How to Grill Pork Tenderloin

This Grilled Pork Tenderloin is deceptively easy to make with a grill time of less than 15 minutes!  It’s the juiciest, most flavorful recipe out there (just read the reviews), thanks to a garlic, paprika, brown sugar wet rub and a vibrant, tangy, fresh Cilantro Jalapeno Chimichurri.  I’ve included tips and detailed instructions for how to grill pork tenderloin so it will be a “five star recipe all the way” even if you’ve never grilled before!

up close of sliced grilled pork tenderloin recipe


 

Why you’ll love this grilled pork tenderloin

  • RAVIE REVIEWS. Everyone agrees, this Grilled Pork Tenderloin is a showstopper. It is one of the simplest yet tastiest, impressive meals you will ever make. As one reader commented, “This is genuinely the best dish I’ve ever made.”
  • QUICK AND EASY. The pork is brined, seasoned and grilled in about 45 minutes!
  • JUICIEST PORK. A quick 20 minute brine makes a world of difference. As one reader said, “I had never brined pork before but I’m so glad I didn’t skip it – this was the juiciest pork I’ve ever made.”
  • FLAVORFUL WET RUB. “The wet rub is incredible!!” A mixture of paprika, garlic, brown sugar, ground cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder and a splash of lime create a smoky, caramelized crust of flavor.
  • VIBRANT CHIMICHURRI. The smoky, buttery tender pork with the bright, tangy, sharp fresh herb sauce is a match made in heaven – and takes minutes in your food processor!
showing how to cook pork tenderloin on a gas grlll
ingredient icon

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Wet Rub

I love using wet rubs to season chicken and grilled meats because they deliver huge flavor without marinating AND because expert grillers advise that it is best to add oil to the surface of your meat and not just the grill as most of the oil burns off the grill by the time you add your meat. 

This wet rub is rich, earthy, and complex with just the right amount of kick while the lime juice adds a splash of freshness.  Its chili flavor lends itself beautifully to both the smoky grill and bright chimichurri.
For this grilled pork tenderloin rub, I use a combination of:

  • Paprika:  I prefer regular paprika as opposed to smoked paprika in this Grilled Pork Tenderloin recipe as we already have a few smoky elements going on.  Smoked paprika is stronger than traditional paprika so you will want to use less if you swap them.
  • Brown sugar: is needed to balance the earthy flavors of the rub and tangy lime juice.  It also caramelizes when cooked to help create that beautiful crust.   
  • Garlic powder:  is a favorite ingredient in rubs because it delivers all that yummy garlic goodness in concentrated flavor right on the meat in a way clumpy garlic cannot.
  • Onion powder:  is dehydrated, ground onion that infuses our grilled pork tenderloin with yet another layer of flavor.
  • Ground cumin:  pairs beautifully with paprika, ancho and chili powder and delivers an earthy, nutty layer.
  • Ancho powder: comes from ground dried poblanos and is more mild than cayenne or chipotle powder but still has a deep rich, smoky, mild sweet heat.   I use it in several of my recipes such as my Chili Pork Tacos, Blackened Fish Tacos,  Baked Ancho Chicken Wings and my Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili, so I promise your  ancho chili powder will not go to waste!  You can find it located next to the other spices at your grocery store.
  • Chili powder:  is less spicy than ancho chili powder but more flavorful than just using pepper.
  • Salt and pepper:  are muststo enhance all of the flavors.  Use good old table salt and NOT kosher or freshly ground – otherwise you will need to adjust the measurements.  
whisking together grilled pork tenderloin rub

How to make the juiciest Pork Tenderloin on the Grill

The JUICIEST pork tenderloin comes from brining your pork.  If you’ve never brined your pork before, it will change your culinary life!  Pork tenderloin is a lean cut of meat so it can easily dry out unless you brine it first. In all of my pork recipes, readers have commented that brining is a MUST and are converted as well; even overcooked brined pork emerges juicy – so PLEASE brine your pork for melt-in-your-mouth pork without having to plan ahead with an overnight marinade.

HOW TO Grill PORK TENDERLOIN

Grilled Pork Tenderloin is very easy to make. Here are some tips and tricks for the best grilled pork tenderloin every time (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

Step 1:  Trim pork tenderloin

  • Do I have to remove silverskin?  Many packages of pork tenderloin will come with the silverskin removed or most of it removed. If it has any remaining silverskin you will need to remove it because it can become tough and chewy when cooked.   
  • How to remove silverskin. To remove the silverskin, slip a sharp knife in between the silver skin and the meat then cut it away until free. Take care to just remove the silverskin and not a big chunk of meat! 
  • Trim fat.  You will also want to trim any excess fat as this can also be chewy and cause flare ups.

Step 2:  Brine pork tenderloin

  • How to brine pork.  To brine pork, you will mix warm water with salt in a gallon-size freezer bag until dissolved. Whisk in vinegar, brown sugar and ice, followed by pork.  Make sure both of the pork tenderloin pieces are completely emerged in the brine.  Brine pork tenderloin for 20 minutes – no longer!
  • Rinse pork.  Thoroughly rinse pork and pat very dry.

Step 3:  Spice rub pork

  • Dry before seasoning. Make sure you dry the pork very well after rinsing so the rub can stick to it.
  • How to make rub.  To make the wet rub, whisk together: olive oil, lime juice, paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, ground cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  I know it sounds like a lot of ingredients but it takes minutes to whisk together and delivers rich, complex flavor without knocking you over the head with one note.

Step 4:  Prepare Grill

  • Clean grill. You should clean your grill grates before and after grilling with a wire grill brush to remove any residue. This will help prevent the food from sticking.
  • Grease with oil.  Generously grease the CLEAN grill with a high smoking oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil or peanut oil. I just use a wad of paper towels to grease the grill.  NEVER use spray oils once the grill is on.
  • Heat grill.  Heat up the grill with the lid closed cranked to the maximum temperature so it can achieve temperature more quickly; plan on 10-15 minutes.  Once the grill is hot, you can adjust the temperature so it is 500 degrees with the lid on.  Don’t add the pork tenderloin until the grill reaches temperature or it won’t sear.

Step 5: Grill Pork Tenderloin On Gas Grill

  • Sear pork.  Add pork and sear for 1 ½ minutes on all four sides, keeping the lid closed between rotating.   Searing the pork at high heat is essential to cut through the wet rub and create a caramelized crust which locks in the juices (prevents the surface of the tenderloin from becoming dehydrated when cooked at high heat) and creates complex flavors due to the Maillard reaction.
  • Cook pork.  Reduce heat to medium-high (400 degrees F with the lid closed) and continue to grill 1-3 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer reads 145-degrees F in the thickest part of the tenderloin.  Pork Tenderloin is a very lean cut of meat so it requires a high grilling temperature in order for the meat to cook before it has time to dry out. 
showing how to grill pork tenderloin by placing pork tenderloin on grill

Step 6: Rest Pork Tenderloin

  • Let pork rest. Transfer pork to a clean plate and loosely cover with foil.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  The resting time will allow the meat to finish cooking to the optimal temperature and for the juices to redistribute for optimal flavor.
  • Clean grill.  While the pork is resting, leave the grill running and clean the grates with a grill brush before turning off grill.
  • Slice pork.  Slice grilled pork tenderloin crosswise into thin pieces before serving with chimichurri.
side view of grilled pork tenderloin with a rub
top view of grilled pork tenderloin recipe
showing what to serve with grilled pork tenderloin recipe with a bowl of chimichurri

Tips for Grilling Pork Tenderloin

  • Make chimichurri first.  The chimichurri is best if allowed to rest for at least two hours, so prepare it first and allow the flavors to meld for as long as you have time for.
  • Brine pork.  As previously detailed, brining the pork results in the juiciest pork and only takes 20 minutes so PLEASE don’t skip!
  • Keep lid closed.  Due to the thickness of the pork tenderloin, we need to achieve an oven-like environment in which the pork is cooked from all sides, so make sure you keep the lid closed in between rotating the pork.
  • Use a meat thermometer.   Pork tenderloin is very easy to overcook so it is important to use a meat thermometer to achieve the correct temperature.  The outside may be brown but the inside can still be undercooked.  Thermometers are a small investment and come in handy ALL the time and eliminate all of the guess-work. You simply cannot make perfect baked pork tenderloin without one.
  • Don’t overcook pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is fairly lean, so take care not to overcook it, or it will dry out. If you overcook your pork tenderloin, it will transform from fork tender to dry and chewy.  If it starts to char too much before it is done, you can turn the heat down or move to indirect heat.  
  • Rest before slicing. Let the Grilled Pork Tenderloin rest 10 minutes before slicing.  This time allows time for the redistribution and reabsorption of the juices throughout the pork tenderloin.
  • Slice across the grain.  Slice the pork across the grain. You want to cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers so they become as short as possible, as opposed to parallel which will result in long muscle fibers and chewy, rubbery meat.  You can either slice in ½” slices or my husband loves super thin slices.
front view of grilled pork tenderloin with chimichurri

What to serve with Pork Tenderloin on Grill

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up close of sliced grilled pork tenderloin recipe

Pork Tenderloin on the Grill

This Grilled Pork Tenderloin recipe is buttery tender with a caramelized smoky brown sugar, paprika, garlic rub kissed with a hint of lime. It’s then smothered in a vibrant, tangy, fresh Cilantro Jalapeno Chimichurri Sauce that is the perfect complement to the earthy, smoky pork. This Grilled Pork Tenderloin Recipe is deceptively easy to make with a grill time of less than 15 minutes! I’ve included detailed instructions, tips, tricks and everything you need to know to make the BEST Grilled Pork Tenderloin recipe!
Servings: 6 -8
Total Time: 42 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

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Ingredients

Pork

  • 1 pkg. pork tenderloins trimmed (comes with 2 pieces, 2 – 2 ½ lbs. total)

Brine

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (may sub red wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Wet Rub

  • 1 TBS EACH paprika (not smoked), garlic powder, brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp EACH onion powder, ground cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Cilantro Jalapeno Chimichurri

  • 1 cup packed cilantro
  • 1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley
  • 3-4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1-2 jalapenos deveined, seeds removed
  • 1 shallot, peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

Chimichurri

  • Finely chop the cilantro, parsley, jalapeno (without seeds), shallot and garlic in food processor. Remove to a bowl and stir in remaining Chimichurri ingredients. Taste and add jalapeno seeds, a little at a time, to reach desired heat OR add red pepper flakes (optional). Add additional red wine vinegar if desired for a tangier chimichurri.
  • Chimichurri is best if allowed to sit, covered, for 2 hours before serving. If not serving for a few hours, chill in refrigerator then allow to return to room temperature before serving.

Brine Pork

  • In a gallon-size freezer bag, mix salt with warm water until dissolved. Whisk in vinegar, brown sugar and ice, followed by pork. Brine for exactly 20 minutes then remove pork from brine, RINSE and and pat very dry. The pork becomes mealy if left in the brine any longer.

Wet Rub

  • Whisk together all of the Wet Rub ingredients in a small bowl. Evenly rub pork all over.

To Grill Pork

  • Grease and heat grill to 500 degrees F when the lid is closed.
  • Add pork and sear for 1 ½ minutes on all four sides, keeping the lid closed between rotating
  • Reduce heat to medium-high (400 degrees F with the lid closed) and continue to grill 1-2 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer reads 145-degrees F in the thickest part of the tenderloin.
  • Let pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with chimichurri.

To Bake Pork

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is very hot and just smoking, add pork tenderloins, you may need to work in batches. Sear each side of pork until deeply golden. Place tenderloin on rack in shallow roasting pan or a rack placed on a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 425 degrees F approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin registers 145 degrees F. When pork is done, let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Tips for the best Grilled Pork Tenderloin 

  • Make chimichurri first.  The chimichurri is best if allowed to rest for at least two hours, so prepare it first and allow the flavors to meld for as long as you have time for.
  • Brine pork.  As previously detailed, brining the pork results in the juiciest pork and only takes 20 minutes so PLEASE don’t skip!
  • Keep lid closed.  Due to the thickness of the pork tenderloin, we need to achieve an oven-like environment in which the pork is cooked from all sides, so make sure you keep the lid closed in between rotating the pork.
  • Use a meat thermometer.   Pork tenderloin is very easy to overcook so it is important to use a meat thermometer to achieve the correct temperature.  The outside may be brown but the inside can still be undercooked.  Thermometers are a small investment and come in handy ALL the time and eliminate all of the guess-work. You simply cannot make perfect baked pork tenderloin without one.
  • Don’t overcook pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is fairly lean, so take care not to overcook it, or it will dry out. If you overcook your pork tenderloin, it will transform from fork tender to dry and chewy.  If it starts to char too much before it is done, you can turn the heat down or move to indirect heat.  
  • Rest before slicing. Let the Grilled Pork Tenderloin rest 10 minutes before slicing.  This time allows time for the redistribution and reabsorption of the juices throughout the pork tenderloin.
  • Slice across the grain.  Slice the pork across the grain. You want to cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers so they become as short as possible, as opposed to parallel which will result in long muscle fibers and chewy, rubbery meat.  You can either slice in ½” slices or my husband loves super thin slices.

Make Ahead 

You can prep the grilled pork tenderloin up to different stages instead of making all at once:
  • Brine:  you can brine the pork, rinse and pat dry, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours ahead of time.
  •  Rub:  you can brine, rinse, dry then cover the pork tenderloin with the wet rub and tightly wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 12 hours.

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59 Comments

  1. Maggie says

    This is the ONLY way I will ever make a pork tenderloin ever again!!! We don’t always make the chimichurri and will sometimes switch up the spices in the rub but the combination of brining plus the wet rub is absolutely amazing. We grill in the summer and use the oven in the winter. This is a 4 stars, make for company dish every time!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Maggie! I agree, brining is the only way to make pork tenderloin! I’m so pleased you are loving this recipe and find it so versatile too!

  2. Josey says

    I love your pork tenderloin recipes! I want to thank you for the brine instructions. I knew your recipes were great but I made a different recipe yesterday (no brine). What. A. Difference. The brine is 20 minutes extra time well spent! The pork was not as tender and also not as juice. Cooked the same way (temperature 145F) and looked the same and all. Just when you cut and eat it it’s a mile away. Going to brine all of my pork now regardless of recipe! Thank you

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Josey! It is AMAZING the difference it makes!

  3. Rita says

    This was excellent! The pork tenderloin was so juicy, and I loved the wet rub. The chimichurri adds the perfect touch, and I would not skip making that to go with! On a Friday night when we didn’t want to go out to dinner, this was a restaurant quality dinner! I will definitely make this again!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Rita, I love hearing that!

  4. Fred says

    This recipe is very delicious everything pair’s perfectly I was wondering if the brine would work for chicken

    • Jen says

      Thanks Fred, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it! Yes, the brine would be excellent for chicken as well.

  5. Hilary says

    This is a great recipe, so easy and very flavorful

    • Jen says

      Thanks Hilary, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it!

  6. Tiffany says

    This is genuinely the best dish I’ve ever made. Hubby and I have decided to make it a staple and had to come back to express my gratitude for sharing the recipe. Absolutely phenomenal!!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Tiffany! I’m honored this recipe is the best you’ve ever made, wahoo!

  7. Kim Silver says

    Thank you so much! This was the best pork tenderloin I’ve ever grilled!! I just love your photography and detailed instructions. I was careful to time the grilling and watch the temp. I just found your site…made your amazing flank steak last week. Can’t wait to try more! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for the ultimate compliment Kim, I’m so pleased you loved this recipe! And welcome to my site! I hope you love exploring and experimenting, and hopefully discover many new favorites!

  8. Christy B! says

    Was amazing! I added red onions instead of a shallots.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Christy, I’m so pleased it was a winner!

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