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Searing a pork tenderloin?

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    Searing a pork tenderloin?

    Hey all,

    I'm trying to decide how I'm going to grill some pork tenderloins this weekend. The recipe I'm using is one of Steven Raichlen's from his Project Smoke episode, Mexican Smoke: https://barbecuebible.com/recipe/chi...os-corn-salad/

    In the episode he direct grills the tenderloins 3-4 minutes per side. I've not had great luck direct grilling thick meats; I'll overchar or burn the outside before the interior gets to the temp I want. (And for pork tenderloins, a final temp of 145 would be perfect.)

    So I am thinking of doing a combination of indirect and direct cooking. Initially I thought I'd do a reverse sear, bring the tenderloins up to 130 or so, then sear then for 1-2 minutes a side. But, I did this before with a steak and overshot my desired temperature.

    What if I seared first then did indirect? If I seared first, I could get the "char-level" I'd like, the temp would most likely be well below 140, and I could just smoke-roast them on the indirect side of the grill and pull them off exactly at 140 degrees. Does that sound like a better plan?

    I do indirect with the Weber kettle/SnS setup and then sear over the SnS. Works like a charm.


    • RustyHaines
      RustyHaines commented
      Editing a comment
      x2 on this method. I have done many pork tenderloins like this after many failed attempts at direct only cooks for them. I take mine to 128 indirect, let the coals in the SnS get red hot and then spin my grill for 1 minute sear 2 times per side. Delicious every time.

    • Heybrau
      Heybrau commented
      Editing a comment
      I do it exactly like RustyHaines. 128 internal then sear. Only consideration is total cooking time. Large thick "Iowa" tenderloins take longer of course. Small skinny ones will be done quickly.

    • HawkerXP
      HawkerXP commented
      Editing a comment

    I would say that either the indirect then sear or the reverse sear methods can be employed with success. Do what is most comfortable for you.

    Another strategy to consider is to cook to 15 or so degrees below your final temp, let it cool down, then sear. It’s similar to the sous vide cue way of cooking. It gives you a greater thermo ramping latitude.

    Again be sure to give yourself plenty of room to gain heat during your sear. 15 or 20 degrees below final is not too much. Also, keep that lean cut at or even slightly below 140 to keep it juicy. Remember too you’ll have carry over during your rest so crank that into the equation. Good luck !!!


    • Ahumadora
      Ahumadora commented
      Editing a comment
      Saved me writing the explication texastweeter and Troutman are correct. What I find important and easier to control the final outcome on somethig like a tenderlion is the time in between the indirect and the sear. More time give you greater chance to not overshoot it.

    • IowaGirl
      IowaGirl commented
      Editing a comment
      I third this advice. My usual for pork tenderloin is to indirect cook to 20F below my target temp. And I prefer 135-140F for a final internal temp.

    • Henrik
      Henrik commented
      Editing a comment
      I’m gonna join the choir. Let it rest 15 minutes between indirect and sear, and you’re golden.

    That's how I do my steaks, never tried it with pork loin or tenderloin though. What I typically do is cook them babies HOT (375-400+) indirect, and no sear. They get plenty Maillard'ed up for me that way. I take to 145 and they are plenty juicy for me.

    EDIT: 140 is great, but my family thinks it's "too soft", speaking of tenderloin, at less than 145.


    • Sandpaper
      Sandpaper commented
      Editing a comment
      Huskee - Can't wait to try this method next time I grill some! I have been doing low indirect with a reverse sear on the gasser, and they come out fine. Never great.

    I also cook pork tenderloins and loin roasts hot and fast, no sear.


    • Bill P
      Bill P commented
      Editing a comment
      Me too. It’s a quick cook on the Smokey Joe.

    I agree with the Hot and Fast 350-400 and take to 140-145 max. Slice and serve with a combo of warm BBQ Sauce/Apple Jelly or Cranberry Sauce/Brown Sugar. IMO Pork Tenderloin is a Best Protein to serve company. Good luck. It will be great!


      I go the indirect to 125 then pull for 10 to 15 minutes, then direct sear to 140. But the best part is this plum sauce.

      · 1 can 16 oz. purple plums, pitted and pureed
      • 2 Tbl. butter
      • 1 small onion diced
      • 1/3 cup brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup Homeade chili sauce
      • 2 Tbl. soy sauce
      • 2 tsp. lemon juice
      • 1 tsp ground ginger


      Saute onion in butter until clear, 4-5 minutes
      Mix pureed plums and all ingredients together, add to the onion and bring to a boil, simmer 25 to 30 minutes.
      It will thicken and become a beautiful red color


        Only commenting on temp here... tonight we pulled from SV done at 142.7 and seared in cast iron. That temp was perfect for us - juicy and just slightly pink throughout. So, I think the 140-145 recommendations here are spot on.


          A front sear is hard to screw up. You could sear that sucker and go by color to avoid any over-charring and then just move it to indirect and pull it before 145 to account for carry overrcooking. I think of the reverse sear as more of an intermediate technique.


            The best pork tenderloin cook I can recall was when I had the smoker going one morning for another reason. I popped a couple of tenders into the smoker to smoke/bake to about 110F. I didn't want to finish them at that moment, so I pulled them when they hit the target temp, popped them into a plastic bag, cooled the bagged tenders in cold water, and refrigerated them. Later, I grilled the meat over direct heat (hot, but not screaming hot) until the center reached 125-130F.


              Thank you so much everyone for your advice!

              What I ended up doing was a traditional direct followed by indirect. At the last minute, I wanted to see if I could direct grill the tenderloins like Steven does in the video. Alas, no....after about 15 minutes, the outside was nicely charred, but the internal temp was only 80 degrees. So I pulled them over to the indirect side to let them finish to 145.


                The proper way to cook a tenderloin is to beat it with a mallet down to about 1/4” thick, bread it and fry it Second choice is to google KCBS banned tenderloin. Third is hot and fast, no sear.


                • Sweaty Paul
                  Sweaty Paul commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Love a breaded tenderloin. Well played!

                Originally posted by glitchy View Post
                Second choice is to google KCBS banned tenderloin.
                I did. And I keep googling it because that amount of brown sugar has got to be a typo....but it is the same no matter where I look!


                • glitchy
                  glitchy commented
                  Editing a comment
                  A lot of it dissolves and when I make it, I knock all but a light coating of what’s left off in the morning when I throw it on the grill. Other than Pepperoni and Sausages of many types, I’m meh when it comes to pork. I’ll usually pick anything beef or poultry anytime unless trying to please others. This is one I occasionally actually choose, everyone should try it once. It’s pretty amazing.

                • Michael_in_TX
                  Michael_in_TX commented
                  Editing a comment
                  It's on the list....I may even go so far as to get the their sauce and rub, just to be complete.

                Front searing is legit.



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