The juiciest, tastiest pork tenderloin recipe. This pork tenderloin in porchetta will take you right to the sun drenched middle of Italy and make you forget all about that expensive beef stuff. It’s meant to be this pink, more on that below.

This pork tenderloin recipe

This recipe is based on the flavors of Umbria, my favorite part of Italy. Pork tenderloin done this way becomes melt-in-your-mouth with the flavors of lemon, rosemary, fennel, and good italian cheese and olive oil.

It’s perfect for eating on its own or in a crusty ciabatta. This pork tenderloin is based on porchetta, simplified with weeknight ingredients, and you’ll be amazed at how flavorful, buttery, and melty it is.

Best of all, it’s healthy, lean, and low fat, with only 7 ingredients (10 if you include salt, pepper, and oil). You’ll never believe something so easy and so fast can taste this good.

pork tenderloin | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is pork tenderloin

Pork tenderloin, also called fillet, is a small slender muscle along the spine. Each pig has two, and they aren’t large, and yet they aren’t that popular or expensive. When cooked right, they’re buttery delicious, juicy, and full of flavor, rivaling hundred dollar wagyu steaks.

Pork tenderloin is the single, best cut of pork. Unlike beef tenderloin, which runs into the hundreds of dollars, you can often get pork tenderloin for under $10/lb, which is a bargain for how good it tastes.

This is one of those things, like oxtail, that you should get into before they blow up and triple in price.

Pork tenderloin vs loin

Although they share the same name, pork tenderloin and pork loin are not the same. Tenderloins are small and long like a zucchini or cucumber, whereas a loin is much, much larger.

You could make this recipe with a loin if you can adjust the cooking times (or sous vide the whole thing), but in my opinion, the tenderloin is worth looking for. It’s not even in the same league.

pork tenderloin | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is ‘in porchetta’

This recipe is inspired by a traditional Umbrian method called in porchetta, where they use the techniques and flavors of porchetta on other foods. Classically, these include chicken in porchetta, duck in porchetta, and rabbit in porchetta. The protein is different but the preparation – a dry rub of fennel, rosemary, and olive oil, is the same.

A pork tenderloin happens to be one of the things you can stuff a traditional porchetta with, so this is like an easier, extra tender and not crunchy porchetta. You can also adapt this recipe to any protein you like and it’ll taste amazing.

porchetta spice mix | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to cook pork tenderloin

  1. Temper the tenderloin by letting it rest on the countertop while you prepare the porchetta rub, pour some wine, or make while-cooking cocktail.
  2. Make the dry rub by combining lemon zest, salt, pepper, fennel, and rosemary.
  3. Brush your tenderloin with some nice olive oil and rub the dry rub on evenly. Sear in a pan if desired.
  4. Bake the pork tenderloin at 400ºF for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Make the salsa verde while your tenderloin is baking to perfection.
  6. Rest. Then slice, and enjoy with crusty bread, risotto, or pasta.

Pork tenderloin temp

We all grew up with hyper overcooked pork, but I’m sure you’ve read that today’s pork is safe and that the USDA has reduced its safe pork temp down to 145ºF.

For me personally, I’m willing to take risks and almost always cook meat 10ºF under the USDA recommendation, a trick I learned from binge watching Good Eats back in the 00’s. I cooked this pork to 130ºF, with carryover heat bringing it up to 135ºF. It was perfect: crazy tender, super juicy, and so flavorful.

If the thought of pink meat that’s not beef is offputting to you, cook your pork tenderloin to 145-155. It will still be tender and delicious, just not as juicy. Whatever you do though, err on the side of less temp. You can always microwave it for 30 seconds at a time but you can’t uncook meat, and pork tenderloin is too good (and lean) to be overcooked.

How long to cook pork tenderloin

Cooking times depend a lot on your oven, the size of the tenderloin, and the temperature of your pork before it goes into the oven. The most accurate thing you can do is get a meat thermometer with a probe. They can be really cheap, extremely expensive wireless app driven, or something in between. If you have a really accurate oven though, some suggested cooking times are below.

pork tenderloin recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

How long to cook pork tenderloin in oven at 400ºF

With a 1lb tenderloin that’s been tempered for an hour, it takes about 25 min at 400ºF to get to 140ºF. The carryover heat will bring it up to 145ºF. I got mine up to my desired 130ºF in 20 minutes exactly.

How long to cook pork tenderloin in oven at 350ºF

Although I don’t recommend it, there might be reasons to do it at 350ºF (ie, you need to have other things in the oven at 350ºF). If so, cook it for 30-35 minutes (or 25 for me and my 135ºF pork).

What temp should I cook pork tenderloin?

It’s best to cook it at 400ºF. The higher temperature will ensure that it doesn’t overcook by getting the middle up to temp faster.

Pork Tenderloin Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

The importance of tempering

I tempered these tenderloins (left them sitting on the counter) for an hour before I put them in the oven. In that time, it brought their internal temp up to 60ºF. Tempering your meat allows for more even, faster cooking.

Resting

If you are taking my advice and cooking to 135ºF-140ºF, you’ll need to rest it quite a while before slicing and/or use a cutting board with a deep blood groove. I think it’s worth it, but if you prefer your meat piping hot, or want to avoid the sight of red liquid (it’s not blood) then you should cook it til 145ºF+, then rest the pork for 5 minutes before slicing.

Do you need to sear?

I didn’t sear this one because I wanted to keep it as tender as possible. It will end up a little grey though. I don’t mind that too much, but if you care about presentation, you’ll want to sear it all around over medium high heat before popping it in the oven.

italian salsa verde | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to slice

If you’re like me and want to avoid the ripply marks on sliced meat and get a buttery smooth finish, here’s how:

  1. Let the meat rest. The longer the better as resting allows the meat to firm up. It’s a balancing act between pretty meat and cold meat.
  2. Use a long sharp knife.
  3. Start at the tip of the knife and push forward with gentle downward pressure. The point is to break the surface tension of the meat.
  4. Once you are at the back edge of the knife, pull towards you and slightly downwards at the same time. If your knife is sharp, you should make it almost all the way through.
  5. Finally, when you are about 1/4” from the bottom, push down, while rocking gently (assuming you are using a knife with a curved edge) to get a clean cut.

Green sauce, aka salsa verde

The salsa verde in this recipe goes wonderfully with the porchetta, bringing a little bit of acid and a lot of umami from the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Definitely don’t skip out on it. It’s so good Steph and I often use it as a quick pasta sauce, no meat required.

In America, salsa verde is known as a mainly Mexican or Spanish thing, but Italians have a green sauce called salsa verde too. This version is a super simplified one, using only the ingredients in the porchetta plus cheese, but usually Italian salsa verde also includes anchovies, capers, and vinegar.

These are all things I put in my salsa verde if I’m not trying to create a nice short ingredients list, and if you have them sitting around, you should give them a try.

making salsa verde | www.iamafoodblog.com

Saltiness

Porchetta was traditionally generously seasoned. In Umbria one of the main ways to eat porchetta is in a sandwich, and the bread in that part of Italy wasn’t salted, so it was a marriage made in heaven.

I’ve reduced the salt here so you can eat the porchetta by itself, but I’ve also tested it with up to a tablespoon of salt to recreate that classic porchetta taste. It works if you eat it with something very bland, like bread or unseasoned pasta.

How much salt you use is up to you, but my suggestion is: 1 tsp for a nice balanced taste, 2 tsp for a flavor bomb, and 1 tbsp if you want to go H.A.M., or eat with bread or plain pasta tossed in that salsa verde.

sea salt | www.iamafoodblog.com

What to serve with pork tenderloin

lemon zest | www.iamafoodblog.com

Pork Tenderloin Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Pork Tenderloin Recipe

The best pork tenderloin with the flavors of Umbrian Porchetta in only 10 ingredients
Serves 6
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins

Ingredients

Pork Tenderloin

  • 2 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or more if needed
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp rosemary chopped, ~10"-12" sprig
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest 1/2 a lemon

Salsa Verde

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley roughly torn, about 1 bunch
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest 1/2 a lemon

Instructions

  • Temper your pork by leaving it on the counter while you prepare your dry rub. At the same time, preheat your oven to 400ºF.
    tempering pork tenderloin | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Make the porchetta dry rub by mixing the fennel, rosemary, sea salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
    porchetta dry rub | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Rub your pork tenderloins down with olive oil, then evenly rub the porchetta spice mix on.
    pork tenderloin recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Arrange the tenderloins on a rack over a baking sheet, and bake for 20 min or until 130ºF in the middle (see notes). While the pork is baking, make your salsa verde by combining all salsa verde ingredients except lemon zest in a blender. Blend until smooth, then taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed. Drizzle a splash of olive oil on top and top with the lemon zest.
    italian salsa verde | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • When the pork is has reached your desired temp, remove and rest for 5 min. Slice, then serve with salsa verde.
    pork tenderloin | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

I prefer my pork at 130ºF. If you think this looks undercooked based on my photos, bake your pork until it hits 140ºF. The carryover heat tends to add 5ºF, which will bring it up to a USDA approved 145ºF.
Estimated nutrition includes all the salsa verde

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Pork Tenderloin Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 425 Calories from Fat 248
% Daily Value*
Fat 27.5g42%
Saturated Fat 5.4g34%
Cholesterol 113mg38%
Sodium 444mg19%
Potassium 788mg23%
Carbohydrates 3.7g1%
Fiber 1.5g6%
Sugar 1.1g1%
Protein 41.5g83%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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2 Comments

  1. Sabrina says:

    5 stars
    great info, yes I’ve always overcooked my pork, and am fortified by your example to cook to a much lower temperature and see what that tastes like! Love the Tuscan flavors too, thank you!

  2. Kristina says:

    4 stars
    I made this last night with a wild hog tenderloin and it was delicious!! I loved the lemon zest and fennel combo. Next time I would use less fennel seeds as per my own taste but I would definitely cook this again!

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