John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
Pork tenderloin is a great cut of meat. Its size makes it quick-cooking enough for an after-work meal, and yet it’s tasty and tender enough for a special-occasions sort of dinner.
But when cooked without care, "tender" and "tasty" can too easily become "dry" and "bland." And it’s unfortunately all too easy to overcook a tenderloin when cooking it directly over hot heat!
Here’s the foolproof method for making perfect, tender, and juicy pork tenderloin every time—in only about 20 minutes or so of active cooking. This method is perfect because it combines the high-heat sear needed to flavor and crust the meat and finishes with a slow roast in the oven, which lets it all cook without overcooking the exterior.
Because this method produces such consistent results, it is a restaurant chef’s go-to method for larger cuts of protein.
How to Cook a Perfect Pork Tenderloin
This is a very simple set of instructions for a pork tenderloin with a sauce—one that goes well with chutney or mustard. This method, however, will work well with any number of different recipes, especially ones that call for a pan sauce.
- Pork loin
- Salt and pepper to taste (or the seasonings of your choice)
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Season the meat with some salt and freshly cracked black pepper (or whatever seasonings you desire).
- Once the oven reaches 400°F, take out a heavy frying pan (preferably one that’s oven-safe), and preheat it to medium-high. Note: If you don’t have an oven-safe frying pan (such as a cast-iron one), you can fry the meat, and then transfer it to a baking dish.
- Use some paper towels to dry off the tenderloin (drier meat creates a better browning because less steam is created).
- Add in a splash of vegetable or olive oil, and then add the meat. Cook it until it is very nicely browned all over (not greyish-brown, brown-brown!). This should take about five minutes in total.
- Transfer the pan to the oven, uncovered, and let it roast for 10 or 15 more minutes. Before you pull it out, you want to make sure that the meat has an internal temperature of 145 to 150°F. Note: One of those instant-read thermometers is really helpful here. If you don’t have one, you should spend the $5 or so to get one because they will make a world of difference in your cooking!
- Remove the meat from the oven, and let it rest—covered—for 10 minutes before cutting it into slices and serving.
Easy, foolproof, and delicious!