Roasted Pork Tenderloin Basics
Roasted pork tenderloin is so delicious and so versatile! Learning to make the perfect roasted pork tenderloin recipe opens up all kinds of possibilities for easy and delicious family dinner options. And, since it goes on sale often, it’s a super affordable cut of meat to use in your kitchen! Let’s get going on our roasted pork tenderloin basics!
Roasted pork tenderloin is one of my favorite dinners. It’s a pretty quick dinner (30-40 minutes!) that doesn’t require a lot of work from the cook. Plus, you can serve it in so many ways and you can re-make the leftovers into so many different meals as well. I’ll purposely cook too much pork tenderloin so that I can have leftovers for several days! There are so many sauces that go beautifully with pork tenderloin! Plus you can make it into sandwiches and that’s delicious too! This is a simple way to make the best pork tenderloin and it’s a recipe you’ll reach for time and time again!
For basic roasted pork tenderloin, I keep the ingredients very, very basic! My favorite method is simply salt and pepper on my pork tenderloin. You can add whatever spices and rubs you’d like if you want to take the flavor up a notch! You can always use dry herbs and spices such as onion powder, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, dry rub, garlic powder, or your favorite spice mix. This recipe is pretty plain. If you want to take it up a notch, try my Blackberry Pork Tenderloin. Its’ AH-MAZING!
- Pork tenderloin – (a whole pork tenderloin)
- Salt – (I prefer kosher salt)
- Black Pepper
- Vegetable Oil – (I don’t recommend Extra Virgin Olive Oil here because it has a much lower smoke point, and you’ll smoke up the house when you sear the meat!)
You can also use fresh herbs to really take the flavor up a notch, but I’d recommend using those in the sauce you put on the pork tenderloin, and not roasting the pork with fresh herbs. They can burn and turn bitter and we don’t want that!
Recommended Kitchen Equipment:
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- 9×13 baking casserole dish – I have this dish and I adore it because it comes with a lid that fits it. No more fooling with aluminum foil or plastic wrap! Plus it keeps the smells of your dish inside the dish and not in your refrigerator as foil and plastic wrap do!
- Oven Mitts – This is a heavy and hot dish! Make sure you have good oven mitts to protect your hands!
- Table Serving Trivet – This dish is HOT and will stay hot. Make sure you put it on top of something to protect your countertop or table!
- Santoku Knife – You don’t have to go out and buy a nice knife. But, if you were in the market for a knife, this is the one I couldn’t do without, and the one I go for time and time again. It’s wonderfully and beautifully made. I’ve had this knife for over 10 years and it’s my favorite thing in my entire kitchen. You truly do get what you pay for in knives. These are made in Germany but are widely sold in the United States now. You can go way higher in quality as well, this is just a starting point.
- Baking Sheets – These Nordic Ware natural aluminum commercial baker’s half sheets are my absolute favorite baking sheets I’ve ever owned in my cooking days! They are super heavy-duty, have a great rim around them, and they stay in great shape no matter what you cook on them. And they clean up incredibly easily as well!
- Wooden cutting board (LARGE!) – I adore this cutting board. It’s really big and I use it any time I need to roll out dough or do large amounts of work! I keep it for only bread and sweets and generally don’t chop veggies or meats on it!
- Braising Pan – This is my favorite kitchen pan. It was expensive, but I use it all the time and it’s just fantastic. My favorite brand is Le Creuset, but you could get any brand that fits your need! I love that this transfers from stovetop to oven perfectly!
- Instant Read Meat Thermometer – You really need a meat thermometer to know when larger cuts of meat are done cooking. This one is my favorite that I’ve had so far! You need a meat thermometer (or an instant-read thermometer) (It’s super important to check the internal temperature of the pork. You don’t want to be eating undercooked pork in any way. That’s a big no-no.
Cuts of Pork
To avoid any confusion, let’s talk about the different cuts of pork really quickly because it totally matters how you would cook each cut of meat. This recipe is for pork tenderloin, which cooks totally differently than pork roast or pork chops, or pork loin. The different cuts of meat cook in multiple ways, so let’s make sure we know exactly what we are talking about before we start cooking! For more facts and ideas for recipes with pork, visit Pork.org.
Pork Tenderloin is very lean meat and it comes from the muscle along the backbone of the pig. It’s usually more expensive than pork loin, by the pound, but still goes on sale often. It’s narrow and long. There isn’t a lot of excess fat on a pork tenderloin.
To prepare for cooking, remove the silver skin and then you can sautee, bake, roast, or grill. You can slice it into smaller pieces or cut down the middle and flatten it for even cooking times. There are SO many possibilites!
Pork Loin is the same as a pork loin roast, which is the same as a pork roast. It’s the area of the pig between the shoulder and the beginning of the leg. They can be boneless pork loin or they can have a bone.
Pork Chops are simply sliced pork loin. They can have a bone or be boneless. And they can cut in a really thick cut or a really thin cut.
Pork Shoulder is… you guessed it… from the pig’s shoulder. This will take a long time to cook because it’s a tough cut of meat and you have to cook it low and slow. Pork shoulder is also the same as a pork butt or a Boston Butt roast. All those cuts come from the shoulder portion of the pig. These are VERY fatty cuts of meat. When you hear “Pulled Pork” this is the cut of meat that it usually comes from!
Pork ribs are … wait for it… ribs. You can grill them, bake them or smoke them, usually involving some kind of delicious bbq sauce.
Now, on to the fun part! Let’s get cooking! As we have said before, there are SO many different ways to cook a pork tenderloin. But this is my tried and true tested method that I use all the time.
Heat your oven-safe pan over medium-high to high heat. Put about 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the pan. I use a heavy-bottomed pan for the searing.
Using paper towels, dab any excess liquid off the meat so you get a nice sear. Salt and pepper your tenderloin on all sides. Remember, this is the only seasoning for the meat, so you want to be relatively liberal with your seasoning!
Put your tenderloin in the hot pan and let the tenderloin sear on all sides for around 2-3 minutes per side. This makes a nice crust. You’ll know that the meat is ready to be turned when it releases easily from the pan and you don’t have to pull on it to move it to the next side.
Once the pork is seared on all sides, it goes into the 375* oven. If you have an oven-safe skillet, just leave it in that skillet and move it to the oven. If not, moving the pork into an oven-safe dish or even just a baking sheet is fine too.
Depending on the weight of your pork tenderloin, roast it in the oven for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads AT MINIMUM 145*. I’m not a pink pork kind of gal. Give me 160* all day, every day.
Remove from oven, and for best results, leave the pork on its pan and cover with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes to let the meat rest.
After the meat rests, slice the pork tenderloin into thin or thick slices and serve.
The safe temperature for pork is 145*. I think the best temperature is 160* when it’s totally white and has no pink juices. I want it to be all the way done, so 160* is a good temperature for me and mine. However, it is perfectly safe if the internal temperature of the meat is above 145*, so as long as you get to that number, you are good.
Do remember your pork will continue cooking for a few more minutes once it comes out of the oven, so you may want to pull it when it’s a couple of degrees shy of your desired final internal temperature. It will come up to its final temperature while you let the tenderloin rest. (But do test again to make sure!)
To serve the pork tenderloin, slice it on a cutting board into as thin or thick a slice as you’d like. I like to slice mine at an angle in thin slices. I feel like it makes the pork meat even more tender.
Alternate Preparation Methods
There are so many excellent ways to cook pork tenderloin. Roasting in the oven is delicious, but so is pork
tenderloin off the grill. It’s SO good and smells so good when it’s cooking.
Instant Pot & Slow Cooker
You can definitely cook a pork tenderloin in an Instant Pot or the Slow Cooker. For the Instant pot, put a little broth in the bottom of the pot, season your pork with salt and pepper and then cook on high pressure for about 15 minutes. I use the wire rack to sit the pork on to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot. When it’s done cooking, the meat will fall apart it will be so tender
For the slow cooker, the best method is to add some broth to the bottom of the cooker and cook low and slow for 6-8 hours.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Lots of leftovers are my favorite! So, what do we do with our leftover pork tenderloin? What’s the right way to reheat pork tenderloin? Really, there are a few options! You can microwave it (on a microwave-safe plate or microwave-safe dish), though I think the texture suffers when you microwave the pork.
For optimal leftover pork the second time around, I like to put it in the oven in a covered dish with some chicken or beef broth and let it warm up in the oven slowly and moistly!
If I’m going to use it for soups, quesadillas, stir fry, or BBQ, I’ll cut it up finely and then saute in a pan with the other ingredients.
Cooked Pork Tenderloin
So, are you wondering how to freeze cooked pork tenderloin? You can do it for sure! I like to wrap the leftover pork tenderloin well in plastic wrap insuring there is no excess air in the wrapped pork. From there, I like to put the wrapped pork into plastic bags as well, as a second line of defense against freezer burn. I don’t use just any plastic zip lock bags, I do like to make sure I’m using heavy-duty freezer bags to help cut down on freezer burn. Once frozen, the shelf life of the frozen pork tenderloin is about 3 months in the freezer. (This method also works beautifully for cooked pork roast!) Having some already-cooked meat in the freezer is a great way to save time on meal prep for another busier future week!
If you have a vacuum sealer it would work perfectly for the roasted pork. I have never had one but always wanted one!
Raw Pork Tenderloin
You can also freeze raw pork tenderloin so easily. Honestly, I usually put it in the freezer in its original packaging and put it into a large plastic freezer bag or wrap it in freezer wrap (freezer paper) and let it be. It dethaws relatively quickly because it’s not a huge or thick cut of meat.
Pork tenderloin goes on sale at my grocery store at least once every six weeks, so I usually stock up when they are buy one get one free!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
About 30-35 minutes, maybe even 40 minutes depending on the size of the tenderloin. Check with a meat thermometer and make sure you get to 145* internal temperature.
This will take just a smidge less time than 375*, but you might dry your pork out, so do be careful. But the answer is probably no more than 30-35 minutes. How much time is too much? You don’t want the meat to get tough and dried out, so do use your meat thermometer to make sure you aren’t over-cooking.
145* at minimum, and that will allow for a little pink tint to the meat. I’m a 160* all white meat and no pink juices kind of gal.
You want to make sure your pork is cooked to at least 145* internally. That insures that it’s safe to eat. I’m not a pinkish-pork kind of gal. I need to go to 160* to know it’s done. At 160*, I don’t find the pork to be drier, especially when I roast the pork with this recipe!
For sure! If you want it to get super delicious and you have a lot of time, you could roast it for several hours at 300*. This makes for a delicious and juicy pork tenderloin every single time. I’d be sure to add a bit more broth to the pan though as it’ll be in the oven for a long time!
The answer to that is — it depends. It depends on what you are intending to do with the leftovers. My favorite way is to put the leftover slices into an oven-safe baking dish and put a little bit of chicken or beef (or pork!) broth in the bottom of the dish and cover it with foil and let it warm up that way in a 350* oven for 20-30 minutes.
Sure you can. Wrap it up really well in plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn and freeze for up to 3 months. I would definitely recommend thawing it completely and warming it up in the oven.
Wrap Up – Roasted Pork Tenderloin Basics
So there you have it! A perfect roasted pork whole tenderloin that can be done in as little as 30-35 minutes! (Depending on the size and weight of the meat, the exact cooking time will vary a little, of course! But as a general rule of thumb, you will be less than an hour.) Roast the pork, let it rest for a few minutes, and then slice it up and enjoy the juicy meat. It’s delicious plain like this, or feel free to add a sauce to the meat for even more flavor! Leftover roast pork is an absolute treasure to have later in the week for lunch or dinner as well! Let me know if you like this recipe and this reheating method!
Roasted Pork Tenderloin Basics
- 1 baking sheet
- 1 heavy skillet (Oven-safe skillet makes this a one pot meal!)
- 1 pound Pork Tenderloin
- ½ TBSP Kosher salt (Or to taste)
- ½ TBSP Ground black pepper (Or to taste)
- 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil Or any non-flavored, high heat oil.
- 1. Heat your oven-safe pan over medium-high to high heat. Put about 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the pan. I use a heavy-bottomed pan for the searing,2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
- 2. Using paper towels, dab any excess liquid off the meat so you get a nice sear. Salt and pepper your tenderloin on all sides. Remember, this is the only seasoning for the meat, so you want to be relatively liberal with your seasoning!1 pound Pork Tenderloin, ½ TBSP Ground black pepper, ½ TBSP Kosher salt
- 3. Put your tenderloin in the hot pan and let the tenderloin sear on all sides for around 2-3 minutes per side. This makes a nice crust. You'll know that the meat is ready to be turned when it releases easily from the pan and you don't have to pull on it to move it to the next side.1 pound Pork Tenderloin
- 4. Once the pork is seared on all sides, it goes into the 375* oven. If you have an oven-safe skillet, just leave it in that skillet and move it to the oven. If not, moving the pork into an oven-safe dish or even just a baking sheet is fine too.1 pound Pork Tenderloin
- 5. Depending on the weight of your pork tenderloin, roast it in the oven for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads AT MINIMUM 145*. I prefer 160* and no pink meat.1 pound Pork Tenderloin
- Remove from oven, and for best results, leave the pork on its pan and cover with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes to let the meat rest.1 pound Pork Tenderloin
- After the meat rests, slice the pork tenderloin into thin or thick slices and serve.1 pound Pork Tenderloin