Skip to main content
Cooking Tips

How to Make Pork Tenderloins . . . Well, Tender

Here’s how to prepare and cook juicy, never-chewy, pork tenderloins.
By Published Aug. 9, 2022

Have you ever made pork tenderloins that have buckled into an unwieldy boomerang shape? Did you find yourself gnawing on chewy bits of tough membrane when you ate them? Read on to rid yourself of buckled, chewy tenderloins for good.

Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter

10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Pork tenderloins are a favorite of mine for weeknight dinners because they are quick-cooking and lean and they pair beautifully with all sorts of flavors. But they require a brief bit of prep before cooking, which is easy enough to do when you know how. 

How to Trim Pork Tenderloins

Even when I’m rushed, I never skip the first step to preparing this cut: trimming. Fresh out of the package, a pork tenderloin will be partially surrounded by some exterior fat and a shiny membrane known as the silver skin. I’m happy to leave some of that flavorful fat (though it can cause flare-ups on the grill), but the silver skin—which is unpleasantly chewy and can cause the tenderloin to buckle when cooked—has to go entirely. Here’s how to remove it.

  1. Pat the tenderloin thoroughly dry with paper towels (wet pork straight from the package is slippery and difficult to handle) and place it on a cutting board.
  2. Slip the tip of a thin boning or paring knife under the surface of the silver skin where it connects to the meat near the middle of the tenderloin. 
  3. Slide the blade of the knife parallel to the surface of the meat just under the membrane to remove a long strip of silver skin. 
  4. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to remove all the silver skin in strips. 

Don’t overlook this simple technique; after a few quick knife cuts, you’ll be on your way to picture-perfect pork that is truly tender inside and out.

How To Cook Juicy Pork Tenderloins Every Time

My go-to method for cooking pork tenderloin is to leave it whole and always aim for a final internal temperature of 140 degrees. Here’s a general guide for unfailingly juicy results.

  1. After trimming the tenderloins, season the exteriors generously with salt and pepper or whatever spice rub you’re feeling that day (my favorites are five-spice powder and herbes de Provence, and I always add a touch of sugar to enhance browning).
  2. Sear the tenderloins briefly (either over direct heat on the grill or on relatively high heat in a skillet) until well browned all over.
  3. Move the tenderloins to indirect heat (the cooler side of the grill or a 350-degree oven) to finish cooking through, aiming for a final temperature of 140 degrees. 
  4. Let the tenderloins rest on a cutting board for about 10 minutes so that the juices redistribute rather than spill out upon slicing. 

There’s little up-front prep, so this method is fast, and it results in juicy, unfailingly tender pork every time.