Chicken breast is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of low fat protein sources, but you shouldn’t forget about pork tenderloin. It’s an affordable lean protein source with a similar macronutrient profile to chicken breast. This low fat content, however, makes it fairly easy to overcook and dry out pork tenderloin. That’s why low and slow cooks like this smoked BBQ pork tenderloin are the best way to keep the pork juicy and tender.
You’ll find a visual recipe walkthrough below with ingredient notes and extra tips for smoking and using your Traeger grill. There’s a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post if you’d rather get right to it. Just hop back here if you have any questions.
BBQ Pork Tenderloin Rub
Speaking of chicken, I used the seasoning blend from my slow cooker BBQ chicken thighs for this smoked pork tenderloin. It’s a combination of brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt, and black pepper. This is a sweet, smoky, and slightly spicy rub. If you wanted a bit more heat, you could add some cayenne and chili powder like in this Sweet Texas Dry Rub.
You could also use any pre-mixed rub. I know plenty of Traeger fans love the Meat Church rubs.
Unlike my Traeger smoked chicken breast, this recipe doesn’t call for any oil or binding agent. You’re welcome to use some, but the rub will melt in just fine within 20-30 minutes.
What is silver skin?
Some remaining fat is okay, but you’ll want to remove any silver skin, a tough connective tissue, before seasoning the pork tenderloin. Silver skin won’t render or dissolve like other connective tissues such as collagen, meaning it will make your finished product tough and chewy.
You should be able to spot any silver skin but if you need help, check out this post on how to trim a pork tenderloin.
Smoking the Pork Tenderloin
I smoked the BBQ pork tenderloins at 225ºF for around 2 hours in a Traeger Pro 575 with Signature pellets. There’s a good chance you’ll have tenderloins that are different sizes. So if you’re using the Traeger probe or checking internal temperature with a meat thermometer, use the largest part of the smaller tenderloin as it will cook faster.
You’re looking to get the pork up to at least 145ºF per the USDA’s food safety guidelines. If you like a little less pink, you can take it to around 155ºF. Just be careful not to overcook. Like I mentioned in the intro, pork tenderloin can be unforgiving like chicken breast.
Brushing with BBQ Sauce
Once the crust has developed, in the last 20-30 minutes on the smoker, you’ll want to brush the smoked pork tenderloin with BBQ sauce. This adds extra flavor and helps prevent the pork from drying out. I used the Trader Joe’s sriracha garlic BBQ sauce from my BBQ smoked chicken meatballs recipe, but you can use any BBQ sauce.
You could also use a glaze with brown sugar and fruit juice or something acidic like hot sauce for a bit more kick. Or if you wanted to make your own, check out this honey BBQ sauce recipe.
What to Serve with Smoked Pork Tenderloin
In the photo above, you’re looking at air fryer smashed potatoes and citrusy garlic green beans. While you’d need to do a little time tinkering, my Traeger twice baked potatoes would be perfect for serving with pork tenderloin. Here’s a handful of other ideas:
- healthy mac and cheese
- mashed cauliflower or healthy mashed potatoes
- air fryer baked potatoes
- crispy oven roasted cauliflower gnocchi
- air fryer roasted carrots and potatoes
For more ideas, check out this post with 20 pork tenderloin side dishes.
And if you have leftovers, I like dicing some up to make pork tenderloin fried cauliflower rice.
Whatever you end up serving your Traeger smoked pork tenderloin with, I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments or a recipe review!
- 2 Pork Tenderloins (about 1.25 lbs each)
- 1/4 C (48g) Brown Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
- 1/2 Tbsp Dry Mustard
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 C (60g) BBQ Sauce*
- Trim any fat and silver skin from the pork tenderloins and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Mix all the spices together before rubbing on the pork. Let the rub melt in at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat the smoker to 225ºF with the lid closed for about 10 minutes.
- Place the pork tenderloin on the smoker and cook for 75-90 minutes until the pork is around 115ºF to 125ºF before brushing with BBQ sauce.
- Smoke an additional 25-35 minutes until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF to 155ºF.
- Let the pork rest at room temperature for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
*I used Trader Joe's roasted garlic and sriracha BBQ sauce.
Each serving has 5 WW SmartPoints (blue).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 4 oz (about 4 slices)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190Total Fat: 3gCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 29g