Throw a pork tenderloin on the grill tonight, and chill out

Carl Tremblay/America's Test Kitchen via APGrill-roasted pork tenderloin is flavored with a dry spice rub and served with grilled pineapple red onion salsa.

To turn a midweek dinner into something special, try cooking easy pork tenderloin on the grill.

To produce beautifully browned pork with a rich crust and tender, juicy meat, we started with a simple dry spice rub to add flavor. Sugar aided browning, while cumin and chipotle chile powder added savory smokiness.

The rub had some time to work its magic while we readied the grill. Searing the meat first guaranteed the best crust and a rosy interior, and turning the tenderloins every 2 minutes delivered even color. Once the meat had a good crust, we moved it to the cooler side to finish roasting.

To add bright flavor and enhance the smoky char of the pork, we grilled wedges of pineapple and red onion to make a quick salsa while the meat rested.

We strongly prefer natural pork in this recipe. To ensure that the tenderloins don’t curl during cooking, remove the silverskin from the meat. If the pork is enhanced (injected with a salt solution), omit the salt in the first step.


Start to finish: 50 minutes

Servings: 4

For the pork:

11/2 teaspoons kosher salt

11/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

2 (12- to 16-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed

For the salsa:

1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut lengthwise into 6 wedges

1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges through root end

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons lime juice, plus extra for seasoning


Make the pork seasoning by combining the salt, sugar, cumin and chile powder in a small bowl. Reserve 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture. Rub the remaining mixture evenly over the surface of both tenderloins. Refrigerate while preparing the grill.

For a charcoal grill: Open the bottom vent completely. Light a large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set the cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner on high, and turn off other burner(s).

Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place tenderloins on hotter side of grill. Cover and cook, turning tenderloins every 2 minutes, until well-browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.

Brush the pineapple and onion with 1 teaspoon oil. Move tenderloins to cooler side of grill (6-8 inches from heat source), and place pineapple and onion on hotter side of grill.

Cover, and cook until pineapple and onion are charred on both sides and softened, 8-10 minutes, and until pork registers 140 degrees, 12-17 minutes, turning tenderloins every 5 minutes. As they reach the desired levels of doneness, transfer the pineapple and onion to a plate and the tenderloins to a carving board. Let rest for 10 minutes.

While tenderloins rest, coarsely chop pineapple. Pulse the pineapple, onion, cilantro, serrano, lime juice, reserved spice mixture and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a food processor until mixture is coarsely chopped, 4-6 pulses.

Transfer to a bowl, and season with salt and extra lime juice to taste. Slice tenderloins into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with salsa.

Nutrition information per serving: 381 calories; 92 calories from fat; 10 g fat (2 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 164 mg cholesterol; 633 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 54 g protein.