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I'm thinking of making either this recipe or this recipe for pork tenderloin in a slow cooker.

As easy as a slow cooker is, I'm no slow cooker expert, and have run into problems where the meat ends up seeming "dry" (even though it's literally soaking in a sea of liquid) when I mess up the amount-of-meat-to-cooking-time ratio, either by using a smaller cut of meat than the recipe calls for, or cooking for longer than the recipe calls for.

Both of the recipes linked here call for 2 lbs. pork tenderloin, and I have a 1 lb. cut.

The first recipe calls for 7 hours on low, and the second one calls for 6-8 hours on low. So if I only have half the meat, by how much should I reduce the cooking time? I'm guessing halving the cooking time is not really the right move.

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You should probably not reduce the cooking time by a lot, if at all. These recipes assume you are keeping the meet submerged in liquid at some constant temperature for several hours. Assuming your tenderloin is not somehow less thick than a 2 pound cut would be, nothing in the recipe changes. The core temperature of the cut won't take any less time to get up to temperature, and the lower thermal load from having less product will also not affect slow cooking.

Ideally, have some flexibility in when you expect to be done cooking and stop when you have reached the desired results, rather than after some arbitrary period of time.

Apart from that: if you are having problems with meats coming out dry, you might want to check out this question and answers. To summarize: cooking lean meat for long times is usually not ideal.

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  • I largely agree with your answer, I don't agree with your statement that the core temperature of a smaller cut won't get up to temperature faster. A smaller piece will get up to temperature faster, but I agree it won't make must difference overall. – GdD Jun 22 at 11:15
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    @GdD I assumed that, since the question is about a pork tenderloin, the larger cut will be much longer than its diameter. Thus, the diameter is the limiting factor in raising the core temperature, which will not be much different if you halve the piece. I could have made that more clear in the answser itself. – LSchoon Jun 22 at 11:31
  • That assumption (which I agree with) also means the depth of the liquid is about the same, so even if that's not fully hot to start with it should lead to the same time. If it's near boiling when the meat goes in you'll have a greater ratio of hot to cold, but within rounding error – Chris H Jun 22 at 19:38
  • So would you consider pork tenderloin a "lean" meat? I did it for the full time, and it came out OK, but I still thought it was a tiny bit dry. – Dylan Cristy Jun 24 at 22:16
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    @DylanCristy Yes, the tenderloin is one of the leanest pork cuts. I believe that is why the recipes you linked to (which seem to have a health focus of sorts) chose this cut. It's easy to overcook; I would recommend to cook until the desired doneness rather than a set time. – LSchoon Jun 25 at 7:14

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