From baking in the oven, cooking in the slow cooker, to pan-frying or grilling, pork tenderloin can be prepared in a multitude of ways. The small size of the cut of meat makes it quick and easy to grill, just like a steak. When grilled, pork tenderloin comes out with a fabulous smoky flavor with a crispy exterior and moist and tender interior. Whether using barbecue sauce, a dry rub, or your own special marinade to flavor the meat, there are plenty of options for making the tenderloin a major hit among your family and friends. You can use either a gas or a charcoal grill, just note that a charcoal grill will yield a smokier flavor than a gas grill. Instructions for both methods are included in this article.
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Step 1: Marinate the Meat
Add all of the ingredients for the marinade to a blender and blend until combined (see note regarding marinades and dry rubs at the end of this article). Transfer the pork tenderloin and marinade to a sealable bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
Step 2: Get Meat Ready for Grilling
When ready to grill, take the pork out of the refrigerator and allow it to sit until it comes to room temperature -- this will ensure the meat cooks evenly on the grill.
If using a gas grill, preheat the grill to medium-low (about 350 to 375 degrees F). If using a charcoal grill, light the coals and allow them to heat until they begin turning white and have embers. Spread the coals over the bottom of the grill, insert the grill rack and then cover in order to preheat the grill.
Step 3: Grill the Pork Tenderloin
For the quickest method of grilling, place the pork tenderloin on the grill between burners if using a gas grill, or over the hottest part of the coals if using a charcoal grill. Replace the cover, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until grill marks appear.
Flip, and continue cooking, covered, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat this process several times (pork tenderloin typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes to grill), replacing the cover between flips, until meat is cooked through. The meat will feel firm yet springy when poked once it is finished cooking. If any flare-ups occur, or if the meat is cooking too quickly, you can move it to the back of the grill (or to the side if using a charcoal grill) so that it cooks slower.
For a slower method of cooking, you can cook the meat with indirect heat by keeping it in the back or off to the side of the grill. This method frees up space so that you can cook other meats or vegetables over direct heat. If you choose to cook the meat over indirect heat, start it on direct heat, cooking it 2 minutes on each side (until grill marks appear on both sides), then move it to an area with less heat. Allow the meat to sit and slowly cook 5 to 6 minutes before flipping. Repeat this process until cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Step 4: Allow Meat to Rest
Transfer the grilled pork tenderloin to a plate or cutting board and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. During this time, juices will distribute throughout the meat, making for a juicier meat that's also easier to cut. The meat will also continue cooking and may gain a few degrees, so bear this in mind when grilling so as not to overcook. To check the temperature of the meat, insert a meat thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat. Wait until the needle stops moving to get an accurate internal temperature rating. 145 degrees Farhenheit is considered the food-safe temperature to cook pork to, but many people prefer it be cooked to a lower temperature (between 135 and 140 degrees) so that the meat stays juicy and tender.
Step 5: Cut the Tenderloin into Medallions and Serve
Use a sharp knife to cut the tenderloin into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Serve with choice of sides and enjoy!
Fresh lime or lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, pure maple syrup, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, onion, fresh herbs and seasonings are all great ingredients to use in marinades. As an alternative, you can use your favorite store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce for marinating the meat.
How to Make Your Own Dry Rub
For a dry rub, you can use your favorite spice blend, such as Jamaican Jerk or Cajun seasoning, or create your own. To do so for a 1-pound tenderloin:
Combine seasonings and herbs such as garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, lemon pepper, dried rosemary, basil or oregano in a bowl along with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
Stir the seasonings together until combined. You will want about 2 tablespoons worth of rub for a 1-pound cut of meat.
Sprinkle the rub over the meat and use your hands to gently distribute it over the whole surface of the meat. Allow the meat to sit in the rub for at least 15 minutes or up to 12 hours.
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