Cooking pork tenderloin in your oven is a piece of cake: sear the meat for a few minutes on every side, then wrap it up in aluminum foil (stick some compound butter in there for incredible flavor), then toss the roast in a 350°F oven. Once it’s internal temp hits 145°F, it’s done!
As a professional chef, I’m always looking for new ways to jazz up a dish. So, when one of my fellow chefs showed me the foil trick, I gave it a try. The lean cut of meat is transformed into juicy, tender perfection thanks to aluminum foil.
In this post, I will show you how to cook pork tenderloin in your oven with foil. I’m also sharing the tastiest recipe I know. Check it out!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking oil. In a small bowl, add the ingredients for the seasonings, including the butter. Mix until the garlic herb butter is evenly combined.
Season the pork. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper all over.
Sear the meat. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until it is shimmering. Add the pork tenderloin to the pan and cook the meat on all sides until golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on the baking sheet.
Evenly apply the garlic herb butter to the entire pork tenderloin. Wrap the meat in aluminum foil to create a foil packet. This wrapping and butter will steam the meat, making it ultra-tender. Make sure the wrap is nice and tight. Place it in the oven and cook the pork tenderloin until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, around 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let the meat rest while still wrapped in foil for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Drizzle melted butter over the sliced meat, if desired.
Yes, you can absolutely substitute pork loin for pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is a bit more expensive than loin, so I totally understand the urge to swap out the two cuts.
There are a few differences you should be aware of:
First, pork loin is bigger than tenderloin. You’ll need to increase the seasonings accordingly. My recipe is for a 2-pound tenderloin. If you’ve got a 3-pound loin, increase everything by 50%.
Since loin is bigger than tenderloin, it will also take longer to cook. Figure 20 minutes of cooking time per pound of meat at 350°F.
As with the tenderloin, pork loin should also be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F.
Unless your butcher has already done this for you, you are going to need to trim the tenderloin before you bake it.
Tenderloin (and loin) are very lean cuts. There may be a small amount of fat that can be removed.
You’ll also need to remove the silver skin. This is a thin white membrane. Grab it between two fingers and peel it away in a sheet. Paper towels can help if things get slippery. You can use a sharp paring knife as well. Here’s a video if you’re stuck.
Try to make sure that the pork tenderloin is as evenly shaped as possible. This way, it will bake at a more even rate.
If you have a thin end that is less than an inch thick, tuck this under the cut to create a more uniform shape. You can secure it with butcher twine.
Because this recipe is wrapped in foil and cooked in butter and spices, the meat doesn’t need to marinate.
Pork tenderloin can certainly be marinated if you’re using another recipe. It absorbs marinade flavors nicely.
Searing helps you to create that nice and crispy layer around your pork tenderloin. The browning also adds flavor to the party. Browning caramelizes sugars in the meat, and the process is known as the Maillard reaction.
This complex chemical reaction is complex. Basically, it’s the process of transforming proteins and sugars through heat. It results in enticing new colors, flavors, and aromas. The Maillard reaction is an everyday process that has profound effects on our food. Bread becomes toast. Ground beef becomes crispy smash burgers.
Searing is also essential in this recipe since you are wrapping the tenderloin. It will not brown further in the oven because the meat is wrapped.
Skip the sear at your peril. Searing adds tons of flavor to cooked meat.
Just make sure not to overcook the tenderloin. Keep a close eye on the meat. When one side has turned golden brown, flip it over. Sear all four sides.
I love the garlic mix in this recipe. But cooking is all about playing around with new ingredients and techniques. Feel free to switch it up however you like.
Try a spice mix with a little bit of salt, pepper, cumin powder, fresh garlic, and coriander. Throw in some cilantro or other green herbs for a kick of fresh flavor. Dried herbs are easy, but fresh herbs will take your cooking to another level.
If you’re in a rush, you can simply use a couple of tablespoons of Italian seasoning or your favorite BBQ rub.
If you want to skip the butter, you can. I like the flavor that butter delivers but choose your own adventure. Feel free to substitute olive oil or your favorite cooking oil. Leftover bacon fat would be dynamite.
If you use oil, I suggest letting the herbs and garlic steep in the olive oil for an hour or so. Your oil will be infused with flavor from the seasonings.
Yes, it’s a good idea to wrap pork tenderloin in foil. Pork tenderloin is a lean cut of pig. Lean meats have a tendency to dry out. This is why it is typically cooked over high heat quickly.
With this baked pork tenderloin, however, the meat is exposed to medium heat for a longer period of time. Wrapping it up in aluminum foil creates a moisture-trapping barrier around the meat. This means your pork is less likely to dry out. The half stick of butter helps by adding flavor from the fat.
There is no special technique for wrapping the tenderloin. Just make sure that the seal is nice and tight so that the moisture doesn’t escape.
Keep the pork wrapped until it is done cooking. Unwrap after allowing it to rest for 10 minutes.
My recipe calls for 350°F.
I know that some people like to bake pork tenderloin in the oven at 400°F. A higher cooking temperature will speed up the cooking time. However, there is a higher chance of the meat drying out at higher temps.
Pork tenderloin should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. I’m like a broken record when it comes to food temperatures; always check the internal temperature of your meat when cooking, baking, and roasting. It’s the only way to guarantee it’s fully cooked and safe to eat.
This is particularly important when baking pork tenderloin in the oven. The last thing that you want to do is to overcook this cut. Overcook it, and the meat will be dry and as tough as shoe leather.
Take the meat out as soon as it hits 145°F.
A good instant-read thermometer or meat thermometer is the most accurate indicator. Once your tenderloin is almost done cooking, check it with the instant-read thermometer every 5 minutes or so. When it hits 145°F, remove that meat from the heat!
If you’re using a leave-in meat thermometer, stick it in the thickest part of the tenderloin. This will provide the most accurate temperature readings.
If you want to be extra sure, you can check the tenderloin in a few spots to make sure that the whole cut is cooked all the way through.
Due to carryover cooking, your pork will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven. It will climb in temperature by 5 to 10 degrees.
I like to rest pork tenderloin for 5 to 10 minutes after it’s done cooking. To rest, leave the pork wrapped in the foil. Stick it on a plate on your counter and whip up a salad while the pork rests.
When you let the pork rest after baking it, you are giving the meat time to reabsorb any of the liquid it has lost. This makes the meat more tender. The resting process is key to ensuring that you end up with the best-baked pork tenderloin possible!
If you’re crunched for time and can’t rest, don’t sweat it! All that butter is going to make for a rich and tender roast. Reserve the melted butter and drizzle some on the sliced meat.
As with any meat, always slice against the grain with the tenderloin. On a tenderloin, that means you’ll be cutting the meat into circular pucks. I would also suggest cutting it into thinner slices. I like mine ½”.
This size is great for piling on top of crusty bread!
That’s one of the great things about this recipe – you can serve it alongside anything. For a light and healthy option, steamed, roasted, or even sautéed vegetables are a great accompaniment.
In the mood for something a little heavier? Mashed potatoes and gravy are terrific.
As for carbs, anything from buttery soft rolls to steamed rice or even a rice pilaf will do the trick.
Place cooked pork in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
If you want to store it for longer, then freezing it is the way to go. Place the roast in a freezer bag. Then, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it.
Write the date of storage on the bag and freeze it. For maximum freshness, it’s best to use it within a couple of months. Food that has freezer burn is safe to consume but tastes awful.
I recommend discarding any meat that’s been in the freezer for over 6 months because the taste will have deteriorated. The exception to this is food that’s wrapped in Cryovac packaging or has been vacuum sealed. Cryovac and vacuum sealing are superior storage methods. Meat should not deteriorate in taste for up to two years if sealed in cryo or vacuum sealed.
If freezing, always defrost the tenderloin before reheating.
The best way to reheat this dish is in the oven. Set the oven temperature to 350°F.
Wrap the tenderloin in foil tightly – you can add a little bit of compound butter or other flavorful liquid for moisture before if you like. Then, place in the preheated oven and cook until the food is warm. Serve and eat immediately – no need for another rest.
As pork tenderloin is quite lean, covering it with foil while baking can help prevent it from drying out. The foil locks moisture into the packaging, and the butter helps gently steam the meat. This makes my recipe incredibly tender (and delicious).
It is best to check doneness by tracking internal temps – you’re shooting for 145°F. A good rule of thumb is to figure around 20 minutes per pound when cooking pork tenderloin at 350°F.
Well, here it is – everything that you need to know about baking pork tenderloin in foil. The simple and effective technique, coupled with a delicious recipe, is going to help you transform this lean cut into a dish that you are going to want to cook time and time again!
Follow my recipe for a hands-off weeknight meal that will have your family clamoring for more. Serve the pork with a fresh garden salad and some buttery rolls, and you’re living the good life. Happy cooking!