Rubbed with a smoky, chipotle brown sugar rub, this Smokey Brown Sugar Crusted Pork Tenderloin is grilled to juicy perfection. A squeeze of fresh lime juice perfectly compliments each bite of sticky, crusty and perfectly moist lean pork.
Pork Tenderloin is a great weeknight grill choice. It cooks very quickly, and for the health conscience, it’s very lean, but still flavorful and juicy.
What is pork Tenderloin? Pork Tenderloin, not to be confused with Pork Loin, is also called pork fillet or Gentleman’s Cut and is a long thin cut of pork. The tenderloin refers to the psoas major muscle along the central spine portion, ventral to the lumbar vertebrae. This is the most tender part of the animal, because these muscles are used for posture, rather than locomotion.
Smokey Brown Sugar Crusted Pork Tenderloin is a versatile main dish that goes great with a variety of BBQ sides like Grilled Street Corn Salad, Pickled Cucumbers with Red Onion, or Grilled Asparagus with Lemon.
How to make Smokey Brown Sugar Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Begin by combining brown sugar with chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and cumin. Stir everything together in a small mixing bowl and then rub the mixture all over the pork tenderloin(s).
Smaller pork tenderloins are commonly sold two to a package, while larger ones can be sold individually. Choose pork tenderloins labeled fresh, minimally processed, and with-out preservatives.
Let the rub covered pork sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes while the grill preheats to a medium high heat.
Rub the grill grates with oil, and then place the pork tenderloin(s) directly over the flame. Rotate the tenderloin every 2-3 minutes, searing and caramelizing the outside.
What temperature should I cook pork to?
The National Pork Board recommends cooking pork tenderloin to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. My preference on pork tenderloin is just a trace of pink. All of the juiciness, without being too rare. This is reached by cooking the tenderloins to 145 degrees and then the meat will continue to cook up as it rests for 10 minutes before slicing.
After the outside edges are well browned and caramelized, move the pork tenderloins to an indirect heat (not directly over the flame), and continue to cook the pork, with the lid closed until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the size of the pork tenderloins, this can be 5 minutes to another 20 minutes. A meat thermometer is a necessary tool for this.
Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with fresh lime wedges. The bright citrus of the lime juice squeezed on the smokey, sweet pork is the perfect flavor combination.
Can I make Smoky Brown Sugar Crusted Pork Tenderloin in the oven?
Absolutely! Roast in a 400 degree oven in a lightly greased baking dish for 20-35 minutes depending on the size of the pork tenderloin(s) until the center reaches 145 degrees and the outside is golden and caramelized. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Can I use this Smoky Brown Sugar Rub on other types of meat?
Yes! I’ve used it when roasting a pork shoulder, baby back pork ribs, and salmon with great results. Cooking times and preparation vary depending on the protein choice.
This recipe is great for larger gatherings as well. The rub can easily be doubled or tripled for multiple tenderloins.
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Smoky Brown Sugar Crusted Pork Tenderloin
- 1.5 pounds pork tenderloin
- 2 limes – cut into wedges
Brown Sugar Chipotle Spice Rub
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt – course
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Preheat barbecue grill to a medium-high heat and then oil grill grates.
- Combine Brown Sugar Chipotle Spice Rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Rub pork tenderloin(s) with spice rub.
- Place pork tenderloins directly over barbecue grill flame and cook 2-3 minutes per side, rotating tenderloins to caramelize the outside of the pork, but not to the point of burning.
- Move pork tenderloins to in-direct heat and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Serve with lime wedges.