Learn the secrets to juicy and tender grilled pork tenderloin with this super easy tutorial. A properly grilled pork tenderloin will make you look like the grill master. Just don't tell them how simple it is.
We all know that pork is "the other white meat." What a great marketing phrase.
Pork tenderloin may be the perfect meat for grilling. It can be elegant or casual to fit almost any occasion. It’s cheap and healthy, plus its smaller size makes it near perfect for smaller households. But easy to double up for larger needs.
Always a nice solid high-4 to mid-5. This is the basic technique and produces great results.
The tenderloin refers to the psoas muscle along the lower back. It is chicken tenders in the chicken or beef tenderloin (filet mignon) in cattle. The psoas is generally the most tender cut since it is not used for movement.
A Pork Loin is NOT a pork tenderloin!!!!
Over the years on this blog, many commenters seem to get pork loin and tenderloin confused. It is obvious when they have a “4-pound pork tenderloin”. No, they do not.
The tenderloin usually weighs about 1 to 1 ½ pounds. A very large one could push towards 2 pounds. PLEASE BE SURE YOU HAVE A TENDERLOIN AND NOT A LOIN.
Almost any gas grill will do. We want a grill surface temperature of 450° to a maximum of 500°. For me, I use a super-duper Weber that can get very hot, and that will be a small amount over 50%. It will be at about 75% on most gas grills, and an el-cheapo may be close to max.
Investment of $10 in a grill surface thermometer is always a good idea. DO NOT look at the thermometer on the hood of your grill; it is not even close.
For help on grill surface temperature, please see my A Beginners Guide to Grill Temperature on a Gas Grill.
Charcoal should be fine. Just don't crank up the heat all the way and watch the temperature.
Of course, preheat, clean, and brush with vegetable oil.
THE BIG SECRET
This is simple. It is not round, flat, nor even square. It is a triangle, so there are three sides. So, whether cooking on a grill or in a pan, cook three sides and don't force it into a shape that is not natural.
To brine or not
A brine is not really needed but will add more moisture and tenderness. But realize it is already very tender and moist. A good starting point is for every cup of water, add 1 tablespoon salt.
You can fancy up your brine, some with sugar or brown sugar. Use about the same amount of sugar as salt. You can add some garlic or other things for flavor. An hour or two is enough time.
Of course, refrigerate during the brining and rinse the tenderloin with running water, and pat dry at the end. DO NOT ADD ANY MORE SALT if you brine.
Dry rub and marinades
Tenderloin takes flavor very well, so dry rubs and marinades work great. Today I will just use some salt, pepper, and garlic (my 7:2:2 seasoning), but the tenderloin accepts flavors very well.
Basic BBQ version
Just brush with a light coat of BBQ sauce about 5 minutes before reaching your final temperature. Then a second coat when removed from the grill to rest.
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Editor's note: Some images from different grillings and may not match exactly They are provided to illustrate the instructions.
Trim the tenderloin of any excess fat and the silverskin.
This is the point to brine if you wish. Start with 4 cups of water with 4 tablespoons salt. Add 2-4 tablespoons sugar if you want. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. When done with the brine, remove from brine, rinse under running water, and pat dry. Salt and pepper or other seasoning at this point, but DO NOT ADD SALT if you brine.
Preheat grill to a surface temperature of 450° to 500°. Medium on my super-duper grill but medium-high on lesser grills. Clean and oil.
Place over direct heat—close lid. Rotate ⅓ every 5 minutes until done to your liking. About 25 minutes for 140°. About 30 minutes for 150° (my wife's favorite). Remember, do not cook by time alone. Use a thermometer. The time to get to your final temperature varies by weight and the exact surface temperature of the grill.
Remove from the grill a few degrees less than your desired final temperature. Tent lightly for 5 minutes before serving.
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How to Grill a Pork Tenderloin on a Gas Grill
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- 1 pork tenderloin - about 1 to 1 ½ pounds
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste - I use 7:2:2
- 4 cups water
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Trim the tenderloin of any excess fat and the silverskin.
- This is the point to brine if you wish. Start with 4 cups of water with 4 tablespoons salt. Add 2-4 tablespoons sugar if you want. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. When done with the brine, remove from brine, rinse under running water, and pat dry. Salt and pepper or other seasoning at this point, but DO NOT ADD SALT if you brine.
- Brush the grill with oil. Preheat grill to a surface temperature of 450° to 500°. Medium on my super-duper grill but medium-high on lesser grills. Clean and oil.
- Place over direct heat. Close lid. Rotate ⅓ every 5 minutes until done to your liking. About 25 minutes for 140°. About 30 minutes for 150° (my wife's favorite). Remember, do not cook by time along. Use a thermometer. Time to get to your final temperature varies by weight of the tenderloin, exact surface temperature of the grill and the tenderloin at the start.
- Remove from grill a few degrees less than your desired final temperature. Tent lightly for 5 minutes before serving.
- Remember it is triangular meat not round. So a flip is ⅓ of a rotation.
- Brine if you have time.
- Cook over medium grill.
- Season anyway you want but do not add more salt if you brined.
- Final internal temperature of 145°-150° is nicely done.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Publisher note: Originally Published May 21, 2017. I have re-used pictures from other posts. This is really a total rewrite of a guide I published the first year of the blog that was in great need of a re-write.