Bacon Wrapped Hickory-Smoked Pork Loin

Bacon Wrapped Hickory-Smoked Pork Loin

Ok, Y’all, of those of you who know me by now, I ain’t gonna lie to you. So you can believe me when I say this bacon wrapped hickory-smoked pork loin may be the best slice of pork I have ever put into my mouth!

However, you should have seen the look on David’s face when he came home from hunting to find there was a huge pork loin in the refrigerator. He wasn’t all that excited about it, to say the least.

I know what you’re thinking… Is David ok? Why doesn’t he want pork?!?!

Let me explain…

bacon wrapped pork loin ready for the grill with mountains in background

One Saturday before hunting season went out, I went and did some grocery shopping. I found a beautiful slab of meat for only $9.99! A nearly 6-pound pork loin for under $10.00! No way was I leaving it at the store. I put it in my cart took it home and waited to deliver the news to David when he got home from the day’s hunt.

When he got home I proceeded to tell him that I wanted him to break out the smoker within the next few weeks (the meat was vacuumed sealed) for smoked pork loin. He was very skeptical about the idea. Pork loins are known to be very lean, and they can dry out if they aren’t cooked right. He kept saying they can be very dry because there isn’t enough fat in them.

We decided the best approach to smoking the pork loin would be to start by soaking the pork loin in a brine solution, making this our very first attempt at using a brine for any smoked meat. We also decided to wrap it in bacon for smoking for extra juiciness.

So over the next couple of weeks, we both researched how to smoke pork loins and put our heads together to try to figure out how the best method for smoking a pork loin.

On a snowy Saturday not too long ago, David fired up the smoker to smoke the pork loin.

the finished pork loin

GRACIOUS ME! The result was astounding!

Ultimately, we sat down to tender slightly spicy bacon wrapped hickory-smoked pork loin smothered in tangy barbecue sauce. Soft succulent meat with full-bodied hickory smoked flavor. If you love to smoke meat you have to try this!

We wanted unbiased opinions about how this smoked pork loin turned out. David took the leftover portion to work for his coworkers to try. He said that everyone that tried it, loved it too!

Let us show you how we smoked this pork loin…

bacon wrapped pork loin ready for the grill

How To Make Bacon Wrapped Hickory-Smoked Pork Loin (Brined)

Ingredients Needed:

  • 4-6 pound boneless pork loin roast
  • pork loin brine, recipe to follow
  • pork loin rub, recipe to follow
  • 2 pounds bacon, thick sliced
  • 32-ounces apple juice
  • Water
  • Barbecue Sauce, your favorite or use THIS ONE

Equipment and Supplies Needed:

The Pork Loin Brine Solution Ingredients:

  • 7 cups water
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoon onion powder

The Pork Loin Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

What is a pork loin?

A pork loin is a cut of meat that runs along either side of the backbone, just below the shoulder and down the leg. The top of the loin is usually where a loin roast is cut from. The pork loin roast is cut from the center of the that loin. Its size and shape are uniformly about 5 inches across with a thin layer of fat that runs over the top (AKA: Fat Cap). Compared to a pork tenderloin, the meat is lighter in color and the flavor tends to be a bit milder.

brine solution and meat in a zip-top bag

#1 Brine The Pork Loin

Start with a pork loin that is in the 5-pound range, which is just the right size to fit on any smoker or grill.

Rinse the meat under cold running water, blot dry with paper towels. Using a clean, sharp knife, trim the fat cap so as to leave at least a ¼-inch of fat. Any less and the pork will be drier and anymore, the fat will prevent the brine solution and rub from seasoning the meat.

Next, using a sharp knife, score the fat cap and set aside.

How To Score The Pork Loin:

Scoring meat is a culinary term that means cutting slits on the surface of food. Add a crosshatch pattern, starting with diagonal cuts approximately 1 inch apart across the surface of the fat cap, only allowing the knife to penetrate about ⅛ to ¼ inch deep. Turn the meat 90 degrees to add a crosshatch. Scoring across in the opposite direction. Scoring makes little pockets that allow the bacon fat, rub and sauce to penetrate into the meat below the fat cap, making the meat flavorful and juicy.

Combine all the brine solution ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk well until the salt has dissolved completely. Allow the brine solution to sit for 2 to 3 minutes to settle. This will allow the red crushed pepper to float to the top, which will keep the meat injector from clogging up.

Next, submerge the meat injector into the bowl and fill with the brine solution.

injecting the pork loin with brine

If the meat injector clogs, simply push the plunger to release some brine solution and then start pulling it again to fill with brine solution.

Place the meat inside the zip-top bag to inject the pork loin. (Sometimes a quick plunge can cause the injector to squirt brine solution everywhere and the bag will keep you from having to wash your cabinets or even worse rinse your eye out! Not that I am speaking from experience or anything…) Plunge the needle deep inside the meat, while pushing the plunger with a slow and steady force. Withdraw the needle gradually with each plunge. It’s important to minimize the number of holes you put into the meat. You can do this by angling the needle in 2 or 3 different directions using the same entry point. Continue to inject the meat cannot hold anymore liquid and the brine solution begins to leak from the holes.

Squeeze as much air out of the zip-top bag and seal tightly so that the pork loin is completely submerged in the brine solution. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

a close up of the finished bacon weave

#2 How To Make a Bacon Weave

I have always wanted to make a bacon weave and used this pork loin as my gold opportunity to try it. I found a great instructional video on Youtube and I found this method to be the easiest way to make a bacon weave.

  1. Start by laying 7 or 8 slices of bacon tight against each other, horizontally in rows on sheet of parchment paper or butcher’s paper. If the bacon is larger at one end than the other, alternate the direction the bacon slices end to end can compensate for any curve so that the weave will be more square. The width of the bacon slices should match the length of the strips.
  2. Begin to build the weave by folding back every other strip half onto itself. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those folded strips, flush up against the back of the folds. Unfold the folded row of strips back over the perpendicular slice of bacon.
  3. Next, fold back every other strip that wasn’t folded back before. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those strips, tightly up against the back of the folds. Then unfold the folded strips back over the perpendicular strip of bacon.
  4. Repeat the process, continuing to weave the bacon, alternately folding and unfolding the horizontal over the perpendicular strips of bacon. When the weave is complete, there should be the same number of strips going down as there are going across.
  5. Chill the bacon weave until needed.

I made an instructional video to help demonstrate the bacon weave below. You’ll notice in the video, that I screwed the pattern up, but hey, I think it was a great effort for my first time.

Bacon Weave Notes:

You may not use all of the two pounds of bacon, but some of the leftover bacon may be needed if the weave doesn’t completely wrap the pork loin.

Our bacon weave was too small to fit all the way around the pork loin. To compensate for the uncovered portion of the pork loin. We lined strips across the naked portion and used the butcher’s twine to help secure it.

After this was all said and done, I learned from reading BarbecueBible.com that you can cover the bacon weave with plastic wrap and gently roll it with a rolling pin to tighten the weave. As a result, the rolling helps to expand the dimensions of the weave slightly. Doing so ((MAY)) have helped to cover the pork loin a little better. We will definitely try this next time to see how it does.

#3 Rub and Wrap the Pork Loin

Using tongs, lift the pork loin out of the brine solution inside the zip-lock bag. Blot dry with paper towels.

If not already, lay the bacon weave out on a piece of parchment paper or butcher paper. The lay the pork loin fat cap side up in the center of the bacon weave. Rub the pork rub mixture onto the meat, making sure to cover each end. Flip the pork loin over so that the fat cap is down and rub the “bottom” of the pork loin. The pork loin should be completely covered in rub with the fat cap side down in the center of the bacon weave.

Wrap the bacon weave around the pork loin as if it were a bacon blanket, using the parchment paper to help roll the bacon weave around the meat. If your weave doesn’t completely cover the pork loin, finish covering it with extra strips laying across the gap horizontally. Use butcher’s twine to help hold the bacon weave securely in place around the meat. Tie the twine around the meat is 2 to 3 inch sections. Then tuck any loose edges of the bacon weave into itself or the twine.

the pork loin on the smoker with thermometer meat probe

#4 Prep the Smoker or Grill

Smoking is a form of indirect cooking and usually takes place over a period of hours over low temperatures. Set up your smoker for what is called the burn-down method. To do this, fill the charcoal bed with unlit coals and add only a few lit coals to the very top. The coals on top slowly light the ones underneath and burn down slowly over time. If using a charcoal grill, set it up for an indirect heat technique with a drip pan.

Fill the drip pan with half water and half apple juice (About 32-ounces of each, but doesn’t have to be exact.) directly underneath the meat to stabilize the temperature.

Meanwhile, soak a few handfuls hickory wood chunks for about 30 minutes in warm water before placing atop the coals.

Preheat the grill from 225 to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

david putting the meat on the smoker
David also decided to smoke some smoked venison back straps wrapped in bacon from his hunt.

#5 Smoke the Pork Loin

When the smoker or grill is the ideal temperature range, you are ready to smoke, place the bacon wrapped pork loin seam side down onto the hot grate directly over the drip pan. Toss a hand full of the soaked wood chunks and some dry wood chunks onto the coals and cover the grill.

David likes to use a combination of dry and wet wood chunks, alternating between the two. The dry gives a quick intense smoke and brings the heat up. The wet wood chunks provide a lower, slower smoke and bring the heat down. Heat adjustments can be made using this technique.

Bring the temperature up to 225 degrees F, using the vents to regulate the temperature.

setting the Thermoworks thermometer

Smoke™ from Thermoworks

Knowing the temperature inside your smoker or grill is crucial. Even if your smoker or grill has a temperature gauge, we still highly recommend that you purchase a digital BBQ thermometer such as Smoke™ from Thermoworks. Thermoworks thermometers are some of the most accurate thermometers money can buy. This particular model was designed for competition BBQ teams and professional chefs. It has a two-channel alarm uses probes to accurately read the temperature of the meat and the pit.

Smoke comes with a digital receiver that beeps and vibrates at alarm, taking all the guesswork out of smoking meat. The receiver displays temperatures and alarm settings on large LCD screen, which comes in handy when it is cold outside. You won’t have to keep letting cold air come in the house running in and out to check the smoker so often.

pork loin on the smoker about half way through smoking

David also decided to smoke some smoked venison back straps wrapped in bacon from his hunt.

#6 Low and slow

You will need to add fresh coals and more wood chunks to each side of the grill every hour for at least the first 4 hours.

Check the temperature of the grill every hour, staying as close to 225 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid. Only open the charcoal door or the lid if you need to add more charcoal or soaked wood chips to maintain temperature and smoke. After at least 4 hours, check the temperature of the meat to see where it is and get an idea of how much more time it will need to smoke.

David opening the smoker
Starting to snow!

#7 Test For Doneness

You want to smoke the pork loin until the internal temperature of the pork is at least 145 degrees F (medium rare) at a minimum. A 3 to 4 pound pork loin typically takes about 2 ½ to 3 hours to reach 145 degrees smoking at 250 degrees.

Our pork loin was an overachiever. Its weight was close to 6 pounds, so it took it twice the amount of time! David put the pork loin on the grill around 12:30 p.m. and it was taken off about 6:00 p.m. We also like our pork well done, so we like the internal temperature somewhere around 150 degrees F.

David saucing the meat
David smokes meat year round. Even in the snow!

#7 Saucing the Pork Loin

During the last ½ to 1 hour of smoking, baste the pork loin with barbecue sauce using a brush or mop. How often and how much sauce you put on is up to you. Since this was a combined attempt at smoking pork, David wasn’t as generous with the saucing as he usually does since he knows I’m not a huge fan of grilled on sauce.

sauced bacon wrapped pork loin on the smoker

#8 Resting the Pork Loin

When the smoked pork loin is done, carefully remove it from the smoker or grill and place it onto a platter or cutting board. Tent with foil and allow it to rest as you would with grilled or roasted meats. Allowing the pork to rest before slicing lets the meat fibers relax, moisture that was driven out is redistributed and reabsorbed by some of the dissolved proteins. Rested meat holds on to more of its natural juices. This also keeps your platter or cutting board from flooding with meat juices when you slice it into the pork. A good 10 to 15-minute rest should do.

the finished smoked pork loin

#9 Slicing and Serving Bacon Wrapped Hickory-Smoked Pork Loin

First remove cut and remove the butcher’s twine from around the smoked pork loin. Then slice the pork loin into slices about ½ to 1 inch thick. Any thinner and the bacon tries to come off from around the slice.

Serve drizzled in sauce or with sauce on the side.

sliced smoked pork loin on a plate with mac and cheese and broccoli and a glass of wine

I was craving Adult Mac and Cheese for months and months! So I made a half batch macaroni and cheese and steamed broccoli on the side. The smoky pork loin paired well with a nice glass of Rose from a local winery not too far down the road from the mountain.

David with a big thumbs up

David’s skepticism melted away like the succulent juices that dripped off the pork loin. He was thrilled with the way it turned out and this will not be the last time we use a brine for smoking meat. He’s already talking about using the brine on something else.

In conclusion, my perseverance and optimism paid off. As a result, David was persuaded to do something he normally would not have done on the smoker. This is our best effort on how to smoke a pork loin. We hope that you find our process the best you’ve ever tried too!

Learn how to make tender slightly spicy bacon wrapped hickory-smoked pork loin smothered in tangy barbecue sauce. This may be the best pork recipe ever!
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How To Make Bacon Wrapped Hickory-Smoked Pork Loin (Brined)

Learn how to make tender slightly spicy bacon wrapped hickory-smoked pork loin smothered in tangy barbecue sauce. This may be the best pork recipe ever!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbecue, BBQ
Keyword bacon wrapped, barbecue sauce, bbq, Brine, Hickory-Smoked, Pork Loin, smoked
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 40 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 288kcal
Author Debbie Spivey

Ingredients

Ingredients Needed:

  • 5 pound boneless pork loin roast
  • pork loin brine recipe to follow
  • pork loin rub recipe to follow
  • 2 pounds bacon thick sliced
  • 32 ounces apple juice
  • Water
  • Barbecue Sauce your favorite or use THIS ONE

Equipment and Supplies Needed:

The Pork Loin Brine Solution Ingredients:

  • 7 cups water
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoon onion powder

The Pork Loin Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

Brine The Pork Loin

  • Start with a pork loin that is in the 5-pound range, which is just the right size to fit on any smoker or grill.
    Rinse the meat under cold running water, blot dry with paper towels. Using a clean, sharp knife, trim the fat cap so as to leave at least a ¼-inch of fat. Any less and the pork will be drier and anymore, the fat will prevent the brine solution and rub from seasoning the meat.
    Next, using a sharp knife, score the fat cap and set aside.

Score The Pork Loin:

  • Scoring meat is a culinary term that means cutting slits on the surface of the food. Add a crosshatch pattern, starting with diagonal cuts approximately 1 inch apart across the surface of the fat cap, only allowing the knife to penetrate about ⅛ to ¼ inch deep. Turn the meat 90 degrees to add a crosshatch. Scoring across in the opposite direction. Scoring makes little pockets that allow the bacon fat, rub and sauce to penetrate into the meat below the fat cap, making the meat flavorful and juicy.
    Combine all the brine solution ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk well until the salt has dissolved completely. Allow the brine solution to sit for 2 to 3 minutes to settle. This will allow the red crushed pepper to float to the top, which will keep the meat injector from clogging up.
    Next, submerge the meat injector into the bowl and fill with the brine solution.
    If the meat injector clogs, simply push the plunger to release some brine solution and then start pulling it again to fill with the brine solution.
    Place the meat inside the zip-top bag to inject the pork loin. (Sometimes a quick plunge can cause the injector to squirt brine solution everywhere and the bag will keep you from having to wash your cabinets or even worse rinse your eye out! Not that I am speaking from experience or anything…) Plunge the needle deep inside the meat, while pushing the plunger with a slow and steady force. Withdraw the needle gradually with each plunge. It’s important to minimize the number of holes you put into the meat. You can do this by angling the needle in 2 or 3 different directions using the same entry point. Continue to inject the meat cannot hold any more liquid and the brine solution begins to leak from the holes.
    Squeeze as much air out of the zip-top bag and seal tightly so that the pork loin is completely submerged in the brine solution. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Wrap The Pork Loin In Bacon

  • After applying the rub, you can easily wrap the pork loin in bacon strips by wrapping individual strips around the pork loin using butcher’s twine to secure it to the meat.
    OR
    Make a Bacon Weave (SEE VIDEO BELOW): 
    Start by laying 7 or 8 slices of bacon tight against each other, horizontally in rows on a sheet of parchment paper or butcher’s paper. If the bacon is larger at one end than the other, alternate the direction the bacon slices end to end can compensate for any curve so that the weave will be more square. The width of the bacon slices should match the length of the strips.
    Begin to build the weave by folding back every other strip half onto itself. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those folded strips, flush up against the back of the folds. Unfold the folded row of strips back over the perpendicular slice of bacon.
    Next, fold back every other strip that wasn’t folded back before. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those strips, tightly up against the back of the folds. Then unfold the folded strips back over the perpendicular strip of bacon.
    Repeat the process, continuing to weave the bacon, alternately folding and unfolding the horizontal over the perpendicular strips of bacon. When the weave is complete, there should be the same number of strips going down as there are going across.
    Chill the bacon weave until needed.

Rub and Wrap the Pork Loin

  • Using tongs, lift the pork loin out of the brine solution inside the zip-lock bag. Blot dry with paper towels.
    If not already, lay the bacon weave out on a piece of parchment paper or butcher paper. The lay the pork loin fat cap side up in the center of the bacon weave. Rub the pork rub mixture onto the meat, making sure to cover each end. Flip the pork loin over so that the fat cap is down and rub the “bottom” of the pork loin. The pork loin should be completely covered in rub with the fat cap side down in the center of the bacon weave.
    Wrap the bacon weave around the pork loin as if it were a bacon blanket, using the parchment paper to help roll the bacon weave around the meat. If your weave doesn’t completely cover the pork loin, finish covering it with extra strips laying across the gap horizontally. Use butcher’s twine to help hold the bacon weave securely in place around the meat. Tie the twine around the meat is 2 to 3-inch sections. Then tuck any loose edges of the bacon weave into itself or the twine.

Prep the Smoker or Grill

  • Smoking is a form of indirect cooking and usually takes place over a period of hours over low temperatures. Set up your smoker for what is called the burn-down method. To do this, fill the charcoal bed with unlit coals and add only a few lit coals to the very top. The coals on top slowly light the ones underneath and burn down slowly over time. If using a charcoal grill, set it up for an indirect heat technique with a drip pan.
    Fill the drip pan with half water and half apple juice (About 32-ounces of each, but doesn’t have to be exact.) directly underneath the meat to stabilize the temperature.
    Meanwhile, soak a few handfuls hickory wood chunks for about 30 minutes in warm water before placing atop the coals.
    Preheat the grill from 225 to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

Smoke the Pork Loin

  • When the smoker or grill is the ideal temperature range, you are ready to smoke, place the bacon wrapped pork loin seam side down onto the hot grate directly over the drip pan. Toss a hand full of the soaked wood chunks and some dry wood chunks onto the coals and cover the grill.
    Use a combination of dry and wet wood chunks, alternating between the two. The dry gives a quick intense smoke and brings the heat up. The wet wood chunks provide a lower, slower smoke and bring the heat down. Heat adjustments can be made using this technique.
    Bring the temperature up to 225 degrees F, using the vents to regulate the temperature.

Low and slow

  • You will need to add fresh coals and more wood chunks to each side of the grill every hour for at least the first 4 hours.
    Check the temperature of the grill every hour, staying as close to 225 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid. Only open the charcoal door or the lid if you need to add more charcoal or soaked wood chips to maintain temperature and smoke. After at least 4 hours, check the temperature of the meat to see where it is and get an idea of how much more time it will need to smoke.

Test For Doneness

  • You want to smoke the pork loin until the internal temperature of the pork is at least 145 degrees F (medium rare) at a minimum. A 3 to 4-pound pork loin typically takes about 2 ½ to 3 hours to reach 145 degrees smoking at 250 degrees.
    Our pork loin was an overachiever. Its weight was close to 6 pounds, so it took it twice the amount of time! David put the pork loin on the grill around 12:30 p.m. and it was taken off about 6:00 p.m. We also like our pork well done, so we like the internal temperature somewhere around 150 degrees F.

Saucing the Pork Loin

  • During the last ½ to 1 hour of smoking, baste the pork loin with barbecue sauce using a brush or mop. How often and how much sauce you put on is up to you. 

Resting the Pork Loin

  • When the smoked pork loin is done, carefully remove it from the smoker or grill and place it onto a platter or cutting board. Tent with foil and allow it to rest as you would with grilled or roasted meats. Allowing the pork to rest before slicing lets the meat fibers relax, moisture that was driven out is redistributed and reabsorbed by some of the dissolved proteins. Rested meat holds on to more of its natural juices. This also keeps your platter or cutting board from flooding with meat juices when you slice it into the pork. A good 10 to 15-minute rest should do.

Slicing and Serving Bacon Wrapped Hickory-Smoked Pork Loin

  • First, remove cut and remove the butcher’s twine from around the smoked pork loin. Then slice the pork loin into slices about ½ to 1 inch thick. Any thinner and the bacon tries to come off from around the slice.
    Serve drizzled in sauce or with sauce on the side.

Video

Notes

Bacon Weave Notes:
You may not use all of the two pounds of bacon, but some of the leftover bacon may be needed if the weave doesn’t completely wrap the pork loin.
Our bacon weave was too small to fit all the way around the pork loin. To compensate for the uncovered portion of the pork loin. We lined strips across the naked portion and used the butcher’s twine to help secure it.
After this was all said and done, I learned from reading BarbecueBible.com that you can cover the bacon weave with plastic wrap and gently roll it with a rolling pin to tighten the weave. As a result, the rolling helps to expand the dimensions of the weave slightly. Doing so ((MAY)) have helped to cover the pork loin a little better. We will definitely try this next time to see how it does.

Nutrition

Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 505mg | Potassium: 773mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 10.2% | Vitamin C: 0.3% | Calcium: 2.5% | Iron: 8%
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