The juiciest, tastiest pork tenderloin recipe. This pork tenderloin in porchetta will take you right to the sun drenched middle of Italy and make you forget all about that expensive beef stuff.
This recipe is based on the flavors of Umbria, my favorite part of Italy where they make delicious melt-in-your-mouth pork tenderloin with lemon, rosemary, fennel, and good italian cheese and olive oil.
It’s perfect for eating on its own or in a crusty ciabatta. This pork tenderloin is based on porchetta, simplified with weeknight ingredients, and you’ll be amazed at how flavorful, buttery, and melty it is.
Best of all, it’s healthy, lean, and low fat, with only 7 ingredients. You’ll never believe something so easy and so fast can taste this good.
What is pork tenderloin
Pork tenderloin, also called fillet, is a small slender muscle along the spine. When cooked right, they’re buttery delicious, juicy, and full of flavor, rivaling hundred dollar wagyu steaks.
Pork tenderloin is the single, best cut of pork. Unlike beef tenderloin, which runs into the hundreds of dollars, you can often get pork tenderloin for under $10/lb, which is a bargain for how good it tastes.
This is one of those things, like oxtail, that you should get into before they blow up and triple in price.
Pork tenderloin vs loin
Although they share the same name, pork tenderloin and pork loin are not the same. Tenderloins are small and long like a zucchini or cucumber, whereas a loin is much, much larger.
You could make this recipe with a loin if you can adjust the cooking times (or sous vide the whole thing), but in my opinion, the tenderloin is worth looking for. It’s not even in the same league.
What is ‘in porchetta’
This recipe is inspired by a traditional Umbrian method called in porchetta, where they use the techniques and flavors of porchetta on other foods. Classically, these include chicken in porchetta, duck in porchetta, and rabbit in porchetta. The protein is different but the preparation – a dry rub of fennel, rosemary, and olive oil, is the same.
A pork tenderloin happens to be one of the things you can stuff a traditional porchetta with, so this is like an easier, extra tender and not crunchy porchetta. You can also adapt this recipe to any protein you like and it’ll taste amazing.
How to cook pork tenderloin
- Temper the tenderloin by letting it rest on the countertop while you prepare the porchetta rub, pour some wine, or make while-cooking cocktail.
- Make the dry rub by combining lemon zest, salt, pepper, fennel, and rosemary.
- Brush your tenderloin with some nice olive oil and rub the dry rub on evenly. Sear in a pan if desired.
- Bake the pork tenderloin at 400ºF for 20-25 minutes.
- Make the salsa verde while your tenderloin is baking to perfection.
- Rest. Then slice, and enjoy with crusty bread, risotto, or pasta.
Pork tenderloin temp
We all grew up with hyper overcooked pork, but today’s pork is safe and the USDA has reduced the safe pork temp down to 145ºF. For me personally, I prefer pork at 130ºF, with carryover heat bringing it up to 135ºF. It was perfect: tender, super juicy, and flavorful. If the thought of pink meat is off putting to you, cook your pork tenderloin to 145-155. It will still be tender and delicious.
How long to cook pork tenderloin
Cooking times depend a lot on your oven, the size of the tenderloin, and the temperature of your pork before it goes into the oven. The most accurate thing you can do is get a meat thermometer with a probe. They can be really cheap. If you have a pretty accurate oven and prefer to wing it, some suggested cooking times are below.
Pork tenderloin at 400ºF
With a 1lb tenderloin that’s been tempered for an hour, it takes about 25 min at 400ºF to get to 140ºF. The carryover heat will bring it up to 145ºF.
Pork tenderloin at 350ºF
Although it’s not as effective, there might be reasons to do it at 350ºF (ie, you need to have other things in the oven at 350ºF). If so, cook it for 30-35 minutes.
What temp should I cook pork tenderloin?
It’s best to cook it at 400ºF. The higher temperature will ensure that it doesn’t overcook by getting the middle up to temp faster.
Do you need to sear?
I didn’t sear this one because I wanted to keep it as tender as possible. It will end up a little grey though. I don’t mind that too much, but if you want it to look its best, sear it all around over medium high heat before popping it in the oven.
Green sauce, aka salsa verde
The salsa verde in this recipe goes wonderfully with the porchetta, bringing a little bit of acid and a lot of umami from Parmigiano-Reggiano. Definitely don’t skip out on it. It’s so good Steph and I often use it as a quick pasta sauce, no meat required.
In America, salsa verde is known as a mainly Mexican or Spanish thing, but Italians have a green sauce called salsa verde too. This version is a super simplified one, using only the ingredients in the porchetta plus cheese, but usually Italian salsa verde also includes anchovies, capers, and vinegar.
Porchetta was traditionally generously seasoned. In Umbria one of the main ways to eat porchetta is in a sandwich, and the bread in that part of Italy wasn’t salted, so it was a marriage made in heaven.
I’ve reduced the salt here so you can eat the porchetta by itself, but I’ve also tested it with up to a tablespoon of salt to recreate that classic porchetta taste. It works if you eat it with something very bland, like bread or pasta.
What to serve with pork tenderloin
Pork Tenderloin Recipe
The best pork tenderloin with the flavors of Umbrian Porchetta in only 10 ingredients
- 2 lb pork tenderloin
- 1 tbsp olive oil or more if needed
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp rosemary chopped, ~10″-12″ sprig
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon zest 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley roughly torn, about 1 bunch
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tbsp lemon zest 1/2 a lemon
Temper your pork by leaving it on the counter while you prepare your dry rub. At the same time, preheat your oven to 400ºF.
Make the porchetta dry rub by mixing the fennel, rosemary, sea salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
Rub your pork tenderloins down with olive oil, then evenly rub the porchetta spice mix on.
Arrange the tenderloins on a rack over a baking sheet, and bake for 20 min or until 130ºF in the middle (see notes). While the pork is baking, make your salsa verde by combining all salsa verde ingredients except lemon zest in a blender. Blend until smooth, then taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed. Drizzle a splash of olive oil on top and top with the lemon zest.
When the pork is has reached your desired temp, remove and rest for 5 min. Slice, then serve with salsa verde.
Estimated nutrition includes all the salsa verde
Pork Tenderloin Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 248
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 5.4g34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.