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What temperature do you normally cook a pork tenderloin at? I was searching on the internet and saw anywhere from 325° to 450° and couldn't seem to find a good answer.

Also, does it depend on how long you want to cook it or in how you prepare it before cooking?

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possible duplicate of How long should roast pork be cooked so that it stays light pink? –  Bob Jan 2 '11 at 4:01
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

With a pork tenderloin:

Season the meat, sear all sides in a very hot pan, and then finish in the oven at 350 degrees until the internal temp. hits 145. Let sit for 10 minutes, then cut 'er up.

If you need it done faster, a higher oven temp will accomplish this, but may compromise quality. But like I said, for a tenderloin, you don't want too low, or too high. Just watch the internal temp., that is the key.

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I like bbqing best, but still the same sear/cook approach. –  zanlok Dec 24 '10 at 6:19
    
I like the BBQ option as well, but the books I've looked at always say to cook pork to 170 which I find makes it a little too dry for my liking. I'll have to try your idea of pulling it at 145 and letting it sit. Do you do anything to keep it from getting too cold? –  Wally Lawless Feb 6 '11 at 15:14
    
Tent it in foil to keep it from getting too cold. –  smcg Apr 24 '12 at 17:03
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Despite the currently accepted answer, there is no single best method to cook pork tenderloin. The main issue is getting it to a final internal temperature of about 145 F to 155 F (63 C to 68 C) depending on your preferences. If cooked to well done (above about 165 F, 74 C), it will be tough and rubbery as it has very little internal fat or collagen.

The actual temperature you cook it at can vary considerably depending on the method. In all cases, you want to check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer.

In all cases, a resting period (which empirically allows more of the juices to be retained) of about 5-10 minutes is a good idea before serving or slicing.

The method advised in the current accepted answer is certainly effective, and can be delicious, but any method which gets the pork to the desired internal temperature without overcooking it will also work.

This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including:

  • Pan roasting. Pan searing and then finishing in a moderate oven (about 350 F, 175 C although there is flexibility here if you have other dishes to finish) is certainly one very effective method for cooking a pork tenderloin, but any method that brings it to the desired temperature will work.

  • Roasting then searing. The reverse technique, which may give more tender results, would be to cook it in a slow oven (95 C) until it reaches the desired internal temperature, and then pan sear it for browning and deliciousness—the initial cooking dries the surface and allows the sear to develop flavor rapidly with minimal over cooking of the exterior.

  • Grilling, first searing then indirect. While more difficult to control, this idea can be applied on the grill: sear the tenderloin over the hot part of the coals until it has a nice golden crust, then move it to indirect heat to cook through to the desired temperature. On a grill, controlling the absolute temperature is more difficult so I am not mentioning them, although you can take the oven method temperatures as a guide.

  • Sous-vide. Some modernists might suggest putting it in a sous-vide water bath at 145 F (63 C) or even 135 F (57 C) for 2 1/2 to three hours (or until convenient to serve, although Yossarian recommends no more than 4 hours for lean meats like pork tenderloin to prevent it becoming mushy), and then finishing it with a torch or by pan searing. This allows complete control of the final internal temperature, but makes the final sear more difficult as the exterior is not dried.

  • Sauteed medallions. Pork tenderloin is also often cut into medallions and then sauteed, which promotes considerable fond, allows a nice pan sauce, and makes for a nice presentation. Medallions are thin, and so more difficult to measure the temperature of directly with an instant read thermometer, but with experience (to avoid overcooking), this is another extremely effective technique.

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For the sous-vide method, "several hours" should not be longer than 4, or the meat will start to denature and get mushy. In general, with cuts of meat that don't require long cook times to break down collagen, you want to keep the cook time to the minimum to reach temperature or, in the case of pork, to pasteurize. You should have no issue with a final sear. Just dry the meat and use a screaming hot pan or blowtorch. –  yossarian Jun 7 '13 at 2:38
    
My survey of sous vide recipes shows 2 1/2 to 3 hours is typical, at 135 F (57 C), although that is a little low for my taste. Not sure I would go this way--I like the roast then sear method. –  SAJ14SAJ Jun 7 '13 at 3:30
    
There's no need to cook intact tender muscles of pork sous vide for a long time, trichinosis, which is the main nasty you are worried about, is killed after three minutes if the core temperature is held at 58C. See pg 238 gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2001-title9-vol2/pdf/… –  Stefano Jun 7 '13 at 8:56
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I agree, pork should never be overcooked or it will become nothing but a dry meat. I always season my pork tenderloins, then pan-sear for a crispy brown outer crust, then put into the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to one hour. At 45 minutes, I begin checking the internal temperature of the meat. When it reaches just under 150 degrees, I remove the roast from the oven and let sit uncoverd for 10 to 15 minutes. The roast will continue to cook internally while sitting and should rise approximately another 3 or 4 degrees. The meat should be a light pink color. If any more red, I suggest that you buy a new thermometer. Happy eating! :-)

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Pan searing is a new delicious twist. But, I cook these all the time and don't need the extra dishes. I foil a pan, roll in olive oil in pan, nick and insert sliced fresh garlic cloves inbeded in roast, season with season and coarse ground black pepper, with oven sometimes pre-heated to 375, throw in for 25-30 minute, then check temperature looking for 150 degrees, flip over towards the end after the 25 min. mark, and... Shizam! Super delicious...

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