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We often brine lean meats like smoked pork tenderloin however, this time I changed it up and injected butter instead and yes, it was something to write home about.
These lean, delicious cuts cook up quick in the smoker and they can even handle being cooked a little higher if you want to get them done faster.. can't beat a deal like that.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Smoker Temp: 225°F (107°C)
- Meat Finish Temp: 145°F (63°C)
- Recommended Wood: Cherry
- 1 (or more) pork tenderloins
- Butter, melted
- Jeff's Texas style rub (make it yourself | order bottled product)
These cuts usually weigh in at about 16-18 ounces each and you should be able to feed 5 people with 2 pork tenderloins. If you want leftovers, throw on an extra one.
It may be helpful to note that these are nearly always sold two pork tenderloins per package.
The meat is very lean and rivals other lean meats such as chicken breast in “healthiness”.
I recommend spending some time removing some of the tough skin and/or fat on the outside of these using a very sharp knife.
I don't inject meat very often but when I do, I have learned to always cover it with a piece of plastic.. I don't like wearing whatever I'm injecting.
Just use cling wrap or similar plastic food wrap and place it over the top of the meat you are injecting to prevent a geyser of warm melted butter from hitting you in the face.. been there, done that!
Fill the injector with warm melted butter then insert the needle through the plastic into the meat at about a 45° angle and depress the plunger to inject some of the butter into the meat.
You will see the meat plumping up where the butter is going in and it may also find a way to seep out somewhere, this is normal.
You may feel like all of it is coming out but it's not. Much of it stays in and that's what matters.
Inject butter into the meat about every 2 inches or so.
When I got finished injecting these, there was butter that had seeped out onto the outside of the pork tenderloins and this worked great as a binder.
First I placed the tenderloins into a foil pan.
It's not very salty so you can use plenty.
I recommend at least 2 hours of refrigeration but overnight is also great.
During this time the butter inside the meat hardens.
Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225°F (107°C) using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
I often get asked about using water pans in pellet smokers and while I have tried this, I don't find it necessary. If you use a water pan in your pellet smoker and it seems to work well for you, then please continue.
I used the Hasty Bake Legacy for these smoked pork tenderloins which does not utilize a water pan.
When the smoker is ready, place the pork tenderloins on the grate to cook.
I used a few pieces of cherry wood which worked great but other woods such as oak, pecan, apple, hickory, etc. will also work just fine.
If you maintain 225°F (107°C) you can expect the tenderloins to take about 2 hours to reach 145°F (63°C) in the thickest part.
Note: If you're looking for a digital meat thermometer, my guide called “6 best digital meat thermometers” will help you decide which one is best for you.
Note: Some so-called barbecue afficianodos online recommend you cook lean pork such as tenderloins and loin to 160°F (71°C). Please, in the name of everything that is good and lovely, do not, I repeat, do not, cook these to 160°F (71°C).
Brining helps, but at 160°F, pork tenderloin will be dry, tasteless and definitely not as good as it was 15 degrees earlier. Multiple studies and tests have been performed and pork is completely safe to eat at 145°F and even lower than that with ample rest periods. Don't let fear of something that no longer exists stop you from enjoying these at their prime finish temperature.
Okay, rant over.
I think the butter helps a lot in making sure these end up juicy and tender. One thing to keep in mind is that these are also pretty versatile and can handle higher, even grilling temperatures, if you're in a hurry. At 275°F (135°C), you should be able to get them done in about an hour.
I love putting a sear on any meat I am cooking on the Hasty Bake.. it's such an easy thing to do since you simply raise the charcoal pan and remove the heat deflector.
You can also use a gas grill, griddle or even the broil function on your oven to sear these.
To sear: When they reach an internal temperature of about 125°F in the thickest part, place them over high heat and let them brown to your liking on all sides.
Feel free to remove them at 140°F (60°C) as the carryover cooking will bring them on up to 145°F (63°C) while they rest.
Resting after searing is always a great idea, just tent some foil over the meat for a few minutes while the temperature settles down and the juices redistribute throughout the meat.
When ready, slice the meat into pencil thick slices and serve immediately.
Butter Injected Smoked Pork Tenderloin
- 4 Pork tenderloins (2 feeds about 5 people)
- ¼ lb butter (melted)
- ¼ cup Jeff's Texas style rub (about 1 TBS on each tenderloin)
- Trim the silver skin and clumps of fat from the outside of the meat.
- Cover the tenderloins with plastic wrap.
- Melt 1/4 lb of salted butter and use a meat injector to inject as much butter as possible into each tenderloin. Inject 1 ounce about every 2 inches. More is ok.
- Season the pork tenderloins on all sides with Jeff's Texas style rub
- Refrigerate the meat for at least 2 hours but overnight is better.
- Smoke the pork at 225°F (107°C) for approximately 2 hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
- If you choose to sear the pork, remove them from the smoker at 125 degrees and place them on a hot grill, griddle or under the oven broiler to sear the edges. Make sure they reach 145°F (63°C) before calling them done.
- Rest the finished pork under tented foil for a few minutes before slicing.
- Slice pencil thick and serve right away.