This Oven-Roasted Chile Citrus Pork Tenderloin recipe is the BEST way to cook pork tenderloin in the oven. It turns out perfectly-cooked and juicy!
About the recipe
This recipe for Oven-Roasted Chile Citrus Pork Tenderloin is one that I've been making for about 10 years now - ever since my days working as a personal chef in Dallas, TX. My clients LOVED when this was on the menu - the flavor of the chile and grapefruit rub plus the incredible tenderness of the pork makes it so crave-worthy.
Here we are taking a very lean and tender cut of pork, salting it overnight as a dry brine for flavor and tenderness, then coating it with a richly-colored paste flavored with spices and freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice.
The ingredients for the chile citrus rub were inspired by flavors of the Yucatan that I learned about from the original recipe in Fine Cooking. Ancho chile powder has always been a favorite ground spice of mine - I love how you can use it to add smokiness and rich chile flavor without making a dish too spicy.
Since pork tenderloin is so lean, it tends to dry out quickly. A quick 25 minute dry roast in a high 450°F oven yields meat that is perfectly crisp on the outside, while still being tender and juicy inside. As long as you keep an eye on the internal temperature, your pork will come out perfectly every time!
- Pork tenderloins - typically it is sold in packages of two small, trimmed tenderloins, which is perfect for this recipe.
- Kosher salt
- Dried ground ancho chile powder
- Dark brown sugar
- Mexican oregano
- Ground cumin
- Minced garlic
- Black pepper
- Freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
- Oil (avocado or olive)
Step 1: Dry brine the tenderloins by seasoning all sides with salt. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours before proceeding with the recipe.
Step 2: Make the chile citrus rub. Combine the grapefruit juice and all the dried spices in a small bowl to form a paste.
Step 3: Place the pork tenderloin on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a basting brush to coat all sides of the tenderloins with the chile citrus rub. Brush a bit of avocado or olive oil on the top and sides of the tenderloins.
Step 4: Roast the pork tenderloin at 450°F for 25-30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 140°F. Remove the pork from heat, tent loosely with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. It should rise to 145°F during the resting period, which is USDA's recommended temperature for doneness for whole cuts of pork.
Below are some of my best tips for making pork tenderloin, as well as some answers to commonly asked questions about them!
Can I grill this pork tenderloin?
Yes, you can grill this chile citrus pork tenderloin. The best temperature for cooking pork tenderloin is 425-450°F, which translates to a medium-high heat on the grill. Grill the pork for 20-25 minutes total, until a thermometer reads 140-145°F.
Should you cover pork tenderloin in the oven?
Pork tenderloin benefits from a dry heating environment at high temperatures. Avoid covering the tenderloin with foil or a lid so that you minimize the creation of steam and get nice crispy bits on the outside of the pork.
How do you know if a pork tenderloin is done?
The best way to know if pork tenderloin is done and keep it from drying out is to check the temperature ⅔ of the way through the recommended cooking time. Keep checking the temperature in the thickest part of the tenderloin every 5 minutes until it reaches 140-145°F.
Can I skip the overnight salt dry brine?
Yes, you can skip the salt brine and just add two teaspoons of coarse Kosher salt to the rub ingredients. However, the dry brine really helps flavor your meat from the inside out and keeps it really tender during the cooking process. Any amount of dry brine in the fridge is better than none!
Some of my favorite ways to serve this pork tenderloin include:
- Chopped up as a topping for nachos or filling for tacos
- In Pork Tenderloin Tacos with Creamy Avocado Sauce
- Sliced thinly and served on grilled or pressed sandwiches - a Cuban sandwich would be perfect for this!
- Chopped on salads with fresh grapefruit and avocado
- With a side of coconut rice and some fried plantains
Freeze uncooked pork tenderloin:
Skip the dry salt brine and add 2 teaspoons of salt to the rub. Rub the pork tenderloins all over, then freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the cooking instructions.
Freeze cooked pork tenderloin:
You can freeze the sliced, cooked pork tenderloin in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and serve as desired the next day.
Try these other flavorful pork recipes:
Are you ready to make this Chile Citrus Pork Tenderloin? I’m so excited for you to try this recipe. Once you get the chance to make it, please let me know how it turns out for you!
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Citrus Chile Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- 2 medium pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons ground ancho chile powder
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
The day before:
- Season all sides of the pork tenderloins with salt. Place in a container, cover, and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
The day of:
- Preheat oven to 450℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the chile powder, brown sugar, oregano, cumin, garlic, and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and stir to combine to form a paste that is the consistency of peanut butter. Add the additional grapefruit juice as needed to reach the desired consistency.
- Place the pork tenderloin on the prepared baking sheet and pat dry with paper towels. Spoon the grapefruit rub on all sides of the tenderloin and use a basting brush to evenly coat the pork in the rub. Drizzle the olive oil on the top of the pork and use the basting brush to coat the top and sides of the meat.
- Roast the pork for 25-35 minutes (depending on the size of your tenderloin) or until the internal temperature of the center of the pork reaches 140-145℉. Remove the pork from the oven and tent with foil. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes. Slice into thin rounds and serve while hot!
Coleen Bane says
This recipe works well as a rub for cooking 2 lb pork loin in instant pot. It is spicy enough but not too spicy and adds much flavor to pork.
Whitney Reist says
Hi Mrs. Coleen - thank you so much for trying the recipe! I'm so glad to know it worked for you in the Instant Pot. You are right - it does have a kick to it!