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How to Cook Pork Tenderloin

Updated on December 30, 2016
Learn how to cook this delicious cut of meat!
Learn how to cook this delicious cut of meat!

Pork Tenderloin Recipes

If you’ve visited my articles or my cooking site, you know that I love cooking! I especially like to experiment with different foods and make up my own recipes. Fortunately, I have plenty of family members and friends who are usually more than willing to try out my creations. After all, what are friends for, right? I cook a wide variety of meats, fish, veggies, fruits, breads, pastries, and desserts, often based on what I find on sale at the time. When pork tenderloin goes on sale at our local stores, I always purchase a couple. In this article, I’m going to discuss how to cook it, and I’m including recipes and a great marinade.

This is a pork loin - not a pork tenderloin. Pork loins are much larger.
This is a pork loin - not a pork tenderloin. Pork loins are much larger.

What Is Pork Tenderloin?

Before we get into how to cook this delicious cut of meat and specific recipes, let’s make sure you understand what a pork tenderloin is. A pork tenderloin is the filet mignon of the pig. The tenderloins are the muscles that run along either side of the backbone. Since these muscles aren’t used for moving, they’re the most tender part of the critter. In grocery stores and butcher shops, the tenderloins are often sold in pairs. They usually weigh between one and two pounds each.

This particular cut of meat is usually fairly expensive when compared to other cuts of pork, but they have little waste, so they’re practically all edible meat. Some might have a small amount of fat or fascia on the outside, but these can be easily removed.

There are lots of ways to cook this dish.
There are lots of ways to cook this dish. | Source

There Are Many Ways to Cook This Dish

Pork tenderloin can be prepared in a variety of ways. The flavor and texture you want will inform how you want to prepare and cook the cut. The loin can be cooked whole, as most cooks prefer, or it can be sliced into medallions before cooking. The medallions cook quickly, so if you’re in a hurry, you might like to try this method. If you want to set the meat and forget it, you might prefer cooking it in the crock pot.

It can also be cooked in the oven, on the grill, or on a smoker. If the meat is sliced first, it can be sautéed or fried in a skillet. The pork can be cooked with an herb rub, with a glaze, with fruit or vegetables, or with a sauce. In the South, barbecue sauce is often the sauce of choice. Another way to cook it is to stuff the pork tenderloin. For this, I use a bread stuffing, cranberries, and walnuts and bake the meat in the oven.

How Long Do I Cook It For?

How long to you'll need to cook the meat depends on the cooking method, of course. Obviously, medallions will cook more quickly than an entire cut will, and cooking in a slow cooker or crock pot is going to take a lot longer than a grill or oven because the heat is much lower. The same holds true for most smokers.

The key to cooking your pork perfectly is the internal temperature. Because the meat can cook quickly, it’s easy to overcook. When it overcooks, it dries out and loses flavor. It can also become tough. The best way to judge its doneness is to cook it until the internal temperature reaches 155-160 degrees. According to the National Pork Board, pork should be at least 160 degrees in order to be safe. Remember, though, that the meat will continue to cook a little after it’s been removed from the heat source.

Try my stuffed version.
Try my stuffed version.

A Marinade Recipe

This is an awesome marinade, and it can be used for cuts that are going to be cooked in the oven, on the grill, or on a smoker. The best pork tenderloin marinade should include an acidic ingredient, like vinegar, wine, or citrus juice, along with oil to help keep the meat moist. Feel free to add your own favorite seasonings, such as herbs and spices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large zippered plastic food bag.
  2. Add one or two tenderloins to the bag and place in fridge.
  3. Let the meat marinate overnight.
  4. Every couple of hours or so, turn the bag to rearrange the tenderloins.
  5. Cook your meat and enjoy!

orange-mustard glazed version
orange-mustard glazed version | Source

Cooking It in the Oven

Cooking pork tenderloin in the oven is a popular way to cook the meat. Many cooks like to brown the tenderloin in a skillet before roasting in the oven, while others don’t. This step isn’t a must, but it will provide a nice brown exterior.

Orange-Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork loin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Rub tenderloin with salt and pepper.
  2. Place loin in a baking pan and cover with foil.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes.
  4. While pork is cooking, make the glaze. Combine marmalade, butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic in a microwave safe bowl. Cook until marmalade is soft.
  5. After pork has cooked for twenty minutes, remove it from the oven.
  6. Spoon the glaze over the tenderloin.
  7. Continue baking, uncovered, for twenty more minutes.
  8. Add any remaining glaze to the cooked loin.

Golden friend deliciousness!
Golden friend deliciousness!
These sandwiches are yummy!
These sandwiches are yummy!

Fry It Up

This is a dish I first enjoyed at a friend’s home. She uses it for sandwiches, and they’re wonderful! Once the pork is fried, she serves it on warm rolls with lettuce, tomato, and dressing. Some people prefer Thousand Island dressing on their tenderloin sandwiches, but I like ranch dressing with it. Hubby, a typical Southerner, likes barbecue sauce on his.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • Self-rising flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil

Directions:

  1. Cut tenderloin into one-inch cross sections.
  2. Use a meat mallet to pound the slices to ½-inch thick. Dredge the slices in flour and set aside.
  3. Whisk the buttermilk and eggs together. Dip the floured pork into the wash. Dredge in flour again and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Fry pork slices in ½ inch of oil over medium heat, about three minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain on wire racks or paper towels.

Cooked in a slow cooker.
Cooked in a slow cooker. | Source

How to Cook Your Cut in a Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

Slow cooker or crock pot cooking is handy for a couple of reasons. One is that you can put it on in the morning and forget about it until it’s ready. Another is that you can add veggies and potatoes in with the pork and have a complete meal that cooks together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 baking potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place tenderloin in slow cooker or crock pot. Arrange vegetables around pork. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over meat and vegetables.
  2. Cover and cook on low setting for four to six hours.

grilled medallions with honey-wine sauce
grilled medallions with honey-wine sauce

How to Grill Pork Tenderloin

Grilled pork tenderloin recipes are amazing! From my experience, using a good marinade is important here. When grilling this meat, it’s easy to overcook, so be careful. You’ll also need to make sure your grill is clean so that the pork won’t stick to the grill. Charcoal gives the pork a wonderful flavor and a tantalizing aroma.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork loin
  • 1 bottle Italian salad dressing
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Remove fascia from tenderloin, if needed.
  2. Combine salad dressing, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour one cup of mixture into a large Ziploc bag to use as a marinade. If you prefer, use my orange pork tenderloin marinade (above). Marinate pork in the refrigerator for four hours or more.
  3. When charcoal is ready, oil the grilling grate. Place tenderloin on grill and close lid. Cook for about 15-18 minutes over medium coals, turning frequently.
  4. Remove when internal temp gets to around 150-155 degrees. Remove tenderloin from grill and wrap tightly in two layers of foil.
  5. Wait ten minutes before serving meat.

We love smoked pork.
We love smoked pork.

How to Cook It on a Smoker

My favorite pork tenderloin recipes are cooked on the smoker. We have an electric smoker that we use all the time. Smoking a cut of meat is actually pretty simple. I like to make a wet rub with vinegar, oil, brown sugar, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. After I’ve rubbed the meat, I wrap it with bacon slices and secure the slices with toothpicks. We use chunks or twigs of pecan wood that have been soaked in water for a few hours.

When the smoker reaches 220 - 225 degrees and the water pan is filled, we place the tenderloins on the top rack and smoke them for about three hours. Remove the tenderloins when the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Wrap them in foil and allow them to “rest” for about ten minutes before serving.

Southwestern Recipe

Kentucky Burbon BBQ Recipe

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    • profile image

      Boby 4 years ago

      Now I know why I can't cook, I don't think about what we are going to eat until 30 minutes broefe it's time to eat. 2 hours of prep is so much work.But the avocado salads look delightful!

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      YUMMMMMMMY! I LOVE Pork Tenderloin! I'm a crock pot girl, so that will be the recipe I use. I salivated the entire time I was on this hub!

      Voted up and across! I can't wait to try a couple of these recipes!

    • profile image

      tryevth 5 years ago

      This is such a great recipe....I have never heard of pork Tenderloin. And here you not only have introduced me, but have given the steps to cook a wonderful dish. A new recipe for my family, yay!....and pictures are telling how delicious it will taste! Thank you for sharing. Voted up, interesting and useful!

    • profile image

      jenubouka 5 years ago

      Awesome and incredibly thorough Habee. I envy your beast of a smoker that looks like fun. The recipes here for pork tenderloin are invaluable you have given some great ideas and techniques for pork. Working in a restaurant we would have guests temp their pork, some medium rare, it can be eaten this way; especially with high end cuts, but I would silently cringe serving anything less done than medium well. Great hub!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Teaches, it's really tasty on the smoker, but be careful not to let it get too dry. Thanks for reading!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Cupcake, hope you like it!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Doc, I love me some ribs!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Bpop, thanks a bunch - great to see you!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Pookie, thanks for visiting! Hope you like the pork tenderloin recipes!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Leah, your Hawaiian pork tenderloin recipe sounds awesome! Could you mail me slice or two? lol

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Pork tenderlion is a favorite of mine. I love the taste and the fact that it is a lean choice of meat. I would love to have piece of each of the recipes you posted! I will have to try it on the smoker next time we have it for dinner. Great ideas.

    • smokingcupcake profile image

      smokingcupcake 5 years ago from Dayton, OH

      I can't wait to try the slow cooker recipe!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Pork tenderloin, Holle, is one of my favorite cuts of pork - next to spare ribs, that is. Thank you for all these different ways to cook it. Looks delish.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      Thanks for the nice selection of recipes. I love pork tenderloin, so I am anxious to try these.

    • profile image

      pookiebear00 5 years ago

      This looks good I may have to try it soon. I love pork tenderlion, but I never culd really cook it to where it is moist. So, I will diffently try this. Thanks!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I absolutely love pork tenderloin. We put ours in a "Hawaiian" sauce (pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, etc.) and then grill it - it is so delicious! I am definitely trying out some of the other recipes. This makes me hungry!