If you've ever had questions about cooking pork tenderloin on the grill, we have the answers. We'll break down the basics for getting the best results whether you're using a gas grill or charcoal grill.
We'll also share a delicious recipe for the best grilled pork tenderloin. It's an easy recipe that includes all of the right steps to follow to ensure the perfect pork tenderloin every time.
Speaking of delicious pork tenderloin recipes, if you haven't tried these pork tenderloin tacos with corn salsa, they're the perfect summer dish.
Want to learn how long it takes to make more of your favorite proteins? Learn how long to grill chicken breast, how long to cook burgers on the grill, how long to grill pork chops, and how long to bake chicken wings.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is a long, thin cut of pork cut that runs along the backbone of the animal. Since these muscles are not used often, tenderloin is an extremely tender cut of meat (hence the name).
There is not a lot of intramuscular fat, which also means it has less of a strong “porky” flavor. Tenderloin is a lean cut of meat with a delicate flavor and is very easy to cook. However, it cooks quickly with direct heat, so it needs to be monitored closely.
Pork tenderloin is a great option for a large gathering or easy weeknight meals the entire family will enjoy. Although it's a large cut of meat, surprisingly it cooks quickly, in under 15 minutes.
Grilling it gives it a delicious caramelized crust on the outside. This is all thanks to the Maillard reaction, which plays a crucial role in creating the caramelization and browning on the surface of the meat. It creates a flavorful crust, enhances the aroma, and contributes to the overall taste of the pork tenderloin. The result is tender, juicy, crispy pork.
Internal Temperature of Pork
Although time is a nice guideline for a recipe, the best way to know when your pork tenderloin is done is by measuring the final internal temperature. Always cook pork tenderloin, and any cut of pork, to 145°F.
Many factors, including the size of the loin and the temperature of the grill, affect the cooking time. This is done by inserting a thermometer into the thickest part of the pork loin. We like using an instant-read thermometer like this one. Pork is perfectly cooked through, juicy, and safe to eat at 145°F.
How Long to Grill Pork Tenderloin
It takes approximately 8-12 minutes to grill a 1lb pork tenderloin over medium-high heat (400°F). However, it could take up to 15-18 minutes depending on the thickness of the tenderloin and your grill. On average, you can grill pork tenderloin for an additional 4-5 minutes per pound.
Note: This is a general guideline and may vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the tenderloin and the heat of your grill. It's important to monitor the internal temperature using a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the tenderloins to ensure the pork reaches a safe temperature.
Pro tip: if the outside of the tenderloin is becoming too charred before the inside is done, utilize two-zone grilling. Turn one section of burners off on a gas grill and leave the other on medium-high heat. Move the tenderloin to indirect side of the grill and close the lid to finish cooking. The heat inside the grill will continue to cook the pork without it searing the outside more.
How Long to Grill Pork Tenderloin Per Pound?
On average, it takes 8-12 minutes to grill a 1 lb tenderloin and an additional 4-5 minutes per pound after that.
This is a general guideline and may vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the tenderloin and the heat of your grill. Always monitor the internal temperature using a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the tenderloins to ensure the pork reaches a safe temperature.
Ingredients You Need
Here are the simple ingredients for this grilled pork tenderloin recipe. Most are pantry staples and easy (and affordable) to find in grocery stores. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Soy sauce: You can substitute with coconut aminos.
- Olive oil: Avocado oil also works as a substitute.
- Honey: Substitute with maple syrup or brown sugar.
- Dijon mustard: Adds some spice and a nice contrast to the sweetness of the honey.
- Garlic cloves: Fresh garlic is best.
- Dried herbs: We used thyme, rosemary, and oregano.
- Salt and black pepper: Season to taste with these.
- Pork tenderloin: Keep in mind that most pork tenderloin comes in packs of two. One tenderloin is about 1lb and will serve 2-3 people.
How to Grill Pork Tenderloin
Most packages of tenderloin come in a pack of two tenderloins together. One tenderloin is roughly one pound. We tested several grilled pork tenderloin recipes to determine just how long the grilling process should be. Here's a breakdown of how to come away with a juicy pork tenderloin (1 lb) over an open flame.
Step 1: Prepare the pork
The first thing you want to do is trim the tenderloin of fat and any silver skin and pat it dry with a paper towel. This helps to prevent flare-ups on the grill.
If the tenderloin has a smaller, thinner end, tuck it underneath itself and tie it with kitchen twine. This ensures the entire tenderloin cooks evenly. You can still grill it if you don’t have twine, the end will just be more done than the rest of the pork loin.
Step 2: Marinate
Add all of the marinade ingredients to a large bowl or plastic bag and mix well. Add the pork tenderloins to the resealable bag or bowl and stir or toss to coat.
Seal the bag (or cover the bowl with plastic wrap) and let the meat marinate in the refrigerator. You want to marinate for at least one hour but overnight is ideal.
Remove the tenderloin from the marinade and shake off any excess liquid. Extra oil from the liquid may cause flare-ups on the grill.
Step 3: Grill
Wipe down the grill grates and brush them with oil using a paper towel.
Preheat the grill to 400°F. Place tenderloin on the hot grill perpendicular to the grill grates to give the meat nice grill marks. Close the lid. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side (8-12 minutes total), opening the lid only to turn the tenderloin.
Pro tip: Have a cooler zone on the grill and move the tenderloin over and close the lid if the outside is too dark before the inside is done.
Step 4: Let the Meat Rest
Remove the pork from the heat when it reaches 140-145°F and transfer to a cutting board. Let the pork rest for 5-10 minutes, with a target temperature of 145°F.
Using a Brine, Marinade, or Rub
You want to use a marinade, rub, or brine that can infuse flavor into the meat. While this recipe calls for a pork tenderloin marinade, a brine or rub is another great way to season your pork.
Dry rub: a dry mixture of herbs, spices, salt, and sometimes sugar that is applied directly to the surface of the meat, creating a flavorful coating. A combination of brown sugar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder is common, like in this grilled pork chop recipe.
Pork Tenderloin Brine: this is a saltwater solution that you soak the meat in for several hours prior to cooking. Just like a chicken wing brine, using brine on pork tenderloin helps the meat retain moisture during cooking, and the salt allows the meat to absorb more liquid and become more tender.
Additionally, you can use our favorite bbq sauce recipe to add towards the end of grilling. And if you find you enjoy making your own seasonings and marinades at home, check out our post on the basics of chicken marinade. It includes six flavorful marinades for easy dinners any night of the week.
It takes approximately 16-20 minutes to grill a 2lb pork loin. After the initial searing of 2-3 minutes on each side, reduce the heat to medium or move the pork loin to indirect heat. Continue grilling with the lid closed for an additional 8-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. Remember that these cooking times are approximate, and it's essential to monitor the internal temperature of the pork loin using a meat thermometer.
If you prefer a slower, more even cooking process, opt for 350°F. If you do this, opt for a reverse sear to still get the gorgeous grill marks. Cook it to 145°F then turn the heat up to high and give it a quick sear on each side. This will take much longer to cook (25 minutes or more). If you prefer a quicker cook time and a slightly more caramelized exterior, 400°F is a good option. Just be sure to monitor the internal temperature and adjust the cooking time accordingly to achieve the desired level of doneness.
Wrapping pork tenderloin in foil while grilling is a technique known as "indirect grilling" or "foil packet grilling." It can help with moisture retention and creating more even cooking. However, it may result in a softer exterior and less intense flavors. Opt for no foil to get the charred grilled marks and caramelized flavor.
Allow the leftover meat to cool to room temperature and place it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven at 350°F or in the microwave until warmed all the way through.
More Pork Recipes
If you wind up with leftover pork tenderloin, these pork tenderloin tacos with corn salsa are a must. Equally as delicious are these instant pot carnitas that are made with pork shoulder. Top either recipe with avocado crema, healthy guacamole, vegan cashew queso, or creamy jalapeño ranch dressing.
If you enjoy grilling pork tenderloin but want to mix things up next time, be sure to check out our post on how long to grill pork chops. We tested several grilled pork chops recipes to determine which temperature resulted in juicy, tender pork chops with the perfect grill marks.
If you try pork tenderloin on the grill or make one of these recipes, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
Best Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- ¼ cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs or 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 lbs pork tenderloin (Note 2)
- Gas or Charcoal Grill (Note 1 Pellet Grill)
- Trim tenderloin of any fat and any silver skin and pat dry with a paper towel.
- If your tenderloin has a smaller, thinner end, tuck it underneath itself and tie it with kitchen twine. This ensures the entire tenderloin cooks evenly. You can still grill it if you don’t have twine, the end will just be more done than the rest of the pork tenderloin.
- Add all of the marinade ingredients to a large bowl or plastic bag and mix well. Add the pork tenderloins to the bag or bowl and stir or toss to coat. Close or cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour, but overnight is ideal.
- Wipe down the grill grates and brush them with oil using a paper towel. Preheat the grill to 400°F. It's a good idea to leave one of the burners off for two-zone grilling if needed. With 1-2 burners set to medium-high, the overall grill temperature should read 400°F. On a charcoal grill, move all the coals to one side.
- Remove the tenderloin from the marinade and shake off any excess liquid. Extra oil from the liquid may cause flare-ups on the grill.
- Place tenderloin on the hot grill over direct heat and close the lid. Grill on all four sides for 2-3 minutes, 8-12 minutes total, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees f, or 2-3 degrees below. Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the tenderloin for best results. If the outside of the tenderloin is becoming too charred before the inside is done, transfer the tenderloin to the indirect heat side of the grill and close the lid. Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 145.
- Remove the tenderloin to a clean cutting board or serving tray and gently tent it with foil. Rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.