A Dark but Delicious Horse: Smoked Pork Roast

September 6, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

For most of my life I ate smoked pork shoulder and pork butt, but I was introduced to smoked pork roast by a pitmaster on the competition circuit as an adult. It was love at first bite and it has been one of my faves every since!

In this post, I will show you a simple recipe and outline the main tips and tricks for getting this dish perfect. Let’s get started!

Smoked pork roast

Understanding Pork Roast

Before I get into the recipe, I want to give you some background info on pork loin as a cut. The thing is, most people are used to making smoked pork butt or pork shoulder. They don’t have as much experience in preparing smoked pork loin.

Now, there’s no need to worry as I will be providing you with step by step instructions. Still, I want to start off by outlining some of the differences between pork loin and other popular cuts.

The first distinction I want to make is between pork tenderloin and loin roast. Although they may sound similar and are both lean cuts, tenderloin is far more lean and tender. Pork loin, on the other hand, has a bit more fat on it.

There is also the fact that pork loin roast is a lot bigger than pork tenderloin and that is cheaper too!

Now, pork butt – despite its name – is taken from the pork shoulder. These have a higher level of fat on them, which is what makes them perfect for smoking. They don’t have the same pork-like flavor as pork roasts, however.

As pork loin is a lot smaller than either the pork butt or the pork shoulder, it cooks a lot faster too. This makes it an excellent substitute if you don’t want to spend upwards of 12 hours tending to a smoker!

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How to Smoke a Pork Loin Roast?

Here is your guide to make tasty smoked pork roast:


  • 3 lbs. of pork loin
  • 3 tbs. of yellow mustard
  • Diluted apple cider vinegar

For the Dry Rub

  • 1 tsp. of kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. of smoked paprika
  • 1 tbs. of garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. of onion powder
  • 2 tsp. of thyme
  • 2 tsp. of parsley
  • 1 tsp. of black pepper
  • 2 tsp. of red pepper flakes, optional
Roasted pork loin fillet with bay leaves


Step 1

Preheat the smoker – set smoker temperature to 225 degrees °F.

Step 2

In a bowl, combine the ingredients of the dry rub – mix well.

Spread the yellow mustard all over the pork roast. Then, sprinkle on the rub ingredients and pat into place. Make sure the entire roast is covered.

Step 3

Place the pork roast in the smoker with a aluminum foil pan underneath it to catch any drippings. Insert a temperature probe to track the internal temperature.

Step 4

Smoke for up to an hour or until a nice, dark bark has formed around the pork roast. After this, gently spritz the pork loin with apple cider vinegar.

You can continue to do this every half an hour until the pork roast is cooked through.

At 145 degrees °F, the pork roast is done and should be removed from the smoker.

Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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How to Serve Pork Loin Roast?

Most people have never really tried pork loin like this. If you are new to the dish as well, you may be a little confused as to what to serve with or even how to serve it.

I like to treat like any other BBQ meat. Due to that gorgeous smoky flavor, you can enjoy it alone, eat it in a bun, or have it served with a side of sauce.

As for accompaniments, there is no end to these! Everything from mac and cheese and coleslaw to cornbread tastes good here!

Raw pork being prepped

Getting Your Smoked Pork Roast Just Right

Here are some tips to ensure that your smoked pork loin roast comes out beautifully each and every time:

Choose a Good Cut

Investing in a good cut will set you up for a tender and delicious pork roast. So, make this your first priority.

I would always suggest going for fresh pork roast – the frozen once thawed can be pretty great, but nothing beats a fresh slab of meat.

The other decision that you will need to make is bone in or boneless. I know a lot of people go for boneless because it is easier to prep and can quick faster as well.

However, the bone in option retains moisture even during the smoking process. And, considering that pork roasts are pretty lean to begin with, this is certainly an advantage.

It is also for this reason that I would suggest that looking for a cut that has some marbling and a slight fat cap on it – even 1/4th of an inch will do. This will make for a more flavorful roast and prevent drying out too.

Should You Trim the Pork Roast?

If you are trimming the pork loin, stick to the sinewy and tough portions of the meat. Focus your attention on the silver skin and trim these away.

What you shouldn’t touch, however, is the fat. Leave this on or trim it so that it sits evenly around the roast. Make sure that there is around 1/4th of an inch of fat when you are done.

Of course, if your butcher has been quite generous and left a good amount of fat on top, then you may trim away some.

The better option, though, would be to score it. This way, you get this succulent layer and give the seasoning the opportunity to penetrate deeper.

Adding Flavor

Now, there are some people who choose to brine their entire roast or to even steep it in a marinade. While this is something that you can try, I feel like it is an unnecessary step.

All you really need is a good spice rub. You can choose the one that I have used in this recipe or come up with your own. Creating your own pork rub is a lot of fun and gives you the ability to create a roast that is perfectly suited to your own taste buds.

Now, speaking of flavor, your will have noticed that I have used yellow mustard as a binding agent here. I know that a lot of people will be hesitant to follow this step as mustard can be quite pungent.

Rest assured, though, the mustard will be burned away as you are smoking the pork loin. All that will be left behind is a flavorful crust.

If this still doesn’t sit right with you, you can use olive oil instead.

I am also often asked about a BBQ sauce to go along with the smoked pork roast. If you would like to use some, go ahead. I do find that a good rub gets the job done, though.

In case you do want to use a sauce, I would suggest making your own. Homemade versions are so much better than store-bought sauces.

roasted pork

Using a Meat Thermometer

Most people want to know how long to smoke a pork loin roast for. However, your best option is to consider the internal temperature of pork roast instead.

At 145 degrees °F, the pork roast is done. Make sure to take it out the moment that this temperature registers. As a lean cut, this meat can dry out really easily so you should take it out soon afterwards.

The pork roast will continue to cook once it is removed from the smoker so it may be up to ten degrees hotter afterwards.

Naturally, you are going to need to know when to check the smoked pork roast. In general, depending on the temperature inside the smoker, the pork roast will cook at a rate of about 30 to 40 minutes per pound.

Letting the Meat Rest

This step is as important as smoking the pork roast properly. Yes, I do mean that.

While the pork is smoking, the muscles fibers contract. This causes them to push out the moisturizing and delicious juices out. However, if you give the meat the opportunity to rest and to reabsorb this liquid and you will have a juicy and tender pork loin roast on your hands.

How long should you let it rest for?

Well, given the size of the pork loin, you don’t have to let it rest for long. About ten minutes should do but you can rest it for up to half an hour if you choose.

If you are preparing pork loin roast for a party or gathering, it is a good idea to take the rest time into consideration when deciding when to start cooking the meat.

Tips for Smoking Pork Loin Roast

Here are a few guidelines that will help you perfect your smoking techniques for delicious smoked pork roast:

Choosing Your Wood Chips

The smoke flavor is largely down to the kind of wood that you use during the cooking process. Thus, it is important to take care when making your decision.

The best piece of advice that I could offer you is quality. Always choose high quality chips. Yes, they may cost more but they more than make up for it as they will produce clean smoke that will not corrupt your smoked pork roast in any way.

The next thing that you need to do is decide on the type of woods. When it comes to pork, most people prefer sweeter fruit woods like cherry wood or apple wood. Maple is also a good option.

If this doesn’t fit in with the flavor profile that you are trying to create, then I would suggest oak wood – it is fairly balanced and produces the perfect level of smoke.

For pork, mesquite and hickory aren’t the best options. They are strong and can overpower the natural flavor of the pork roast. What’s more, if you miscalculate and use too much, you could end up with a bitter tasting meat.

Oh, and you may have heard some advice on needing to soak the wood, but I would disregard it. This step just creates a lot of steam that can compromise that beautiful and crunchy bark.

Not to mention, it can lower the temperature of the surrounding coals and cause the smoking to take longer. In short, save yourself the hassle.

pork roast with veggies

Finding the Right Temperature

This is one of the more contentious elements of smoking meat, pork roast in particular. You will often find people quoting everything from 180 degrees to 300 degrees – so what is the right answer?

Naturally, this is down to personal preference but I have found that 225 degrees is the right temperature more often than not. When it comes to smoking, low and slow is the key. This is even more important with pork loin where there is little fat.

The main reason that people opt for a higher temperature is to cut down on the smoking time. However, considering that pork roast is a pretty small cut to begin with, lowering the temp isn’t going to add too much to the overall cooking time.

Now, there are some people who like to start off low – around 180 degrees or a little higher. Then, towards the latter end of the smoke, they crank the temperature up to about 300 degrees.

This is something that you can certainly give a try. If you do, though, just make sure to track the temperature carefully once you have turned the heat up. The last thing that you want to do is to dry the meat out.

Fat Cap Up or Down – Does It Matter?

Now, this is the kind of conversation that is typically held about smoked pork shoulder or pork butt. If there is a bit of fat on the pork roast, though, then this may apply here as well.

The reality is that there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Instead, it all depends on where the heat source for your smoker is placed. If it is on the top, then the fat side should be facing up. If it is coming from down, then the fat side should face down.

Smoked pork roast can sound a bit exotic but as you can see, it is pretty easy to make and now you know exactly how to do it. Go ahead and give this delicious dish a try today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions:

How Long Do You Smoke Pork Loin Roast?

It will usually take around 30 to 40 minutes per pound of pork loin roast.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a 3 Pound Pork Roast?

It can take between 1 and 1.5 hours to smoke a pork roast this size.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a 4lb Pork Roast?

It can take between 2 hours and a little over 2.5 hours to smoke.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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