Homemade spice blends are a cheap and easy way to add flavor and texture to your favorite grilled meats. Try this grilled pork tenderloin with its warm, spicy rub.
Serve it alongside Cheesy Potatoes or Curried Potatoes for a hearty meal. It’s also good topped with Apricot BBQ Sauce and served alongside Creamy Coleslaw and Milk and Honey Cornbread for more casual, “down home” fare.
I’m not sure there’s an easier thing to do that grill pork tenderloin. I mean, seriously. Marinate or coat the meat in a rub, throw it on the grill until desired doneness, transfer to a cutting board, slice and serve. So easy and so delicious.
I call this the poor man’s steak. It’s super affordable, sometimes even lower than $3/lb, making it a great dish for entertaining on a budget. I use this cut of pork in Dijon Pork Tenderloin, Pork Medallions with Sherried Shallot Sauce, and even in stir-fry.
Why Make This
It’s super simple. Rubbing pork tenderloin with a custom seasoning blend and grilling it over the fire is a super-simple, healthy way to serve it. And now that the USDA has lowered the safe cooking temp on pork, you can enjoy tenderloin that really is tender and juicy.
It’s delicious! This seasoning blend which evokes a little Cajun flair goes great on any of grilled meats. The rub forms a flavorful crust that is mouth-wateringly good.
It’s affordable. Buying spices in bulk and mixing up spice mixes yourself is a great way to save money and add flavor. Pork tenderloin is almost always cheaper than its beef counterpart, making this a very, good cheap eat.
You don’t need much for this simple grilled pork tenderloin recipe:
pork tenderloin – usually sold in 2-packs, each tenderloin should weigh 3/4 to 1 pound each, serving 6 to 8 people. Stock up when you see it on sale and stash it in the freezer.
spices – This spice rub contains onion powder, ground chile, salt, black pepper, thyme, paprika, and cayenne. It packs tons of flavor without being overly spicy.
Prepping grilled pork tenderloin is super simple!
1. Prepare the spice rub.
Measure the spices into a small mixing bowl or dish. Stir until well combined.
2. Apply the rub on the pork tenderloin.
Transfer the tenderloins to a tray. Spread the spice rub all over the surface of the meat.
I like to put a plastic bag on my hand or a glove to make for easy clean-up. (And I don’t like how it feels. lol)
3. Cook the meat on a hot grill.
Cook the tenderloins over a hot grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 ° for medium and 160 ° for well done, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Rest the meat for 10 minutes before slicing.
In recent years, the USDA has adjusted their recommendations for cooking pork. Use a meat thermometer so that your final product has an internal temperature between 145 and 160°. See this chart for recommended cooking temps for pork.
Pork loin and pork tenderloin are two different cuts of meat that should be prepared differently. The loin is from the back of the pig, from shoulder to leg and cut into chops and roasts. The tenderloin is from the loin area, tucked under the backbone. It’s more tender. T-bone pork chops include the tenderloin in a similar way to T-bone beef steaks.
The loin is best braised like in this Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Sherried Mushroom Gravy, while you’ll get great results in grilling or stir frying tenderloin.
In comparison to other cuts of meat, pork tenderloin is incredibly affordable. I call it the poor man’s steak because it has that tender delicious flavor of a steak but at a fraction of the price.
Knowing how much it costs you to prepare a recipe can help you decide if it’s the type of recipe to make regularly or one you might want to save for special occasions. Let’s crunch some numbers and see how this recipe pencils out.
- pork tenderloin – $5.98 ($2.99/lb)
- spices – $0.25
Providing that you’re able to find pork tenderloin for less than $3/lb, you can expect to pay about $6.23 or 78 cent/serving for this tasty grilled pork tenderloin.
While pork tenderloin is already pretty economical, here are some of the strategies I use to make this recipe even moreso:
- Meal plan around what’s on sale. Stock up on pork tenderloin when you see a sale. You can easily find it for $2-3/pound. It freezes beautifully, so don’t be afraid to stash a few in the freezer.
- Buy spices in bulk. I purchase large containers of spices at Costco, Smart & Final and Amazon. I make loads of my own spice blends, refill my little spice jars in the cupboard, and then stash the reserve in the freezer where it retains its freshness.
More Great Pork Recipes
Tell us what you think!
We love to hear your experiences with Good Cheap Eats. Click the STARS on the recipe card or leave a STARRED comment to let us know what you think of the recipe.
Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp chile powder or ground chile
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 2 pork tenderloin about 1 pound each
- In a small bowl, combine the onion powder, chili powder, kosher salt, black pepper, thyme, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the seasonings generously on the tenderloins.
- Cook the tenderloins over a hot grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 ° for medium and 160 ° for well done, about 20 to 30 minutes. Rest the meat for 10 minutes before slicing.
This post was originally published on April 17, 2019. It has been updated for content and clarity.