How to grill pork tenderloin

Skip the heavy, fatty meats, and enjoy this delicate lean grilled tenderloin instead.

Sliced grilled pork tenderloin on a wooden cutting board with herbs, salt, and garlic
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Also known as the pork filet, tenderloin is a long, thin and lean cut of pork. It’s not a well used muscle, which leads to it being – as its name might suggest – a soft and tender piece of meat. 

Unlike tougher cuts such as pork belly and pork shoulder that require low, slow cooking methods to tenderize them, pork tenderloin benefits from quick cooking.

No matter whether you’re grilling on one of the best gas grills, or mastering the art of cooking over charcoal, grilling is a great way to cook a pork tenderloin. 

The most crucial need-to-know information is that pork tenderloin will not get more tender the longer you cook it, so as soon as it’s done, remove it from the heat to avoid overcooking. Why not serve it with tasty grilled asparagus or delicious buttery sweet potato?

What you need

  • A pork tenderloin
  • A marinade of your choice; this can be homemade or store bought. But pork tenderloin is extremely lean, so a good marinade will help to stop it from drying out. It’ll also provide essential flavor to this delicate piece of meat. For example, try something like this Cajun marinade at Walmart.

The method

Sliced BBQ pork tenderloin on a wooden chopping board

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  1. Use a sharp knife to remove the silvery skin on the outside of the tenderloin.
  2. Mix up your marinade and coat the tenderloin.
  3. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for 1-24 hours.
  4. Preheat your grill to a medium heat and add the pork.
  5. Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning as needed to ensure all sides cook evenly. After grilling, cover and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Expert tip: cooking times will vary depending on whether you’re cooking on gas or charcoal. According to the USDA, pork has to reach a minimum of 145F to be safe to eat, so ideally check it with a digital meat thermometer to ensure it’s properly cooked. 

Pork tenderloin FAQs

Is it essential to remove the outer silvery skin?

Also known as the silverskin, removing it is essential. Contrary to what the name suggests, this isn’t actually skin. It’s connective tissue, so unlike skin or fat, when cooked it doesn’t dissolve or melt. Instead, it turns tough and chewy. It will utterly spoil the texture of your pork tenderloin if you don;t remove it, so don’t skip this step. 

What are the best marinades?

As a boneless cut of meat, tenderloin has a delicate flavor which can take seasonings and marinades well. In fact, many people would argue that the secret to a tasty pork tenderloin is a good marinade. 

Marinades that contain acid such as vinegar, will help to tenderize the meat further, for a super soft, melt-in-the-mouth result.

Most marinades work well with pork tenderloin, so the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference. You could choose a classic such as maple and dijon or go for a spicy East Asian-inspired kick of ginger, sesame and soy. Whether you make your own or buy one from the store, there are countless marinades and recipes to choose from. 

However, you’re not limited to marinades. You could also combine herbs and spices into a dry rub. The main advantage of a dry rub is that there’s no need to leave it marinating. Simply apply the rub immediately before grilling for a speedy weeknight dinner.

What if I’m in a hurry and don’t let it rest after cooking?

 Resting pork tenderloin, and most meats for that matter after cooking, allows time for the moisture inside the meat to get reabsorbed. Cutting it too soon can lead to moisture pooling out onto the plate which can result in a dry texture. 

For the absolute best texture and most enjoyable piece of meat, resting should be considered part of the cooking process. However, as long as you cook it to at least 145F, there’s no harm in skipping the rest time and eating it immediately. However, the texture won’t be as good.

Is pork tenderloin a good cut to use for pulled pork?

Never use tenderloin for pulled pork. You need a much fattier cut of meat for pulled pork. Pork shoulder is the ideal cut to use. And unlike pork tenderloin, pork shoulder requires a long slow cook to allow it to break down properly for that delicious moist and tender pulled pork texture. 

There are plenty of other dishes to cook on a grill, too, For a faster, lighter meal, why not grill salmon for a delicious, smoky dinner?

Helen McCue
Contributing Editor

Helen McCue is a freelance contributor who trained as a Home Economist. After starting her career in the food industry, she moved into home appliance reviews, utilising her cooking skills and experience to put all kinds of products to the test, and over the years has reviewed hundreds of home and kitchen appliances for a variety of publications.

Having completely renovated her current house, Helen reviews kitchen appliances from her open plan kitchen at home in a beautiful Berkshire village. When she’s not working, Helen can be found enjoying the local countryside or dreaming about her next house renovation project.