Unlike pork tenderloin, pork loin takes some time to cook on the grill. Depending on the size, you’re looking at more than an hour. To know exactly how long to cook pork loin on the grill, you’ll need to factor in the following information.
Don’t worry, it’s not difficult. But it’s important stuff to know.
So, get ready to uncover your charcoal or gas grill and cook some delicious eats. Of course, the more, the merrier….so invite your friends or family to BBQ along with you.
**Note: If you’re cooking pork tenderloin (not pork loin), jump over to this article instead: How Long to Grill Pork Tenderloin Per Pound. As I’ll soon explain, pork loin and tenderloin are not the same thing!
Is Pork Loin a Good Cut?
Pork loin is sometimes referred to as center-cut pork roast, center-cut pork loin (a boneless cut), center-cut rib roast (a bone-in cut). It is tender and has a juicy fat cap. It’s not as good of a cut as pork tenderloin, but it’s still a good (and affordable) cut of meat.
The pork loin is the muscle that runs along the back between the back fat and the ribs. It’s a tender cut since this area does not move a lot when the hog is in motion.
Pork loin is usually sold boneless, making it easy to slice once cooked. However, you can sometimes find a bone-in cut, too.
It has a mild flavor but is moist after cooking thanks to the fat cap.
Is Pork Loin Different From Pork Tenderloin?
While they sometimes get confused, pork loin and pork tenderloin are not the same cut of meat. They do not cook the same and taste different. The main differences are size, cook times, and price.
The most obvious difference between pork loin and tenderloin is their size and shape. Most pork tenderloins are about 1 to 1.5 lb in size, while pork loin is typically sold in the 2 – 5 lb range.
Pork loin is fatter and broader than a tenderloin. It is usually a boneless cut of meat, but you can find the bone-in variety. The boneless cut makes it easier to slice after cooking.
A pork tenderloin is narrower and longer. It does not have a fat cap like pork loin. It’s the leanest cut of pork and cooks quickly.
Should I Buy Pork Loin or Pork Tenderloin?
Pork tenderloin is the superior cut of pork but, of course, that comes with a bigger price tag. If you are cooking for yourself or a few people, then you should splurge on a tenderloin if you can.
However, if you’re cooking for more than 2 or 3 people or have a constrained budget (who doesn’t?!), then pork loin is an excellent option. It’s more economical but still gives juicy tender results if you cook it correctly. (And I’m going to tell you how to cook it correctly.)
The other thing to consider is how much time you have. Pork tenderloin cooks much faster than pork loin. A standard 1.5 lb pork tenderloin is done in only 12-15 minutes. Whereas, as you’ll soon see, pork loin takes around 1.5 hours or more. So, if you’re short on time, go with a tenderloin.
Gas Grill vs. Charcoal Grill for Pork Loin
Using a gas vs. charcoal grill can affect cook time, which is why this is the last thing you need to know before we get to the nitty-gritty. Both can cook pork loin to perfection, but a charcoal grill requires more babysitting.
In reality, which one you should use really comes down to which one you own! But, if you have access to both, then the gas grill is better for cooking pork loin. Here’s why…
Benefits of Using a Gas Grill
The biggest advantage a gas grill has over a charcoal grill is the ability to better control the temperature. It cooks pork loin more evenly and predictably.
In addition, you do not need a long warm-up time when cooking pork on a gas grill. The heating time is usually only about 5-10 minutes. If you get home late from work or sports practice, you can have your food ready to cook in no time!
Benefits of Using a Charcoal Grill
The biggest benefit of cooking with a charcoal grill is its temperature flexibility. It can cook at a temperature as low as you want or as high as a 1,200 degrees F temperature! Although, that doesn’t really come in handy with a pork loin. The charcoal smoke doesn’t add much to pork, either.
The biggest drawback of cooking with charcoal is having to continuously monitor and adjust to keep the temperature just right. Unstable temperature can greatly affect cook time in either direction.
It also takes a little longer to prep and preheat than gas but is usually ready to cook in about 30 minutes.
You also might see a more significant amount of clean-up with a charcoal grill, like needing to dispose of ash more often.
How Long to Cook Pork Loin on Grill Per Pound
Not to be confused with fast-cooking pork tenderloin, pork loin takes approximately 20 minutes per pound to cook over medium heat after searing each side for 5 minutes. However, actual cook time depends on when it reaches the safe internal temperature…
According to the USDA, the safe internal temperature for pork is 145 degrees F with a 3-minute rest time. However, you want to take out the pork before it reaches 145 degrees F. Why? Because the internal temp will continue to rise by 5-10 degrees after removing it from the heat. So, it’s best to take it out at 140 degrees F.
Furthermore, you want to let it rest for far longer than the USDA-recommended 3-minutes. For the juices to reabsorb and redistribute, you should rest it for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Let’s take a look at an example before I explain exactly how to grill pork loin…
How Long Does It Take to Grill a 4-Pound Pork Loin?
A 4-pound pork loin takes about 20 minutes of searing and 1 hour and 20 minutes of roasting. That’s a total cook time of 1 hour and 40 minutes. Factor in prep work and letting it rest for a minimum of 15 minutes, and you need about 2.5 hours all said and done.
But remember, actual cook time comes down to when you reach the internal temperature of 140 degrees F. The pork loin will continue to cook once removed from the heat, reaching the safe internal temp of 145 degrees while it’s resting.
Alright, now that we know about how long this is going to take, let’s get into how to cook pork loin on a grill…
How to Cook Pork Loin on Grill
The following steps outline what you need to do to grill a juicy whole pork loin that will be the hit of your BBQ bash!
Prepare the Pork Loin
The first step to good pork is prepping the meat. You can trim and prep up to 24 hours in advance to make your cook easy.
Trim excess fat and remove the silver skin (thin layer of connective tissue) from the pork loin. Silverskin is rigid and does not render during cooking, leaving your meat chewy. It turns into a very disagreeable bite.
To remove the silver skin, place the loin on a cutting surface. Gently work a sharp knife under one end of the silver skin. It should start to lift a little.
Once it does, you can use a paper towel to grab the corner of the silver skin to get some traction on it. Then pull gently on it, and it should lift up and away as one large piece. If the connective tissue does not come off as one large piece, repeat the same process until it is removed.
For the fat, trim off any chunks and trim down the fat cap to 1/4″ thick. You don’t want to trim too much fat off, as it adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat.
Season Your Meat
Seasoning your meat can enhance the natural flavor of the pork. There are many different ways you can approach seasoning. First, rub it down with a drizzle of olive oil. Then season well with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Or, add your favorite pork seasoning.
Set-Up Your Grill Zones
The following important factor to excellent pork loin is firing up the grill. No matter what heat source you choose, clean and oil the grill grates.
Now here’s the part that’s special to pork loins. You want to create two cooking zones in your grill. If using a gas grill, turn one side up to medium-high heat (about 375 to 450 degrees F). Then leave the other side unlit.
The medium-high zone is for direct heat cooking (searing to get a crisp crust and char). The unlit side is for indirect heat cooking that will bring the loin up to the ideal internal temperature.
If you’re using a charcoal grill, you can create two zones by simply raking the coals to one side of the grill. That side is the direct heat side. The side without coals is the indirect heat side.
Sear & Cook the Pork Loin
Once you place your pork on the grill, cook it over direct heat for 5 minutes on each side to sear it. Then move it over so that indirect cooking can bring it up to the ideal internal temperature of 140 degrees F. (Remember, it will reach the safe temp of 145 while it’s resting.)
The outside of the pork loin should have a mahogany color, and the interior of the meat should be rosy pink.
Let It Rest, Then Slice
Do not make the most common mistake when it comes to meat. Don’t cut right into it. Let the pork loin rest! This gives it time to finish cooking and allow the juices to settle for optimal flavor and juiciness.
Let it rest for 15 minutes before you slice it into 1/2″ slices and serve.
Easy Pork Loin Recipe
The following is an easy-to-make pork loin recipe for the grill! Don’t forget, this recipe is for pork loin, not for grilling pork tenderloin.
- 2-3 lb pork loin
- Kosher Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Garlic Powder, to taste
- (Or Favorite Pork Seasoning to taste)
1. Prepare the meat by trimming off all excess fat and removing the silver skin.
2. Rinse the pork loin and dry it with a paper towel.
3. Season the pork loin, let it rest and come to room temperature.
4. Preheat one side of the grill to medium-high heat (appx. 375 degrees F). Leave the other side of the grill unlit.
5. Place the pork loin over direct heat and sear each side for about 5 minutes.
6. Move the meat to the unlit side for indirect heat for the rest of the cook. It should take approximately 20 minutes per pound to reach the ideal internal temperature of 140 degrees F. Use an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to monitor the internal temp.
7. Once it reaches 140 degrees F, remove it from the grill. (While it rests, it’s temperature will continue to rise to reach the safe 145 degrees F.)
8. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
9. Slice into 1/2″ thick pieces and serve.
Other Types of Pork
Wondering what you should cook next? While pork loin and pork tenderloin are two delicious and popular cuts of pork, there are other cuts that you might enjoy as well.
Many cuts of pork go by the nickname “pork roast.” They include rib roasts, sirloin roasts, pork crown roasts, pork blade roasts, top loin roasts, Boston butts, pork loin roasts, and pork tenderloins.
These various cuts turn out well when cooked in the oven. But of course, pork loin is mouthwatering when grilled!
Generally speaking, boneless roasts cook well when tied with kitchen twine. You can ask your butcher to secure it for you.
Pork chops are another one that can describe different cuts of pork. You might find pork loin chops that are wonderful when pan-fried, broiled, or grilled.
Pork shoulder chops, sometimes called blade chops, are a tougher cut of meat. They are great when grilled, broiled, or pan-fried. But be sure to marinate or tenderize them before cooking to get the best consistency and flavor.
What about this mouth-watering cut of pork?
Many folks mistakenly think that the pork belly comes from a pig’s stomach. However, the meat surrounding the abdomen is found on the underside of the hog.
A pork belly is an extended cut of meat with a significant fat layer running through it. When this fat gets cooked down, it results in a mouthwatering and oh-so-delectable piece of pork.
This cut of pork is often turned into pancetta or bacon and is often seen as “braised pork belly” in fine dining cuisine.
More Where That Came From
Roasts and pork chops take up most of the space for “well-loved pork dishes.” However, with grilling season approaching, you might want to try out some other cuts of pork! They are:
- Pork Cutlets
- Pork Ribs: pork back ribs, country-style ribs, pork spare ribs,
- Pork Sausages
- Pork Hocks and Shanks
- Pork Butt and Shoulder
- Pork Knuckles and Trotters
- How Long to Cook Pork Loin in Oven at 350 (Easy Guide)
- How Long to Smoke 8 lb Pork Shoulder (Infographic)
- How to Cook a Brisket on a Pellet Grill (Smoked Recipe)
As a mom of three little eaters, I am excited to share my love of cooking, smoking, and baking with you. My love of food started when I went to college in Berkeley, and has followed me ever since! When I am not “momming,” writing, or cooking, you can find me reading, traveling, or hiking.