Pork tenderloin is one of those dishes that never fails to impress, whether you’re cooking for a special occasion or simply looking to create a delicious meal for two.
It’s a versatile cut of meat that can be cooked in a variety of ways, from pan-seared to roasted, and can be paired with a range of flavors and ingredients. In this recipe, I’ll show you how to prepare a mouth-watering baked pork tenderloin that’s tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor.
This dish is perfect for a romantic dinner with your significant other or for any occasion where you want to show your affection with a delicious home-cooked meal. Trust me, it’s super easy and takes under 60 minutes to make!
This pork tenderloin recipe serves four.
Prepare the pork tenderloins:
- Pork tenderloins – Each individual tenderloin is approximately 1 pound. So both will weigh 2 to 2.5 pounds altogether.
- Pro Tip: Be sure to trim off the silverskin using a filet knife. Pierce the filet knife into the skin and gently run the knife through while pulling the skin away with your other hand. Silverskin is chewy and won’t be fun to eat. You can trim off any excess fats as well.
- Lemon juice – Squeeze 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Butter – Measure 3 tablespoons of butter, sliced into 6 pads.
- Extra virgin olive oil – For frying the pork.
For the brine:
- Kosher salt – Measure ¼ cup of salt.
- Warm water – 4 cups.
- Apple cider vinegar – Measure 2 tablespoons. Regular vinegar also works.
- Brown sugar – 2 ½ tablespoons.
- Ice cubes – 1 cup.
To marinate the pork, we’ll make a yummy garlicky and spicy rub:
- Garlic powder and chili powder – 1 tablespoon each
- Onion powder – 2 teaspoons
- Smoked paprika and pepper – ½ teaspoon each
- Dried herbs – Measure 1 teaspoon each of dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, and dried thyme. We will add these herbs at a later stage.
How To Make Pork Tenderloin
Step One: Preheat the oven to 400°F and move the rack to the middle position. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil then lay another two long pieces on top of the prepared baking sheet – these two pieces will be used to fold up each tenderloin separately.
Step Two: Prep the tenderloins by cutting off any excess fat and the silver skin (the tough part that may cover some of each tenderloin).
Step Three: In a gallon-size freezer bag, mix salt with warm water until dissolved. Whisk in apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and ice, followed by pork. Brine for 30 minutes. Then, remove the pork from the brine, rinse, and pat it very dry.
Step Four: Whisk together all of the spice mix ingredients (leave out the herbs at this point) in a small bowl. Evenly rub the spice mix all over and on both sides of the pork tenderloins.
Step Five: Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot and just smoking, add the pork tenderloins. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to do it one at a time. Sear each side of pork until golden, then transfer it to the foil on the baking sheet.
Step Six: Sprinkle the top of the pork with the dried herbs and rub them into the pork.
Step Seven: Evenly drizzle each pork tenderloin with lemon juice and add 3 pads of butter to each pork tenderloin. Bring up the sides of the foil to completely enclose each tenderloin according to the photos.
Step Eight: Bake the tenderloins at 400°F until the pork registers between 150-155°F on a meat thermometer at the thickest part of the tenderloin.
- Pro Tip: For me, this took 25 minutes, but it depends on the thickness of the pork you have. To check the temperature, carefully unwrap the foil, then wrap it back up if it needs to continue baking.
Step Nine: When the pork is ready, loosen the foil, letting any steam escape. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Step Ten: Slice the pork across the grain ½ inch slices and serve immediately.
- Pro Tip: Baked pork tenderloin needs to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing in order to lock in the yummy juices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pork tenderloin should be cooked slowly but not too long. This gives the pork time to absorb the spices and herbs and get really tender and juicy. Cooking it quickly will do just the bare minimum: cooking it and killing any bacteria, but the pork will be tough and chewy.
Your pork tenderloin is cooked when it turns a light brown and the juices run clear. If it’s still pinkish or reddish, it’s not cooked yet.
Your local butcher and supermarket should have pork tenderloin. If they are not labeled, ask for the pork tenderloin and let the seller know how many pounds you need.
If you’re serving roasted vegetables like broccoli, carrots, asparagus, or snap peas, simply toss them with olive oil and salt and bake them in the last 15 minutes together on the baking dish.
Pork tenderloin looks like a long cut of pork (because of its shape, it’s also called the Gentleman’s Cut). It’s boneless and very tender. Pork loin, on the other hand, is flatter and wider and can be bone-in or boneless. It’s also pretty tender and can be slightly more affordable than tenderloins.
- Before rubbing the spice mix and herbs onto the pork tenderloins, divide the spice mix and herbs into two equal parts. This way, both slices of pork will be equally flavored.
- Do not skip the brining step because this will help tenderize the pork. Despite the name “tenderloins”, it still needs some help living up to its name!
Storage & Reheating Instructions
If there are any leftovers, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate. To reheat, thaw and cover in foil and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. The tenderloins won’t be as juicy anymore but that is normal.
What To Serve With This Recipe
To turn this pork tenderloin recipe into a three-course dinner, try these easy ideas:
Appetizers and side dishes:
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon is one of my favorite side dishes. It has crispy bacon, crunchy Brussels sprouts, and juicy pomegranate seeds.
- If you are looking for a healthier way to enjoy mashed potatoes without carbs and bloatedness, try Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes.
- Bruschetta with goat cheese and tomatoes is simple, full of flavor, and appetizing.
- For a healthy, chocolatey dessert that’s not overbearingly sweet, check out Avocado Chocolate Mousse.
- Chocolate-covered strawberries are also another way to show your love. These are easy to make, very cute, and quite romantic!
Wine pairings: I recommend a good bottle of Zinfandel wine to pair with the juicy flavor of the pork. Pinot Noir pairs brilliantly, too. If you prefer white wine, go with a Chardonnay.
Pork Tenderloin Recipe
- 1 package pork tenderloins, trimmed comes with 2 pieces, 2 – 2 ½ lbs total
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 3 tablespoons salted butter sliced into 6 pats
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 1 tablespoons EACH of garlic powder & chili powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon EACH of smoked paprika & pepper
Herbs To Add Later
- 1 teaspoon EACH dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme Pro Tip: I measure ½ teaspoon of each spice and sprinkle it over one pork tenderloin then repeat on the other pork tenderloin for a total of 1 teaspoon of each herb
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and move the rack to the middle position. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil then lay another two long pieces on top on the prepared baking sheet – these two pieces will be used to fold up each tenderloin separately.
- Prep the tenderloins by cutting off any excess fat and the silver skin (the tough part that may cover some of each tenderloin).
- In a large freezer bag, mix salt with warm water until dissolved. Whisk in brown sugar, apple cider vineage and ice, followed by pork. Brine for 30 minutes then remove pork from brine, rinse and pat very dry.
- Whisk together all of the Spice Mix ingredients (not the “Herbs To Add Later”) in a small bowl. Evenly rub spice mix all over / on both sides of the pork tenderloins.
- Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot and just smoking, add pork tenderloins, you may need to work in batches. Sear each side of pork until golden, then transfer to foil.
- Evenly sprinkle tops of pork tenderloins with remaining herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme) then rub into pork.
- Evenly drizzle each pork tenderloin with one tablespoon of lemon juice (2 tablespoons total), then top each tenderloin with 3 pats of butter. Bring up the sides of the foil to completely enclose each tenderloin.
- Bake at 400 degrees F until pork registers between 145- and 150-degrees F (63 and 65 degrees C) on a meat thermometer at the thickest part of the tenderloin, 25 minutes depending on thickness. To check the temperature, carefully unwrap the foil, then wrap it back up if it needs to continue baking.
- When pork has come to temperature, loosen foil (so steam can escape) and let stand 5-10 minutes before slicing to lock in juices.
- Slice the pork across the grain ½ inch slices, and spoon all of the delicious buttery juices from the bottom of the foil ontop of the pork when serving. Serve immediately.