How to Cook Pork Tenderloin

It can be tough to cook a juicy pork tenderloin, but we have all the tricks you need here.

What Is Pork Tenderloin?

Not to be confused with pork loin, pork tenderloin is a smaller piece of meat that comes from a different part of the animal. Sometimes referred to as pork filet or pork tender, it’s usually sold whole and averages about a pound of meat.

Sliced pork tenderloin on a wooden cutting board.

How Do You Cook Pork Tenderloin?

Here’s A Video Showing How To Cook Pork Tenderloin

Unlike pork butt and pork shoulder, which roast up nice and juicy as shown here, pork tenderloin can end up dry when cooked. That’s because it’s such a lean cut of meat. Cooking it can therefore be challenging, it’s not impossible though. You want to cook it fairly quickly over high heat, getting it to an internal temperature of 145°F.

Step By Step Guide:

There are just a few things you need to do to get seriously juicy pork tenderloin. Here’s how.

Step #1: Remove The Silverskin

Raw pork tenderloin with the silverskin being sliced off with a knife.

There’s a bit of sinew on the outside of pork tenderloin that ends up tough when cooked. You need to remove it, but it’s easy to do. Learn how to remove the silverskin here.

Step #2: Brine The Tenderloin

This is not a marinade. A marinade only imparts flavor to the outside surface of the meat. A brine on the other hand has a high salt content and it penetrates the meat and makes it juicier. Learn more about brining here. The basic key though is to use 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per cup of water. You need enough to completely submerge the meat, which will be about 4 cups of water for a tenderloin.

In a large bowl or ziptop bag, dissolve the salt in the water. Add the tenderloin. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but ideally 2 hours. Some people go as long as 24 hours but that’s overkill for such a small piece of meat. Remove the tenderloin from the liquid and rinse it off. Discard the liquid.

Step #3: Make The Tenderloin An Equal Thickness

Raw pork tenderloin on a cutting board with the thinner side folded in and fastened with two metal skewers.

Usually a pork tenderloin is much thinner on one end than the other. If you cook it as is, the skinny side will end up really dry and overcooked before the thicker side is done. That’s no good. So tuck the skinny side up a bit and secure it with metal skewers.

Step #4: Season

Raw pork tenderloin on cutting board that's been sprinkled with pepper and seasonings.

Season with pepper and whatever else you’d like. Just remember that you already brined the tenderloin in salt so don’t add anymore here.

Put the pork tenderloin in a baking dish that fits it easily without needing to bend it at all. Put it uncovered into an oven that has been preheated to 350°F. Bake for 20-27 minutes, until the internal temperature on an instant read thermometer is at 145°F.

Cooking pork tenderloin with a meat thermometer stuck in it reading 145°F

Step #6: Rest And Slice

Let the tenderloin rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes and then slice it in about 1/2-inch slices and serve.

Slice pork tenderloin and serve.

Below are printable instructions for baking pork tenderloin. Enjoy!

Print
How To Cook Pork Tenderloin

How to Cook Pork Tenderloin


  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

It can be tough to cook a juicy pork tenderloin, but we have all the tricks you need here.


Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 4 cups cold tap water
  • 1-lb. pork tenderloin
  • metal skewers
  • seasonings (pepper, garlic powder, etc.)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl or ziptop bag, dissolve the salt in the water.
  2. Remove the silverskin from the tenderloin and then put it into the bowl or ziptop bag with the salt water solution. Make sure the tenderloin is completely surrounded and covered by the water.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but ideally 2 hours.
  4. Remove the tenderloin from the liquid and rinse. Discard the liquid.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Tuck the skinny side of the tenderloin in and secure it with metal skewers or butcher’s twine.
  7. Season with any seasonings you’d like. Just remember that you already brined the tenderloin in salt so don’t add any salt here.
  8. Put the pork tenderloin in a baking dish that fits it easily without needing to bend it at all.
  9. Bake uncovered for 20-27 minutes, until the internal temperature on an instant read thermometer is at 145°F.
  10. Let the tenderloin rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes and then slice it in about 1/2-inch slices and serve.
This post originally appeared in December 2017 and was revised and republished in February 2020.
How to Cook Pork Tenderloin

24 responses to “How to Cook Pork Tenderloin”

  1. george says:

    1st time cooking pork tenderloin marinated the pork with salt pepper garlic and onion salt and poked holes in the tenderoin and put cut fresh garlic in the meat and while resting will add honey and cinnamon while making a gravy for the meat with gravy powder and olive oil from the searing adding chopped onions… wish me luck

  2. Fran Trach says:

    Why do some recipes ask that you pound the slices of pork tenderloin?

  3. Ruby says:

    I want to cook 4 tenderloins all at once, total about 5.5 pounds. About how long will this take, using your method? Thank you?

    • Christine Pittman says:

      You can cook them for the same amount of time as in the recipe, Ruby. Just make sure they have at least two inches of space between each of them so there’s room for the air to circulate and cook evenly.

  4. Susan Armstrong Griffin says:

    Do you cover the baking dish while the tenderloin is cooking?

  5. Andrea Hatfield says:

    This looks so good! I’ve never made pork tenderloin myself. I’ll have to try your method sometime! Thank you!

  6. I dont think I’ve ever had one! Except at a resturant but it was made for deep frying and breaded for sandwiches

  7. Cheryl says:

    I’ll be making some this week.

  8. My father use to marinate his in something over night but I never got his recipe, it was so good but I have not been able to figure it out.

  9. Calvin says:

    Nice lean cuts, definitely would like to have this some time at home.

  10. Debbie Yoder says:

    Love pork tenderloin,so many uses for it,love all the spices youve used!

  11. Warren says:

    I start pork tenderloin on the stove top.

    Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil then sear the tenderloin for 2-3 minutes turning to sear all sides then finish in a 375 degree oven . Start checking the internal temperature at 15 minutes and remove at 140 degrees. Let the pork rest for 5 minutes, the internal temperature will increase to 145+ while you deglaze the pan for a pan sauce.

  12. Dar says:

    I have an 8.365 pound pork tenderloin to roast in the oven. What is the cook time? Thanks

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