brine, you are best to set it to 145 minimally. Brining and getting the 140 temp target results in a juicer pork tenderloin. Every 30 minutes I’ll mop or spritz the tenderloin with the mop sauce to keep it nice and moist, but quickly in and off of the smoker to not lose too much heat. Pork tenderloin will hit “the wall” at some point in the cook, so you’ll see you temperature velocity flatten out while the fats are breaking down for some time. Once your tenderloin punches through the wall, you’ll reach 140 or 145 in under 2 hours typically.

After you hit the mark, pull the tenderloin(s) off wrapping them tightly in foil and let them rest for about 15-20 minutes. Once rested, you can unwrap them and get to cutting. The result should be an easy cut with a nice visible smoke ring. I’ll usually serve pork tenderloin with potatoes and roasted cauliflower or grilled zucchini.

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