Pork tenderloin is a lean and tender cut, which means it’s prone to drying out if it’s not treated properly. Since freezing meat can cause it to dry out even more, can you freeze pork tenderloin and still wind up with a decent meal?
Can You Freeze Pork Tenderloin?
When it’s stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, raw pork tenderloin should keep in the freezer for 6 to 12 months. Try to thaw and reheat leftover cooked pork within 3 to 6 months for optimum flavor and texture. The pork will lose a bit of moisture after it’s frozen, but it should still taste amazing.
About Pork Tenderloin
The tenderloin is located along the spine of the hog, on the upper portion of the loin primal. As the name suggests, the meat is so tender that it practically melts in your mouth.
Since pork tenderloin contains almost no marbling, it has a mild flavor that pairs well with many different seasonings. It’s also easy to overcook, which is why it’s best to grill or pan-sear it over medium-high heat.
The average pork tenderloin weighs 1 to 2 pounds, usually on the lower end of this spectrum. There may be a layer of connective tissue—also called silverskin—running along one side. Since this membrane can be tough when it’s cooked, we recommend removing it before seasoning and cooking the tenderloin.
Can You Freeze Pork Tenderloin Before Cooking?
Whether you’ve found a good deal on pork tenderloin and purchased more than you’ll need or just changed your dinner plans for the evening, you might be wondering if it’s okay to freeze the meat while it’s still raw. The answer is an emphatic yes.
Like most cuts of meat, pork tenderloin is best when it’s cooked fresh. However, as long as you freeze it before too much time has passed, it should still be delicious when you finally get around to enjoying it.
The worst that can happen—assuming the meat is still in good condition when you put it in the freezer—is that the pork might turn out a bit dry. This is true especially if you cut the meat into medallions or other small pieces beforehand.
How Long Can You Store Pork Tenderloin In The Freezer?
To help the pork tenderloin retain its flavor and texture, thaw and cook the meat within 6 to 12 months. It won’t spoil if you keep it in the freezer longer, but the texture might be off, especially if the meat was exposed to air at any point in the meantime.
Once you’ve thawed the meat, you have a limited window of time in which to cook it off. Fresh pork tenderloin should keep for 3 to 5 days when stored at 39 degrees or below. However, if the pork was already in the fridge for 3 days before you froze it, you should cook it as soon as possible after thawing.
If you know you’re planning to freeze the pork tenderloin, don’t hesitate. Wrap it and put it in the freezer within 2 hours of bringing it home from the market. That way, you’ll have several days to cook it off once it’s thawed.
Can You Freeze Cooked Pork Tenderloin?
Yes. It’s best to freeze any leftovers as soon as possible, for the same reasons we’ve just discussed. Be sure that the leftover pork has had a chance to cool completely before you put it in the freezer.
Try to thaw and reheat the pork within 3 to 6 months. Cooked meat has already lost moisture due to the cooking process, so it may be unpleasantly dry if you keep it in the freezer too long.
When reheating leftover pork tenderloin, you should use medium heat to help the meat retain moisture. Use a bit of neutral oil so the pork won’t stick to the pan. Adding a small amount of stock or broth to the pan also helps it stay moist.
When you use a frying pan, the pork should heat through in as little as 3 minutes if the pork is carved into slices. Large pieces may take 10-12 minutes. It’s best if you keep a lid on the pan most of the time to prevent steam from escaping.
If you choose to reheat the pork in the oven, set the temperature to 325 degrees. Put the tenderloin in a baking dish, add a small amount of stock or water to the dish, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Reheat for 20 to 30 minutes. This is a good method if you’re reheating a whole tenderloin, rather than slices.
Tips On Freezing Pork Tenderloin
First and foremost, you need to make sure that the freezer temperature is no higher than 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold temperatures inhibit the growth of bacteria and prevent mold from forming, which is why we use the freezer to begin with.
Your next step is to divide the pork tenderloin into appropriate serving sizes. That way, you can thaw only as much as you need, without worrying about refreezing the pork before you’ve had a chance to cook it.
You can adjust the serving sizes based on personal preference. Singles or couples might want to freeze the pork in 1-pound portions, but if you have a larger family or enjoy entertaining, it’s fine to freeze two or more tenderloins in the same package.
Next, wrap the portions in freezer paper or plastic wrap. You can also use freezer-safe zip-top bags, squeezing as much air out of the package as possible before creating a tight seal. If you opt for plastic wrap or freezer paper, add a layer of aluminum foil on top.
Your next step is to label each package with the contents, as well as today’s date. Make sure to note whether the meat is raw or cooked. You might also want to mention whether this is the first or second time you’ve frozen the product.
Place the meat in the freezer, as far away from the door as possible. Store until you’re ready to thaw and enjoy the pork tenderloin.
Tips For Leftovers
Make sure to refrigerate leftover pork within 2 hours, or 1 hour if the ambient temperature exceeds 90 degrees. If it’s been left out any longer than that, you’ll need to discard the meat.
Your leftovers should keep for 3 to 5 days when stored in the refrigerator. Depending on how the pork was prepared, you can add it to a variety of dishes. Here are some of our favorites.
- Chop into small pieces and add to homemade fried rice
- Make a Cuban sandwich with sliced pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and deli mustard
- Use as a nacho topping or burrito filling
- Simmer with carrots, onions, and peas in gravy, then top with crust and bake into a savory pot pie
- Mix into a pot of baked beans
- Substitute for corned beef to make breakfast hash
The Bottom Line
It goes without saying that pork tenderloin will have superior flavor and texture when it’s cooked fresh. Lean meat is more prone to drying out than fattier cuts, so be prepared to sacrifice some moisture if you have to freeze the pork.
That said, don’t hesitate to freeze it if you know you won’t be able to cook it for a few days. You’ll have an easier time enhancing dry pork than you will resuscitating pork that’s been kept in the fridge too long.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!