Pork tenderloin is a deliciously lean and healthy main dish. It’s simple to prepare and is as tender as it is juicy! Top this perfectly cooked pork tenderloin with an easy balsamic fig glaze for the best weeknight dinner.
Pork tenderloin that is perfectly crispy on the outside while juicy and soft on the inside. For this pork tenderloin recipe, we keep it simple. No plethora of ingredients like brown sugar, dijon mustard, soy sauce, the list goes on and on.
Instead, make a deliciously sweet yet tart balsamic glaze with fig jam to top the juicy pork tenderloin. It’s the perfect sauce to pair with pork, making the pork tender and tasty. In fact, my boyfriend said "this is the most juicy pork you've ever made!" the first time I used this glaze!
I'm not sure why, but cooking pork tenderloin always intimidated me. Pork tenderloin is not as expensive as other meats (like steaks) and I wanted to make it especially when I tried to make meals for under $30/week.
In fact, pork is a great meat to cook with for budget-friendly meals and to mix up the usual beef or chicken meals! Some of my favorite dinners (GF Chorizo Kale Sweet Potato Enchilada Bake or Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Sausage) are budget-friendly and great for meal prep or serving a crowd!
Highlights of this Recipe
This recipe is:
- 3 Main Ingredients
- Easy + Simple
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Pork Tenderloin
- Fig Preserves / Fig Jam - Look for fig jams that have no added sugars.
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt + Pepper
How to Find a Clean Fig Jam
Jams can be a tricky clean ingredient to find. Most have added sugars, refined sugars and sometimes unknown ingredients.
Look for one with as few ingredients as possible. I like using St. Dalfour jam’s.
Pork Tenderloin vs. Pork Loin
So what’s the difference between a pork tenderloin and a pork loin? It may seem like pork loin is a great substitute for pork tenderloin, but they are quite different cuts of pork.
Pork tenderloin is a long and narrow cut of pork and is boneless. Pork loin is wide and flat and can be a boneless or bone-in cut of meat.
Pork tenderloin is best cooked at a fairly high heat (think quick sear and quick roast), whereas pork loin is better cooked by slow-roasting or grilling. Pork tenderloin is also more mild and lean, and can be darker in color.
Pork tenderloin is the most tender cut of pork and is great with added flavors from marinades, sauces, or spice rub.
Make the balsamic and fig glaze by adding both the balsamic vinegar and fig jam to a small saucepan.
Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
Season the pork tenderloin well with salt and black pepper on all sides.
Sear the pork tenderloin on all sides until browned.
Spread half of the fig balsamic glaze on top of the seared pork tenderloin and put it into the oven.
Cook until the pork tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF (medium) up to 175ºF (well done).
Rest the pork tenderloin for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting into medallions.
Serve with the remaining fig balsamic glaze.
Cooking Temperature for Pork Tenderloin
Cook a pork tenderloin (or any kind of pork) to an internal temperature of 145ºF. This will result in a medium cook, or where there’s a slight pink in the middle. The USDA recommends pork temperature anywhere between 145ºF to 160ºF, but removing the pork at 145ºF will typically result in the juiciest meat.
Always use a meat thermometer when cooking meat (whether that’s beef, pork, etc.) A thermometer is your best friend when cooking proteins. I have tried over and over to do that trick where you feel the bounce of the protein to see if it feels bouncy (undercooked) or hard (overcooked). The one tried and true method is finding the temperature.
No matter what the recipe says for timing, everyone's stove-tops and ovens are different and it's the safest bet to use the thermometer as much as possible to know how far along your cook is.
Making the Balsamic Fig Glaze
Making a balsamic fig glaze is even easier than you thought - it takes two ingredients and only 10-minutes to pull together! Pair it with pork tenderloin or use on top of any variety of proteins.
Tips and Tricks
Room Temperature Pork
With any protein, I like to take it out of the fridge about 20-minutes prior so that it can come close to room temperature.
As aforementioned, use your meat thermometer to make sure it reaches the temperature you prefer. For pork tenderloin: 145ºF is Medium, 160ºF is Medium-Well and 175ºF is Well Done.
Cast Iron Skillet
Want to achieve that perfect browned crispy edge for your pork tenderloin? Use a cast iron skillet. It also means less dishes - you can put it straight in the oven once your pork tenderloin is seared! If you don't have a cast iron (I highly suggest one, it's probably my favorite kitchen utensil!) then a dutch oven does the same trick too! You can always sear the pork tenderloin in a pan on the stove then transfer to a baking dish for the oven.
Let it Rest
Once your pork tenderloin reaches the temperature you are looking for, take it immediately out of the oven and LET IT REST. Let it rest for 5 minutes before you slice.
I cannot stress enough to make sure you use salt to sprinkle over all sides. For this pork tenderloin I like to use fresh cracked black pepper and salt.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can cook the entire pork tenderloin on the stove. However, it will be very cooked on the outside by the time the inside center is cooked through.
For pork tenderloin: 145ºF is Medium, 160ºF is Medium-Well and 175ºF is Well Done. Removing the pork tenderloin from the oven at 145ºF will result in the juiciest pork tenderloin.
To keep pork tenderloin from drying out, remove it from the oven once it reaches the temperature of 145ºF. Let it sit for at least 5-minutes prior to cutting. Overcooking pork tenderloin is a huge reason why it dries out.
A little pink in the center of the pork tenderloin is okay. At medium (cooking until 145ºF internal temperature) may leave the inside cooked with a tiny bit of pink and is the ideal cook.
Cook pork tenderloin until it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF, which takes about 15-20 minutes per pound in a 375ºF oven.
What to Do With Leftovers
The inevitable question is what on earth to do with pork tenderloin leftovers! This pork recipe is so good you may not need any ideas, but here are some great options.
- Add in corn tortillas to make tacos.
- With fried rice or Mexican rice.
- On top of a grain or rice bowl.
- Dice into small pieces and add to a quesadilla.
- Pair with cheese for a filling grilled cheese.
- Add to soup.
- Top a salad.
- Make a wrap with added veggies and sauces.
- Add to pizza (whether it’s plain cheese or with other toppings!) for added protein.
- Make a sandwich!
What to Serve with Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin really tastes great with anything! I love pairing it with a veggie and carb side.
- Sheet Pan Glazed Carrots
- Kale Fig Salad
- Charred Green Beans
- Simple Broccolini
- Healthy Mexican Street Corn
- Fresh Avocado Salad
- Rice Pilaf or Mexican Rice
- Sweet Potato Mash
- Roasted Potatoes
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Spinach & Fennel
Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Fig Glaze
- 1.5 pounds pork tenderloin (most of fat trimmed)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
Fig Balsamic Glaze
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup fig jam or fig preserves
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- Start the balsamic and fig glaze. Add both balsamic vinegar and fig jam/preserves to a small saucepan. Bring to a light boil.½ cup balsamic vinegar, ½ cup fig jam
- Once at a boil, bring the fig balsamic sauce down to a simmer, stir together to combine and let simmer for 7-10 minutes, until the glaze thickens to a sauce. It should stick to a spoon. (If your jam is too thick, you can use a whisk to break up into smaller pieces). When the fig balsamic glaze is completed, turn off the heat and remove from the stove.
- While the balsamic fig glaze is simmering, season the pork tenderloin on all sides with salt and pepper.½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper
- Heat a cast iron pan, carbon steel pan or dutch oven on the stove at medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and let pan get hot (about 2-3 minutes). (You can use a non-stick pan, but the sear may not come out as well)1 tablespoon neutral oil
- Once the pan is hot, sear the pork tenderloin for 3-5 minutes per side, until the outside is slightly browned.
- After the pork is seared on all sides (not just the top and bottom!), turn off heat.
- Spoon one-half of the balsamic and fig glaze evenly onto the top of the seared pork tenderloin.
- Put the pork tenderloin into the oven (if using a pan that’s not oven-safe, place in a baking dish first).
- Cook until it reaches an internal heat of 145ºF for medium, or up to 175ºF for well done. A good estimate is 20 minutes per pound, however I always measure the internal temperature after 10 and 15 minutes.
- After the pork tenderloin reaches the preferred internal temperature (145ºF is recommended), immediately remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Place aluminum foil over the top to keep safe.
- Slice into half-inch medallions. Place onto a serving plate or directly onto dinner plates.
- Serve with the remaining half of the balsamic fig glaze.
- Keep leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.