This super easy tutorial teaches the secrets to juicy and tender grilled pork tenderloin. 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. And it has a little truth in it since is a lean cut of meat but still more fat than chicken breast meat. It is perfect for a keto diet and fits well into most lower-fat diets.
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.
So let's learn how to cook pork tenderloin to perfection on your grill—the best way to cook any pork.
Always a nice solid high-4 to mid-5. This is the basic technique and produces excellent results.
🐖About Pork Tenderloin
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.
👨🍳How to Grill a Pork Tenderloin
No, a pork loin is not the same as a pork tenderloin. They are different cuts of meat and do not cook the same.
If you are not sure, just the size will tell you. The tenderloin usually weighs about 1 to 1 ½ pounds. A huge one could push towards 2 pounds. If you think you have a four-pound pork tenderloin, you are mistaken.
Most tenderloins will have a "silver skin" that should be removed. It is some tough connective tissue. I work a finger or butter knife under it and work it off. I generally do use a sharp knife, much for the silverskin.
Brine is not needed but will add more moisture and tenderness. But realize it is already very tender and moist.
If you do brine, do not season with additional salt.
A good starting point is to add 1 tablespoon salt and seal it in a food storage bag for every cup of water.
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.
Almost any gas grill will do as long as you can control the grill surface temperature.
Some tiny grills will be crowded.
Yes, you can use a charcoal grill but will need to control the surface temperature usually by adjusting the air vents.
Charcoal tends to get very hot, and the outside will burn before the inside is tender if you are not careful.
A grill surface temperature of 450° to a maximum of 500° is best for grilling pork tenderloin. For most gas grills, that is medium to medium-high heat.
An investment of $10 in a grillhttps://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/05/25/cooking-meat-check-new-recommended-temperatures 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.
Tenderloin takes flavor very well, so dry rubs and marinades work great.
Just use some salt, pepper, and garlic All Purpose Seasoning - 7:2:1 and 7:2:2 but use the seasoning of your choice.
Just brush with a light coat of BBQ sauce for about 5 minutes before reaching your final temperature. Then a second coat when removed from the grill to rest.
If you plan to add sauce, account for that with your dry seasoning.
Grill over direct heat. Rotate the pork tenderloin every 4-5 minutes. Some grillers will recommend indirect heat, but it is not needed.
The biggest secret about pork tenderloins is that it is not round, flat, or 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.
It will take about 25 minutes to grill a 1 ½ pound pork tenderloin. But this will vary with the size and thickness of the tenderloin and the exact grill temperature.
Most pork tenderloins are about 1 ½ pounds. Smaller tenderloins may be as little as 15-20 minutes. Larger pork tenderloins of about 2 pounds may take 30 minutes or a bit longer.
But always remember to cook to a final internal temperature and never by time.
The pork tenderloin is done at a minimum of 145° internal temperature in the thickest part. According to the USDA, that is the minimum safe internal temperature with a 3-minute rest after cooking.
You must check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer or some other meat thermometer.
🌡️Levels of Cooked Pork (Doneness)
|Cooked Pork Level||Internal Temperature|
Serving and Storage
Vegetables like Grilled Mixed Vegetables or Grilled Asparagus make a wonderful side dish. We like to have potatoes of some type like Grilled Baby Potatoes. And fresh salad goes with everything.
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Glazed Grilled Pineapple is a great dessert served with ice cream.
Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days and reheated in a microwave. I live to slice up cold leftovers on a green salad.
📖 Pork Tenderloin Recipes
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Editor's note: Some images from different grillings may not match exactly. They are provided to illustrate the instructions.
Trim the tenderloin of any excess fat and the silver skin.
Optional Brine: Start with 4 cups of water with 4 tablespoons salt in a food-storage plastic bag. Add 2-4 tablespoons of 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 black pepper or other seasonings at this point, but DO NOT ADD SALT if you brine.
Preheat the grill to a surface temperature of 450° to 500°—medium-high on most grills. Clean and oil grates well.
Place over direct heat—close the lid. Rotate ⅓ every 5 minutes until done to your liking. About 25 minutes for 145°, but 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.
How to Grill a Pork Tenderloin on a Gas Grill
- 1 pork tenderloin - about 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 silver skin.
- Optional Brine: Start with 4 cups of water with 4 tablespoons salt in a food-storage plastic bag. Add 2-4 tablespoons of 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 black pepper or other seasonings at this point, but DO NOT ADD SALT if you brine.
- Preheat the grill to a surface temperature of 450° to 500°—medium-high on most grills. Clean and oil grates well.
- Place over direct heat—close the lid. Rotate ⅓ every 5 minutes until done to your liking. About 25 minutes for 145°, but 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.d
My Private Notes
- Remember it is triangular meat not round. So a flip is ⅓ of a rotation.
- Brine if you have time but results are still excellent without a brine.
- Cook over medium to medium-high heat. Use a grill surface thermometer to get 450° to 500°.
- Season any way you want but do not add more salt if you brined.
- The 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 a total update of a guide I published the first year of the blog that was in great need of a rewrite.