This easy pork tenderloin recipe was one my mom’s favorites and I remember thinking as a kid that it was pretty fancy. How excited was I to find out it’s probably one of the easiest easy family meals she ever made us?
For background: my mother hated to cook. That doesn’t mean she didn’t feed us healthy, good food; just that she wasn’t trying to spend hours in the kitchen every day! While I actually love cooking and I find my chill in the kitchen, I can still appreciate the arsenal of easy recipes she passed down to me, including this one that appears regularly on our table.
I usually serve our pork tenderloin with a green vegetable (try these 7-minute green beans) and a starchy side. (Recent favorite: rice made with stock instead of water, with the addition of a cup or so of tomato sauce and a handful of whatever vegetables I need to get rid of.)
Not counting cooking time, this entire meal took less than 30 minutes to make. How’s that for easy?
Pro tip: See those onions under the tenderloin? This is a trick I learned from my mother-in-law, who’s a fantastic cook. She uses sliced onions instead of a roasting rack for fish, so the fish doesn’t get gummy on the bottom, and I now use it for almost everything!
If your family doesn’t like to eat cooked onions, set them aside and finish caramelizing the onions later to toss into rice, lentils, an omelet, a hearty soup, or any other recipe needing a little flavor boost.
Easy Pork Tenderloin Recipe
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 onion (optional, see note above)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon (for rub) plus 2 additional teaspoons (for sauce) chili powder
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons vinegar (I use cider or rice vinegar, but any kind will probably do)
1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
2. In a small bowl, combine salt, garlic salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the chili powder, then rub or sprinkle onto all sides of tenderloin.
3. Slice onion and place in roasting pan.
4. Lay tenderloin on top of the onion and cook in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
5. While the tenderloin is cooking, make the sauce: Whisk the remaining 2 teaspoons chili powder, ketchup, apple jelly, and vinegar together in a pan on the stove, heating on low until ingredients are fully blended.
6. After cooking for 25 minutes, remove pork from oven, brush with sauce, and return to oven for 10-20 more minutes, depending on weight.
Pork should cook to an internal temperature of 145° F, which is usually about 25 minutes per pound.
7. Let the pork rest for a few minutes, slice, and serve with remaining sauce.
If you have leftovers, the meat makes for delicious cold sandwiches!