Braided and Smoked Pork Tenderloin

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I'll make no bones about the fact that I really love smoked pork tenderloin but when I saw a picture a while back of it cut into partial strips and then braided, I knew I had to give it a try in the smoker.

I will be the first to admit that this is a beautiful presentation but my thinking is that by doing it this way, each little strand will also get a little extra one on one time with the delicious smoke flavor that can only be imparted in a real live smoker.

My 10 year old son helped me with this experiment and you will notice in the pictures below that he just had to try a little something extra with his pork tenderloin.

He really put a lot of himself into his multi-tentacled piece of meat and it ended up looking more like a strange sea creature than anything else. He really enjoyed it and I loved the fact that he was helping me and at least being interested in the art of cooking.

In the end, all of the braided and smoked pork tenderloins were amazingly tender, flavorful and moist beyond words and I must have devoured at least half a pound while I sliced it up.

Braided and Smoked Pork Tenderloin

 Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 2.25 hours | Smoker Temp: 225 F | Meat Finish Temp: 145 F | Recommended Wood: Apple and/or Cherry

What You'll Need
How to Prepare the Meat

In my neck of the woods, the pork tenderloins usually come (2) to a package and they are relatively inexpensive.

Remove from package and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel.


Using a very sharp knife, cut each tenderloin in half lengthwise.


The (2) halves laid out nicely;-)


Very carefully slice each half into three equal strands. This does NOT have to be perfect but just do the best you can.

Start cutting about 1 inch from one end to keep the strands together.


Braid the three strands of the pork tenderloin.


Poke a toothpick through all of the strands at the end to keep them intact.


Place the braided pork tenderloin in a foil pan if you wish to keep the work area cleaner and apply some olive oil to the meat.

Note: you can also use mustard, jelly, honey, etc. instead of the oil to help the original rub to stick better.


Adding the Rub

On my first one, I applied the oil and the rub after it was braided. On my second time around, I applied the oil and rub BEFORE braiding and it worked so much better.

My rub is not overly salty and adds just the right amount of flavor to the meat.

Perfect and ready for smoking!


You will notice that I did (2) regular braided pork tenderloins then (1) was wrapped in bacon. My son's version is the 3rd one in, next to the bacon wrapped version.

As usual, I placed them on a Bradley rack to make it super easy to carry them to and from the smoker.

A note on the Bradley racks: I have had a few of you email me and ask me why I promote the Bradley smoker in almost every newsletter. The answer is that I don't. I do have a Bradley and it is an excellent electric smoker in my opinion but it is the Bradley racks that come with the smoker that I am constantly mentioning.

Note 1/23/17: These Bradley racks are difficult to find sometimes and so I ordered a few of the Weber grill pans as a replacement and they also work very well. If you do not want to purchase these special pans, a cooling rack will work just fine.


Once the tenderloins are ready to go, leave them on the cabinet for a few minutes while you go get the smoker ready.

Smoke Time

You will want to maintain about 225°F on these for about 2 hours and 15 minutes. It may take slightly more or less time depending on how well you hold your temperature, how accurate your thermometer is, how big the tenderloins where starting out, and any number of other factors.

Use apple and/or cherry wood for smoke for great results.

The MOST important thing to know is the internal temperature of the meat.

The pork is done and should be promptly removed from the heat when they reach an internal temperature of 145°F.

At this temperature the meat is juicy, tender and full of flavor. Go past this point and this very lean meat will begin to dry out.

It took mine 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach 145°F.


Finish and Serve

My two normal braided and smoked pork tenderloins.

Braided Smoked Pork Tenderloin

Smoked pork tenderloin is often sliced and used on a slider or just by itself with a couple of sides but this time I wanted to use the meat on an awesome salad. I simply sliced the meat as I normally would and because of the way it was braided, it fell apart into perfect little bite-sized pieces that would be perfect atop a salad.

Here's a closeup..


Here is all of the meat in a serving dish so everyone can top their salads as they see fit.


Oops! (No picture of the salad… I do apologize for that)

Another serving idea: This would be awesome served on top of a bed of rice or even some noodles. This meat is so tender and delicious and would probably work in many different dishes if you just let your imagination run wild a little bit.

Jeffrey's Braided Pork Tenderloin (alias: Sea Creature)

He to them generously.

They were then separated them with 3 on the left and 3 on the right.


Each group was braided..


Then the (2) braided groups were braided together..


Smoked at 225 for 2.25 hours;-)


Be sure to let your kids/grandkids help you in the kitchen and outdoors with the cooking. Who doesn't like to play with their food and it is something that they will treasure for life.

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  1. When I initially commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify
    me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment
    is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there
    is a way you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!

    1. Open one of your notifications that you received and you should see a link at the bottom that says, “manage your subscriptions”. You should be able to turn off the subscriptions that you don’t want there.

  2. I have made your BBQ sauce several times and always seem use all of it, my family loves it, need to make me a double batch! Your rubs are also fantastic!

  3. The braided tenderloins look fabulous Jeff. Great to see The Bug Catcher is getting into the craft. Smoke On brother.

  4. I tried this with a full size pork loin and it came out fantastic. I smoked it at about 200-210 deg with apple wood. I turned it over once at 2 hrs, then let it go for another 2 hrs. Placed it in aluminum pan with apple juice covered for 1 hr. . I was also doing baby backs at the same time . The loin was for supper later in the week. I served it with a balsamic vineger and rasberry based BBQ sauce! Smoke ring was perfect and the rub really gets into the meat better with braiding. looks good also. I purchased your rub and sauce recipes over a yr ago and they have really opened up my creativity for BBQ ! Thanks Jeff. ( Cajun smoker from Cabelas, propane with water tray )

  5. Jeff – Love your web site and the rub recipe.  I haven’t tried the sauce yet, but looking forward to trying it soon.

    I had a family dinner planned for last weekend and some do not eat pork, so I used a beef roast and followed the basic braid recipe.  Everyone loved it!

    I used your rub recipe on the braids and let them marinade in a vacuum marinator for about an hour before starting the smoke.  I smoked it in my Weber Kettle grill for a little over two hours and put some commercial BBQ sauce on during the last 30 minutes.  Came out moist, with great smoke flavor.  Lots of compliments from my wife’s uncle – who is also a smoker.

  6. This was a terrible waste of pork tenderloin. The smoke flavor was overpowing and the meat was dry. Our tenderloins reached 140 degrees in an hour and a half.  We dipped the pieces in barbeque sauce to make them edible.  We covered half of our braids with bacon and those were less dry.  Definitely will not make this again.

  7. Jeff,

    I have a good sauce that I want to make better. I would like to remove the brown sugar and replace with some dark, pure maple syrup. I realize I am removing a dry ingredient and replacing with a wet one so my main question is: What to add to get back to the nice thick sauce I made in the past? And would you replace 1 cup brown sugar with 1 cup maple syrup?

    Read your braided tenderloin recipe and might try to use syrup instead of the EVOO to get the rub to stick. :-)




  8. I recently bought your book, Smoking Meat, at Amazon.com. Thank you for all your effort that you put into this "Smokers' Tome!!!! I have read it cover to cover and am starting over again. I am fairly new to smoking, but your recipes and tips are wonderful. I have joined smokingmeatforums.com as well, what a great bunch of people. Thank you again for all your time and effort you have put into this wonderful craft of smoking meat.


    Mark Nelson

  9. I impressed my friends and family on the fourth by serving the braided tenderloin and chicken legs and thighs. For my first attempt at using my smoker, your rub and sauce, it was a huge success. Not only was presentation beautiful, but the favors were awesome. I made way too much, but had plenty of volunteers taking home leftovers. 

    Thanks for great step-by-step instructions and great recipes, Jeff!

  10. Wow these turned out great. When tenderloin was $2.99/lb, at my market, I had to give your braid method a try. Cation, these cook FAST. They were at 162 before I checked the temp but the meat was not dried out by my Smokin-Tex.

    1. I used the area on the end that was not split making sure the tip of the probe was in the center but you can insert the thermometer probe in any of the braided strands located in the center of the tenderloin. I used my super fast thermapen and I was getting very consistent readings on all of the tenderloins, regardless of which strand I used. 

      145 degrees F is the official USDA temperature for whole, unground pork to be done and safe to eat.

  11. Is the braided pork tenderloin cooked indirect or on direct fire?  Where can I purchase or order woods such as pecan , peach ,cherry etc.  We are able to get apple which works well but hard to find others.  (There is plenty of oak and hickory,but strong flavor)

    1. These are best cooked indirect at about 225 degrees. Preferably you will have a water pan or something similar between the fire and the meat to make sure there is no radiant heat or otherwise hitting the meat head on.

      I am not sure if you are wanting chips or chunks but I have seen cherry fairly often in walmart as well as my local supermarkets. Ace hardware (if you have one nearby) is a great source for cherry as well as some other fruit wood chips and chunks.

      Amazon.com has some wood chips/chunks as well but I have not ordered them and I cannot attest to the quality. 

      If you know of any orchards nearby, they will usually have limbs and branches that drop and they may be willing to give/sell you some of the pieces which could be cut up and used in your smoker.

      After storms, look for downed fruit trees and don’t be afraid to offer to clean up the mess.. I have acquired entire truck loads of wood this way in the past with just me, myself and my Stihl chainsaw.