When you want to do a lot with very little, making pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet is the way to go. It's an affordable cut of meat, and when you cook it right, it comes out beautifully seared on the outside with a tender, juicy center.
If you're wondering how to cook pork tenderloin on the stovetop without it drying out — this is the perfect recipe for you! You will need to finish cooking this skillet pork tenderloin in the oven, but it's so easy and hands off, I just know you're going to love it.
We almost always have a pork tenderloin in our freezer for easy, last-minute dinners because they're such a great blank canvas for whatever spices or herbs you have on hand. And since there's plenty of room to spare when you cook pork tenderloin in a skillet, we save time by cooking our vegetables right along with it.
So this isn't just a recipe for pork tenderloin. This is cast iron skillet pork tenderloin and potatoes and carrots and gravy — a whole meal in one pan!
🍴 Why I Like This Recipe
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 and it's really easy to make.
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. And that's exactly what we're going to do here.
I purposely kept this recipe really simple. Exceedingly simple. I used as few ingredients as possible to really focus on the technique. You can definitely take this recipe and use it with your favorite seasoning blends.
For me, that meant reaching for my ride-or-die pantry staples: paprika and garlic powder. Everything — pork, potatoes, and carrots — cooks in the same cast iron skillet on the stove to get a nice sear. Then it goes in the oven to finish cooking with a more gentle heat.
It's hard to beat a recipe that takes simple and minimal ingredients and one skillet to make an entree, side, and a sauce.
🥘 Ingredient Notes
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this paprika pork tenderloin with potatoes and carrots, as well as for making the super easy cast iron skillet gravy for serving the pork tenderloin medallions! See recipe card for quantities.
- Pork Tenderloin - A 1 pound pork tenderloin with the silverskin removed. Pork tenderloins usually come in packs of two. If you're not planning on using both within a few days of opening, you can freeze the second one.
- Paprika - Whatever kind of paprika you like best. I really like smoked paprika, but sweet or hot paprika are just fine here too.
- Garlic Powder - Granulated or powdered garlic. I don't recommend using garlic salt — it's too salty!
- Salt - Whatever kind of salt you like best!
- Pepper - I usually use freshly cracked black pepper, but pre-ground black pepper is actually just fine here too.
- Baby Carrots - You could also use big carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼" rounds.
- Baby Potatoes - I use a medley of baby potatoes in a variety of colors, but you can use all white, all purple, or all red! Cut them in half or in quarters depending on how big they are — you want all your potato pieces to be around the same size.
- Cast Iron Skillet Gravy - Here's what you'll need to make the cast iron skillet gravy.
- Flour - This thickens the gravy. See "substitutions" below for other options.
- Garlic - Minced or microplaned garlic.
- Shallot - Minced finely. The smaller your shallot pieces are, the smoother the gravy will be.
- Chicken Stock - Chicken broth is also fine. See "substitutions" below for other options.
- Rosemary (optional) - This adds a really nice herbal, savory flavor to the gravy. But if you don't have it or don't want to buy it, the gravy is also delicious without it. You could also use herbs like thyme, sage, or oregano.
🍳 Instructions - How to Cook Pork Tenderloin in a Cast Iron
Start by preheating your oven to 425F with a rack in the middle so it's ready to go.
Mix the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Remove the silver skin from the pork tenderloin, pat it dry, and then place it in the bowl. Rub the seasoning blend all over the tenderloin until it is well coated.
Then heat the cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Sear the pork tenderloin on each side for about 2 minutes. At first the tenderloin might be too long or you may need to need to curve it a bit to fit, but it will shrink as it cooks. Straighten it out each time you flip it so it doesn't get stuck!
While the pork tenderloin is searing, add the potatoes and carrots to the bowl the pork was in. Toss them around to pick up any remaining paprika and garlic seasoning (or sprinkle them with more of each in the bowl and toss to coat).
Once the pork tenderloin has been seared on all sides, add the potatoes and carrots. You don't have to be fussy about this, but I usually try to flip the potatoes so they each have at least one cut side facing down.
Transfer the whole skillet — the pork tenderloin and the potatoes and the carrots — into the preheated 425F oven.
After about 10 minutes, check the internal temperature of the tenderloin and the potatoes for doneness.
- Pork tenderloin: When it hits 145F, it's done! If it's not there yet, let it cook for another 3-5 minutes and check again. There will be some carry over cooking once you take it out of the oven, so err closer to 140F than to 145F — if you go too far over 145F, your pork may end up dry.
- Potatoes: If they're between 200-210F, they're done! If your potatoes are too small to check with a thermometer, just pierce one with a fork. If the fork goes in without hitting any resistance, they're done.
If the pork is done before the potatoes, remove it to a cutting board. Stir the potatoes and carrots in the skillet and check them again in 5 minutes. Once the potatoes and carrots are done, remove them from the skillet.
While the pork rests, it's time to make the gravy!
🥣 Instructions - Gravy for Pork Tenderloin Medallions
To make the gravy for these cast iron pork tenderloin medallions, we're going to use the same cast iron skillet we cooked the pork in. By using the pan drippings from the pork, all the flavors from will carry right through into the gravy.
Place the cast iron over a low-medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Cook them just until softened.
Then add the flour. The flour will soak up all the oil in the pan as you stir it in. Things will get very clumpy, the pan will look dry. Don't panic! This is normal. Keep stirring everything around to toast the flour.
When the flour is a toasty golden brown color, whisk in the chicken stock (and rosemary, if you're using it). Bring the mixture to a boil to burst the starch molecules, then reduce to a simmer. Continue whisking until the gravy is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, slice the pork tenderloin into medallions about 1 inch thick. Divide between plates with carrots and potatoes on the side. Top with the skillet gravy or serve the gravy on the side.
- Shallot - Onions will work just fine!
- Garlic - For the gravy, if you don't have fresh garlic, sub in ½ teaspoon garlic powder — add it when you add the stock instead of with the shallot.
- Chicken Stock - Water and chicken bouillon or even water and a ramen chicken flavoring packet will work.
- Flour - You can definitely use a 1-for-1 gluten free flour instead of regular flour here. You can also use corn starch, just mix it with a bit of water and add it after you add the stock instead of before.
📖 Variations & Other Seasonings
This cast iron skillet pork tenderloin and potatoes recipe is super versatile and can be made with whatever spices you have in your pantry. You can also use this technique with wet marinades instead of dry rubs! Here's some other seasonings that are great with pork medallions:
- Spicy Pork Tenderloin - If you want a spicy cast iron pork tenderloin, try adding ¼ teaspoon cayenne to the garlic and paprika mixture and use a smoked paprika instead of a sweet paprika. Or use a spice blend with a mild heat like Berbere which combines a lot of great flavors like paprika, coriander, ginger, cumin, cayenne, and allspice.
- Cajun Pork Tenderloin - This recipe from my friend Sam's site doesn't include the potatoes and carrots, but you can add them easily!
- Pork Tenderloin Marinade - You can marinate the pork tenderloin up to 24 hours in advance (as long as the marinade isn't too salty!) using olive oil, crushed garlic, and rosemary (or other herbs), Italian dressing (popular in the 90s!), or even using a pre-made marinade like Omsom's sauce packets which reflect flavor profiles and dishes from different regions in Asia.
- Pork Tenderloin Glaze - If you prefer a sweeter pork tenderloin, you can glaze it by brushing it with fruit jam (apricot, cranberry, and orange are popular) after searing but before placing it in the oven. Thin out the jam with a bit of honey or maple syrup and some sort of acid — lemon or lime juice, dijon mustard, or even sherry or wine vinegar. The sugar in the jam means it will caramelize and brown more intensely.
- Pesto Pork Tenderloin — My dried basil pantry pesto rub is perfect for making cast iron pork tenderloin! One tablespoon of the pesto blend should be plenty.
👩🏻🍳 Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- ***IMPORTANT*** You'll want to use a thin flexible knife (called a boning knife) to remove the silverskin from the pork tenderloin before seasoning it. It's super easy to do. The silverskin is a patch of what looks like fat on one side of the tenderloin. Slide the boning knife under the silver skin and slice it off. If you don't remove it, it will tighten while it cooks, causing your tenderloin to curl up.
- My favorite instant read meat thermometer is my Thermapen. It's super fast and very accurate and I like that the dial lights up and rotates automatically — perfect for checking things in the oven!
- You need the pork to reach an internal temperature of 145F. There will be some carryover cooking after you take it out of the oven, so I recommend aiming for 140F rather than 145F.
- Let the pork rest for at least 8-10 minutes before slicing it. This helps it retain juices and prevents it from drying out.
- The right way to temperature check pork tenderloin is to insert the instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the tenderloin.
- Make sure you preheat the oven before you begin cooking the pork tenderloin on the stovetop. The skillet needs to go right from the stove to the oven and any waiting between those steps can seriously mess up the timing of this recipe.
💭 Recipe FAQ
They are different cuts of meat. Pork loin is much bigger than pork tenderloins. Pork tenderloins are usually around 1 lb, while boneless pork loins are usually 2-4 lbs in weight. The bigger size of the pork loin means it will take longer to cook. A pork loin also often comes with a layer of fat on top, while a tenderloin is much more lean cut of meat.
If your pork tenderloin is tough, this likely means you overcooked it past 145F. Make sure you're using a good instant read thermometer, and pull the pork out of the oven once it hits 140F. It will continue cooking as it rests.
Searing the pork tenderloin on all sides before transferring it to the oven starts the cooking process to speed things up in the oven. It also gives the outside of the tenderloin a really nice crust and browning.
After the cooked pork tenderloin has rested for 8-10 minutes, use a sharp knife to cut it into 1-2" inch slices. You can do this straight across or cut them on a slight diagonal to get oval shaped medallions.
A large stainless steel skillet is just fine as long as it's oven safe. Make sure you pre-heat the stainless steel properly so the pork tenderloin doesn't stick!
A 10 inch or 12 inch cast iron skillet is perfect for cooking a pork tenderloin. Anything smaller and you'll have trouble fitting the whole tenderloin without it curling up.
Cast Iron Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Potatoes and Gravy
- 1 pound pork tenderloin (most 1 lb pork tenderloins come in a package of 2)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ pound baby potatoes (halved or quartered, and soaked in water until ready to use)
- ½ pound baby carrots (a few large handfuls)
For the gravy
- 1 small shallot (finely minced)
- 1 clove garlic (minced or grated)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary (minced, approx 1 tsp)
- 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.
- 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. Add a generous drizzle of cooking oil. When the oil is shiny, sear the tenderloin for 2 minutes on each side.
- Drain the potatoes and place in the bowl you seasoned the pork tenderloin 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 140-145°F. Remove the pork tenderloin from the skillet to a plate or cutting board to rest. If the pork isn't at 140° yet, check it again in 3-5 minutes. Repeat until it hits temp. Stir the potatoes and carrots each time you check on it. The potatoes are done when you can pierce them with a fork without hitting resistance. You may need to remove the pork tenderloin from the skillet before the potatoes and carrots are done.
- When the pork and potatoes are done, remove them from the skillet to rest.
Pork Tenderloin Medallion Gravy
- 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 as it absorbs the oil and begins to toast, that’s okay.
- Deglaze the pan by pouring in the chicken stock, whisking to loosen any flour stuck to the surface of the pan. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.
- 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 into 1-2″ thick medallions. Plate with roasted potatoes and carrots and spoon or pour the sauce over the top.
- Let the pork rest for at least 8-10 minutes before slicing it. This helps it retain juices and prevents it from drying out.
- The silverskin is a patch of what looks like fat on one side of the tenderloin. Slide the boning knife under the silver skin (hold the blade horizontally, parallel to the counter) and slice it off. If you don't remove it, it will tighten while it cooks, causing your tenderloin to curl up.
- Cooking times may vary based on the size of your pork tenderloin. You may need to remove the pork from the skillet before the potatoes and carrots finish cooking.
This was an unexpected delight! I mean, I expected it would be decent or I wouldn't have made it, but I'm just so/so on pork tenderloin and picked this recipe to finally use up the one I had languishing in my freezer. I anticipated that this would be a solid meal to use up some ingredients I had on hand, but I honestly hadn't expected it to be SO delicious! The seasoning here was super simple but really tasty, and I really appreciated how clear the directions were--I've found most recipes I've followed for pork tenderloin result in overcooking, but with the temperature instructions + resting, this was perfectly moist. I had a bunch of regular carrots on hand, so I used those instead of baby carrots; I peeled and cut them to a similar baby-carrot size, and it worked great. Definitely don't skip the gravy, it brings the whole meal together. This is one of those easy, minimal ingredient weeknight meals that is greater than the sum of its parts!
I literally could not have asked for a better comment 😍 I'm so glad you liked it!!