How to Grill Pork Tenderloin

Lean, moist, and incredibly succulent, pork tenderloin is a proven crowd-pleaser. Learn how to grill this family favorite in four easy steps.

Finally master the secret of cooking a juicy pork tenderloin. And it's not as hard as you may think.

Whether you marinate it, rub it with a spice mixture, or douse it in a delectable sauce after cooking, grilled pork tenderloin tastes amazing with a countless array of flavors. The challenge is picking which recipe to try. We suggest this mouthwatering Pork Tenderloin with Red Mole recipe -- it features a fiery chile pepper and chocolate sauce and is sure to be a winner at any grill-out.

Step 1: Trim the tenderloin

Pork tenderloin has a smooth, shiny connective tissue called silver skin, as well as some fat. Using a sharp knife, remove the silver skin, pulling it up as you cut. Remove visible fat as desired.

Step 2: Season the pork

Prepare a marinade or a dry rub to add extra flavor to the pork.

To marinate: Place the pork in a resealable plastic bag, and pour the marinade over the pork. Allow the pork to marinate for at least 2 hours before grilling. Learn how to marinate meats.

To apply a dry rub: Use your fingers to gently massage a homemade or purchased spice mixture into the pork. Apply in advance so the pork will better absorb the flavors of the rub. Learn how to use rubs.

Step 3: Prepare the grill for indirect grilling

For a charcoal grill:

  • Light coals using lighter fluid, an electric starter, or a chimney starter. (If using lighter fluid, wait 1 minute before igniting the fire.) Let the fire burn until the coals are covered with a light coating of gray ash.
  • Place a drip pan in the center of the grill. Arrange coals around the drip pan.

For a gas grill:

  • To light a gas grill, open the lid. Turn the gas valve to "on" and ignite the grill as directed by the manufacturer. Turn the burners on high. Close the lid and preheat the grill for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Turn burners off directly below where you are placing the food.

Tip: To test the level of heat, carefully place the palm of your hand at the level of the grill rack and count the number of seconds you can hold it in that position. If the heat is low, you should be able to hold your hand in the position for 6 seconds. If the heat is medium, you should be able to hold your hand in the position for about 4 seconds. If the heat is high, you should be able to hold your hand in the position for 2 seconds.

To adjust the heat on a charcoal grill

  • If the coals are too hot, raise the grill rack, spread the coals apart, close the vents halfway, or remove some briquettes.
  • If the coals are too cool, use long-handled tongs to tap ashes off the burning coals, move coals together, add briquettes, lower the rack, or open the vents.

To adjust the heat on a gas grill, turn the burners to higher or lower heat settings as needed.

Step 4: Grill the tenderloin

  • Place the meat on the grill (over the drip pan).
  • Cover the grill.
  • Grill the tenderloin for about 15 minutes on each side or until it registers 155°F on an instant-read thermometer.

Step 5: Let it rest

Remove the meat from the grill and loosely cover it with foil. Let the meat stand for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Letting the meat rest serves two purposes:

  1. It gives time for the temperature of the meat to even out. The outside of the meat cools down slightly, while internal temperature may rise 5 to 10 degrees while it stands.
  2. Resting gives the meat a chance to reabsorb juices, creating more tender results once cut. If sliced too early, the meat's juices will run out, and all over your cutting board.

Step 6: Slice and serve

After the pork tenderloin is allowed to rest, slice it against the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices.


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