Seasoned with bold flavors, this easy turkey tenderloin recipe is extra tender and succulent. Oven baked to perfection, it makes a healthy and quick dinner with three other cooking methods (air fryer, slow cooker, and grill).
Think turkey breasts were reserved for Thanksgiving and the holidays? Think again! This juicy turkey tenderloin recipe proves it can and should be part of your dinnertime rotation.
Like air fryer turkey breast and roasted boneless turkey breast, the tenderloin is known for being extra tender. We often have them in our regular weeknight meal rotation as a fun alternative to chicken breasts or pork steak.
Table of Contents
- Perfect texture and flavor. Like spatchcock turkey, the meat is perfectly juicy and moist in the middle. It’s subtly spicy, a tiny bit sweet, and oh-so flavorful!
- Four cooking options. I like to bake the turkey, but I’ve also tested it in the air fryer, the slow cooker, and a simple charcoal grill.
- Quick and easy. From prep to plate, this dish cooks in under 30 minutes!
- Easy to customize. Similar to sous vide turkey breast, I like to keep things simple with just a handful of seasonings, but you can dress it up with a fancy sauce, a juicy marinade, or even a flavorful spice rub.
If you have any leftovers, turn them into a delicious turkey sandwich or shred the meat and add it to turkey noodle soup.
This turkey breast tenderloin is so easy, and besides the meat itself and some seasonings, there isn’t much else that is needed. Here is what you’ll need:
- Turkey tenderloins. Buy fresh, light pink turkey loins for this recipe. Note that they are significantly larger than chicken tenderloins.
- Salt and black pepper. For seasoning.
Turkey tenderloin marinade
- Garlic and onion powder. It gives a nutty fragrance and flavor to the tenderloin without needing the fresh kind.
- Paprika and chili flakes. I have used a blend of two peppers to get a lovely heat. Add a teaspoon of cayenne to the mix to amp it up!
- Oregano. I didn’t want an overpowering Italian herby flavor, so I restricted myself to only dried oregano. You can use fresh herbs, too, like rosemary and thyme.
- Cumin and coriander powder. Adds some savory and umami forward flavors.
- Brown sugar. It adds sweetness and helps get a perfect caramelization.
- Olive oil. To coat the pan. Butter also works.
How to cook turkey tenderloin
I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1- Prep the spice mix marinade: Mix spices in a small bowl.
Step 2- Season the turkey: Dry the turkey, coat them with spice, and press them into the meat. Marinate them in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Step 3- Cook in the skillet: Place the turkey in a smoking hot cast iron skillet with oil. Cook on medium-high on all sides.
Step 4- Finish in the oven: Once golden, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the internal temp reaches 155°F.
Step 5- Rest, slice, and serve: Rest the turkey for 15 minutes, carve the turkey, and serve.
Alternative cooking methods
As mentioned earlier, while I prefer roasting the tenderloin, I’ve tested this recipe in the air fryer, on the grill, and also in the slow cooker.
Air fryer method: Prep the turkey as instructed then place it in the air fryer basket. Air fry at 200C/400F for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Grill method: Skip the searing step and add the tenderloins directly onto a hot grill. Cook each side for 3-4 minutes or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
Slow cooker method: To make crockpot turkey tenderloin, sear the turkey and add it to a slow cooker, along with any vegetables. Cook on low for 5-6 hours then serve
Recipe tips and variations
- Prep it the night before: Get a headstart on your cook by marinating the turkey tenderloin a day in advance.
- Let the turkey rest: Do you know the secret to a juicy turkey? It is the resting time! The juices redistribue during this time and make the turkey super succulent!
- Avoid overcooking the turkey: You must monitor the cooking time because it is a lean meat cut. Depending on the thickness of the cut, adjust the baking times so that the turkey is cooked to perfection. The best way to check is to use an instant-read thermometer. Like chicken, fully cooked turkey is safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
- Save the turkey drippings: Don’t throw away the brown bits from the skillet. Deglaze the pan and make gravy with it!
- Serving ideas! I typically make the turkey the star of the dinner and add side dishes around it. Salads, potatoes, and some cranberry sauce for a delicious turkey dinner.
How to store leftovers
To store. Keep the leftover turkey tenderloin in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To freeze. Allow the turkey to cook thoroughly, then freeze it in a ziplock bag for up to three months.
To reheat. Reheat in the microwave or a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remember to cover the tenderloin with foil before reheating in the oven.
Frequently asked questions
Covering the turkey as it bakes is unnecessary, as it has been seared beforehand and will cook more evenly and quickly without it. Also, check its internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Cooked turkey tenderloin should have an internal temperature of 165F.
More delicious ways to enjoy turkey
Turkey Tenderloin Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Combine the spices in a small bowl. Pat dry the turkey with a paper towel.
- Sprinkle the spices on the turkey breasts and press them well into the meat, ensuring all sides are covered. Let it marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- Heat the olive oil in an iron skillet on medium-high heat until smoking hot. Cook the turkey, turning occasionally until golden crust forms on all sides.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 25 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 155F.
- Leave the turkey tenderloin to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
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