Grilled pork tenderloin is tricky, but with this recipe, you’ll get tender, juicy pork flavored with a spicy sriracha-soy or a sweet bourbon-maple marinade.
Pork tenderloin in general is notoriously difficult to really cook properly, but it’s so affordable that you can take the risk to practice (that’s what I did before I tried my hand at a much more expensive beef tenderloin). With the USDA lowering the safe internal temperature of pork from 160 to 145 degrees F, it’s now easier than ever to produce a tender and flavorful pork tenderloin.
Below are some methods for preparing pork tenderloin just to give you some ideas before getting to the recipe.
One of the easiest and best methods for preparing a pork tenderloin is to use an immersion circulator for a sous vide preparation. It’s the best way to really nail an internal temperature before searing. Not everyone has access to an immersion circulator or the time to use one (it can take 2 hours or much longer from start to finish depending on what you’re making).
Baking / Roasting
While it still takes time, if you don’t have access to an immersion circulator, then roasting can work well as an easy method if done very carefully. Many people prepare it this way, but that can result in overcooking. It takes a tender piece of meat and turns it into something dry and tough.
In my Pork Wellington recipe, the pork is baked inside puff pastry, which helps retain moisture and adds a lot of flavor by encasing all of the ingredients inside. It’s worth a try when grilling isn’t an option or you’re looking for a very affordable way to impress your dinner guests.
Of course, frying is a crowd-pleasing method. Taking thick slices of tenderloin, pounding them out a little, breading, and frying yields fantastic results. Check out this Cajun Spiced Fried Chicken recipe and replace the chicken with pork for great results. Once again though, frying can be messy and a little time consuming.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Grilling, on the other hand is fast and can really deliver on maximizing a tenderloin’s flavor. I won’t kid you, grilling a pork tenderloin needs to be done just right so that the meat doesn’t overcook or dry out. If you have a meat thermometer and can make zones on your gas or charcoal grill, then you should have no problems (all explained below in the instructions).
When it comes to certain cuts of meat (specifically beef), much of the time less is more. However, I’ve always felt that pork tenderloin is a bit bland without a little something extra. That’s where marinades come in. In this recipe I offer up two options. The spicy and savory Sriracha-Soy marinade or the mildly sweet Maple-Bourbon marinade. These flavors work beautifully with a pork tenderloin because they accentuate the mild flavor and bring out the pork’s inherent sweetness while still offering up bold flavors.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Two Different Marinade Options
Grilling pork tenderloin is tricky, but with this recipe, you'll get tender, juicy pork lightly flavored with either a spicy sriracha-soy marinade or a sweet bourbon-maple marinade.
- 1 pound pork tenderloin (Use two pounds if you want to make both marinades.)
- Sriracha and Soy Marinade:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 tbsp Sriracha (Add more or less to vary the spiciness.) 2 tbsp brown sugar 3 cloves finely crushed garlic 1/8 tsp black pepper
- Bourbon and Maple Marinade:
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (If you want a light, sweet flavor use a good quality maple syrup. If you want a lot of “maple” flavor, then opt for one of those syrups in a bottle shaped like a woman.) 2 tbs bourbon 1 tbsp melted butter 3 cloves finely crushed garlic 1 tsp kosher salt 1/2 tsp paprika 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Plastic zipper bags or water tight storage containers
- Small bowl for mixing
- Teaspoon and tablespoon measurements
- Meat thermometer
- Aluminum foil
Sriracha and Soy Marinade
- In a bowl, mix the 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1 tbs sriracha, 2 tbs of brown sugar, and 1/8 tsp of black pepper together until well incorporated.
- Crush 3 cloves of garlic using a garlic press or finely dice the cloves before adding them to the marinade. Mix everything well together.
Bourbon and Maple Marinade
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter on a stove top or microwave and add the butter to a small bowl.
- Mix the 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 2 tbs bourbon, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (add more or less cayenne depending on how spicy you like it) with the melted butter.
- Crush 3 cloves of garlic using a garlic press or finely dice the cloves before adding them to the marinade and mixing.
Marinating and Grilling Pork Tenderloin
- When getting the pork tenderloin ready, check and see if it seems like it has too much silverskin (this is like a membrane that doesn’t cook very well and can affect texture). Most store bought pork tenderloins are trimmed enough already, but if there is a lot of silverskin, then carefully remove it. On most store-bought pork tenderloins, even a little leftover silverskin isn’t usually an issue.
- Place the pork tenderloin into a plastic zipper bag or reusable air tight container that fits the pork snugly along with the marinade of your choice.
- Carefully squeeze the air out of the bag and close it up or place the lid on the container.
- Make sure the marinade is in contact with all parts of the pork. Refrigerate and marinate the pork for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours.
- When ready to grill, remove the pork from the fridge and let it come to room temp for at least 30 minutes, but no more than an hour.
- If using a propane grill (the easiest method) or a charcoal grill, the goal is to create zones of heat. One side of the grill needs to be really hot and the other needs to be very low or no heat. On a propane grill set one side of the grill’s burners to high heat and the other side to very low heat (on my grill, I have three burners, so I set the left and middle ones to high and left the right side burner on the lowest setting). If using a charcoal grill, pile 75% of the charcoal onto one side and leave just a little bit of charcoal on the other.
- When the grill is nice and hot on the hottest zone, place the pork tenderloin on the hot zone letting it sear for no more than one minute per side. The tenderloin usually has 3 or 4 sides that it can rest on without rolling.
- Save the marinade in the bag/container to use later if you want to create a glaze for the pork (instructions below)!
- After searing, move the pork to the low heat zone of the grill. Make sure the fatter side of the tenderloin is towards the higher heat zone, but not on it. The thinner side of the tenderloin should be as far from the high heat zone as possible. This allows the tenderloin to cook a bit more evenly throughout. Lower the high heat zone to medium-high heat.
- Let the pork cook for about 4 minutes per side (again, 3 or 4 sides). After cooking for roughly 12 minutes (rotating every 4 minutes), check the temperature of the thickest part of the tenderloin using a digital meat thermometer. The temperature should read 140 to 145 degrees F.
- When the pork is 140 to 145 degrees F in the thickest part of the tenderloin, remove it from the heat and tent it with aluminum foil. The pork will continue to cook a bit, but the goal is an overall internal temp of 145.
- Let the pork rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing in order to redistribute the juices.
- While the pork rests, pour the saved marinade into a small, shallow, nonstick frying pan.
- Bring the liquid up to a simmer and then reduce to a low heat. Let the marinade simmer for about five minutes. This will thicken up the marinade and it can be used like a glaze or sauce on the pork when serving. Don’t heat it for too long or it will become too thick to use or possibly burn due to the sugars in the marinade. Please note that when reduced, the sriracha marinade is very spicy!
- Place the heated and reduced marinade in a small container to use as a dipping sauce or as a topping for the pork.
- Slice tenderloin into one-inch thick slices after it is done resting and serve immediately.
- No matter how well you cook a pork tenderloin, it tends to dry out a bit after some time, so the sooner you eat, the better!
- Serve it with your favorite sides like rice or salad and top it with a little of the reduced marinade if you like.
No spam. Just real updates on recipes, restaurant reviews, travel, and free giveaways!