One of my favorite cuts of meat to feed my family is pork tenderloin. Not only is it inexpensive and versatile, but pork tenderloin truly rivals filet mignon in the fork-tender department, especially when grilled.
That said, Grilled Pork Tenderloin is a slam dunk, home run — what other sports analogies can I throw out there — touchdown (!!) in the unbelievably juicy and delicious department. Best of all, this pork tenderloin recipe is FOOL PROOF and cooks in less than 15 minutes!
Easy Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Grilled pork tenderloin — how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! It is…
- Fool proof. Whether you have a gas grill or charcoal grill, are an experienced griller or grilling newbie — this recipe just WORKS. Every time. Seared and sizzling outsides, juicy and tender insides.
- Fork tender. When I was growing up, pork roast had to be cooked to 160 degrees, aka shoe leather. The USDA has since updated their guidelines and pork tenderloin only needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, ie juicy, tender, and mouthwatering.
- Affordable. My grocery store sells pork tenderloin for $3.99/lb and I can comfortably feed my family of 5 with ~1-1/2lbs. This makes for a relatively inexpensive dinner option when paired with grilled veggies like asparagus or zucchini.
- Easy! No need to marinate the pork tenderloin first, simply season with your favorite seasonings then slap it on the grill. I actually much prefer a dry rub seasoning vs marinade with brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup for example, because you don’t run into the risk of burning the marinade on the grill. If you want to add sweetness, add it in the form of a sauce when serving the grilled pork tenderloin.
Pork Tenderloin vs Pork Loin
I think it’s very important to note that pork TENDERLOIN is not the same thing as pork LOIN.
- Pork tenderloin: this lean cut of meat comes from the muscle that runs alongside the backbone of the animal.
- Pork loin: this cut is larger and from the back of the animal. It’s commonly slow cooked as a whole roast in the oven.
That said, while you can grill pork loin, it would need to be grilled at a lower temperature and for much longer than pork tenderloin due to the fact that it’s a much larger and thicker cut of meat.
The Secret to Perfect Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Are you ready for this?! The secret to achieving juicy, perfectly-grilled pork tenderloin is two zone grilling. That means that once your grill is nice and hot you’ll scoot the hot coals over to one side of the grill if using a charcoal grill, or turn half the burners to low if using a gas grill, to create a direct heat side and indirect heat side.
First, sear the outsides of the pork tenderloin on the direct heat side of the grill then move it to the indirect heat side of the grill to finish cooking through.
That’s it! I’ll show you how below. :)
Tips for Perfect Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Prep the grill. Make sure your grill is screaming hot before cooking. I heat mine to between 450 and 500 degrees before creating the two heat zones.
- Keep the lid closed. This is soooo important! Keep the grill lid closed between flipping the pork tenderloin. The indirect heat side of the grill relies on the direct heat side to create an oven-like atmosphere inside the grill. If the lid stays open, you’ll lose all your heat.
- Use a digital thermometer. Although it’s on the spendy side, we love this digital thermometer and have used the same one for years. It’s really held up and is incredibly accurate.
- Let the meat rest. This is another Top Tip for perfect grilled pork tenderloin — let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing into it otherwise the juices will run out everywhere and you’ll have dry pork.
I like to slice the grilled pork into 1/2″ thick slices and truly they’re fork-tender. If we’re making pork sandwiches, I’ll slice the tenderloin into really thin slices then pile them onto buns. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this recipe — try it once, and you’ll make it again, and again, and again!
(Looking for more grilling recipes? Try my Perfect Grilled Steak, Grilled Chicken Salad, or Sweet Chili Coconut-Lime Grilled Chicken!)
How to Grill Pork Tenderloin
Step 1: Prepare the Pork Tenderloin
Start by trimming a 1-1/2lb pork tenderloin of any silver skin or membranes then brush it all over with extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil and sprinkle on your desired seasonings.
I typically go with my homemade seasoned salt which contains garlic and onion powders, salt, and paprika, plus pepper, though you can use whatever seasonings you like.
Step 2: Prepare the Grill
Heat your grill until it reaches between 450 and 500 degrees. If you’re using a gas grill, that’s all burners blazing! This could take up to 10 minutes.
This is an XL Big Green Egg and we use their natural hardwood charcoal.
Step 3: Prepare the Two Zones
Once the grill is hot, scoot the charcoal over to one side of the grill if using a charcoal grill.
If using a gas grill, turn half or one third of the burners (depending on how many burners you’ve got) to low.
Step 4: Grill the Pork Tenderloin
- Place the pork tenderloin on the direct heat side of the grill then grill for 1-1/2 minutes on all four sides (envision the pork tenderloin as being rectangular and not circular) keeping the lid closed between turning.
- Move the tenderloin to the indirect heat side of the grill then grill for 4 minutes on each of the 2 larger sides (you will sear on 4 sides in step 1 above, but 2 sides will end up being fatter/flatter) or until an instant read thermometer or meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin reads 145 degrees. Again, keep the lid closed between flipping.
How Long Does it Take to Grill the Pork Tenderloin?
Between the searing step which takes 6 minutes total (1-1/2 minutes on each of the four sides), and the indirect cooking step which takes 8 minutes (4 minutes on each of the larger two sides), you should have perfectly grilled pork tenderloin in 14 minutes!
Step 5: Let the Pork Tenderloin Rest
Remove the pork tenderloin from the grill then place it on a platter or cutting board (something with a lip to catch any juices that naturally seep out) and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
I usually use that time to grill sliced zucchini, asparagus, or corn on the cob. Thanks to the grill — dinner’s done! I call dish duty!
Serve the grilled pork tenderloin with BBQ sauce, Bachan’s Japanese BBQ Sauce, chimichurri sauce, or…ketchup if you’re my 6 year old. ;)
Store any leftover pork tenderloin in an airtight container or wrapped in foil in the fridge for 3-4 days. It is truly delicious cold, and so I usually eat the slices right out of the refrigerator. Otherwise you can reheat in the Air Fryer or microwave.
Chop leftover grilled pork tenderloin then add to Easy Fried Rice, Thai Crunch Salad, Cauliflower Fried Rice, BBQ Cheddar Quesadillas, or even enchiladas. It can really replace chicken as a protein in most any meal.
However you serve it, I hope you LOVE this easy, delicious, economical, fool-proof grilled pork tenderloin recipe! Enjoy!
What to Serve with Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Napa Sweet Corn Salad
- Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Marinated Vegetable Salad
- The BEST Pasta Salad
- Judy’s Baked Beans
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Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Grilled pork tenderloin cooks in just 15 minutes! This easy, healthy grilling recipe is fork-tender, full of sizzling flavor, and fool proof.
- 1-1/2lb pork tenderloin (NOT pork loin), trimmed
- extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
- seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, steak rub, etc.
- Heat grill on high until it reaches between 450-500 degrees then create two heat zones — a direct heat side, and an indirect heat side. If using a charcoal grill, scoot the charcoal over to one side of the grill. If using a gas grill, turn half or 1/3 of the burners to low. Read post above in its entirety for tips on two zone grilling.
- Rub or brush the pork tenderloin all over with oil then season with desired seasonings. Add pork to the direct heat side of the grill then grill for 1-1/2 minutes on all four sides (envision the pork tenderloin as being rectangular vs circular) for a total of 6 minutes. Keep the lid closed between flipping.
- Move the pork tenderloin to the indirect heat side of the grill then grill for 4 minutes on each of the two larger sides, for a total of 8 more minutes, or until an instant read thermometer or meat thermometer reads 145 degrees. Keep the lid closed between flipping.
- Let pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Leave a comment and star rating if you loved the recipe! Thank you for considering!
- I don't recommend marinating the pork in anything containing sugars (honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, etc) as it will burn while searing the outside of the pork.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin