Once you’ve brought a pork tenderloin home from the store, how long do you have to cook it off? And when you have, how long can you expect the leftovers to last before they spoil? We’re here to answer these questions—and more.
How Long Is Pork Tenderloin Good In The Fridge?
A fresh pork tenderloin should keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Once the meat is cooked, the leftovers will be good for another 3 days or so. As an alternative, the pork can be frozen for up to 6 months before it starts to dry out. For best results, thaw frozen pork in the refrigerator overnight.
About Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is a lean, cylindrical cut taken from the upper rear section of the hog. As the name implies, the meat is very tender, with a mild flavor that pairs well with marinades and sauces.
Don’t get the tenderloin confused with the pork loin. While both cuts have their good qualities, the loin is a larger cut with a slightly chewier texture. You might be able to substitute one for the other in some recipes, but you’ll have to adjust the cooking time.
How Long Is Pork Tenderloin Good In The Fridge?
Pork tenderloin should keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days after you buy it. During this time, the sell-by date on the package might pass you by, but don’t worry—that’s only there to remind the store employees when to take it off the shelf.
You’ll be able to tell if the pork is no longer fresh through a quick inspection. If the meat smells like fish, ammonia, or rotten eggs, it should be discarded. Ditto if the flesh is discolored, or if it’s sticky or slimy to the touch.
We prefer to store our meat products—raw or cooked—on the lowest level of the fridge, toward the back. That way, they’ll be protected from the blasts of warm air that enter the environment each time you open the door.
Try to cook and enjoy the pork as soon as time allows. If you aren’t planning on cooking it off that day or the next, it might be a good idea to wait before you add it to the shopping list. Use your best judgement.
How Long Is Cooked Pork Tenderloin Good In The Fridge?
After the pork tenderloin is cooked, you should have a window of 3 to 4 days for storing the leftovers. Make sure to refrigerate the cooked pork within 2 hours, or 1 hour if the weather is exceedingly hot. Keep the fridge temp below 40 degrees at all times.
How Long Is Pork Tenderloin Good In The Freezer?
If you aren’t going to eat the pork within a few days, it’s a good idea to freeze it for a later use. That’s true whether you’re dealing with raw pork or cooked leftovers.
When stored in the freezer, meat products can keep indefinitely—at least in theory. In practice, it’s better to thaw them within a few months. This is true especially of leaner cuts like tenderloin, which are more likely to dry out as a result of the long storage.
Raw pork tenderloin should be thawed and cooked off within 3 to 6 months. The same rules apply to frozen leftovers, but we would recommend leaning toward a 2 to 3 month storage period for these. Cooked meat has already lost a great deal of moisture.
How To Defrost Pork Tenderloin
1. In The Fridge
Our preferred method for thawing meat products is to pull them from the freezer at least one day before you plan to cook them. However, since pork tenderloin is on the small side, you might be able to get away with a shorter defrosting period.
Pork tenderloin should thaw at a rate of 3 to 5 hours per pound. Set it on a plate that’s deep enough to catch any juices that might escape from the package as the meat defrosts. Store on the bottom shelf of the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
Pro Tip: If you cut the tenderloin crosswise into medallions before you freeze it, the meat will thaw out more quickly. Be aware, though, that this increases the amount of surface area that will be exposed to the air, thereby raising the risk of freezer burn.
2. In a Water Bath
This is a quicker method, but if you use it, you’ll have to cook off the pork as soon as it’s finished defrosting.
Place the wrapped pork in an airtight package (a zip-top bag works well, as long as it’s large enough to hold the meat) and fill a container with cold water. Submerge the wrapped pork in the water for 30 minutes.
If the pork isn’t fully thawed after half an hour, drain the container and repeat the process as needed. In most cases, pork tenderloin will thaw in cold water after 30 to 45 minutes or so.
It’s important to use cold water for this technique. If the water is too warm, the surface of the pork tenderloin will hit the “danger zone” between 40 and 140 degrees. When meat remains in the danger zone for too long, it attracts dangerous bacteria.
3. In The Microwave
We prefer not to use the microwave to thaw frozen meat because it yields uneven results. Sometimes, portions of the meat will cook through while the rest of it is still frozen solid, which gives it a leathery texture.
If you have no alternative, use the defrost setting on your microwave to defrost the pork loin. Check it every 2 to 3 minutes to ensure that it’s thawing evenly. You might need to tuck the edges of the loin beneath the center to prevent them from cooking through.
As with the cold-water method, you’ll have to cook the meat immediately when you defrost it in the microwave. If you’re using the grill or smoker, fire it up before you start the thawing procedure.
How Long Does Pork Tenderloin Last In The Fridge When It’s Cooked?
The same defrosting methods can be used for cooked pork leftovers. Bear in mind that if you cut the pork into medallions or smaller pieces before freezing it, the meat will thaw more quickly than if you’d left it whole.
Skipping The Thaw
We should point out that there’s no need to thaw the pork before you cook it. There’s no harm in cooking meat from its frozen state, as long as you’re careful to avoid the danger zone.
To cook pork tenderloin without thawing it first, add about 50 percent to your planned cooking time. A frozen cut that would normally cook through in 20 minutes should spend about 30 minutes on the grill or smoker.
Whether you’ve thawed the pork ahead of time or not, keep an eye on the internal temperature. The pork tenderloin is done when it reaches 145 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to be careful not to overcook this cut, or the pork will be too dry.
Can You Refreeze Pork Tenderloin?
As long as you thawed the pork in the fridge and not in the microwave or a cold-water bath, it’s acceptable to refreeze it without cooking it first. The meat might have a drier texture after the second defrosting, but it will still be safe to eat.
Similar rules apply to cooked pork leftovers. The texture might suffer through the repeated freezing and thawing processes, but as long as you maintained the proper storage practices, this shouldn’t do any harm.
Our advice would be to cook pork tenderloin within a day of bringing it home. If that’s not possible, you have a window of a few days before the meat begins to spoil. Should your plans change, try to freeze the pork as soon as possible.