Barbecue Pork Tenderloin

barbecue pork tenderloin

There is more than one way to barbecue pork tenderloin - it's a versatile meat.

It is low in fat, which does mean it can dry out – but this presents opportunities to get creative with rubs, marinades and so on to get round this problem.

My favorite is Mojo Sauce which can first be used to marinate it, then more can be used as a sauce when you serve it.

The simplest way is to prepare a brine made of two pints of water and up to a cup of salt. Put the pork tenderloin in the brine and let it sit for 8 to 12 hours. This will add moisture that will help prevent drying during grilling.

Of course you can skip brining altogether and just grill it carefully!


Allow 1/2 Ib or so per person, so obviously the amount you buy needs to reflect the number of mouths you have to feed. Bear in mind that tenderloin is a relatively small cut of meat and anyone with a vigorous appetite could eat a whole one.

Follow the recipe for whatever marinade, rub, or barbeque sauce you want to use.


Tenderloin has a thick end and a thin end, and a membrane round it that needs to be removed.

It's a little bit fiddly to do, but is done in a few minutes. Hold a sharp knife perpendicular to the surface of the meat and scrap the membrane off.

preparing pork tenderloin

While your at it cut off any chunks of fat.

Lastly, as the thin end will cook much quicker than the thick end of the meat - fold it over on itself so the piece of meat is of a more uniform thickness. This will ensure that it cooks evenly. You might want to use cook twine to hold it together.

Flavoring Your Pork Tenderloin

There’s a whole host of marinades, rubs, sauces, and glazes that go well with pork, too many to list!

If you take the brining option, the best way to add flavor is by using a BBQ rub – a fiery Jerk rub is a good one, or a straight forward pork rub. In fact salt and pepper is fine.

Brush the meat with oil and massage the rub into every nook and cranny.

If you don’t go for brining, a different option is to use BBQ sauce - a finishing sauce like bourbon BBQ sauce daubed on for before it is grilled.

You could use a marinade to achieve the same end as bringing. This kills two birds with one stone – adding flavour and moisture.

Then there are two ways you can grill your meat – direct grilling or indirect grilling. I think this is the best way.

Smoking is another method to add flavor. For pork, any fruit wood is good I think, but hickory rules in some parts.

How to Charcoal Grill Pork Tenderloin

This is the most labor intensive method as you need to keep turning the pork to prevent burning.

One method is to charcoal grill this meat is to arrange the coals in two strips just to one or both sides, and along the entire length of the meat - such that the meat is not directly above the coals.

Or you can just direct grill it, the trick is to keep turning the meat over by a quarter turn every 4 minutes or so until it's done on all sides.

Adjust the height to increase or reduce the heat intensity. Then after 30-45 minutes, the internal temperature of the meat should be 150F (65-70C) – tip: get a digital food thermometer to be sure.

Allow the pork to rest by wrapping it in foil for half an hour before slicing it up and serving.

How to Barbecue Pork Tenderloin

Indirect grilling is less labor intensive than direct grilling, gives better results and leaves a nice smoke ring.

This method works with gas or charcoal - and it needs a lid for this to work.

  • If you want to use smoke it, choose your barbecue wood, soak the chips 30 minutes or so before you start cooking. When they are soaked drain them and put them in your smoke box.

When your charcoal is ready, put it at one end of your barbecue so that it isn’t directly above the pork tenderloins.

If you’re using smoke, now is the time to put the smoke box in, directly above the glowing coals.

Optionally, put a pan of water directly below where the pork will sit, this will catch any drips (although there won't be many) and the water will add moisture to the cooking environment.

Close the lid. This will take 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on how big a piece of meat you have; monitor the internal temperature of the meat with a thermometer if you have one – 150F should be about right.

If you are using a finishing sauce, apply it with 20 to 30 minutes of cooking time left.

When it’s done, wrap the barbecue pork tenderloin in foil and let it rest for half an hour before slicing it up and serving. (Check out the smoke ring in the picture of the barbecued version).

barbecue pork tenderloin

Side Dishes for Barbecue Pork Tenderloin

Standards like potato salad or grilled sliced veggies like onions, peppers, aubergine and courgettes are always good.

But fruit is another option and a common side dish on islands like Hawaii or Jamaica – Caribbean style pineapple salsa is a good one.

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