How Long to Cook Pork Tenderloin
Impressive, easy to cook, and undeniably crowd-pleasing, the pork tenderloin has been a go-to cut of meat for dinner parties and family-style meals for as long as we can remember. This juicy and succulent cut of meat is perfect for every occasion, from celebratory feasts to casual cookouts, thanks to its ease of cooking and universal popularity.
When cooked right, pork tenderloin is an extremely tender, melt-in-your-mouth cut of meat. However, if it’s overcooked, the result can be a dry cut of meat that’s tough to sink your teeth into. Therefore, timing is absolutely key when it comes to preparing this classic protein, in terms of both food safety and flavor.
Watch: How to Make Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Golden Potatoes
Pork tenderloin, like all cuts of pork, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption. At 145 degrees, your tenderloin will likely have a small amount of pink in the center, which is completely safe to consume. Use an internal meat thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the tenderloin to guarantee your pork is cooked fully through, and allow your cooked meat to rest between 3-5 minutes before slicing and serving, regardless of the cooking method you choose.
Whether you’re roasting, braising, or grilling, these time guidelines will help to guarantee a perfectly cooked pork tenderloin every time.
When roasting pork tenderloin, the oven should be set to a high temperature—between 425-450 degrees—and the pork should be placed in a shallow, uncovered pan. This high heat will guarantee a flavorful, caramelized surface and a fully cooked interior. Depending on the size of your tenderloin, roast the pork for 20-27 minutes. A ½ pound tenderloin should be cooked closer to 20 minutes, while a 1½ pound tenderloin should be cooked for the full 27 minutes.
Broiling and Grilling
Both of these high, direct heat methods are great options for preparing BBQ or marinated pork. Whether broiling (with the pork 4 inches from the heat) or grilling over direct, medium heat, cook the tenderloin for 20 minutes total for a ½ pound to 1½ pound tenderloin, flipping once halfway through.
When it comes to cooking tenderloin in a skillet on the stovetop, it’s best to stick to tenderloin medallions— ¼ to ½ inch thick slices of tenderloin—as it will be difficult to cook a full tenderloin all the way through with the heat from the skillet alone. Cook the medallions over medium-high heat for 4-8 minutes depending on the thickness, flipping once halfway through.
This method can be used to cook either tenderloin medallions or a full tenderloin. While the medallions will cook much quicker, braising the tenderloin whole will all but guarantee an extremely moist and supple end result. Medallions, sliced to ½ inch pieces, should be simmered in braising liquid for 8-10 minutes. A full tenderloin should be browned for 3-4 minutes per side prior to braising and then cooked in simmering liquid for about 50 minutes, until the pork is cooked to the proper temperature.
Heating your tenderloin in a slow cooker is not only a great way to save on time and prep work, but will also result in a juicy cut of meat that’s been given ample time to cook low-and-slow. Cook your tenderloin with the liquid of your choice on a low heat setting for 7-8 hours to ensure a moist, fully cooked through cut of meat.
Once you’ve nailed the basic timing for cooking a perfect pork tenderloin, try out some twists on the classic like Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, Grilled Pork Tenderloin Roulade, and Pork Tenderloin with Crunchy Beet Slaw, or think outside the traditional tenderloin box with recipes like Pork Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce, Grilled Jamaican Pork Tenderloin Salad, and Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.