Reverse Seared Pork Tenderloin

26 August 2021

Grilling a pork tenderloin should be easy but all too often it comes off dry. If you cook it indoors a good way to keep it juicy is to braise it, but that sounds impossible on your outdoor grill. Besides, the reason you want to cook outdoors is to keep the heat out of the kitchen and, well, for the fun of outdoor cookery. It is nice to have that smokey taste and crisp exterior.

Let’s go back to braising. That is cooking low and slow usually over indirect heat. On your charcoal grill, set the coals off to one side, so you have one side pretty darn hot (about 400 degrees) and the other a lower temperature (around 275 degrees). It is the same concept on a gas grill where you have one side hot and the other not. Put your tenderloin on the somewhat cooler side of the grill and cook to an internal temperature of 125 degrees. This should take about 30 minutes. Then move the meat to the hot zone and sear each side for about a minute or two on each side and to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

If you prefer using your smoker, that also works. If so, different wood will give its own spin:

  • Mesquite has its own distinct aroma and flavor.
  • Apple or cherry will give you a sweeter slant.
  • Hickory will give more of a bite.
  • Maple is lighter and sweeter.
  • Oak is slow burning so is better on larger cuts for longer cooking times.

Smoking techniques will vary but most will pre-soak the wood to add moisture. Cook the meat fat side up so it self bastes. Don’t peek for at least the first hour and a half. At that point you can wrap the meat to seal juices. Smoking will take considerably longer than grilling.


Let the tenderloin rest for 15 or 20 minutes before carving so the juices can recirculate. Cut into medallions and serve with:

Nectarine Salsa

2 Nectarines, pitted and diced

1 Ripe tomato, seeded and diced

¼ c Onion, diced

2 Tbsp Fresh cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp Fresh lime juice

¼ Tsp Salt

¼ Tsp Crushed red pepper flakes

Combine in a bowl and serve.

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The idea of reverse searing works with other cuts of meat as well. Try it with a steak!

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