The name “tenderloin” says everything you need to know about this delicious cut of meat. It’s lean, it’s tender, and it cooks quickly, making it the perfect weeknight dinner option. Pork tenderloin is also extremely versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways, from roasting and grilling to stir-frying and even baking. And because it’s so lean, it’s a healthy option, as well.
When baking pork tenderloin, set your oven to 400° Fahrenheit, and let the meat roast for at least 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145° Fahrenheit. After removing the tenderloin from the oven, remember to let it rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting into it, as this will help to keep it juicy. Then, slice the meat into thin medallions and enjoy!
If this is your first time roasting a pork tenderloin, rest assured, it’s nearly impossible to mess up, as long as you don’t overcook it. This guide will explain everything you need to know, including how long to cook the meat, the perfect temperature to seal in those juices, and how to properly season a tenderloin. So, if you’re ready to get cooking, let’s dive in.
Always Roast Meats at 400° Fahrenheit or Higher
If you want your pork tenderloin to be juicy, flavorful, and cooked to perfection, you must roast it at a high temperature. Trying to roast meat below 400° will cause it to dry out, as the low temperature won’t allow the pork to properly sear. However, by sticking to 400°, you’ll create a delicious, golden-brown crust on the outside of the meat while the inside remains juicy and tender.
The cooking time for pork tenderloin will vary depending on the size of the roast, but as a general rule, you should plan on roasting the meat for 25 minutes per pound. So, if you have a 1-pound tenderloin, you’ll cook it for 25 minutes, and if you have a 2-pound roast, you’ll cook it for 50 minutes.
One thing to keep in mind is that pork tenderloin is leaner than other cuts of pork, so it can dry out quickly if you overcook it. To avoid this, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork before you take it out of the oven. The USDA recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 145°, which should result in a juicy, flavorful roast.
Once the pork has reached the proper internal temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting into it. The internal temperature will continue to rise slightly but this will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier, more flavorful pork tenderloin.
Never Cook Frozen Pork
It's never ideal, but we’ve all been there before—you’ve planned a beautiful meal with a roast cut of meat, but then you forget to take it out of the freezer to defrost. At that moment, you might be tempted to throw the whole thing in the oven and let it roast as is. Fight the urge as best as you can.
Cooking frozen pork (or any frozen meat, for that matter) is a risky endeavor. Not only is there the potential for the meat to not cook evenly, but there’s also the chance that you could end up with undercooked pork, which could lead to food poisoning.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to cook frozen pork, the best thing to do is to first defrost the meat in the refrigerator. This will take some time, so plan ahead and take the pork out of the freezer the night before you plan to cook it. Once the pork is thawed, you can cook it according to your recipe.
Keep in mind, however, that it might take a bit longer to cook than if it were starting from room temperature, so you might need to adjust your cooking time accordingly.
Use Aluminum Foil if the Meat is Particularly Lean
Pork tenderloin is already a lean cut of meat taken from the loin of the pig, but sometimes you might come across a particularly lean piece of pork. If this is the case, you can wrap the meat in aluminum foil before roasting to help prevent it from drying out. To do this, simply place the pork on a sheet of aluminum foil and then wrap it up tightly.
Be sure to seal the edges of the foil so that no juices can escape. Then, roast the pork as you would normally. The aluminum foil will help to keep the juices in the pork, resulting in a more tender and flavorful roast. Just be sure to remove the foil for the last few minutes of cooking so that the pork can develop a nice, golden-brown crust.
A Rolled Tenderloin Will Take Longer to Roast
Roll-cutting is a technique used to splay open a pork tenderloin so it can be stuffed with ground meat, duxelles, or a bread-based dressing. This technique is often used for holiday roasts, as it results in a beautiful, impressive-looking dish. But because the tenderloin is rolled and stuffed tightly, it will take longer to cook than a traditional, unrolled tenderloin.
As a general rule, you should plan on cooking a rolled pork tenderloin for 45 minutes per pound. So, if you have a 1-pound roast, you’ll cook it for 45 minutes, and if you have a 2-pound roast, you’ll cook it for at least an hour and 15 minutes. As always, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork to ensure that it’s cooked through.
Adjust Your Expectations if You Use an Air Fryer
Air fryers are all the rage these days, and for a good reason—they’re a quick and easy way to cook up a delicious, healthy meal. But if you’re planning on using an air fryer to cook your pork tenderloin, there are a couple of things you should know.
First, the cooking time for pork tenderloin in an air fryer will be shorter than if you were to roast it in the oven. As a general rule, you should cook the pork for 10 minutes per pound. So, if you have a 1-pound tenderloin, you’ll cook it for 10 minutes, and if you have a 2-pound roast, you’ll cook it for 20 minutes.
Second, the pork will not develop the same golden-brown crust that you would get from roasting it in the oven. This is due to the fact that air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food rather than by radiant heat, as is the case with ovens. So, if you’re looking for a crispy, crunchy pork tenderloin, you’re better off sticking to the oven.
A Few Top Tips to Help You Perfect Your Pork Tenderloin
Although it’s arguably one of the easiest cuts of meat to roast, making a truly remarkable pork tenderloin takes a bit of practice. Skip the learning curve by reading and utilizing some of our top tips and you’ll be wowing friends and family in no time.
Wrap the Tenderloin in Bacon
Since pork tenderloin is quite lean, wrapping it in bacon is a great way to add some fat to the meat and help prevent it from drying out. Simply wrap the pork in bacon before cooking and then roast it as you normally would. The bacon will add flavor and keep the pork moist, resulting in a delicious, juicy roast.
Sear the Pork Before Roasting
Searing the pork before roasting it in the oven is a great way to add flavor and create a crispy, golden-brown crust. To do this, simply heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pork and cook it for a few minutes per side or until evenly browned. Then, transfer the pork to a baking sheet and roast it in the oven as you normally would.
Make a Rub
Adding a flavorful rub to your pork before cooking is an easy way to take your dish to the next level. To make a rub, simply combine a few tablespoons of your favorite herbs and spices with some olive oil and rub it all over the pork.
Some good options include paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried thyme. Then, roast the pork as you normally would. The rub will add flavor and help to create a crispy, flavorful crust.
Baste the Pork
Basting the pork with a flavorful liquid, such as apple cider vinegar, chicken broth, or even just plain water, will help to keep it moist as it cooks. Simply pour the liquid into a small bowl and then brush it all over the pork before roasting. Then, roast the pork as you normally would, basting it every 20 minutes or so.
Let the Pork Rest
We’ve said it a couple of times already, but it’s worth repeating. After you remove the pork from the oven, always let it rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting into it. If you immediately cut into the tenderloin, the juices will run away from the meat and you’ll be left with a dry, unpleasant medallion of pork. So, just leave it be and trust the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cooked pork tenderloin will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to 6 months using an airtight Ziplock bag.
Pork tenderloin is a lean cut of meat because it comes from the loin of the pig (the upper midsection), which is a relatively fatless area.
No, marinating pork tenderloin will not make it more tender. In fact, it’s not even necessary. Pork tenderloin is already a very tender cut of meat.
Pork tenderloin is a smaller, more tender cut of meat taken from the loin of the pig, while pork loin is a larger, less tender cut of meat that comes from the same area.
Pork loin is a larger, less tender cut of meat taken from the back of the pig, while pork chops are smaller, more tender cuts of meat that usually come attached to a rib bone.
An Unforgettable Recipe for Rolled Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Duxelles
- 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
- ½ cup finely diced mushrooms
- ¼ cup diced onion
- ¼ cup diced celery
- ¼ cup diced carrot
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- To make the duxelles, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the white wine and chicken broth. Cook, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is thickened.
- To prepare the pork, cut the tenderloin in half lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, make a lengthwise cut down the center of each half, being careful not to cut all the way through. Open up the pork so it resembles a butterfly.
- Spread the duxelles evenly over the surface of the pork. Roll up the pork, starting at one long side and rolling it until
it resembles a log.
- Tie the pork with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals.
- In two separate bowls, crack the egg and pour out the breadcrumbs. Dip the pork in the egg mixture, then coat it with the breadcrumbs.
- Place the pork on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 degrees.
- Remove the pork from the oven and let rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing it into medallions. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 681mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 20g