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A sweet and zesty barbecue spice rub makes this Grilled Pork Tenderloin a delicious, easy and healthy dinner recipe. The seasoning helps to flavor the meat, caramelize the outside, and yield a juicy tenderloin with a crispy crust. The perfect summer meal!

Grilled pork tenderloin on a wooden cutting board and basted with barbecue sauce

Pork tenderloin is a staple in so many of our kitchens because it’s an affordable, lean cut of meat that’s a nice alternative to chicken. Pork tenderloin cooks quickly, making it ideal for family-friendly, busy weeknight dinners.

I’ve been known to prepare pork tenderloin in the slow cooker, but when the weather is warm, nothing beats the smoky char of a grilled pork tenderloin!

The Difference between Pork Loin and Pork Tenderloin:

Pork tenderloin, a smaller cut that generally weighs about 1 pound, is not cut from the same part of the animal as the larger pork loin. Since pork tenderloin is naturally lean and tender, it does well when cooked quickly at high temperatures. By contrast, pork loin lends itself well to slower roasting or grilling techniques. For more details about these two different cuts of meat, check out this article.

Front shot of a plate of grilled pork tenderloin with mac and cheese green beans and coleslaw on the side

How to make Grilled Pork Tenderloin:

Grilling is one of the best ways to prepare pork tenderloin (quick cooking at high temperature). To add flavor to the lean meat, we typically use a marinade or dry rub. This particular spice rub uses classic barbecue flavors for a sweet, smoky and savory taste. The dry rub is ideal because it flavors the tenderloin and keeps it moist, without preventing the exterior from getting nice and crispy (as a marinade might).

Ingredients for a Perfect Grilled Pork Tenderloin Rub:

  • Pork tenderloin
  • Brown sugar
  • Smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Chili powder
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder

Prepare the Rub:

First, combine the brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

Spice rub for grilled pork tenderloin

Season the Meat:

Next, pat the tenderloin dry and rub the spice mixture all over the meat. Allow the pork to sit at room temperature while you prepare the grill.

Pork tenderloin on a cutting board coated with spice rub

Grill the pork tenderloin:

Preheat an outdoor gas grill or an indoor grill pan to medium heat and brush the grates with vegetable oil (to prevent sticking). Place the pork on the grill, close the grill, and cook for 15-18 minutes. Turn the meat every few minutes to ensure even cooking.

The pork tenderloin is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F. Then remove the meat to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Front shot of a grilled pork tenderloin on a cutting board

What to serve with Grilled Pork Tenderloin:

A side of barbecue sauce pairs nicely with the dry rub used on this meat. Serve the grilled pork with any of these easy side dishes, too:

The best wines to pair with grilled pork tenderloin:

Since the grilled meat has a smoky-yet-sweet, earthy character, this dish pairs well with wines that have a zippy, refreshing character. You can also opt for a spicy wine that enhances the zesty flavors in the barbecue rub.

  • Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris
  • Zinfandel
  • Shiraz or Cabernet-Shiraz
  • Rosé
Close overhead shot of grilled pork tenderloin on a plate with mac and cheese green beans and coleslaw

Preparation and Storage Tips:

  • Prep ahead! The tenderloin can be trimmed and rubbed up to 24 hours in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Sliced tenderloin is delicious on sandwiches the next day!
  • How to reheat grilled pork tenderloin: Place the pork on a sheet pan and warm in a 325 degree F oven just until heated through (about 10-15 minutes). Be careful not to overheat, or the tenderloin will become dry. You can also reheat individual portions of pork in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations:

  • Total grilling time will vary depending on the size, thickness and temperature of your pork and grill. As a result, I always recommend using a meat thermometer to know when your pork is done. The tenderloin is ready to come off the grill when it reaches an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F. The temperature will continue to rise as it rests, and you want to make sure that you don’t overcook the meat (because it can become dry).
  • Barbecue sauce pairs nicely with the dry rub used on the pork. You can baste the tenderloin with barbecue sauce during the final 1-2 minutes of grilling, or you can just serve the grilled pork with a side of warm barbecue sauce for dipping.
  • The salt and sugar are necessary for seasoning the meat and for encouraging caramelization on the outside. You can adjust the other spices to suit your taste. For instance, substitute regular paprika for the smoked paprika, or add a dash of cayenne for a spicy rub.
  • A single pork tenderloin is typically just 1 lb. of meat, making it an appropriate amount of food for 2-4 people (depending on the size of your appetite). If you’re feeding a larger family of 4-5, I recommend doubling all of the ingredients and cooking two tenderloins side-by-side on the grill.
  • Pork tenderloin is a healthy option for most diets. The extra-lean meat is high in protein and a rich source of B vitamins and selenium. One 4-ounce serving of pork tenderloin has almost 24 grams of protein, 0 carbohydrates, less than 4 grams of fat, and just 136 calories. The American Heart Association has certified pork tenderloin as a heart healthy food!
Close up front shot of sliced grilled pork tenderloin with rub on a plate

More grilled pork tenderloin recipes that you might enjoy:

Grilled pork tenderloin on a wooden cutting board and basted with barbecue sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Spice Rub

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total: 48 minutes
Servings 2 – 4 people
Calories 228.3 kcal
Grilled pork tenderloin with a sweet-and-smoky barbecue rub is a healthy and easy dinner recipe that's perfect for spring and summer!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Optional, for serving: barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder.
  • Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat and silverskin. Pat the pork dry, and then rub the spice mixture all over the meat.
  • Allow pork to sit at room temperature while preparing the grill.
  • Preheat grill to medium heat and brush the grates with vegetable oil (to prevent sticking).
  • Place pork on the grill. Close the grill and cook 15-18 minutes, turning every few minutes to ensure even cooking. The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F. You can baste with the barbecue sauce during the final 1-2 minutes, or just serve warm barbecue sauce alongside the pork for dipping.
  • Remove the tenderloin to a cutting board and allow the meat to rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes

  • Total grilling time will vary depending on the size, thickness and temperature of your pork and grill. As a result, I always recommend using a meat thermometer to know when your pork is done. The tenderloin is ready to come off the grill when it reaches an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F. The temperature will continue to rise as it rests, and you want to make sure that you don’t overcook the meat (because it can become dry).
  • Barbecue sauce pairs nicely with the dry rub used on the pork. You can baste the tenderloin with barbecue sauce during the final 1-2 minutes of grilling, or you can just serve the grilled pork with a side of warm barbecue sauce for dipping.
  • The salt and sugar are necessary for seasoning the meat and for encouraging caramelization on the outside. You can adjust the other spices to suit your taste. For instance, substitute regular paprika for the smoked paprika, or add a dash of cayenne for a spicy rub.
  • A single pork tenderloin is typically just 1 lb. of meat, making it an appropriate amount of food for 2-4 people (depending on the size of your appetite). If you’re feeding a larger family of 4-5, I recommend doubling all of the ingredients and cooking two tenderloins side-by-side on the grill.
  • Pork tenderloin is a healthy option for most diets. The extra-lean meat is high in protein and a rich source of B vitamins and selenium. One 4-ounce serving of pork tenderloin has almost 24 grams of protein, 0 carbohydrates, less than 4 grams of fat, and just 136 calories. The American Heart Association has certified pork tenderloin as a heart healthy food!

Nutrition

Serving: 1/3 of the tenderloinCalories: 228.3kcalCarbohydrates: 14.8gProtein: 32.1gFat: 5.5gSaturated Fat: 1.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 97.3mgSodium: 649.5mgPotassium: 649.7mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9.2g
Keyword: Grilled Pork Tenderloin, grilled pork tenderloin rub
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Have a nice port tenderloin, waiting for a new rub. This one looks really good. Thank you for sharing.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and probably my favorite tenderloin recipe yet! Quick, delicious, and not alot of room for error. Just wish I would have thought to make the mac and cheese too!Thanks Blair!

  3. 5 stars
    Did ours on a charcoal grill, where temp settings are always a bit of a guess. Gave the meat a nice sear then finished on indirect heat (@325-350˚). Delicious. So easy and so good!