How to Grill Pork Tenderloin That’s Juicy Every Time

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Meat. Fire. Flavor. Do we have your attention? We're talking all about the art of grilling perfectly juicy pork tenderloin.

Fire up your grills and grab a beer—because it’s time to grill up some juicy pork tenderloin. Wait. You say you’ve never grilled pork tenderloin before? Well, you’re in for a treat! Not only is this pork tenderloin ultra-tender, but it’s also full of flavor thanks to an Asian-infused sweet and spicy marinade. Intrigued? Drooling? Us too.

Keep reading to learn how to grill pork tenderloin step-by-step.

How to Select and Prepare Pork Tenderloin

If you’re new to working with pork tenderloin, there are a few things you should know to set yourself up for success.

Pork Tenderloin vs Pork Loin

The first thing to know is that pork tenderloin is very different from pork loin. While they’re both cut from the same loin region of the pig, they have very different textures, taste and preferred cooking methods. The main way to tell them apart is by size. The pork loin is much larger and wider than the tenderloin and has a very distinctive fat cap on the top of the meat.

Meanwhile, the tenderloin is a smaller, longer cut of meat and usually slightly darker in color, too. The tenderloin comes from just below the pig’s back fat and is the most tender cut of meat on a pig.

Choosing the Best Pork Tenderloin

When selecting a pork tenderloin, look for a piece of meat that is roughly one pound and contains some marbling throughout the meat. Marbling refers to tiny veins of fat running through the meat. The fat adds moisture (and flavor) to the meat which helps keep it tender as it cooks.

trimming the silver skin from pork tenderloinLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Removing the Meat’s Silver Skin

While some butchers fully trim their pork tenderloins, others will leave a bit of work for you to do once you bring your pork tenderloin home. Pork tenderloin often has a thin, shiny layer of tough connective tissue on it that’s called silver skin. For best results, you’ll want to carefully trim the silver skin off of the meat using a sharp knife. If left on, the silver skin will be tough and unpleasant to chew through once cooked. The extra five minutes of trimming is well worth the effort.

How to Keep Grilled Pork Tenderloin Juicy

Pork tenderloin is a very lean cut of meat. If fact, it’s considered to be just as lean as a chicken breast. Its lack of fat makes it a smart choice for meat lovers looking to be more health-conscious. However, its lean nature also raises concerns about dryness. This is how to keep pork tenderloin nice and moist:

Use a Marinade

A marinade is a great way to add flavor and moisture to lean cuts of meat like pork tenderloin. Marinades work by breaking down the muscle fibers and connective tissue in meat which tenderizes is and also allows it to better retain moisture. For pork tenderloin, mix up your favorite marinade recipe and pour it over the meat and then let it hang out, covered, in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Let the Tenderloin Rest Before Slicing

This trick isn’t just for pork tenderloin. Resting the meat is a practice you should follow for just about any cut. As meat cooks, its juices are pushed out towards the surface of the meat, and some even seep out. When you remove the meat from the grill or oven, you want to give those juices a moment to sink back into the meat and redistribute. If you cut into the meat right away, they’ll leak out and you’ll be left with a tough, dry tragedy on your plate.

For the juiciest meat you’ll ever cut into, let the pork rest on a platter covered with foil for at least 10 minutes.

Tips for Prepping Your Grill

There’s a lot more to grilling then fire. When grilling pork tenderloin you’ll want to grill with a combination of both direct and indirect heat. Direct heat will be used first to give the pork a nice char that locks in flavor and moisture. Then, the meat will be moved to an area of your grill with indirect heat. The pork will roast slowly, covered, in the grill’s circulating heat until it reaches the proper internal temperature. Learn more about direct and indirect heat.

  • Charcoal Grill: To prep your charcoal grill for indirect and direct heat, you’ll want to pile your charcoal to one side of the grill and leave one side of your grill bare without any charcoal below it.
  • Gas Grill: To prepare your gas grill, turn one side of your grill up to medium-high heat and then leave another half off your grill off, or set to its lowest heat setting.

Essential Tools for Grilling Pork Tenderloin

An instant-read digital meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking large cuts of meat like pork tenderloin. We trust this model from ThermoWorks ($99) in our Test Kitchen to record accurate temps for all our recipes.

Outdoor-friendly prep trays are great for any serious griller as food needs a way to travel from kitchen to patio. This set from Cuisinart ($30) has a handy color-code system to prevent raw meat from mingling with your finished dish.

No grill is complete without its accessories. This stainless steel set ($60) is perfect for beginners and comes with everything from a heavy-duty spatula to a fancy set of holders for your corn on the cob.

How to Grill Pork Tenderloin

grilled pork tenderloin teriyaki marinade ingredientsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)

Instructions

grilled pork tenderloin teriyaki marinade mixed togetherLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 1: Prepare the marinade

In a large bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients. Whisk together and set aside.

pork tenderloin in a teriyaki marinadeLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 2: Marinate the tenderloin

Next, place the tenderloins into a resealable, gallon-size plastic bag or pan with deep sides. Pour half of the marinade over the tenderloins and turn to coat them completely. Seal bag or cover your sheet pan with plastic wrap; refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Turn the pork occasionally to ensure all sides of the pork have a chance to soak submerged in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.

pork tenderloin on a grill with roasted corn on the cobLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 3: Grill the pork

Drain and discard the marinade from meat. Grill, covered, over direct heat for 2-3 minutes on all sides to char the meat’s exterior. Then move the tenderloins over indirect medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Turn the meat occasionally and bast with the reserved marinade. Continue to cook until the internal temperature of the meat reads 145°F. Remove promptly.

teriyaki grilled pork tenderloin served on a platter and plated with rice and grilled aparagusLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 4: Rest and carve

Rest the tenderloin on a large platter covered with foil for 10 minutes and then cut into wide slices.

Nutrition Facts

3 ounces cooked pork: 196 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 64mg cholesterol, 671mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (14g sugars, 0 fiber), 24g protein.

How to Store Cooked Pork Tenderloin

You can store leftovers in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. It’s also great leftover for tasty pork tenderloin sandwiches.

More Pork Marinade Ideas

Get creative with your pork tenderloin marinades. Pork pairs well with a variety of herb, spices and flavors so the options are almost limitless. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Mustard and pork are a match made in heaven. Try this Sweet and Tangy Mustard Marinade.
  • Pineapple and citrus pair great with pork. Make a tropical-inspired marinade with orange juice, spices and pineapple.
  • Make it boozy. Try a marinade that incorporates bourbon, whiskey or other spirit and sweeten with honey and spices.
  • Fresh herbs are never a bad idea. Make a woodsy, aromatic marinade with rosemary, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and spices.
  • Barbecue—of course! Marinade your pork overnight in your favorite homemade or jarred barbecue sauce for a finger-licking-good dinner.
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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.