Learn how to make perfectly moist and juicy grilled pork tenderloin with this foolproof recipe. Marinated with a handful of pantry staples, this recipe is quick to make, easy to follow, and relatively hands-off.
I love how hearty and satisfying grilled meat tastes. The caramelized crust and the tender interiors are just ‘chef’s kisses’! Some of my go-to grilling recipes are chicken drumsticks, red snapper, and hanger steak.
What is pork tenderloin?
Tenderloin is the region between the pig’s shoulders and its back legs. It is cut from the muscles near the backbone and is one of the leaner pork cuts.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It is so succulent. Like my pork tenderloin marinade, this tangy-umami marinade tenderizes the meat and keeps it moist throughout the cook.
- Absolutely flavorful. The simple marinade packs a punch, and every pork bite is mouthwatering.
- Surprisingly healthy. Pork tenderloin is a healthy meal option because of the cut’s low-fat content and lean nature.
- Great for making ahead. Marinate the tenderloin the previous night to infuse the flavors, and cook it the next day.
What I love about this recipe is how versatile grilled pork tenderloin is! A barbeque essential, you cannot skip making it during the grilling season.
This recipe calls for common kitchen ingredients and, of course, the beginner-friendly pork tenderloin. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pork tenderloin. Buy pork tenderloin and not pork loin for this recipe. If your tenderloin is too thick, do chop it into two thin slices.
- Olive oil. To get the perfect crust.
- Lemon juice. I love using fresh lemon juice, but feel free to experiment with lime juice, orange juice, or even apple cider vinegar.
- Salt. I have used flaky sea salt for this recipe, but if not accessible, use kosher or table salt instead.
- Black pepper. Use freshly ground black pepper to season the marinade.
- Smoked paprika. For the subtle heat.
- Garlic. Use minced garlic to extract maximum flavor it.
- Brown sugar. It balances the other elements of the marinade beautifully. You can also substitute the sugar with maple syrup or honey.
- Soy sauce. The umami penetrates the pork and flavors it with a salty-amino taste.
- Thyme. Fresh thyme adds a superb aromatic element to the marinade.
How to grill a pork tenderloin
Grilling aficionado or not, you’ll love this simple recipe. With detailed steps and straightforward instructions, learn to grill your pork the right way.
Make the marinade. Combine lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, minced garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, olive oil, and fresh thyme in a small bowl and mix it well.
Marinate the meat. Place the trimmed pork tenderloin in a resealable bag, coat it with the marinade, seal it, and refrigerate it at least 10 minutes or overnight.
Grill the tenderloin. Drip off the excess marinade from the tenderloin and place it on preheated and oiled grill. Cook it covered for 10 minutes, flip it, and cook it for further 10-12 minutes until done.
Rest and serve. Once the internal temperature hits 145°F (63°C) for medium-rare or 160°F (71°C) for medium, remove the meat from the heat, rest it for at least 5 minutes, slice into medallions, and serve.
What to serve with pork tenderloin?
Tips to make the best recipe
- Avoid overcooking the pork. To avoid overcooking the tenderloin, I recommend removing the pork tenderloin when it is 5 degrees shy of your desired temperature.
- Let the meat rest. If you slice into the cooked meat the moment it is taken off the heat, the precious meat juices will flow out. Resting allows the meat juices to redistribute and reabsorbed back into the meat.
- Always cover during the grill. The temperature is better maintained when you cover the grill and ensures a uniform cook.
- Get the perfect grill marks. Leave the pork undisturbed on the hot grill for the first 5 minutes. Then rotate it 45 degrees and grill for five more minutes to get the cross grill marks.
- Try a different marinade. The combination of honey mustard works wonders with pork. Couple it with vinegar and soy sauce to make a sweet-savory taste profile.
- Douse it in a sauce. Easily amp up the flavor of the pork by covering it with an umami sauce, like bulgogi sauce, katsu sauce, or eel sauce.
- Make it gluten-free. Substitute soy sauce with tamari to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Amp up herby goodness. Make a mixed herb dressing with parsley, cilantro, oil, jalapeno, salt, and lemon juice, and slather it all over the meat.
To store. Keep the leftover or batch-prepped grilled tenderloin in the refrigerator for 4-5 days in a sealed container.
To freeze. Cooked pork freezes well and can be stored in sealed freezer-safe bags for six months.
To reheat. Use an air fryer, skillet, microwave, or oven to reheat the tenderloin.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Grill. A must-have for all your grilling needs.
- Tongs. To handle the pork without breaking it.
- Meat thermometer. To ensure the perfect cook.
More pork recipes to try:
Frequently asked questions
Loin and tenderloin are two different cuts of meat. While tenderloin comes from the backbone region muscles of the pig, the loin is cut from the pig’s backside. Also, pork loin tends to be much larger and needs longer to cook than lean and thin tenderloin.
Although I highly recommend marinating your pork, you can grill it without prior marination. Generously season with salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika, and then baste with your favorite glaze during the last lap of grilling to maximize the flavor.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, minced garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, and fresh thyme. Mix well to create a marinade.
- Place the trimmed pork tenderloin in a shallow dish or in a Ziplock bag. Pour the marinade over the pork, making sure it's evenly coated. Marinate the tenderloin for at least 10 minutes or up 8 hours.
- Remove the pork tenderloin from the marinade, allowing any excess marinade to drip off.
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Place the pork tenderloin on the preheated grill. Close the lid and cook for about 10-12 minutes, then flip it over using tongs. Cook for another 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145F (62C).
- Remove the pork tenderloin from the grill and let it rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into medallions.
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