Juicy cast iron pork tenderloin, seared in the skillet and finished in the oven. This is a quick, economical, and incredibly delicious recipe.
This cast iron pork tenderloin is just amazing! It tastes so good and the meat is so juicy and tender, you will want to make it again and again. On top of that, not only is this a perfect recipe for any day of the week, but it also looks and tastes good enough to serve to guests or to cook for any kind of celebration.
Table of contents
According to USDA pork is considered safe to eat when it has an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit/ 63 degrees Celsius. At this point, it will be medium-rare and quite pink. Don’t overcook the pork out of fear it might not be safely cooked.
What is pork tenderloin?
The pork tenderloin also known as filet or pork tender is a long, narrow piece of meat cut from the muscle that runs alongside the backbone. It is boneless and very lean, the leanest part of the pork actually.
It should not be confused with the pork loin, the similarity in name can lead to confusion. The loin is also rather lean, but much larger. The loin is cut from the animal’s back, it can come with bones or without, and it’s very suitable to make a roast.
The tenderloin should be cooked quickly, it can be either roasted, grilled, or broiled. You can easily overcook it, resulting in a tough and tasteless piece of meat, that is why following a few simple instructions and regarding the safe internal temperature is so important.
Why use a cast iron skillet?
- A cast-iron skillet is probably the best pan you could use to cook pork tenderloin. It allows you to use the best technique there is when cooking this piece of meat and that is: searing it in the pan at high temperature and finishing it in the oven.
- The browning in the skillet adds lots of flavor, while the oven-roasting process ensures that the meat is properly cooked inside without becoming dry.
- A cast-iron skillet is oven-safe as well, so you will only need one pan.
Prepare the meat
- I prefer to cut the long tenderloin in half. Two pieces fit better and are easier to turn in the skillet than one large piece.
- Start by removing any fat.
- Remove the silver skin.
- To remove the silverskin, place the blade of a small, narrow, sharp knife under the silver skin and cut a little piece of skin that you can hold on to. Holding this piece with one hand, run the knife under the skin, working at an angle. Carefully, remove the silver skin, without cutting away the meat underneath it. The skin should come away in a long strip.
- Season the tenderloin with a dry rub. I used a mixture of salt and pepper, sweet, hot and smoked paprika powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried thyme.
How to cook?
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat the cast iron skillet on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil.
- Sear the seasoned meat on all sides for about 5 minutes using tongs to turn the meat in the pan. This is where the magic happens. The so-called Maillard reaction will occur, meaning that the exterior of the meat will brown quickly without drying out. It is this reaction that imparts the meat that flavor we all love. (1,2)
- Transfer the skillet to the hot oven and roast the pork tenderloin for about 10 minutes or until the right internal temperature is reached. (3)
- My pork tenderloin pieces weighed 250 g/ 8.8 oz each. If your pieces are thicker increase the roasting time until the right internal temperature is reached. The pan-searing time remains the same.
- After roasting, cover the meat loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. (4)
Pork tenderloin internal temperature
- Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature. It should be between 63 – 66 degrees Celsius/ 145 – 150 degrees Fahrenheit. (Amazon affiliate link)
- The temperature will rise slightly after you remove the meat from the pan, so if you remove it when at 63 C/ 145 F, it will have a temperature of 65 C/ 149 F once you serve it.
If you don’t have one you can sear the pork in a regular skillet and heat a baking dish in the oven while you sear the meat. Transfer the meat into the baking dish and finish in the oven.
It’s tough and you will not want to chew on it. It will also shrink during cooking, making the meat look odd.
Refrigerate the cast-iron pork tenderloin in an airtight container for about 3 days.
Freeze the slices in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat before serving.
Microwave: It works, but the meat will be slightly overcooked once reheated.
Stovetop: Heat a little oil in a pan flip the slices for a few minutes until hot.
Oven: Wrap the slices in aluminum foil and reheat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/ 180 degrees Celsius until hot.
What to serve with it?
So many things, practically any kind of side dish you can think of.
And when it comes to vegetable side dishes, I love some sauteed mushrooms, roasted broccoli or cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or creamy spinach. Or just a simple salad with yogurt dressing or vinaigrette.
More cast iron skillet recipes?
Cast Iron Pork Tenderloin
- 1 pork tenderloin about 500 g/ 1.1 lb
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
- ¼ teaspoon hot paprika powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 rosemary sprig optional
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove silverskin: Cut the tenderloin into two equal pieces. Remove the fat and the silverskin using a small, sharp knife. Place the blade under the silverskin and cut a little piece of skin that you can hold on to. Holding this piece with one hand, run the knife under the skin, working at an angle. Remove the skin in a long strip without cutting away the meat underneath it.
- Season: Mix all the spices and rub the pork with the mixture.
- Sear: Heat a large cast iron skillet on high heat. Add the oil, the two tenderloin pieces, and the rosemary sprig. Sear on all sides for about 5 minutes, turning the meat regularly using tongs.
- Roast: Place the skillet into the hot oven and roast the meat for 10 minutes or until the required internal temperature of 63 – 66 degrees Celsius/ 145 – 150 degrees Fahrenheit is reached (Note). If the pieces of pork you are using are larger and thus thicker, you might need to increase the roasting time to achieve this temperature.
- Rest: Remove the meat from the skillet, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.