Sweet and Smoky Turkey Tenderloin

published Sep 18, 2021
Turkey Tenderloin Recipe

If boneless, skinless chicken breasts are regularly featured on your weeknight menu, consider turkey tenderloin as an equally versatile alternative.

Serves5 to 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook35 minutes

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Turkey Tenderloin, roasted and sliced in two rows, on a rounded wooden platter with a rosemary and sage garnish
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

If boneless, skinless chicken breasts are featured regularly on your weeknight menu, consider turkey tenderloin as an equally versatile alternative. Easy to prepare and fast-cooking, turkey tenderloins take well to all kinds of flavors and preparations. And if you love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner but can’t be bothered with the hassle of roasting a whole bird, tenderloins recreate that same festive flavor in way less time. A simple roasted version is a good back-pocket recipe to know — and this one, with its deeply flavorful rub, is a keeper.

A dry rub or dry brine is a great way to introduce tons of flavor to a lean cut like turkey tenderloin. This sweet and smoky version is packed full of smoked paprika and dried herbs that bloom in the heat of the oven. It will seem like a lot of rub, but make sure to use all of it for maximum flavor! You can vary the flavors by switching out the dried herbs in this recipe — dried rosemary and dried tarragon are two great alternatives. 

Is Turkey Tenderloin the Same as Turkey Breast?

Think of turkey tenderloin as a bigger version of chicken tenders. Both can be found on the same part of the bird: just under the breast. Turkey tenderloins are always boneless and skinless, while turkey breast can sometimes be bone-in and skin-on. 

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

What Temperature Should Turkey Tenderloin Be Cooked?

For the juiciest results, cook turkey tenderloin at a slightly lower temperature than you might be used to. Cooking at 325°F, as in this recipe, ensures a gentle, even cook without the turkey drying out. 

What to Serve with Turkey Tenderloin

Some great sides for turkey tenderloin are as follows:

Turkey Tenderloin Recipe

If boneless, skinless chicken breasts are regularly featured on your weeknight menu, consider turkey tenderloin as an equally versatile alternative.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes

Serves 5 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon

    smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried ground sage

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried thyme

  • 2 teaspoons

    garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground cayenne (optional)

  • 2

    turkey breast tenderloins (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Place 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons ground sage, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (if using) in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Pat 2 turkey tenderloins dry with paper towels and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the turkey, making sure to use all of it and pressing it into the flesh so it adheres. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  3. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large cast iron or oven-proof non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the turkey tenderloins and cook until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the second side, about 2 minutes more.

  4. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the turkey is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers 155°F when inserted into the thickest part, 25 to 30 minutes.

  5. Transfer the turkey to a clean cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice thinly crosswise and taste and season with more kosher salt as needed before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.