Pork tenderloin is a lovely cut of meat, but it doesn’t have a great deal of fat on it. That’s a good thing in some ways. However, it can lead to problems when you’re trying to reheat the slices, because the lean meat can dry out quickly if you’re not careful. Here’s how to reheat pork tenderloin and keep it nice and moist throughout.
How To Reheat Pork Tenderloin or Roast Pork
It’s easy enough to reheat pork tenderloin and roast pork on the stovetop using a small amount of neutral oil and medium heat. The job goes more quickly if the meat has been carved into slices beforehand. Alternatives include using a slow cooker, the microwave, or an oven set to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
What is Pork Tenderloin?
The tenderloin is taken from the hog’s central spine area. Because the muscle is used primarily for posture and not movement, the meat remains lean and tender.
If you’ve ever had filet mignon, you’re probably aware that the steaks are cut from the tenderloin portion of the steer. Pork tenderloin has a similar texture, especially if it’s cut into medallions and cooked on the grill.
According to experts, pork tenderloin is nearly as low in calories and saturated fat as boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This makes it one of the healthiest cuts available. It’s even leaner than regular pork loin (which we’ll discuss later on).
The meat has a mild flavor profile that makes it an excellent base for various dishes and cooking styles. Like beef tenderloin, it doesn’t have a great deal of flavor on its own, but that’s not a drawback here because the meat lends itself so well to seasonings and marinades.
Are Pork Tenderloin and Pork Loin the Same Thing?
Although pork loin also comes from the spinal region, it’s a larger cut of meat than the tenderloin. It’s also not quite as lean, and the meat has a coarser grain, making it a better choice for roasting than anything else.
That said, the methods for reheating the leftovers are similar enough to be interchangeable. If you know how to reheat pork tenderloin, you’ll be able to figure out how to reheat roast pork as well.
Before you can think about reheating the meat, you’ll need to make sure it’s been properly prepared. This process begins with choosing the best-looking pork tenderloin you can find.
The meat should be pink in color, with no brown spots or other discoloration. Some tenderloins have a darker hue than others, but this doesn’t affect the quality of the meat.
Don’t be tempted to cut corners by purchasing a cut that’s pre-marinated. These marinades are typically high in sodium, which detracts from the health benefits of choosing pork tenderloin in the first place. Moreover, they’ve usually been sitting in the marinade for far too long, so the meat will be mushy or gummy after it’s cooked.
Pork tenderloin is often sold in packages of two. If this is all you can find, remove both cuts from the package and re-wrap one of them for the freezer. Of course, if you’re cooking for a crowd, you might be able to make good use of both tenderloins right away.
Before seasoning the tenderloin, remove the silverskin. That’s the long layer of connective tissue that runs along the length of the cut. The silverskin is white to light gray in color and can be easily removed with a sharp, small knife. Just slide the blade under the silverskin and slowly peel it away before discarding it.
To season the meat, combine brown sugar, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. If you’d like to amp up the smoky flavor, try adding a few dashes of smoked paprika.
Rub the tenderloin with a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil to help the spices adhere, then apply the seasoning. Let the meat rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before you cook it. We would recommend taking this step before you preheat the oven or grill in an effort to save time.
Speaking of grilling, if this is the method you choose, it should take only about 20 minutes to cook a 1-pound pork tenderloin. Set the temperature to medium-high, or 400 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re using a pellet grill. Turn the meat frequently to ensure that it cooks evenly.
When you’re cooking a lean cut like pork tenderloin, it’s especially important to avoid overcooking it. Use a quality meat thermometer for this step. If you attempt to test for doneness by cutting into the pork, you’ll lose valuable cooking juices.
Pork tenderloin should be removed from the grill when its internal temperature reaches 135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. During the resting period, it will continue to cook until it reaches 145 degrees. At this temperature, any potential food-borne bacteria has been killed off, and the meat will be tender, moist, and flavorful.
Unlike larger cuts, pork tenderloin doesn’t need to rest for very long. Wait for 5 to 10 minutes before carving the pork into medium-thin slices. Don’t worry if it’s still slightly pink in color–the meat will still be safe to eat. Drizzle any juices over the slices before serving and enjoying.
A Word About Brining
If you’ve planned the meal well in advance, you might want to consider brining the pork before you cook it. This step makes for a juicy and flavorful finished product.
In some ways, brining is a better choice for tenderloin than a marinade. That’s because it allows the natural flavors of the meat to shine through, rather than overpowering them.
For every pound of pork tenderloin, combine two cups of cold water with 1/2 cup of kosher salt. You can experiment with other herbs and seasonings as well. Try adding a tablespoon of brown sugar, a handful of fresh herbs, or a dash or two of vinegar.
With this water-to-salt ratio, you only need to soak the tenderloin in the brine for about 2 to 3 hours. Don’t overdo it, or the meat will have a spongy texture. Always discard the brine immediately after you remove the pork, as it can’t be reused once it’s come into contact with raw meat.
Before we begin, we should point out that grilled pork will probably lose its crispy exterior crust when it’s reheated. This is somewhat disappointing, but it’s the nature of the beast when you’re dealing with reheated food. Roast pork, meanwhile, will retain most of its fine qualities the second time around.
On the Stovetop
This is our favorite method for reheating pork tenderloin. Whether the meat has been left whole or carved into slices, reheating it on the stovetop helps it retain most of its moisture.
Choose a pan that’s large enough to fit the pork in a single layer. It’s best if the pan has its own lid so that no moisture is allowed to escape.
Add a thin layer of neutral oil to the pan and set it over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the pork and cover the pan with the lid. If there’s no lid, wrap a sheet of tin foil around the top of the pan and seal the edges as tightly as you can.
When the tenderloin is already sliced, it will only take a few minutes to heat through. Remove the lid and flip the slices every minute or so, until they’re visibly steaming.
For whole pork tenderloin, remove the lid and turn the meat every 3-5 minutes. The entire process should take about 15 minutes.
In The Slow Cooker
This is a hands-free process that works beautifully for roast pork, as it makes good use of the leftover gravy.
Set the slow cooker to “Warm.” If it doesn’t include this function, use the “Low” setting instead.
Place the pork in the slow cooker and cover it with about 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of leftover gravy. If you don’t have gravy, add a bit more water. You can also use chicken stock or broth, assuming you have some on hand.
Replace the lid on the slow cooker and allow the pork to reheat for about 20 minutes. Note that if you’re reheating a whole pork tenderloin, you might need to cut it in half so that it fits inside the slow cooker in a single layer.
In The Oven
Alternatively, you can set the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and place the pork in an oven-safe casserole or baking dish. Again, it may need to be halved or carved into slices before you take this step. Pour about 1/2 cup of water, stock, or gravy over the pork.
Cover the dish, using foil if necessary, and reheat for about 20 minutes.
In the Microwave
We’re not huge fans of this method, as microwaves can create “hot spots” that will overcook some areas while others remain stone-cold. However, it works well enough as a last resort.
When reheating in the microwave, we would recommend carving the pork into slices beforehand. Place the meat in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a lid. Never put foil in the microwave, or you could cause irreparable damage to the device.
Set the microwave to “Reheat,” or to medium if it doesn’t have a reheat setting. Heat the pork for 5 minutes and check the internal temperature. If it hasn’t reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit, return it to the microwave in 2-minute increments until the meat has attained this temperature.
Whichever method you choose, remember that you should only reheat your leftovers once. Doing so repeatedly will cause the meat to lose its integrity.
Note that any leftovers should be discarded after three days. Similarly, if the pork has been sitting at room temperature for longer than two hours, it’s a good idea to dispose of it as soon as possible.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!