Dark golden brown, crusty & salty outside. Tender and juicy through and through. Maybe a velvety mushroom & red wine sauce, slathered over a perfectly cooked pork tenderloin. It’s a meal we all want to eat. Sadly, the baked pork tenderloin we all usually get is gray in color. Has a limp, flappy texture. And is dry as a bone. Well say goodbye to crappy pork. I’ve got the secret to perfectly baked pork tenderloin right here.
When most people think about baking, they think brownies and cookies. That means a 350 degree (f) pre-heated oven. And an hour, or some other ridiculous amount of cooking time. That violates one of the key rules of cooking: High Heat = Great Meat.
Getting a perfectly baked pork tenderloin and easy and takes just a few rules. First start the process in a pan, on top of the stove. Searing the meat on all sides gets you a super flavorful crust. Then move the whole pan into a 425 degree (f) oven for just enough time to get the meat to ~145 degrees in the center. The pork stays tender and juicy on the inside. Tons of flavor on the outside. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
How to Bake a Pork Tenderloin
- As always, make sure to buy a good quality piece of pork
- I prefer to buy tenderloins without the flavor/marinade already on them, but this method works well with either
- Bring the pork out of the fridge, and unwrap it about an hour before you want to cook it, so it comes up to room temperature
- Coat the meat with a thin layer of olive oil, and season very liberally with salt and pepper
- If you’d like you can add other spices, I tend to really like cumin with pork
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees (f)
- Bring an oven proof pan to temperature over med-high heat on the stove top
- If you don’t have an oven proof pan, use what you have, and then put a baking dish in the oven to pre-heat
- Coat the bottom of the hot pan with olive oil, and slowly add the pork tenderloin
- They’ll likely be some smoke which is ok…just turn on the vent/open a window; it should not be full three alarm fire.
- Allow the pork to sear on that side for about 3 - 4 minutes without moving or touching it
- After 3 – 4 minutes the pork should be nicely browned on one side; rotate it 360 degrees and sear the other side for 3 – 4 minutes
- Again, no reason to lift or fiddle with the pork, just let it cook
- Do the same with the remaining 2 sides, although you can probably shave a bit of time on the 3rd & 4th sides; 2 – 3 minutes each. The idea is to get the entire tenderloin seared
- If the bottom of your pan is starting to scorch, turn the heat down, and/or add a bit more oil
- Now move the entire pan into the pre-heated oven, or if your pan is not oven proof, transfer the pork into the hot baking dish
- Since you seared the pork the stovetop of 9 – 12 minutes, most tenderloins will only take another 10 – 15 minutes to get to 145 degrees in the center.
- That internal temperature is just past medium, which is where I love to cook my pork tenderloin. The meat will stay juicy and tender. And not have a rare look to it.
- The best way to tell the temp is with an instant read meat thermometer
- Take the pork tenderloin out of the oven, and set on a cutting board for 8 – 10 minutes
- This time is “resting” and allows the juices to settle back into the meat…again very important to keeping the meat juicy
- After resting, you’re ready to slice up that pork and serve it up.
- Give it a try with a nice Pinot Noir!