If you aren’t cooking with pork tenderloin, you are missing out! Start with this Baked Pork Tenderloin recipe for dinner tonight. It’s thrillingly juicy, cooks in 15 minutes, and the light, smoky rub gives it a scrumptious crust.
A lean, healthy cut of meat, pork tenderloin is mild, lending itself well to a wide range of flavors, taste and cooking methods.
Easy pork tenderloin recipes abound, from classic preparations like this Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin and gravy, to elevated versions like Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, to even Asian preparations like Pork Fried Rice and the Black Pepper Pork Stir Fry in my cookbook.
I mean, I rely on solid Baked Chicken Breast as much as the next person, but it’s nice to switch it up, especially if you are hosting.
This baked pork tenderloin is absolutely tasty enough for a dinner party.
The prep is a breeze and your guests will be impressed!
How to Cook Pork Tenderloin in the Oven
Making juicy, tender pork tenderloin in the oven is EASY.
Follow these tips:
- Season the Pork Well. Pork tenderloin is bland on its own. Doctoring it up with the below pork tenderloin rub will give it smokiness and depth.
- Sear the Meat First. Taking a few minutes to sear the outside of the pork on the stove prior to putting it in the oven forms a tasty “crust” that locks in juiciness and it also gives the pork an additional dimension of flavor. You’ll feel like a pro!
- DO NOT OVERCOOK THE MEAT. This is the cardinal rule for lean cuts of meat like pork tenderloin. At 400 degrees F, a 1-pound pork tenderloin will cook in 8 to 10 minutes after being seared on the stove. Unlike tough, fatty cuts of meat, leaner cuts like pork tenderloin and pork loin do not become more tender the longer they cook.
- Let It Rest. Resting meat before cutting into it is mandatory. During this time, the juices incorporate back into the meat; if you slice right away, they will all run right onto the plate instead. 10 minutes resting time is sufficient; even 5 minutes is better than none at all.
For bonus points, you can make a marinated pork tenderloin in the oven (try the marinade from this Grilled Pork Tenderloin), but if you follow the tips above, you can have great results without marinating the pork first.
How to Tell When Pork Tenderloin is Done
Per the FDA, pork is considered safe to eat at 145 degrees F; however, the pork’s temperature will continue to rise as it rests.
- For this reason, I pull my pork tenderloin out of the oven at 135 degrees F, cover it, and let it rest for 10 minutes. After the resting time, the pork’s temperature has risen to a safe number and my pork turns out perfectly juicy every time.
To check temperature USE AN INSTANT READ THERMOMETER. This tool is vital.
- Pork Tenderloin. Juicy, tender, and forever a crowd-pleaser. Pork tenderloin is a fantastic lean protein option, as it pairs well with many flavors and does well with different cooking techniques (as evidenced by the plethora of options on my site).
- Brown Sugar. Brown sugar is the secret to the pork’s caramelized, “crusty” exterior. It also adds a bit of sweetness to balance the smoky and spicy flavors. I would not recommend using honey or maple syrup here.
- Cumin. Adds warmth and earthiness.
- Dry Mustard. Tangy and savory with a hint of heat.
- Paprika + Chipotle Chile Powder. These two spices both possess the perfect combination of smoky and spicy.
- Trim the pork. Stir the pork rub together in a bowl. Heat oil in a cast-iron pan.
- Rub the spice mixture onto the pork.
- Sear the pork for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Bake pork tenderloin for 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice. ENJOY!
Ways to Use Pork Tenderloin
- Hash. Of all the different things to do with pork tenderloin, using it to make a breakfast hash might be my favorite. See this Sweet Potato Hash for inspiration.
- Sandwich. I love creating different sandwich combinations using thin slices of pork tenderloin and Magic Multigrain Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.
- Salad. Pork tenderloin makes a wonderful lean protein addition to any of your favorite salads. We love adding ours to Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad.
- Pasta. Top pasta recipes like Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese and Ricotta Pasta with pork tenderloin.
- Stir Fry. Add diced up pork tenderloin to your favorite stir fry dishes like Vegetable Lo Mein and Healthy Shrimp Pad Thai (swap the shrimp for pork or use both).
- To Store. Refrigerate pork in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently reheat leftovers in a small skillet or gently in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze pork in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, trim the pork and coat it in the spice rub. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Cast-Iron Skillet. Helps create a perfect sear on the pork tenderloin.
- Instant Read Thermometer. The foolproof way to check your pork for doneness.
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. Stays secure while you’re slicing your tenderloin.
Crazy weeknight or lazy weekend, baked pork tenderloin is one of those fantastic anytime recipes that’s here to be exactly what you need today.
Frequently Asked Questions
While you don’t need to make your pork tenderloin in the oven in foil, you can do so if you prefer. I prefer to leave the pork uncovered to help facilitate browning.
Lean, boneless cuts of meat like pork tenderloin do best at a high temperature for a shorter amount of time (you would not want to slow cook pork tenderloin in the oven for this reason). My recommended temperature is 400 degrees F. That said, you could bake it a few minutes longer at 375 degrees F if you need to accommodate other dishes in your oven (350 degrees F or below is at your own risk).
While we’re partial to this particular spice rub mixture (it really is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy, earthy, and smoky), you could swap another combination or storebought spice rub. Just be cognizant of the high sodium levels in most storebought pre-made spice mixtures.
For this stuffed pork tenderloin it roughly takes 15 minutes for roasted pork tenderloins that is seared in olive oil. You’ll love this Italian flavor on pork tenderloin with lots of herbs and spices baked in a skillet or baking dish. The sauce that you can drizzle over the dish includes white wine, butter, and lemon.
Baked Pork Tenderloin
- 1 pork tenderloin about 1 pound; or double the recipe to cook 2 tenderloins
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar light or dark
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder for less heat, substitute regular chili powder
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. With a sharp knife, cut away and discard the silver skin (tough membrane) from the pork.
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, brown sugar, salt, cumin, mustard, black pepper, and chipotle powder in a bowl.
- Heat a cast-iron pan or similar oven-safe, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil and let it warm up for another minute or two.
- Coat the pork tenderloin on all sides with the spice rub.
- Once the oil is hot, sear the pork on all sides (be careful to lower the pork into the pan away from you in case of oil splatters). You’ll need about 2 to 3 minutes per side—it can get a bit smoky, so turn on your fan (or open the windows if you don't have one). The pork should have a nice crust but not be all the way cooked through.
- Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake the pork tenderloin until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover, and let rest at least 10 minutes (pork is considered safe to eat at 145 degrees F, but its internal temperature will continue to rise as it rests). Slice the pork into 1-inch medallions. Serve warm, with pan juices spooned over the top.
- If cooking 2 pork tenderloins, brown them one at a time, then nestle them into the skillet together to bake.
- If you can only find a pork tenderloin that is already brined, rinse it off, pat it dry, and omit half of the salt from the rub
- TO STORE: Refrigerate pork in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in a small skillet or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze pork in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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