Pork loin is one of the primary cuts of pork meat. It comes from the upper side of the pig’s rib cage. It’s has a rich balance of both fats and flavor, making it an excellent addition to any barbeque menu.
It’s usually a broader and thicker cut than most other portions. So, the best way to smoke it is to go for the classic low-and-slow process. Smoking allows the loin to generate those juicy flavors without going dry as you cook. There are a few things you have to consider when smoking a pork loin. And the choice of wood is one of the most crucial bits.
Why Wood choice matters
As any barbeque aficionado will admit, wood has a crucial role to play in smoking meat. The heat-source may depend on what type of smoker you use. But the primary source of smoke is always the wood.
The smoke engulfs the meat, which, for one, helps ‘cooks’ the meat along with the heat. More importantly, it gives the pork loin that distinct smoky flavor you’re looking for. Sometimes the drippings of the meat can fall on the wood. The smoke can assimilate these drippings’ aroma back to the meat, enhancing the flavor even further.
Then comes the distinct aromatic effects of different types of wood. Not all woods have the same impact on the meat. You’ll also find along the way that some hardwoods pair well with specific meat. Today, we want to look at a few varieties that go nicely with smoking pork loins. We’ll keep it short and informative so that you get the maximum takeaway in minimum reading time. Let’s get on to it!
Best Wood for smoking pork loin
Remember that wood choice can change as you go along. In fact, I highly recommend trying out your combinations to get distinct flavors that suit your tastes. It’s a learning process that does take some time. But once you get a good grip on how it works, you’ll never smoke the same way again.
In the meantime, here are some of our top picks for smoking pork loin.
Apple is a fruitwood that gives off delicious and often sweet flavors. But the best part of applewood is that it can go well with most smoking dishes. So, trying it out on a pork loin was a no-brainer. The fruity flavor can complement the rich taste of a well-smoked pork loin. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stand-alone dish or a component of another recipe. Applewood is just a great overall choice.
No list of smoking woods is complete without the mention of hickory. It’s a classic choice of wood that blends with any style of grilling, smoking, and barbecuing. Hickory wood makes our pick for pork loins because it’s incredibly versatile. You can pair hickory with almost any other wood for a distinct taste and aroma. One thing to remember here is that hickory is known for intense, robust flavors. So, it can get a bit too overpowering if you don’t use it in moderation.
- Cherry Wood
When it comes to smoking pork loins, you just can’t go wrong with cherry wood. It may not be what that obscure online recipe recommends, but it sure works well! Cherry wood can develop a spicy, sweet taste that surprisingly suits many meat varieties. So, don’t hesitate to try it out on other meats besides pork.
- Orange Wood
The thing that makes orange wood stand out is the unmistakable, citrusy smell. Pork loins come with a good portion of fats. The citric smell of orange wood can balance the fats without compromising on taste. It’s an excellent choice for other cuts of pork meat too. If you’re in the mood to try out a new combo, you can pair it with hickory (a more intense flavor) to give you a robust but balanced aroma.
- Pecan Wood
Pecan wood goes well with chops and pork ribs, in addition to pork loins. So, it’s a go-to choice if you’re having trouble deciding. Of course, it can come down to a matter of taste too. But generally, it should work for most standard recipes. Pecan wood is also on the milder side, so you can always add a stronger flavored wood to keep the effect without overdoing the pecan wood.
You can count peach wood as one of the citrusy woods. So, there’s no doubt it makes a great pair with pork, especially if we’re talking about pork loins. I wouldn’t recommend pairing it with other citrus woods because you don’t want that overpowering tangy taste. On its own, it’s mild enough to work with other more robust woods.
So, these are some of the best woods for smoking pork loin. Most of them work incredibly well for other cuts of pork meat too. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to rely on your own experience and tastes when it comes to wood. You can use these as overall parameters, but feel free to explore your own when it comes to the details.
You’ll also find variations in the flavors as you use the same woods for different cuts of meats. Most of these woods work great for pulled pork. And you can try them in combinations for beef or lamb. You’ll find that other factors affect the taste as much as the choice of wood.
Ultimately, it depends on you. As a beginner, the flavors may be too nuanced to notice at first. But as you keep at it, you’ll start forming your palate on what works and what doesn’t.