When you want to do a lot with very little, pork tenderloin is your best friend. We almost always keep one in the freezer for easy, last-minute dinners because it's such a great blank canvas for whatever flavors you have on hand. It's an affordable cut of meat, and when you cook it right, it comes out beautifully seared on the outside with a tender, moist center.
I learned to appreciate pork tenderloin later in life — my family didn't keep kosher growing up, but pork just isn't something many Jewish families cook with a lot. Now it's one of my favorite cuts of meat to work with, because there's just so much you can do with it. You can pair it with an orange-teriyaki glaze, a coriander crust, moroccan spices... the list goes on.
I know pork has a reputation for ending up dry, but if you use a meat thermometer and give it time to rest before slicing, you'll end up with a perfectly cooked piece of meat.
I wanted to keep this recipe really simple. Exceedingly simple. I wanted to use as few ingredients as possible to make something that tastes a whole lot more complex.
The pork, potatoes, and carrots are seasoned with two of my ride-or-die pantry staples: paprika and garlic powder. Hence: paprika pork tenderloin. They cook all in the same cast iron skillet on the stove to get a nice crispy sear, and then go into the oven to finish cooking without drying out.
When the meat and veg are done, you'll remove them from the skillet and make a gravy out of the pan drippings with the addition of a shallot, some garlic, 1 tablespoon of flour, a bit of chicken broth, and optional rosemary.
It's hard to beat a recipe that takes simple and minimal ingredients and one skillet to make an entree, side, and sauce.
paprika pork tenderloin cooking notes:
- ***IMPORTANT*** Use a boning knife to remove the silverskin from the pork tenderloin before seasoning it. It's super easy to do, just a patch of what looks like fat on one side of the tenderloin. If you don't remove it, it will tighten while it cooks causing your tenderloin to curl up.
- Use an instant read meat thermometer to check the pork for doneness. You want it to reach an internal temperature of 150-160F. The pork and veggies should be done all at the same time, but if the pork is done before the potatoes, remove it from the skillet early and set it aside to rest while the potatoes and carrots finish. You'll know the potatoes are done when a fork can pierce them all the way through without resistance.
- Always let the pork rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing it. This helps it retain juices and prevents it from drying out.
- Ingredient swaps: If you don't have shallot, use onion. If you don't have fresh garlic, use ½ teaspoon garlic powder. If you don't have chicken broth or stock, use water (and chicken bouillon or a ramen chicken flavoring packet if you have it). You do need flour to thicken the gravy, but 1 teaspoon (or less) of corn starch would also work, just add it after you add the chicken broth instead of before.
other pantry friendly recipes
paprika pork tenderloin skillet with roasted potatoes and gravy
- 1 lb pork tenderloin (most 1 lb pork tenderloins come in a package of 2)
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 6-8 baby potatoes (quartered, and soaked in water until ready to use)
- baby carrots (a few large handfuls, or however many carrots you want)
For the gravy
- ½ medium shallot (finely minced)
- 1 clove garlic (minced or grated)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary (minced, approx 1 teaspoon)
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a large bowl combine smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Remove the silverskin from the pork tenderloin and pat the tenderloin dry. Season lightly with salt and pepper on all sides.
- Add pork tenderloin to the bowl and toss and rub with your hands to coat it completely in the spice blend. You should have some spice blend left in the bottom of the bowl.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet on high-medium heat with a generous drizzle of oil. When the oil is shiny, sear the tenderloin 2 mins on each side.
- Drain the potatoes and place in the bowl the pork tenderloin was in along with the carrots. Toss with salt, pepper, and an additional sprinkle of paprika and garlic powder.
- When the tenderloin is searing on its final side, add the potatoes and carrots to the skillet. Try to arrange the potatoes so cut sides are down, but you don’t need to be too fussy about it. Cook 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the whole skillet into the 425°F oven. Use a meat thermometer to check the doneness of the pork after 10 minutes — you’re looking for an internal temp of 150-160°F. Toss the potatoes and carrots for even browning.If the pork is at 160F: Remove it from the skillet to a plate or cutting board to rest, and let the potatoes and carrots cook an additional 5 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.If the pork tenderloin isn’t 160F: Leave it in the oven and check again every 5 minutes until it reaches 160F, tossing the potatoes and carrots each time you check.
- When the pork and potatoes are done, remove them from the skillet to rest.
- Return the pan to the stove over medium heat, no need to wipe it out.
- Add the minced shallots to the skillet and cook until slightly soft. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon flour and stir to cook the flour, about 1 minute. It will stick to the surface of the pan, that’s okay.
- Deglaze the pan by pouring in the chicken stock, stirring to loosen any flour stuck to the surface of the pan. The stock should boil and bubble as it reduces. If it doesn’t, increase the heat to medium-high and continue stirring. Add the rosemary and stir as the sauce thickens and reduces by about half or more. When your desired gravy thickness has been reached, pour it into a small bowl or measuring cup with spout.
- To serve, slice the rested tenderloin on a diagonal into 1″ thick medallions. Plate with roasted potatoes and carrots and spoon or pour the sauce over the top.