Apparently, cooking the perfect pork tenderloin is incredibly difficult for many people. In fact, "How long to cook pork tenderloin" is one of the top searched questions on both this website and Google.
So, just what is it that makes pork tenderloin so difficult to cook? Based on both my personal experience, and the results of a recent questionnaire, most people just have no idea when pork is done! For most people, when they cut into the pork to check the color and see pink, they automatically assume the pork isn't done and put it back into the oven to cook longer. I mean, after all, weren't we always told that food isn't cooked until the meat is no longer pink? Well, when it comes to pork, that's actually not true! In reality, the pork can still have a hint of pink in it and still be completely cooked and safe to eat.
Now, when I say pink, I don't mean so pink that the pork loin is still "oinking." I'm talking about a hint of pink color in the center of the pork. When you cook pork loin, it's generally best to let the pork rest for 5 minutes before slicing. The pork will actually continue cooking while it rests. But it won't dry out like it would if you left it in the oven to "cook" longer. The best way to truly know when a pork loin is completely cooked is when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the loin registers 145°F.
As you can see in the image above, the pork tenderloin is completely cooked, yet still retains a hint of pink color. When cooking pork, you can expect to see a pink hue to the meat regardless of whether you've grilled or baked it in the oven. Use the table below to help you properly prepare both baked pork tenderloin and grilled pork tenderloin, without losing the juiciness of the meat, learning how long to cook pork tenderloin is not difficult! Let's get started.
Oven Baked Pork Tenderloin
|2-4 Pounds||350 °F||1-2.5 Hours|
Pork tenderloin is great to cook because it really picks up the flavor of whatever marinade or seasoning in which it's cooked. For a dry rub, try using some spices such as fennel or anise seed, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a bit of parsley; roll the pork tenderloin in the spice mixture. The pork tenderloin can also be marinaded in teriyaki, apple cider vinegar, lemon pepper, or garlic and onion sauce.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
When grilling pork tenderloin, follow the instructions below. This cook time is for 2 pork tenderloins (2.5 lbs.).
- Preheat the grill to medium-high; coat with oil or a non-stick grilling spray. Grill tenderloins until they reach 145°F, approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Make sure you baste and flip the tenderloins continuously through cooking. Remove the pork tenderloin from the grill; tent with foil.