Learn how to cook the best pork tenderloin. A short pan sear in cast iron on the stovetop, then finish cooking in the oven to perfection in less than 30 minutes. You get the best of all worlds, excellent browning with tasty and juicy meat. Plus, it's super easy—it sounds like the perfect recipe.
When I grew up, and I believe my wife also, pork was the cheapest pork chops, usually way overcooked in a black cast-iron skillet.
We did some pork when the kids were little and usually bought chops—at least we didn't overcook it. But they hated them anyway. We upgraded years ago to the tenderloin (i.e., "porkies")-a marked improvement.
This recipe depends on an old but true method. First, we will be sear a pork tenderloin in a cast-iron skillet creating flavor by causing the Maillard reaction. Then roast the pork tenderloin in the cast iron skillet in a hot oven. Bake in the oven to bring it up to the final internal temperature.
👨🍳How to make this recipe
Preparing the pork tenderloin
If there is loose fat, remove it. Most tenderloins will have a "silver skin" that should be removed. It is some tough connective tissue.
Work a finger or butter knife under the silver skin than with a sharp knife and some traction work off the silver skin. It may take several times to get most of it. A bit left is not an issue usually.
How to season pork tenderloin
Just coarse salt and black pepper are fine. A lot of the taste will come from the searing of the tenderloin creating a Maillard reaction.
A good dose of garlic is required in our house, and I usually use our All Purpose Seasoning - 7:2:2 which has a good amount of garlic powder.
You may use fresh garlic by adding a couple of fresh garlic cloves to olive oil then spreading over the tenderloin as it moves from the stovetop to the oven.
Thyme, paprika, fresh herbs, or other spices can also be added just before going into the oven.
Sear the pork tenderloin on the stovetop
The best pan to use is a cast iron 10 or 12-inch skillet, but any oven-safe pan that can move from stovetop to oven will work. If you don’t have a pan that will work, sear in a stovetop pan and move to a different preheated oven-safe pan like a rimmed baking sheet to finish.
The shape of the tenderloin is a bit odd. It is not flat, round, or square. It is more of a triangle. So when cooking the tenderloin and it needs to be "flipped," it is a ⅓ rotation, not ½ rotation.
The pan needs to be hot with a couple of teaspoons of oil over medium-high heat when the tenderloin is placed in the pan.
Sear for about 2-3 minutes on each of the three sides before transferring to the oven. Sear to approximately the final color you want at the end of cooking.
Oven baking the tenderloin to finish
Transfer the hot pan with the tenderloin into the preheated 375° convection or 400° conventional oven (see chart below for options.) Cook uncovered until you reach your target internal temperature, allowing for a few degrees rise after removal from the oven.
⏰Approximate Total Cooking Time by Oven Temp
This chart is for medium-rare (145°-150°.) Due to all the variables, it is impossible to give exact times. Here are some estimated times for planning purposes only. Cook to the internal temperature you want and never by time.
|350°||6 to 9 minutes||25+ minutes||31 -34+ minutes|
|375°||6 to 9 minutes||20-24 minutes||26-33 minutes|
|400°||6 to 9 minutes||18-20 minutes||24-29 minutes|
|425°||6 to 9 minutes||15-17 minutes||21-26 minutes|
🌡️Levels of Cooked Pork (Doneness)
|Cooked Pork Level||Internal Temperature|
🐖Pork Tenderloin is Not Pork Loin
The tenderloin refers to the psoas muscle along the lower back. The psoas is the most tender cut of meat since it is not used for movement. It is chicken tenders in the chicken or beef tenderloin (filet mignon) in cattle.
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 tenderloin". No, they do not.
The tenderloin usually weighs about 1 to 1 ½ pounds. A huge one could push towards 2 pounds. PLEASE BE SURE YOU HAVE A TENDERLOIN AND NOT A LOIN.
Why Use Cast-Iron?
While not required for this recipe, cast-iron is the best choice for many reasons.
- Cast iron can tolerate both very high heat and can transfore from stovetop to the oven with ease.
- The bottom is very flat and transferes heat across the surface evenly.
- It is naturally non-stick when properly seasoned.
- It is generally cheap and will last for generations.
The minimum safe final internal temperature is 145°, according to the USDA. At 145°, the center will be a little pink but hot. The pork temperature will rise 2°-4° after cooking, so account for that.
You can cook to a higher internal temperate if you wish.
Yes, you must use a meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer to get the correct final temperature.
In a 400° oven, after a proper sear on the stovetop (about 6-9 minutes), the oven baking time will be 15 to 18 minutes to 145°. It will vary by the size of the tenderloin, the amount of searing, the beginning temperature of the meat, and your pan and oven.
🍽️How to Serve
A 5-minute rest after cooking allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat. Cut across the grain into 1-2 inch slices on a cutting board, then serve immediately.
To fancy it up a bit, a pan sauce can be made with the browned bits and juices left in the pan by adding some broth or wine. You may add other seasonings like dijon mustard or more butter, shallots, or other spices. Whisk together and serve with the slices of tenderloin.
We usually serve with a side dish of vegetables and a potato or rice dish.
To reheat leftovers just a short time in a microwave works well. Or on the stovetop, if the slices are relatively thin, in a frying pan with a bit of oil over medium heat. You can also reheat in the oven sealed in foil.
How to Store Leftovers
In the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days or frozen for 3-4 months.
📖Other Pork Tenderloin Recipes
How to Grill a Pork Tenderloin on a Gas Grill
Oven Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
One Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Potatoes and Carrots
The Best Grilled Pork Tenderloin—Memphis Style
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Preheat the oven to 375° convection or 400° in a regular oven. Trim the pork tenderloin well. Remove the "silver skin" and any trim-able fat. Pat dry with a paper towel, then season with coarse salt and black pepper on all sides.
1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in an oven-safe pan (cast iron is good here) over medium-high heat until hot. Sear for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, rotate ⅓ and repeat until all sides are seared.
Move to the preheated oven with a middle position oven rack. Using a thermometer, cook until an internal temp of 145°-150° (15-18 minutes usually).
Move to a plate and tent lightly with foil and rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Pan Seared Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- 1 pork tenderloin - about 1 ½ pounds
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- kosher salt - to taste
- pepper - coarse ground
- Preheat the oven to 375° convection or 400° in a regular oven. Trim the pork tenderloin well. Remove the "silver skin" and any trim-able fat. Pat dry with a paper towel, then season with coarse salt and black pepper on all sides.
- 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in an oven-safe pan (cast iron is good here) over medium-high heat until hot. Sear for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, rotate ⅓, and repeat until all sides are seared.
- Move to the preheated oven with a middle position oven rack. Using a thermometer, cook until an internal temp of 145°-150° (15-18 minutes usually).
- Move to a plate and tent lightly with foil and rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Your Own Private Notes
- Cast iron works very well here or another oven-safe pan. If you do not have an oven-safe pan, sear on the stovetop then transfer to a preheated oven pan.
- I like to use my All Purpose Seasoning; 7:2:2 for the seasoning but use any seasoning you want.
- Remember that a pork loin is NOT a pork tenderloin.
- Pork tenderloin is a triangular shape so sear all three sides.
- Be sure to rest the meat after cooking for 5 minutes or a bit more so the fluid will reabsorb into the meat.
- Many options are discussed in the post. Please check there if you have questions first.
- Serving size note. Pork tenderloin is two large servings or 3-4 smaller servings and is a bit dependent on the size of the tenderloin. They will range from slightly over 1 pound to almost 2 pounds.
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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Editor's Note: This recipe was originally published on February 15, 2010, the second month of this blog. It has had several minor updates but is now a total rewrite of the discussion and new photos.
I love this recipe. I make it at least twice a month. The tenderloins turn out juicy and perfect just about every time. Normally I do 350-375 but if you're in a hurry bump it up to 400 and they cook really quick. Makes for an easy weekday dinner. Thanks for sharing!!!
You should not assume everyone uses the imperial system like the last country on earth, the US. Please post things in Celsius and Farenheit.
I do have a quick question. When I am tenting it to rest for 5 minutes, am I leaving it in the pan or removing it? I would think the cast iron would keep on cooking it. Or am I taking it out of the oven before it reaches the desired temp? Thanks!
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
Good question. Remove to a plate and lightly tent. I will clarify the wording which been that way for 12 years.
Turned out great, but I need to invest in an instant read thermometer. Sure will make again. Thanks!
Just wondering if I can sear the meat earlier and cook it later in the oven?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
Possible, yes anything is possible but I don't suggest it. Part of getting the tenderloin up to temperature is the searing. If you interrupt the cooking after searing, you will just need to cook longer to get the meat done, it will probably dry some and be tougher.
So, not suggested.
Thank you, made this tonight & it was awesome.
NanaG must have been drunk. This is maybe the best (simple) P.T recipe I have done. Bursting with flavor SUPER MOIST!!! yes, I said the m-word.
Dr. Dan. You're my go to guy for dinner for just the two of us. You have taught me how to get the chicken crispy and well done, the drummies the proper way to prep and set the in the oven. Pork Tenderloin, which we are having tonight will be delicious.
I hope your dogs are doing very well. We have an aging cat who is 18 and still doing great.
Made this with Penny’s Adobo seasoning and roasted delicata squash. Wonderful!!
Dr. Dan. You're the best. Pork Tenderloin was amazing as were the mashed potatoes and corn to go along with the dinner.
You never fail to show all of us how to make great meals. You are my number one go to chef!
Thanks and keep on cookin'
Rochelle The Queen
First time here. Your recipe was spot on. I made Pork Tenderloin with the Garlic Garnish, whipped potatoes, steamed broccoli and Cayenne Honey Carrots. I even made a gravy from the "drippings". Delish. Thank You.
made this last night , was absolutely delicious. I love my cast iron pan but don't have a lot of go to recipes for it, tho i fry in it exclusively. the meal was delicious, the recipe easy, I loved it and will make it again and again.
I am making this for the third time tonight. This is a most excellent way to achieve a juicy pork tenderloin. My family loves it and I shared some with my neighbor who shared with his Dad and they both raved about it too. Also, the commenter who suggested to do a little butter, sage and white wine reduction sauce at the end is a genius! Thank you for that suggestion!! Thank you DrDan for this amazing recipe.
Thanks for the note and sharing.
Instead of finishing in the oven at 375 for 20-30 min, can you suggest a lower temp that will finish the meat in about an hour? I’m having guests and would like to finish the grilling before they arrive for a pre-dinner cocktail. Thanks
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
I will jump in here since the comment by Con is older and they may not respond.
The lower and slower you cook this, the drier it will become, so low and slow is not a real good idea here.
May I suggest https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/one-pan-roasted-pork-tenderloin-with-potatoes-and-carrots/ You can prep ahead, leave covered in the refrigerator, and preheat the oven. Snick into the kitchen and attend to it quickly as needed.
Dr. Dan, you have rescued so many dinners in my house! After the amazing recipes for drummies and thighs on the grill, I wasblooking for a good, easy way to pan roast a tenderloin and once again, you came through. I follow this recipe to the letter, and it comes out perfect every single time. No questions here, just plenty of gratitude! Thanks for all the amazing recipes, my good sir!
I am sooo drooling right now! I'm alone and one pork loin lasts about three or four days then I give the last little bit to my puppydog. Hahahaha Not This Time! Thanks so much for this - I'm making it right now!
Weird that you hated pork chops as a kid since half of it is tenderloin and the other half loin.
Really cheap cuts, full of fat and over cooked.
Cuz our mothers overcooked all meats to shoe leather!
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
Have a great holiday.