Grilling Pork Tenderloin The Best Way
When it comes to cooking pork, bacon usually gets all the love, right? Shhh... don't say it too loud and start a riot, but grilled pork tenderloin leaves bacon in the dust.
Yes, I'm talking about that log-shape piece of pork. Have you tried it?
It's okay if you haven't. You can stop trembling because there's nothing to be afraid of here other than missing out on what professional chefs often refer to as the filet mignon on pork.
I figured that would get your taste buds dancing.
I've heard several people say that they're intimated by or just don't know what to do with a pork tenderloin. Is this you? I know I was a little gun shy with my first one. But prep and grilling turned out to be easy-peasy.
Multiple tenderloins later, and I have a recipe that's as easy as it is flavorful. It's seven steps including the marinade.
The pork tenderloin is just a big o' softy, literally. As its name suggests, it's one of the most tender cuts of pork. The flavor is mild, allowing a variety of seasoning options. Plus, it's also one of the healthiest cuts of pork since it has almost no fat. Zero guilt with this one, guys.
I'll pause for a minute and let you wipe the drool. Ready? Good, now let's get to grilling pork tenderloin.
Ingredients For This Pork Tenderloin Recipe
- 2 pork tenderloins weighing one pound each
- 4 minced cloves of garliс
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- pepper to taste
- salt to taste
How much do you like salt? Be cautious with the salt to taste and salt content in soy sauce. Soy sauce has a significant salt content. Kikkoman, for example, has a salt content of 307 mg per teaspoon. Low-sodium soy sauce still has around 192 mg per teaspoon. You can look for a no-salt soy sauce online. My local stores don't carry it in-stock. Let me know if your store does? I find that the soy sauce provides enough seasoning on its own and I don't use additional salt in this recipe.
*Two Pro Equipment Tips*
• What happens when you poke a sharp object into a piece of meat? Yep, all the juices that make the meat flavorful, moist, and tender run out. We aren't flavoring the grill, people. So keep those grilling forks away. I prefer a metal grilling tong. What do you normally use?
• There are two knives listed because you'll need a chopping knife for your garlic and a slicing knife for your finished pork tenderloin.
Are you ready to grill some pork tenderloin? Me too. Ready, set, go.
Step 1: Prep And Mince The Garlic
You will need to mince the 4 garlic cloves. It's okay if you don't know how. We will get through this together:
• Lay out your cutting board.
• Separate four cloves from the garlic bulb.
• There will be a paper-like skin around the bulb; peel it away and trash it.
• Use the flat end of your knife to gently press down on each clove until the skin around it gives and can be removed.
•Slice each clove lengthwise so that you'll have a flat surface to chop and the garlic won't roll away from the knife.
• Lengthwise, make multiple slices into each piece.
• Crossways make multiple slices into each piece.
• Repeat the lengthwise, crossways slicing until you have the desired size pieces.
• Congrats, you've minced garlic.
*Garlic'y Pro Tip*
If you prefer, you can buy prepackaged mince garlic, which is usually found in the produce section of most grocery stores. I have used both fresh bulbs and prepackaged in this recipe. The deciding factor for me is always how much time I have. If rushed, I'll take the help from the store.
Step 2: Make The Pork Tenderloin Marinade
Combine the four ingredients in your ziplock bag:
- 4 minced cloves of garlic (you can use garlic powder)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
You can add your optional kosher salt and black pepper here if you choose. Again, I don't add the extra salt simply because it's not to my taste. Or, you can prepare this easy and delicious home-made marinade.
Did you add the salt? If so, what's your opinion? Does it need more salt than is in the soy sauce?
Step 3: Marinate Your Pork Tenderloins
Place the pork tenderloins in the ziplock bag.
Gently squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing the bag. This just helps to seal the juices around the meat.
Give the bag a few light rubs just to make sure the meat is fully coated.
Place the bag in the refrigerator.
Marinate at least 1 hour (24 hour max) before grilling.
Sometimes we just don't have the hour to spare. You can forgo the marinade, season instead with salt and pepper, and skip to Step 6. I've done it in a rush and still loved how my tenderloin turned out. I do prefer the more flavorful marinade route, though. Try both and see which you prefer.
You can spend a few minutes rubbing the marinade into the meat by gently massaging the outside of the bag. Some believe in this step wholeheartedly. Do you normally massage your meat? I will massage the marinade in if I can only marinade for an hour. If I can leave the juices to absorb into the meat for a couple hours, I don't see the need for the extra step.
Step 4: Allow Tenderloins To Come To Room Temp
Remove the tenderloins from the refrigerator.
Remove from ziplock bag.
Place them on a plate; do not pour marinade into the plate. Why? The sugars in the marinade mixture will drip into flames and could cause your meat to burn.
It will take about 30 minutes at room temp for the tenderloins to lose their chill and be ready to cook.
Step 5: While You're Waiting...
Use the above 30 minutes to prep for grilling.
Ensure your grill is free from old char and debris.
Set your grill to medium-high heat.
Make sure you have your tongs and a clean plate at the grill.
Maybe fix yourself a nice grilling drink because you'll need to stay close once you put your tenderloins on the fire.
Just don't wander off because you're almost ready to get this party started.
Step 6: Let's Grill
Here's where you really want to be careful. Burning this baby is about the only 'uh-oh' you can have in the entire recipe. You've come too far to have that happen.
Goal: You want to evenly cook all four sides by rolling it with your tongs. Each side should cook 5 minutes, or until a light crust forms.
The moment of truth...
Place the tenderloins on the grill on medium heat.
Wait about 5 minutes.
Use your tongs to roll each of the tenderloins to the next side.
Wait about 5 minutes and roll the tenderloins to the next side.
Repeat the roll process every 5 minutes until a meat thermometer shows that the internal temperature reaches the mark of around 150 degrees. Give or take a degree is fine. Here you can learn how to correctly use a cooking thermometer.
Remove your tenderloins from the grill and place on a clean plate.
You'll want to leave them alone now. I know it's tempting to jump the gun and cut right in, but trust me and wait. It will be worth it.
This time of torturous wait allows redistribution of all the juices that you didn't poke out. It's only 10 minutes.
*Juicy Pro Tip*
Turning your meat often and over medium-high to high heat helps to caramelize the outer crust without drying out the inner meat.
Step 7: Slice, Serve, Enjoy Pork Tenderloin
The last thing you want in these final moments is to damage a plate and have your significant other screaming obscenities. No. No. So, I'd suggest transferring your pork tenderloins to a carving, or cutting board, to slice it.
With a sharp slicing knife, begin slicing your tenderloins crossways, which is with the grain of the meat. The finished slices should look like a medallion.
Don't forget to wipe off your cutting board between slicing the garlic and slicing the tenderloins. It's nothing about contamination. Raw garlic is just much stronger than cooked garlic. Unless you really, really love garlic, it wouldn't be good to rub your cooked tenderloins across strong raw garlic that could overpower your tenderloin.
You Did It!
See, I told you it was easy-peasy. Who knew Heaven only had seven steps? Pork recipes aren't that difficult, the cook time isn't that long, the result is definitely worth it, and you can use the new knowledge to expand your horizons and try, let's say, cooking pork chops with dry rub, making your juiciest pork tenderloin with bbq sauce, or you can even make simple chicken recipes your family favorites!
I hope you enjoyed grilling your juicy pork tenderloin as much as I enjoyed sharing the recipe.
What'd you think? Did you try it with or without the marinade step? Did you have any problems mincing the garlic, or did you opt to use the prepackaged minced garlic?
Here’s a video with even more tips and tricks on how to grill pork tenderloin, check it out!
Please leave any suggestions, results, or other thoughts in the comment section.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Pork Tenderloin?
Pork tenderloin is a long, thin cut of pork that runs along the central spine of the pig. The tenderloin is one of the most tender cuts of pork. It has a mild flavor and very little fat, making it very healthy as well.
Is Pork Loin and Pork Tenderloin the Same Thing?
While both pork loin and pork tenderloin are lean cuts of pork, they are not exactly the same thing. The tenderloin is thin and small, while the loin is large enough to cut steak-like pieces. While their flavors are similar, it is not recommended to substitute one for the other. Since they are vastly different in size, they will have very different cooking times and temperatures.
How Long do You Cook Pork Tenderloin?
Pork tenderloin is best when it is cooked evenly on all four sides. When cooked over direct heat on the grill, it should take about 5 minutes per side. You want the tenderloin to reach 145 degrees F with an instant read thermometer. It will raise an additional 5 degrees as it rests.
How Long Should You Rest Pork Tenderloin Before Slicing?
A general rule of thumb is to rest pork tenderloin for 10 minutes a pound. Most tenderloins weigh about one pound, so 10 minutes should be enough time for the juices to redistribute within the protein.
How Do You Serve Pork Tenderloin?
Pork tenderloin can be thinly sliced against the grain once it is rested. These slices make a beautiful presentation when cascaded on top of polenta, mashed potatoes, or roasted vegetables. You can also use the slices of pork tenderloin on a sandwich.