Pork tenderloin is a lean protein that’s wonderful on the grill. It’s simple, versatile, and flavorful. While roasting may be a common method, I like to grill it in summer for a nice smoky flavor, delicious sear marks, and tender pork.
That’s right, pork can be juicy and tender on a grill and is very easy to cook with a few simple steps and tips I’ll share.
How to Grill Pork Tenderloin
Follow the simple step-by-step instructions below with photos to learn how to grill pork tenderloin.
1) Let sit at room temp and season
It’s best to let meats sit at room temp for about 30 minutes before cooking for more even cooking.
Pro tip: Season the pork during this process. This allows the flavors to soak in more. If you use salt or a seasoning with salt, it will start to break down the meat proteins, bring moisture towards the surface, and create more juicy pork.
Alternately, you can purchase pre-seasoned pork tenderloin to save time and create unique flavor options. I’ll share one of my favorite options for this later in the post.
Seasoning options: A simple seasoning of salt and pepper is great for most meats, but there are many ways to add additional flavor.
Try some of the following pork tenderloin seasonings:
- All-seasoning salt
- Smoked Paprika
- Greek seasoning
- Italian seasoning
- Cajun seasoning
- Lemon pepper
- Brown sugar
- Cowboy rub
- Garlic salt, garlic powder, or crushed garlic
2) Pre-heat, clean the grill and lightly grease
Turn the gas grill on to medium heat, or 400° F, and let heat for about 10 minutes.
Scrape grill clean with a grill brush. This helps prevent the meat from sticking and is better for food safety.
Lightly grease the grill with cooking oil right before adding meat, which also helps prevent sticking.
3) Place pork on the grill
Grill the first side: Place pork loin on the lightly greased grill. Close the lid and grill 4 to 5 minutes, or until the bottom is browned with sear marks.
4) Rotate and cook the other sides
Rotate tenderloin, close lid, and grill 4 to 5 minutes more on each remaining side. This will sear all four sides of the pork for a total of about 20 minutes.
Pro tip: It the meat is searing too much and the inside hasn’t reached the safe temp, you may have the grill at high heat. Reduce heat and rotate more often, or move the meat to the side of the grill.
5) Check internal temp
The internal temp needs to reach at least 145° F to be safe. This is medium rare and I find this is the ideal doneness for juicy pork. You can cook to your preferred doneness as listed later in this post.
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Note: With thermometer inserted, check internal temp after about 15 minutes. If it reads 145 F then it’s cooked and can be removed.
6) Let rest and serve
Let grilled pork tenderloin rest for 3 minutes under tented foil at room temp before serving. This will help hold in moisture and keep the pork juicy. Slice and serve as desired.
Tips for grilled pork tenderloin
- Bring the pork to room temp: As with most meats, you want to bring it to room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling. Otherwise, the outside may char before the insides can evenly cook.
- Pre-season: Generously coat both sides of the pork loin with salt and black pepper, or other preferred seasonings. Or use pre-seasoned pork loin, which is recommended in the section below.
- Preheat the grill: Preheat the gas grill on medium. The grill should be hot before you add meats to prevent sticking and create nice sear marks.
- Grease the grill: Lightly grease with cooking or olive oil just before adding the meat to help prevent sticking.
- Close the lid when grilling: This builds up heat inside and evenly cooks the centers. The outside will still sear.
- Add or reduce cooking time depending on the thickness of the meat.
- Don’t overcook: Cook pork just to the desired doneness. Internal temps are listed in the section below.
- Let rest before serving: Let sit at room temp at least 3 minutes to hold in more juices.
Answers to common questions
Pork loin vs tenderloin – which should I use?
These are both cuts from the back area, but the size and texture vary.
- Pork loin is thick and wide, similar to a roast. This is best for roasting, stuffing, or with sauces.
- Pork tenderloin is long and narrow, similar to a fillet. It’s a very lean cut and great on its own with simple seasonings or a marinade.
For grilling, pork tenderloin is best as it cooks quick. Pork loin is much thicker and can burn before the center cooks. However, it can be smoked or grilled over indirect heat. Learn more about the differences between the cuts.
What type of pork to use?
A pork tenderloin fillet is best for grilling. Look for it in the pork section of your local grocery store. Season it with salt and pepper, or some of the spices and seasonings I suggested earlier in the post. To save time, use pre-marinated pork for easy summer grilling.
A favorite of mine is Smithfield Marinated Pork Loins. With flavors such as Garlic & Herb, Applewood Bacon, Slow Roasted Golden Rotisserie, and Garlic & Cracked Pepper Fresh Pork Tenderloin, it makes grilled pork easy. Walmart has high quality, Fresh Pork to help you find your favorite brand.
How long to grill pork tenderloin
A pork tenderloin that’s roughly 3-inches thick takes about 16 minutes to cook on the grill over medium heat. Rotate and grill all four sides about 5 minutes each to evenly sear.
Pro tip: Thickness affects grilling time, but length doesn’t. Reduce or add grilling time 2 to 3 minutes depending on the thickness of your tenderloin.
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