How To Grill the Juiciest Pork Tenderloin in Under 30 Minutes

updated Aug 23, 2023
4th of july
How To Grill Pork Tenderloin

Learn the keys to cooking rosy-pink pork tenderloin on the grill every time.

Serves2 to 4

Prep15 minutes

Cook12 minutes to 18 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Picture this: You’ve got guests coming over for a cookout in less than an hour. What can you grill that will be both impressive and quick? The answer is almost always grilled pork tenderloin. Pork, especially the pork tenderloin, takes incredibly well to the smoky char of the grill. With just a smart dry rub of sugar, salt, and spices, pork tenderloin grills up with a thin, tender-crisp crust, while being incredibly juicy and, well, tender in the interior.

Grilled pork tenderloin is also the answer for quick weeknight dinners when you’ve run through the usual BBQ routine (i.e., hot dogs and chicken breasts). Hearty enough to serve four — and (bonus!) an inexpensive cut of meat — a pork tenderloin cooks up faster than you can whip up burgers with all the fixings.

Our easy recipe for juicy grilled pork tenderloin is ready in under 30 minutes and is sure to become a regular on your dinner table this summer.

Quick Overview

Grilling Pork Tenderloin at a Glance

  • You’ll need to remove silver skin from pork tenderloin. Because the silver skin (aka a thin membrane tissue) won’t break down during the cooking process, you’ll need to use a sharp knife to remove it before grilling.
  • The grill needs to be properly prepped for pork tenderloin. Known as “zone” cooking, it’s best for pork tenderloin to have one area of the grill have high heat and another have low.
  • Knowing how to tell the pork is done is key. The pork will have a crispy exterior and a pink interior.
Credit: Faith Durand

What is the difference between pork tenderloin and pork loin?

Pork tenderloin and pork loin are not similar cuts of meat and therefore require different preparations. Pork tenderloins are longer and skinnier than pork loin and cook far faster. They are also boneless.

Pork loin on the other hand is a wider cut of meat from the pig’s back. It’s often fattier than pork loin, and is sold in boneless and bone-in forms.

Does pork tenderloin need to rest before grilling?

Many recipes will ask you to remove the pork tenderloin from the fridge for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

However, this is about how long it takes to remove the silver skin, make the dry rub, and wait for the grill to heat. So our method does not call for an additional 30-minute rest.

Do I need to remove the silver skin from pork tenderloin?

You should definitely remove the silver skin — a connective tissue that doesn’t break down during cooking — before cooking. Be sure to do this step first while the tenderloin is cold:

  1. Remove the pork tenderloin from its packaging.
  2. Pat it down with paper towels.
  3. Using a sharp knife, slip the tip under the silver skin at one end of the tenderloin and slowly guide the knife from one end of the tenderloin to the other.
  4. While guiding the knife, pull away the silver skin with the other hand.
  5. You may need to turn over the tenderloin and repeat this step on the other side to ensure it’s completely removed.

Once the silver skin is removed, make a quick dry rub for the tenderloin. Salt and sugar are required for seasoning and encouraging caramelization, but you can adjust the other spices as you desire. Dry rubs flavor tenderloin and keep it moist, without preventing the crisp crust from forming (as a marinade might).

How to Prepare the Grill for Pork Tenderloin

For grilling pork tenderloin, we are going to use a grill technique sometimes referred to as zone cooking. This method gives the meat a crisp crust and char on the outside while keeping it juicy and moist on the inside. Here’s how it works:

  • One area of the grill will be turned to high, while the other will be low or unlit.
  • If using a charcoal grill, pile the coals on one side of the grill and leave the other side empty.
  • The high-heat area will be used for direct-heat cooking; the low-heat area will be used for indirect-heat cooking.
  • Direct heat: Using direct heat means cooking food directly over the heat source (whether charcoal, gas, or wood) to get great grill marks (i.e., a crisp crust and char) over a fast flame.
  • Indirect heat: Using indirect heat means cooking food adjacent to the heat source. This helps meat cook evenly without burning.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Tell When Grilled Pork Tenderloin Done

When grilled pork tenderloin is done, it has a mahogany coloring with a crispy exterior. The inside should be rosy-pink. Zone cooking and an instant-read thermometer are the two best ways to achieve this.

Pork tenderloin should cook from anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes depending on its thickness. Aim for an internal temperature between 140°F and 145°F in the thickest part of the tenderloin to ensure it is cooked to temp.

How To Grill Pork Tenderloin

Learn the keys to cooking rosy-pink pork tenderloin on the grill every time.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes to 18 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)

  • 1/4 cup

    lightly packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    onion powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder


  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Gas or charcoal grill

  • Small bowl

  • Sharp knife and cutting board

  • Instant-read thermometer


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  1. Trim the pork tenderloin. Using a thin, sharp knife, remove any connective tissue (silver skin) and fat from the surface of the tenderloin.

  2. Make the rub. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in a small bowl.

  3. Rub the tenderloin. Pat the spice rub onto the surface of the tenderloin and set aside while you prepare the grill. You can also tightly wrap the tenderloin in plastic wrap and refrigerate the rubbed pork for 1 hour or up to overnight.

  4. Prepare the grill for zone cooking. For a gas grill, heat one side to high or medium-high heat and leave the other side unlit. For a charcoal grill, light a chimney of coals, pile the coals on one side of the grill, and leave the other side empty.

  5. Grill the tenderloin for 12 to 18 minutes. Place the tenderloin over direct heat. Cover and cook, flipping the tenderloin only once, until the internal temperature reaches 140°F to 145°F, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Move to indirect heat if the tenderloin starts to char too much, and continue to cook until it reaches the correct internal temperature, about 18 minutes total cook time.

  6. Wrap and rest the tenderloin. Remove the tenderloin from the grill to a clean cutting board and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Rest for 10 minutes; the meat will finish cooking from the residual heat and the juices will redistribute for optimal flavor.

  7. Slice and serve. Slice crosswise into thin pieces before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The tenderloin can be trimmed and rubbed up to 24 hours in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.