Summer grilling season is finally here and holy sweet jeez does it feel amazing to cook outside this year! I’ve been enjoying it so much that I’m testing about a million recipes on the barbecue these days, but this Smoky Grilled Pork Loin is by far the best of the bunch!
Let me just walk it back a second to why I’ve been so completely into grilling lately: I have been drowning in dishes with everyone homeschooling and WFH these last few months. I’m just about marking the hour by how many times the dishwasher has been run every day. And if God forbid I forget to turn it on before I go to bed one night, it feels like it takes a whole week to catch up.
Which brings me to my favorite part about grilling: no pots and pans to scrub.
So pour yourself a glass of wine, fire up the gas, and get ready to hear angels sing! Because not only does this recipe produce the juiciest, most flavorful grilled pork loin, but it also means you can enjoy glass numero dos after dinner without having to peel yourself off the couch to scrub the dishes after the kids go to bed.
Why You So Juicy, Pork Loin?
This grilled pork loin slathers your plate in savory natural juices begging to be sopped up. So why does that happen? Three reasons:
I recommend leaving the rub on the pork for at least an hour before cooking. Why? you want the salt to soak into the meat and help evenly distribute the moisture content. This not only helps it retain moisture, but it also makes it more flavorful.
I turn my pork loin frequently during grilling. This not only ensures that your meat cooks evenly, but it also means that the meat bastes itself during the time when it cooks fat-side-up.
Repeat after me: I will not slice my pork loin until I’ve let it rest. More on my reasoning later, but slicing too early guarantees a dry piece of meat.
Pork Loin v. Tenderloin: What’s The Difference?
It took me forever to learn the difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin. A pork loin looks like a big hunk of boneless chops glued together. After all, that’s what it is: an extra-thick cut pork chop. Your butcher might also label it as “pork loin roast.”
Pork tenderloin is much narrower because it’s cut from the rear end of the loin, which runs along the pig’s spine. This makes it more tender (as the name would suggest), but also much smaller. It’s also about $1 more per pound than a pork loin.
They’re both very close in flavor, which means you can easily adapt this recipe to make grilled pork tenderloin. All you have to do is reduce the dry rub by half and grill over direct heat for 12-15 minutes. I recommend direct heat in this instance because I find pork tenderloin dries out when cooked at low heat.
As with a regular loin, grilled tenderloin is done when its internal temperature hits 145 F.
How To Serve Smoky Grilled Pork Loin:
I cannot emphasize this enough: do not slice your pork loin as soon as it comes off the grill! The only hole that should get poked in that sucker is the one you make with your instant-read thermometer. (Which, by the way, is worth its weight in gold if you don’t already have one.)
When you cut meat straight off the grill, the cells contract with the temperature change, and all that juice you worked so hard for ends up on the serving plate instead of in your meat. So rather than rushing dinner to the table, I recommend telling your family it’ll be another 10 minutes or so, tenting your barbecue masterpiece with foil, and sitting somewhere quiet with a glass of wine while the kids fold the napkins.
Once those 10 minutes have elapsed, cut the grilled pork loin into only as many one-inch-thick slices as you will eat that evening. Some juice will inevitably run escape as you slice. That’s normal. Just spoon or brush it over the meat after serving.
Let’s Make This!
This recipe is all about the rub, which is surprisingly versatile with a little tweaking. Use it as a general-purpose pork rub, or dial back the smoked paprika by half to rub it on chicken or steak.
Pork Rub Ingredients
Smoked (or Spanish) Paprika: Smoked paprika is made from chiles that are smoked (usually with oak) before grinding. That’s where this recipe gets its elevated-yet-outdoorsy taste.
Salt: Adds flavor and helps the meat retain moisture
Garlic and Onion: Key flavors for any dry rub, in my book. They enhance existing flavors while adding complexity in a way that’s also familiar and homey.
Mexican Oregano: This south-of-the-border spice is actually a completely different species than the one I grew up sprinkling on pizza. A relative of lemon verbena, Mexican oregano has notes of citrus and licorice that the Mediterranean version can’t touch.
Cumin: Not only does it round out the basic Latin spice profile I was going for, but cumin is also one of my favorite spices to pair with pork.
Grill: Mine is gas, but you can absolutely use charcoal if you feel comfortable controlling the temperature.
Instant read thermometer: For checking doneness.
Grilling Spatula Or Tongs
In a small bowl, mix the spices together with the salt. Rub liberally onto the pork tenderloin, covering every surface. Don’t be afraid to get in there and really rub it in! They don’t call it a “rub” for nothing! Let the meat rest for at least an hour before cooking, or overnight. Meanwhile, preheat the grill.
>>>Pro tip: I like to preheat using all the burners even though I use indirect heat in this recipe. That way, I get nice grill marks on the top of my pork loin.
Place spiced pork loin over indirect heat. That means the burners are on elsewhere in the grill, not directly under the meat. Cook the meat at 325 F until the internal temperature is 145 F, turning every 15-30 minutes. I like to start with the fat side down to get a nice sear. It’s okay if the cooking temperature varies within 25 degrees of the optimal cook temperature at times during cooking. Be sure to watch that temperature gauge closely.
Remove after approximately 90 minutes, or when the internal temperature reaches 145 with an instant-read thermometer. Tent the pork loin with foil and allow to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves about 8 people.
More Easy Dinner Recipes For A Crowd:
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How To Make The Juiciest Grilled Pork Loin
Juicy, flavorful pork loin goes south of the border with a smoky rub of Spanish paprika and cumin. This affordable cut is perfect for serving a crowd at your next summer barbecue.
- Prep Time: 1 Hour & 5 Minutes
- Cook Time: 2 Hour & 30 Minutes
- Total Time: 2 Hours & 35 Minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- 4 lb pork roast
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- In a small bowl, mix the spices together with the salt. Rub liberally onto the pork tenderloin, covering every surface. Don’t be afraid to get in there and really rub it in! They don’t call it a “rub” for nothing! Let the meat rest for at least an hour before cooking, or overnight. Meanwhile, preheat the grill.
- Place spiced pork loin over indirect heat. (That means the burners are on elsewhere in the grill, not directly under the meat. ) Cook the meat at 325 F until the internal temperature is 145 F, turning every 15-30 minutes, starting with the fat side down to get a nice sear.
- Remove after approximately 90 minutes, or when the internal temperature reaches 145 with an instant-read thermometer. Tent the pork loin with foil and allow to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.