Baked Pork Tenderloin for Beginners: Simple Recipes

baked pork tenderloinFor a simple and easy cut of meat to prepare, pork tenderloin is the way to go. It got its name because it is, in fact, very tender. It is naturally that way because it is not a muscle used for movement, so it doesn’t get tough like other cuts.

Since pork tenderloin is lower in fat, it is also milder in flavor, meaning it is a good meat to use with sauces and marinades. It is a very versatile cut for cooking, pairing nicely with many different kinds of flavors. It’s good roasted or grilled or stir fried, sliced into medallions, served on a plate with sides or sliced thin and put on a sandwich. It is only up to your imagination how to prepare this tasty piece of pork.

If you need some general pointers for cooking, check out Cook Like a Man. It is taught in a humorous manner, but covers not only recipes, but general kitchen skills as well, like knife skills and choosing good produce.

If you want some basic baked tenderloin ideas, then keep reading.

Since the tenderloin is so lean and mild it is easy to overcook the meat, resulting in a flavored piece of leather that takes too long to chew. Because of processing changes and general improvements in meat processing, the USDA has lowered the recommended cooking temperature for pork a few years ago. The newer temp for pork roasts, chops, and tenderloins is 145º which means you don’t have to keep it cooking too long and the danger of overdoing it is smaller.

Here are a couple recipes that have minimal ingredients and require just a little prep time.

Easy Baked Pork Loin

To make this simple dish you’ll need:

  • A big pan to fry in
  • a pan to bake it in.
  • about 3lbs of pork tenderloin (this will serve about 4 people)
  • a medium onion, chopped
  • celery, one stalk, chopped

and either a package of soup mix or broth (you’ll add water later), or one can of soup or broth. Beef or onion works really nicely.

Preheat your oven to 350º.

Add butter or oil to the skillet and heat it. Put the tenderloin in the pan and brown it on all sides. Make sure you flip it and move it around so that the outside gets cooked a bit.

Take it out of the frying pan and put it into the pan you’ll roast it in. There should be some juices in the pan that came out as you cooked the pork. Add the chopped onions and celery to that and saute them until they turn a little translucent, moving them around so they don’t get stuck to the pan. This will season the drippings even more.

If you need to mix your soup, then do it now, adding about a cup or so of water. If you’re using a can, don’t add any water at all. Take the soup and pour it into the pan with the veggies, mixing them all and letting it simmer a bit, so all those flavors mix.

Once it seems like it’s all properly mixed together, carefully pour the soup/veggie mix over the pork tenderloins in the baking pan.

Put the pan in the oven and cook for about 1½ hours. If you have a thermometer, you can check at that point if the interior temp is 145º at least.

Take the pan out and take the tenderloins out of the jus and place them on a cutting board.

Let them rest for at least 10 minutes. This is so important to remember when cooking meat! When it’s done, sometimes we just want to dig in, slice it up and serve it. But that results in the delectable juices leaking all over the cutting board, and not staying in that meat you just spent so much time preparing. What a waste!

Those juices get squeezed out because cooking causes proteins to shrink. Resting allows the meat to absorb the juices back into the protein. With a lean piece of meat like a tenderloin, letting it rest is so important because there is so little fat already.

Once it’s rested, you can slice it up. Put it on a plate, and pour the sauce from the pan over it. Serve with some sides, like rice and salad or make it a sandwich on a hearty french roll so the bread won’t just fall apart.

Teriyaki Tenderloin

This is also exceptionally simple, since it is primarily done with a marinade. You will need:

  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar

The easiest way to marinate it is in a large ziploc bag. Put the tenderloins in there and then take about ½ cup of soy sauce and ¼ cup of sugar and just dump them into the bag on top of the meat. That’s about it.

If you’d like to add a little more because sugar and soy sauce doesn’t seem enough, squeeze a lemon in there or add about a ¼ cup of orange juice. It really isn’t too fussy.

Close up the bag (really make sure it’s closed) and then swish the meat and sauce mixture together, coating the tenderloin completely.

Let the tenderloin marinate in the sauce in the fridge for a while. It can be done overnight or for an hour before you cook it.

Set your oven for 425º and put the entire mixture from the bag into your pan. Let it cook for about 35 minutes, checking that the temperature is 145º in the meatiest part.

Remove it and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice it up and it’s ready to serve!

There you have it, a couple easy variations on a baked pork loin.

For a couple classes that offer a ton of recipes (including pork!) you really should look into these two courses offered by Mary Ann Allen, who calls herself The Frugal Chef. She isn’t frugal with her knowledge however, offering 25 recipes in her Learn Caveman Cooking class (including a pork loin with bell peppers) and a whopping 36 recipes (including carnitas) in her Learn Mexican Cooking class. With lifetime access to all those dishes and tutorials, that’s a straight up deal!

If you need some extra ideas for dinner, this class, Learn How to Cook Southern Style Dishes, offers some pretty tasty ideas for some sides. Dirty rice, sweet peas, beans? All great accompaniments for a tasty baked pork loin.

Bon Appétit!