Barbecue Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

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This easy Pork Tenderloin with a barbecue flavored dry spice rub can be cooked in less than 20 minutes in the broiler or on the grill. Jump to Recipe keyboard_arrow_down

213 CALORIES 4g CARBS 7g FAT 32g PROTEIN
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This easy Barbecue Pork Tenderloin covered in a sweet and spicy dry rub has all the flavors of your favorite barbecue without all the sauce. It's amazing for a quick dinner, over salads, or sliced up into tacos with pineapple salsa. 

A lot of times when I think about making pork tenderloin, I go for a nice cut of meat marinated or slow-cooked and coming out dripping with sauce. There are so many delicious ways to prepare pork tenderloin this way, it just makes sense that that preparation would be my go-to.

However, sometimes I crave a good, savory, dry-rubbed dish instead. Not only is a dry rub lower in calories and sugar, but the flavors are also more intense from all the spices. Plus, you can make up a big batch of dry rub to prep the tenderloin the night before. Then it's ready to grill or broil right when you get home from work, or another sporting event, or whatever you have going on. It's an easy preparation for a busy day for sure.

This particular barbecue spice rub is made from a combination of paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, mustard, salt, pepper, and a touch of cayenne pepper. It also has some brown sugar to balance the spice but it can be left out for a healthier version. If you have time, let the pork and spices marinate for 4 hours in the fridge for a more intense flavor.

Pork tenderloin with a spice rub sliced on a cutting board.

What is a dry rub?

A dry rub is just what it sounds like: a mixture of dry, ground spices and herbs that you rub onto the meat dry. As in, not a marinade of spices mixed into a liquid like olive oil or citrus juices or vinegar. Dry rubs are often preparations that are used with a dry heat cooking method as well, like grilling or smoking the meat.

Dry rubs are used a lot with bigger pieces of meat, like chicken breasts, pork tenderloins, and brisket. You can use dry rubs on seafood but usually, you want to have a bigger piece of fish like swordfish, red snapper, or tuna.

Dry rubs can be made of any spices you like that go together and complement the meat. Typically there is also salt and sugar in the mix too. The sugar helps to caramelize with the spices and leave a nice crust on the meat.

How do you make a dry rub for pork?

When I make a dry rub, I like to get out all the herbs and spices I'll be using out first and have them at the ready. Then, I get out a medium-size bowl and combine all the spices, measuring each out as I go. I use a fork or a whisk to combine all the spices together then rub it on the pork after coating the tenderloin first in oil. This helps the spices to stick to the pork tenderloin. I put the whole thing, covered, in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight, if there is time.

What makes a dry rub healthy?

Although there is a little bit of sugar in this dry rub, this preparation is healthier than marinades because there is generally less sugar in them, especially the store-bought ones. Also, when you make your own dry rub mixture, you know exactly what's going into it and you can adjust it to your tastes and your dietary needs.

Spice rubs are a great way to add more flavor without a lot of fat and spices are so low in calories they are almost negligible. If you use olive oil to help the dry rub stick, then you're also adding in a heart-healthy fat to your recipe as well.

Barbecue pork tenderloin on a wooden cutting board with rosemary.

How long do I cook pork tenderloin?

Depending on the size and thickness of your pork, the cooking time will vary.  You always want to cook the pork to at least 145 degrees and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. It will continue to cook during that time, usually reaching 150-155 degrees. Another common misconception is that pork can't be eaten when it is slightly pink or "medium rare." According to the National Pork Board and USDA, as long as pork is cooked to 145 degrees, it is safe to eat. After that, it is just a matter of preference.

  • Broiling pork tenderloin normally takes 12-16 minutes, flipping halfway through to reach 145 degrees.
  • Grilling pork tenderloin normally takes 14-16 minutes, flipping halfway through to reach 145 degrees.
  • Baking pork tenderloin at 400 degrees usually takes 25-30 minutes. 
  • It is always best to use a meat thermometer to ensure you cook it correctly since thickness and temperatures can vary.

What sides go with Barbecue Rubbed Pork Tenderloin?

Pork is a great main dish that goes with a lot of sides. Try:

  • Mashed Cauliflower is a great low-carb side to add with the pork tenderloin.
  • Crispy Balsamic Brussels Sprouts can be roasted in the oven while you grill your pork. They are so yummy you might want to whip up a double batch!
  • A side salad always goes well with pork, plus you could cut the pork into thinner strips and add it over the top of a salad for a full, healthy meal.
  • Grilled Yellow Squash or another type of summer squash can grill up right alongside your pork tenderloin if you are going the grilling route. Plus it will taste amazing!
  • It's no secret that pineapple goes great with pork. Try this Pineapple Slaw next to or under a thick slice of pork for light, tasty dinner that makes you feel like you're on vacation.
  • Garlic Sugar Snap Peas are delicious and will retain that sweet snap if you don't cook them too long. Your kids will love them, too!

Looking for more healthy pork tenderloin recipes?

The Recipe
Barbecue rubbed pork tenderloin sliced on a wooden board with rosemary.

Barbecue Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

PREP TIME: 4 Hours
COOK TIME: 15 Min
TOTAL TIME: 4 Hours, 15 Min
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Ingredients

US METRICS
  • 1.33 lbs lean pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (leave out for low carb/Whole30/Paleo)
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

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Instructions

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1

Rub the pork tenderloin with olive oil. Combine all the spices to create the barbecue rub. Coat pork in the rub and refrigerate for 4 hours. You can skip this step if you don't have time, but the flavor will be less intense.

2

To grill: Place the tenderloin on a medium hot grill and grill for 14-16 minutes or until cooked through, flipping once. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

3

To broil: Cover a pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place 5-6 inches away from the broiler and cook for 12-14 minutes, turning once, until pork is cooked through.

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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 213
Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
11%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 98mg
33%
Sodium 394mg
17%
Total Carbohydrate 4g
1%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 2g
Protein 32g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

Barbecue rubbed pork tenderloin sliced and placed on a wooden cutting board.
† SmartPoints™ and PointsPlus® calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.
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