Pork tenderloin is a highly underrated cut of meat! Possibly due to incorrect cooking techniques, it has a bad reputation for being tough, dry and flavourless! Our French Pork Tenderloin will convince you that this lean pork recipe is not only easy to prepare, but is extremely delicious when done right! Marinated in tangy Dijon mustard mixture, pan-seared and roasted to perfection, this pork recipe will impress even the picky eaters!
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Best Way To Cook Pork Tenderloin
Various cuts of pork need to be cooked in different ways to show their true potential. Pork tenderloin, being the leanest cut of pork, is meant to be cooked quickly at relatively high heat to avoid the meat drying out. What is more, marinating it beforehand to add extra flavour and searing it in the pan first to seal in the moisture will certainly help you get the best results.
Our favourite ways to cook pork tenderloin are:
- Roasting pork tenderloin in the oven at around 190°C for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the tenderloin. This moderate oven temperature ensures that the tenderloin cooks quickly while remaining moist and tender.
- Grilling is another fast cooking method. Try our BBQ Pork Tenderloin at your next BBQ Party!
- Pan-frying tenderloin cut into pork medallions for 4-5 minutes on each side. We don’t recommend pan-frying the whole pork tenderloin, as the outside will dry out before the centre has a chance to cook through.
Here’s what you will need to make this French Pork Tenderloin recipe (quantities and method in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- olive oil: can be replaced with avocado or cold-pressed rapeseed oil.
- honey: can be replaced with light brown sugar, maple syrup or agave syrup.
- Dijon mustard.
- soy sauce: can be replaced with Worcestershire sauce, or Tamari for a gluten-free option.
- lemon: we tend to only use lemon juice in this recipe, but you can through in the lemon zest too.
- parsley: flat-leaf or curly, finely chopped.
- garlic clove.
- sea salt and black pepper.
- pork tenderloin: also known as pork fillet in some parts of the world.
Tips For Best Results
- Trim the silver skin off the pork fillet before marinading it. Make sure to pat the pork dry with a sheet of paper towel before rolling it in the marinade.
- Make sure to marinade the pork for at least 2 hours, before cooking it. Due to the lack of fat in this cut of meat, it can benefit from extra flavours in the marinade.
- Take the pork in French marinade out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you pan-fry it to bring it to room temperature to ensure tender pork roast.
- If you have a Dutch oven (or cast-iron skillet), sear the pork in it, and then place it straight into the oven. This way, you will not need to transfer the pork into an ovenproof roasting pan or a casserole dish. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, preheat the ovenproof dish in the oven first to keep the temperature consistent.
- Take the cooking times indicated in this recipe as a guide. It will depend on how thick your pork tenderloin is and how long you pan-sear it for. We highly recommend checking the internal temperature of the centre of the thickest part of your pork with a meat thermometer. It should read 63 C (145 F) when your French Pork Tenderloin is safe to eat.
- Make sure to rest your roast before you slice the tenderloin into portions. Resting time helps the juices in the roast to redistribute.
Internal Temperature For Pork Tenderloin
For the best results and succulent meat when cooking pork tenderloin, it’s crucial to aim for the correct internal temperature. The ideal internal temperature to target is 145°F (63°C). At this temperature, the pork tenderloin is safe to eat and will be perfectly cooked, with a juicy and tender texture. This temperature is recommended by the USDA as it ensures that any harmful bacteria in the meat are eliminated while preserving its moistness and flavour.
When the pork reaches this temperature, remove it from the heat source and allow it to rest for a few minutes before slicing. During this resting period, the juices redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a delicious and succulent pork tenderloin that is sure to impress your taste buds.
Step 1: French-Style Marinade For Pork Tenderloin
In a large bowl, or sealable container, mix olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, finely chopped parsley, lemon juice, soy sauce, minced garlic and salt and pepper. This is your French Pork Tenderloin Marinade.
Cut your pork tenderloin in half (or leave it whole) to ensure it fits into the pan you’ll use for pan-searing it.
Roll the pork in the marinade to completely coat it. Cover and leave in the fridge to infuse with flavours for 2-8 hours.
Step 2: Pan-Sear French Pork Tenderloin
Preheat the oven to 190° C Fan.
Ideally, use an oven-proof large skillet to sear the meat. If you don’t have one, you will need to transfer the pork from the frying pan to an ovenproof dish.
Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear for 1-2 minutes per side, until it is golden brown all over.
Step 3: Roasting The Pork
Transfer the pork to the preheated oven. Roast it for 15-20 minutes (the cooking time will highly depend on how thick your pork cut is). We recommend using an instant-read thermometer to judge when your pork is cooked – it should read 145°F (63°C).
Step 4: Resting Pork Tenderloin
Take the pork out of the oven and cover it with foil. Leave your French Pork Tenderloin to rest for 5 minutes before you slice it into portions.
Step 5: Need A Simple Pan Sauce?
Don’t let all those browned bits at the bottom of the pan go to waste and make a delicious pan sauce.
Reserve the pan you pan-seared the pork tenderloin in (or transfer the pork onto a plate from your ovenproof skillet). Deglaze the pan with 100ml of white wine (or make red wine jus if that’s what you have), and leave the wine to reduce by half. Add 150ml of chicken broth/stock and let it bubble away for a few minutes. Thicken the sauce with cornflower slurry. And stir in any juices that your resting pork tenderloin may have released.
Alternatively, try a mustard and heavy cream sauce!
What To Serve French Pork Tenderloin With?
We love an elegant potato side dish with our pork! To keep the French theme, try it with Boulangere Potatoes or Rosemary Pommes Anna. Alternatively, make some smooth mashed potatoes or Parmentier potatoes! Or if you don’t fancy potatoes, why not try Roast Swede (Rutabaga) or Carrot and Swede Mash?
A nice vegetable side will also brighten up your plate! We love Lemon & Garlic Tenderstem Broccoli, Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar or Sauteed Spring Greens!
Serve your French Pork Tenderloin With a glass of rosé wine!
Yes, pork tenderloin is also known by the name of pork fillet or eye fillet.
You can, but you will lose the flavour that comes from caramelising the marinade and won’t seal in the moisture, so your roast may be a little tougher and drier.
Pork tenderloin, being an extra lean cut, is best cooked fast on relatively high heat. Cooking it low and slow you will risk the meat becoming very dry if you are not careful. Slow cooking is better suited for Sticky Crispy Chinese Pork Belly, Lamb Shoulder, Beef Short Ribs or Braising Steak.
The official USDA advice is to cook pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (62.8 °C). If it is still a little pink in the middle at that temperature, it is still safe to eat. Although I have to say, I have been served some delicious very pink pork tenderloin in France before.
Classic French Recipes
Other Pork Recipes
In the mood for more delicious pork recipes? Here are some of our favourites!
French Pork Tenderloin With Dijon Mustard Marinade
- 500 g pork tenderloin
- 50 ml olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- In a large bowl, or sealable container, mix olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, finely chopped parsley, lemon juice, soy sauce, minced garlic and salt and pepper. This is your French Pork Tenderloin Marinade.
- Cut your pork tenderloin in half (or leave it whole) to ensure it fits into the pan you’ll use for pan-searing it.
- Roll the pork in the marinade to completely coat it. Cover and leave in the fridge to infuse with flavours for 2-8 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C Fan.
- Ideally, use an oven-proof large skillet to sear the meat. If you don’t have one, you will need to transfer the pork from the frying pan to an ovenproof dish.
- Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear for 1-2 minutes per side, until it is golden brown all over.
- Transfer the pork to the preheated oven. Roast it for 15-20 minutes (the cooking time will highly depend on how thick your pork cut is). We recommend using an instant-read thermometer to judge when your pork is cooked – it should read 145°F (63°C).
- Take the pork out of the oven and cover it with foil. Leave your French Pork Tenderloin to rest for 5 minutes before you slice it into portions.