This pork tenderloin is juicy, tender and finished with a sweet Asian-inspired honey sesame glaze. Whether you grill it or roast it in the oven, it's simple to put together and cooks in under 30 minutes!Jump to Recipe
Growing up, my mom was the keeper of the kitchen, but my dad was certainly the grill-master. I’m not sure if he liked grilling or if he really just wanted some peace and quiet away from us four kids! 😉 Well, that “peace and quiet” typically didn’t last long. I loved being out by the grill with Dad, especially when he’d cut off little pieces for me to “sample.” I guess I learned that quality checks were important long before my food science college days! 😉
Being a pig farming family, pork was often the meat of choice for the grill. Although pork burgers are a close second, pork tenderloin is my favorite cut of pork. It’s flavorful, versatile, full of protein, tender and juicy. AND it's actually the leanest cut of pork, having fewer calories and grams of fat than a boneless skinless chicken breast (who would've thought?!).
The number one complaint from consumers about pork is that "it's dry." Surprising? Probably not. We’ve all been there….sawing through a dry pork chop that was cooked far beyond 160F and chewing it 100 times just to get it down. But at least that pork was fully-cooked and safe to eat, right? Well sure it was...
The secret to perfectly cooked pork...
However, pork cooked to 145 is just as safe and about a bazillion times more tasty. (Is that even a word?) I see you over there thinking “145? I thought it was 160?” Well, it used to be. However, in 2011 the USDA did extensive testing on the safety of cooking pork to a lower temperature. What they learned was that due to better technology and advances in pig farming, pork is completely safe to consumer at 145.
But does 15 degrees really make that much of a difference? Cook a couple chops (or tenderloins) sometime – one to 145 and one to 160 – and you’ll quickly learn that the answer is a definite YES. And that pink in the pork? Yep, that’s perfectly fine (and highly recommended!).
So how do you make sure that you cook your pork to a perfect 145? You guessed it! A thermometer. If you don’t have an accurate thermometer, I highly recommend any of the thermometers made by Thermoworks.
I’ve been using this thermometer since my days at Johnsonville and have loved it ever since. The thing I like about it best is the speed and accuracy. In just about 1 second, I’ll have the exact temperature.
I use my Thermapen for much more than just meat. My Thermapen gets used when I'm making bread to be sure the water I’m mixing with the yeast is the perfect temperature. And when determining if my cake is fully cooked. And if my egg casserole is done. I use it at least 4 times every week and consider it a great investment.
If you don’t want to spend quite as much, the ThermoPop is also a great product that will cost you a bit less. It takes just a second or two longer to give you the temperature, but is still quite speedy!
What temperature should I cook pork to?
If you’re cooking a whole muscle cut (think pork chops, tenderloin, loin, etc), cook to 145 and let it rest 3 minutes before slicing. If you’re cooking a ground pork or sausage, you’ll need to cook that to 160.
What is the difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin?
The pork loin and the pork tenderloin are very different cuts of meat. A pork loin can be bone-in or boneless and is a much wider cut of meat. It is the cut that pork chops come from, too. A pork tenderloin is much smaller in diameter and is slightly more lean than the loin. An average pork tenderloin is between 1 and 1.5 pounds.
What should pork tenderloin look like when it's done?
When pork tenderloin is cooked to a perfect 145, the center should be slightly pink. It will be visibly juicy as well. Remember the slogan "Pork, the other white meat?" Yeah, just go ahead and forget that! If you've cooked it until it's "white," you've likely cooked it too long. Just remember 145, 145, 145, 145.... you'll thank me later! 🙂
Honey Sesame Pork Tenderloin
- ½ c soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic or ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil or olive oil
- 1 lb pork tenderloin
- ¼ c honey
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar light or dark
- 4 tablespoon sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, garlic, ginger and sesame oil.
- Place the tenderloin in a heavy plastic bag; pour the soy mixture over it to coat.
- Let marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Remove pork from the marinade and pat dry. Discard the remaining marinade.
- Roast or grill (see specific instructions below).
How to roast:
- On a shallow plate, combine the honey and brown sugar.
- Roll the tenderloin in the honey mixture, coating it well, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
- Roast in a shallow baking dish at 400°F for 20-30 minutes or until the pork's internal temperature reads 145°F.
- Let the pork rest for 3 minutes, transfer to a platter, slice and serve.
How to grill:
- Heat the grill on medium-high until it reaches 400°F.
- In a small bowl, combine the honey, brown sugar, and sesame seeds.
- Place the pork tenderloin on the hot grill and cook each of the four sides for 1 ½ minutes. (Be sure to close the lid each time after you flip)
- Once each side has been seared, turn the grill down to low-medium heat (around 300°F) and brush each of the four sides with the honey mixture.
- Grill for an additional 2 minutes on each of the four sides, brushing the tenderloin with the honey mixture each time you flip. Keep the lid down as much as possible.
- Check the internal temperature of the pork - if it is between 140-145, remove the tenderloin from the grill. If it has not reached 140, continue to grill on low until it does.
- Place the tenderloin on a platter and let rest for 3 minutes. Slice and serve.
Recipe added to the Weekend Potluck and Meal Plan Monday.