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!
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Pork Tenderloin