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For the best results, start by cooking the meat over high temperature and then move it to a lower temperature over indirect heat.
I have been using this technique for more than a decade It’s one of my favorite ways to grill pork because it turns out a perfect pork tenderloin every time!
What is pork tenderloin?
Pork tenderloin and pork loin are two cuts of meat that often get confused.
The full pork loin is cut from the side of a hog without the belly or fat back. From the pork loin, butchers cut the tenderloin, riblets, back ribs, country-style ribs, the center cut loin and pork chops.
The pork tenderloin is a thinner and smaller cut of pork removed from the full pork loin. According to the North American Meat Institute, the tail end of the meat should be at least one inch thick and it should be “practically free of fat.”
It’s a lean cut of meat, but when cooked properly, it contains a lot of flavor and melts in your mouth.
VARIATION: Try my recipe for smoked bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.
- Pork Tenderloin: Be sure to grab pork tenderloin, not pork loin. It comes in a vacuum-sealed package. This recipe calls for two pork tenderloins because usually, two come in a package together. You can cut the recipe in half to just cook one.
- Mayonnaise: This acts as the binder and helps form a beautiful crust on the pork. Feel free to use original mayo, light mayo or even mayo made with olive oil.
- Pork Rub: My award-winning pork rub was made just for pork dishes like this. It has salt, pepper, garlic, chiles and sugar.
- BBQ Sauce: You can use any type of barbecue sauce. Try a homemade sauce like my Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce or pick up a bottle from the grocery store.
Substitutions: If you don’t have my Pork Rub yet, you can mix up some kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and brown sugar to make a quick dry rub.
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
Prepare your grill
For this grilled pork tenderloin recipe, start by heating your grill to high heat (400F degrees) with both a direct heat zone and an indirect heat zone.
- Charcoal Grill: Add lit Cowboy Charcoal to your grill. Push them to one side, so you have a direct and indirect heat zone. Adjust the vents until the grill temperature reaches 400F degres.
- Gas Grill: Turn one burner to high or medium-high heat. Adjust the dial as needed until the grill temperature reaches 400F degrees. You’ll start the cook over the burners that are on and finish it on the grill grate over the burner that is off. If you want to add smoke, use Cowboy Wood Chips in a foil pouch.
- Pellet Grill: Set your grill temperature to 400F degrees. For the last part of the cook, reduce the temperature to 350F degrees.
- Ninja Grill: Set the function to grill, the temperature to 400F degrees and the time to 25 minutes. For the last stage, reduce the grill temperature to 350F degrees.
How to grill pork tenderloin in under 30 minutes
- STEP ONE: Remove the tenderloin(s) from the packaging. Place them on a cutting board and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- STEP TWO: Using a sharp knife, like a boning knife or filet knife with a point, remove any noticeable silver skin from the pork tenderloins. Use the point to work your knife under the white layer. Then, slide your knife to remove it from the meat.
- STEP THREE: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise with the pork rub. Stir until smooth.
- STEP FOUR: Using your hands or the back of a spoon, rub the mayonnaise mixture all over the pork tenderloins. Grill them right away or place them in a plastic resealable bag and marinate the pork tenderloin for 30 minutes up to several hours.
PRO TIP: If you let the rubbed pork tenderloins marinate in a bag, make sure they are still fully coated with the mayonnaise blend when you remove them from the bag. You want that coating in order to form a great crust.
- STEP FIVE: Place the pork tenderloins on the heated grill over direct heat. Close the lid and cook for 7 minutes. Flip. Cook for 7 more minutes.
- STEP SIX: Brush your favorite BBQ sauce all over the tenderloins and move them to the indirect heat zone on your grill. Cook them for another 5-7 minutes.
PRO TIP: If you’re using a pellet grill or Ninja grill, reduce the grill temperature to 350F degrees.
- STEP SEVEN: Use a digital instant-read thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the grilled pork tenderloin. Once it reaches 145F degrees, they’re ready. Remove them from the grill.
PRO TIP: You don’t want the internal temperature of the pork to get much higher than 145F degrees, or it will start to dry out. To get the best reading, insert your meat thermometer into the center of the pork tenderloin from one of the ends.
How to serve grilled pork tenderloin
Once you remove the meat from the grill. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving so the juices settle.
When ready to serve, cut the tenderloin into 1/2-inch thick slices or medallions. Serve with extra sauce and your favorite sides.
Variations to this pork recipe
A great way to add variety to your meals is to follow this grilled pork tenderloin technique with all different flavor profiles.
Asian-inspired grilled pork tenderloin: Mix soy sauce and fresh grated garlic and ginger with the mayonnaise. Then, brush it with a gochujang sauce. Once grilled, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Latin-inspired grilled pork tenderloin: Mix chipotle adobo sauce with the mayonnaise and a little lime juice, salt and pepper. Once it finishes grilling, sprinkle with a little lime zest.
Maple bourbon grilled pork tenderloin: Instead of using barbecue sauce, combine maple syrup with a splash of bourbon or whiskey and brush that on at the end.
If you come up with your own variations for grilled pork tenderloin recipes using this technique, leave a comment below. We’d all love to hear about your successful creations.
If you have leftover grilled pork tenderloin, the best way to store is unsliced. This will help ensure each piece remains juicy and tender. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or in the freezer for 4-6 months.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Trim the tenderloins to remove excess silverskin
- Rub with a crust-enhancing mayo blend
- Start by grilling over direct heat
- Add the sauce and finish grilling over indirect heat
- For juicy grilled pork tenderloin, don’t go past an internal temperature of 145F degrees
Frequently Asked Questions
Pork loin is a primal cut that contains several other smaller cuts. The pork tenderloin comes from the pork loin and is long and thin with little to no fat.
Just like a beef tenderloin, which is where filet mignon steaks come from, the pork tenderloin is the leanest most tender muscle on the hog.
An average pork tenderloin weighs about 16-18 ounces. They are usually 10-12 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter. When purchasing pork tenderloin, they are usually sold 2 per pack.
To make perfectly juicy grilled pork tenderloin, it’s important to cook it to the correct internal temperature of 145F degrees. Once it reaches that point, remove it from the grill and let it rest.
Yes. It is okay to eat pork that is slightly pink and medium rare. The USDA updated its safe cooking temperatures for pork in May 2020.
What to serve with grilled pork tenderloin
More Quick Pork Recipes
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Quick & Juicy Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- 2 pork tenderloins
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp Christie Vanover's Pork Rub
- 1/2 cup BBQ Sauce
- Heat Grill: Heat your grill to high heat (400F degrees) with a direct and indirect heat zone.
- Trim: Using a sharp knife, remove any noticeable silverskin from the pork tenderloins.
- Rub: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and BBQ rub. Mix until smooth. Rub the mixture evenly over both pork tenderloins.
- Marinate: Let the seasoned tenderloins rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or for several hours.
- Grill: Place the pork loin on the grill over direct heat. Cook for 7 minutes. Flip. Cook for 7 more minutes.
- Sauce: Brush sauce evenly over both pork tenderloins. Move them over the indirect heat zone. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145F degrees.
- Slice: Remove from the grill. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with extra sauce.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.