Pork tenderloin is a small cut of meat, which means it can be tricky to estimate the proper serving size. How much pork tenderloin per person is the appropriate amount to have on hand for your guests? Fortunately, the answer might be easier to determine than you think.
How Much Pork Tenderloin Per Person?
Plan on purchasing about a half-pound of raw pork tenderloin for every person you plan to serve. If there will be a lot of children at the gathering, you can scale the portions down a bit, but this is a good rule of thumb to follow. You can also plan on offering less pork if you have a lot of other dishes available.
Pork Tenderloin: The Basics
The pork tenderloin is taken from the middle portion of the hog’s spinal region. Like its bovine cousin, the beef tenderloin, it’s one of the leanest and most tender cuts of meat available.
When it’s cooked to the right temperature, pork tenderloin melts in your mouth. It does have a low fat content, which makes it a healthier choice than most cuts of pork. However, this lack of fat also gives the meat a very mild flavor. That’s why it’s essential to season it properly.
The average whole pork tenderloin weighs between one and two pounds. It’s often sold in packages of two, so it’s easy enough to buy in bulk. If you’re not cooking for a large group, you can always freeze one of the tenderloins for later.
How Much Pork Tenderloin Should I Serve Per Person?
Because pork tenderloin is a boneless cut, it’s a good idea to aim for about a half-pound of meat per person. This might seem like a generous estimate, but in our opinion, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
The average person will probably consume only about a quarter-pound or a third of a pound of pork, depending on the factors we’ll describe below. However, there’s usually at least one person who shows up hungrier than the rest. You’re better off appealing to the highest common denominator. That way, you can be sure you’ll have enough to feed everybody.
Here are some of the factors that can have an effect on the equation. You’ll want to take these into consideration when you make your calculations.
The Cooking Process
As a rule, raw meat consists of about 65 percent water. This means that the pork tenderloin will weigh significantly less once it’s been cooked. If a half-pound per person looks like a ton of meat, remember that it will shrink down a great deal during the cooking process.
Time of Day
If you’re serving pork tenderloin at a midday luncheon, you can plan on serving a bit less per person. People will usually eat less when they’re attending an event that’s held earlier in the day.
Type of Party
At a sit-down dinner, you should plan on ramping up the serving sizes. Because these events put the focus on the food itself rather than the atmosphere, the overall food consumption tends to be higher.
Even if the pork tenderloin is your main dish, you can scale down on the portions if there are a lot of sides available. If you’re including nothing more than a salad and a couple of appetizers, plan on offering more pork per person. On the other hand, if you’re offering mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and dinner rolls, you won’t need as much pork.
Similarly, if you’re making roast turkey in addition to grilled pork tenderloin, you’ll have another protein option available. This means you can get away with making less pork than you would if it was the star attraction.
Before you head to the store, take a look at your invited guests. Are they mostly adults, or will there be a lot of young children in attendance? Guests under the age of 10 can be expected to eat a bit less. You can plan on buying a quarter-pound to a third of a pound of pork for every child on the list.
Also, think about whether you can rely on your guest list alone. Do some of the invited guests tend to bring friends along? What’s your policy on such matters? We would recommend buying enough meat to serve one or two extra people, just in case.
Leftover pork tenderloin can be a great asset when it comes to planning midweek meals. You can put it on top of a bed of mixed greens with roasted beets, pine nuts, and goat cheese, or just reheat the slices and serve them with any leftover sides that you have on hand.
How To Grill Pork Tenderloin
Once you’ve purchased enough pork tenderloin to serve your guests, it’s time to get it ready for the grill. In this section, we’ll walk you through the process.
Trimming the Silverskin
Your first order of business is to remove the pork from its packaging. Freeze any portions that you don’t plan on cooking right away.
Next, locate the silverskin. This is a grayish-white membrane that runs along the entire length of the cut. You should remove it before cooking the pork, or it will shrink and toughen, making it difficult to slice the meat. Just slide a sharp knife beneath one end of the silverskin and slowly peel it away.
Pat the meat dry with paper towels before moving on to the next step. If the tenderloin is especially thin at one end, double it over and tie it off with kitchen twine so that the meat will cook at the same rate.
Seasoning the Meat
Pork tenderloin serves as an excellent palette for a variety of flavors. Depending on the theme of your party, you can choose from a host of different marinades and seasoning rubs. Teriyaki and lemon-pepper blends are both classics, but feel free to experiment with whatever flavors strike your fancy.
If you’d prefer to keep things simple, coat the pork with a hearty dose of kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. This will give the meat plenty of flavor without overpowering the dish. These seasonings also serve as a great base if you plan on serving barbecue sauce with the pork tenderloin.
At this point, you can put the pork in the refrigerator overnight. That will give the seasonings a chance to permeate the meat’s surface. Should you opt to cook the meat right away, give it a chance to sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes while you wait for the grill to get hot.
Heating the Grill
Pork tenderloin should cook for about 20 minutes total when the grill is set to 400 degrees. It’s easy enough to set a pellet grill to this temperature, but if you’re using gas or charcoal, things will get a bit trickier.
For gas grills, set the burners to medium-high and allow them to heat the cooking grates for about 5 minutes before adding the pork. If you’re cooking with charcoal, build a medium-hot fire and set the pork over the cooler side of the grill when it’s time to add it.
In any case, you should rotate the meat every 5 minutes or so to make sure that it cooks evenly. Use an instant-read thermometer and remove the pork from the grill when the internal temperature hits the 145-degree mark.
If you would prefer your pork well done, wait until the internal temp reaches 150 degrees before removing it from the heat. The meat will still be moist and tender throughout, but there shouldn’t be any pink spots visible.
Resting and Serving
This is an essential step in any grilling procedure. After you’ve pulled the pork from the grill, allow it to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute into the meat’s fibers, so they won’t leak all over the cutting board as you’re trying to carve.
Carve the pork tenderloin into medallions using a sharp knife. For best results, make sure that all the slices are uniformly thick. If you’ve taken our advice regarding the tying-off procedure, this should be easy enough.
Refrigerate any leftovers within two hours.
If you aren’t sure how much pork tenderloin per person to serve at your upcoming party, we would recommend buying more than you think you’ll need. It’s always preferable to have too much, rather than too little. In any event, you can make good use of the leftovers once everyone has gone home.