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Brined and Grilled Pork Loin Roast

pork loin roast on grill

If you have never brined your meats before cooking, you don’t know what juicy and tender is all about! Brining is the trick many professional cooks use to produce tender and juicy meats. I first tried brining with my last Thanksgiving turkey and I felt like immediately calling every former Thanksgiving guest to apologize for cheating them on past turkeys. Well this week, I wanted to cook a pork loin roast on the grill. Pork loin is very lean and lean meats have a tendency to dry out if not cooked properly. To counter-act this tendency, I decided the roast would be a good candidate for brining. I am so glad I decided to brine this pork loin roast because the result was awesome! Most of our simple grilling recipes don’t require a lot of prep time, but this one requires a little more planning. Plan on at least 12 hours of brining, overnight and up to 24 hours is optimal. Trust me on this one though, it is worth it!

What is brining?
Brining is the unsung hero of meat cooking, in my opinion. The actual brining process is similar to marinating. Both processes submerge the meat in a solution and allow is to absorb for some period of time. Unlike marinating though, brining actually packs the cells of the meat full of moisture. In other words, brining actually hydrates the meat. We all know that the opposite of hydration is dehydration, which unless we are making jerky, is a griller’s worst nightmare! The result is an extra juicy and extra tender hunk of meat!

The most common and most important component of brining is salt. In many cases brown sugar is also used to offset some of the saltiness of the brine solution. Once you have the main components (salt, water and sugar), you can pretty much throw any herb in there you want. Here’s my basic brining solution (good for about a 4 pound pork loin roast in this case):

Ingredients and Directions for Making the Brine:
4 – 5 pound pork loin roast (ask the butcher, you want the nice fat layer on the top as well!)
6 cups water
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 Bay leaves
1 handful of peppercorns
4 sprigs of Thyme
2 sprigs of Rosemary

  1. Combine the brown sugar and salt in the water and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir until dissolved and then add the rest of the brine ingredients.
  3. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely to room temperature.
  5. Once the solution has completely cooled (we don’t want to start cooking the meat!), add the pork loin roast and brine solution to a Ziplock type bag. Seal and squeeze out as much air as possible.
  6. Put the sealed bag with the now brining pork roast into a pot or large bowl, one that can hold all of the liquid in case something happens to the bag (speaking from experience here!). Place the bowl containing the brining meat into a refrigerator for at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours.

How to Cook a Pork Loin Roast on a Gas Grill:
Ok, so now we know about brining and we have soaked that pork loin roast in the brining solution for at least 12 hours. It’s time to start thinking about how to cook this bad boy on the grill. Given the fact that these roasts are a little on the large side, we definitely want to cook them over indirect heat for a longer ammount of time. The process of roasting a pork loin on the grill is similar to roasting one in the oven, except for the smoke! So don’t forget about the smoke pouches for this one! Let’s take a look at the process in detail:

  1. Remove the pork roast from the refrigerator at least 45 minute prior to cooking. We want to give it a little time to warm to room temperature, so remove it from the brining solution and leave it on a platter on the kitchen counter while we prep the grill and smoke pouches.
  2. Prepare at least 2 smoke pouches worth of wood chips by soaking them in water for about 30 minutes. Once soaked, form the smoke pouches as detailed in this article.
  3. After about 45 minutes, rinse and pat the pork roast dry.
  4. Rub the pork loin with fresh ground black pepper.
  5. Light the grill to high.
  6. Once the grill is heated up, add the smoke pouches to the sides of the grill so they can start to smolder.
  7. Sear the pork loin roast on all sides and create some of those nice grill marks that make us look like we know what we are doing!grilled pork loin roast
  8. Once the pork roast is seared, turn off the middle burner(s) on your grill to prepare for indirect grilling.pork loin roast
  9. We want to elevate the pork roast a little so that we can place a drip pan underneath. If you are able to fit one under the grates, go ahead and do so. My grill doesn’t have a separate middle grate, so I use a rack (from a roasting pan) to elevate the roast. As you’ll notice in the photo, I didn’t have an aluminum drip pan so I made one out of aluminum foil :).
  10. Place the seared pork loin on the grate (or rack) fat side up! Roasting meats fat side up also aides in keeping them juicy!
  11. We have mentioned this before, but don’t trust your grill’s built in thermometer. We want to roast this pork loin at around 300 degrees, so go ahead and place the thermometer right next to the pork loin on the grill.
  12. Now close the lid and your job is done for at least an hour! Make sure you monitor the thermometer for the first 20 minutes or so to get the temperature right. Adjust the “on” burners to get the thermometer to 300 degrees. Also, keep an eye on the smoke pouches and add more if needed to keep that smoke going!
  13. After about an hour, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and then close the lid.
  14. Continue cooking until the meat thermometer measures around 150 degrees.  This is where a good instant read meat thermometer in invaluable.  Don’t use one of those metal dial thermometers, treat yourself to the highly accurate and splash-proof Thermapen.  It will last you a lifetime and never needs calibrated.  I must have for cooking and grilling.  Get it here.  If you are an iPhone owner, check out our free MeatTemps reference app that allows you to easily look up the proper internal temperatures for meat.
  15. Remove the pork loin roast from the grill, place on a platter and cover with a tent of aluminum foil and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

I have done my share of grilling pork; including BBQ ribs, tenderloins and anything else that can be found on a pig.  I seriously do not recall ever eating a more delicious pork roast. The brining definitely kicked up the juiciness and tenderness of the pork loin. Taking the time to cook the pork slow over smoke adds just that much more flavor to this grill recipe. I made a lot in this case and I was happy to eat pork leftovers for about a week. I had sandwiches and even pork quesadillas and was upset to come home and find that my wife had thrown the rest of the roast away. I know it was getting old, I just didn’t want to let go!

40 Responses

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April

11-16-2009

I prepared this for a dinner party last night. I had the same cut of meat, and wanted to grill, but had concerns about dryness. I’m so glad I found this recipe, this was incredibly moist, and every bite was infused with garlic and rosemary! Preparing the brining solution was literally as easy as boiling water and stirring. Two hours after dinner I was still receiving compliments such as, “That was the best piece of meat to ever enter my mouth”! Another comment, from my husband, the griller, “You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten meat brined for 24 hours then smoked in a grill”. I came back to grab the URL to send to everyone at the dinner party, they all wanted the recipe.

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Steve

11-16-2009

April, that is great to hear! It is one of my favorites as well. Thanks so much for sending the link to all of your friends!
Steve

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K. Myers

02-03-2010

I’m almost 40, and have eaten a lot of pork loin in my life. This recipe, hands down, produced the best pork loin I’ve ever had. It’s so simple to prepare, too.

Thanks!

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April

03-19-2010

No problem Steve, but the thanks are all mine! My next “grown up” dinner party is tomorrow night, and I am back because we are using this recipe again!

This time I’ll keep the URL handy to pass around. I just love receiving so many compliments for something SO easy!

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larry

04-13-2010

awesome recipe, i made it over the weekend and it was a hit, we all loved it. will do it again for sure

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ask eddie

06-15-2010

Everyone loved it.

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pLoin

09-06-2010

Today is the 2nd time I’ve used this recipe…the first time I cooked too hot but it still turned out wonderful! This time I’ve turned down the burners a little bit so we’ll how this one turns out. Thanks for the recipe!

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Keith Emms

11-27-2010

A short cut to the above is to put the sugar and salt into cold water and use the kitchen wizz or the hand beater to make the brine solution

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Joe Gouveia

12-19-2010

I used your instructions above for making the brine, but I added a bit to it. First, I poked several holes in the roast with a fork. I then rubbed it with several types of rub and let it sit over night, wrapped in foil, in the frig. The next day I made your brine but I doubled the thyme and rosemary and cut the salt in half. Had enough salt in the rubs to compensate. I also added 1/2 cup of chopped garlic. I then put everything in a big zip lock bag and again let it sit overnight in the frig, mixing it up every couple of hours. The next day (3rd day) I pulled it from the frig and let it sit for 1/2 hour and then started up the BBQ. No gas for me. Charcoal and wood, the only way to go. I then put the roast on a spit and rotisserie smoked that roast for 3 1/2 hours. When I finally sliced into it, the aroma was awesome. There was a smoke ring all around the roast and the juices were flowing. When served, we added a roasted raspberry chipotle sauce. My wife and I had 6 other people over last night to enjoy this fine roast and when everyone took their first bite, the compliments were flying. The flavors were awesome, to say the least. Thank you for the brining idea.

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Matt

04-29-2011

Used this recipe for my first pork smoke. I had a combination of red oak and charcoal. The 3.75lb roast soaked for 24 hours in the brine. Everyone said that it was good, but I thought it was brined a little too long. Next time I am going to try 20 hours, and add garlic to the brine. Even though I thought that it was brined too long, this was very good. Thank you for the recipe.

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Jane R

05-10-2011

Great recipe! My husband and son-in-law grilled a full pork loin cut into two 4 lb pieces for a party of 20 over mother’s day weekend. Due to some time constraints we couldn’t follow the details of your instructions: so the loins were only brined 8 hrs and in an open brine in a pan (oops out of ziplocks!)We used dried rather than fresh seasonings. To speed along the cooling of the brine I heated and dissolved everything in a couple cups of water and then added the rest of the water to cool it. Also couldn’t find a drip pan… The loin still turned out GREAT — flavorful and moist. Everyone said it was the best grill pork ever! Thanks.

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Herabec

05-17-2011

I just wanted to say that it isn’t the leanness of the meat that makes it dry out so much- it’s the nature of Pork.

When pork protein denatures (the structure of the protein irreversibly changes-cooking), it collapses into coils that squeeze water molecules out of the cells. The brining helps to swell the cells before cooking, meaning that when the protein does denature, it can afford to lose more water without becoming dry.

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JimBo

07-09-2011

Be careful to read the directions on your loin. Many packers are injecting their loins with a salt water solution, and if you brine an already salted porky pig, you may be overwhelmed by the salt. But then, I’m a nut about reading directions.

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Atxrandy

07-21-2011

It was great! I can’t wait to try it again. Maybe with more spice in it. Thank you for the info.

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Dot

10-08-2011

Wow! No kidding, this is a keeper. My whole family is stuffed from over eating. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

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J. Barrett Carter

12-24-2011

I followed this recipe and added a few things. Thank you for posting it!!! I will be cooking the loin tomorrow.

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John Jackson

03-28-2012

Can I save the brining solution, and if so, should it be kept refrigerated?

Thanks, John

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Steve

03-28-2012

I would not keep anything that I soaked raw meat in personally.

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Denise Johnson

06-14-2012

Does this also work as well baking the loin in a electric roaster. I have to do 30 pounds total. I am thinking about 325 for temperature.

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Steve

06-14-2012

Yes, the brining process will still work.

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Ryan

07-06-2012

I attempted this for a small fourth of July get together, I’m an experienced griller but had never smoked or indirect grilled. This was Amazing!! There was not a peice left, and have had ample request to do it again very soon. My brother in law is begging for me to send some back to college with him and my 4 year old wants it for his birthday this weekend. The only thing I did different was I did not soak the wood chips. Thank you , amazing and pretty simple.

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Bill

07-18-2012

This turned out awesome! Even used the brick method to elevate the meat. I had my roast soaking in it’s brine bath for 18 hours and cooked to an internal temp of 152. Turned out fabulous! Thank you for sharing this! Oh and yes I have had 2 days worth of pork sandwich for lunch from the leftovers.

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PorkChop

08-30-2012

I followed your recipe and instruction using a roast of pork, and man, was it amazing. I’d never smoked before, but always wanted to. Moist, smokey, and tender all the way through. My 8 year old twin sons were drooling over it.

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Swadeeka

09-09-2012

Thought i got lucky the first time i made this recipe-so i made it again… It cant lose. Best pork Ive tasted. High praise coming from a family of meatatarian snobs. Also, i brined too much so i froze half of the brined cut ..Thawed it 2 weeks later and it was just as good.

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Tim M

09-12-2012

Making this tomorrow night, so preping now. Wondering if this will work just as well with a full roast (with chop bones)? Suspect cook time will need to be adjusted. Also, an internal temp of 150 seems high. Don’t you want to take it off grill arounf 135-140 to rest and continue cooking to reach 150?

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paul mcmanus (in Ireland)

11-03-2012

Going to try this process on pork loin but roast in oven. Looking forward to the results.

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paul mcmanus (in Ireland)

11-04-2012

It was well worth doing! Meat was so moist and tender. Probably best joint I’ve ever cooked. I will definatrly use the brine method again.

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steve

01-06-2013

Love the recipe! I of course like many found this via Google as I was in need of a good loin brine. I’ve been brining meats for years, just not pork loins, so it worked out great! A tip for those in case it’s needed…

You may be turned off by the “come to room temp” part. I found this at 8:00 at night and knew that wasn’t an option as that is usually a 2-4 hour wait time. The tip is, use 4 cups of water at the start (rather than 6), follow the instructions, rest it for 30 minutes then add 2 cups of ice. Your brine is now ready to go.

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Deborah Greenstein

06-16-2013

Very, very good recipe. Unfortunately, I was impatient and didn’t give the packets enough time to smoke. My roast was done before the chips really began to smoke. However, I think that the next time I make this (and there WILL be a next time), I will cut back slightly on the kosher salt and use a thicker roast. I used a cumin/black pepper rub just because cumin is wonderful on pork.

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