Pork Tenderloin Marinade
This Pork Tenderloin Marinade is made with fresh and bright flavors like lemon, garlic, and rosemary. It has a Mediterranean spirit, and only takes a few minutes to make, with 5 simple ingredients! I always add it to my 20-minute Roasted Pork Tenderloin for a flavorful, easy dinner.
It’s amazing how much flavor 5 ingredients can bring to a dish. Everything in this quick marinade is completely accessible and easy to put together, but covers quite a few flavor notes and aromas.
This marinade is reminiscent of a classic Greek Souvlaki, but with a few subtle changes. First, fresh rosemary is the star herb, instead of oregano. Rosemary is my favorite herb flavor affinity with pork, and its great flavor works well with the garlic and lemon.
I also go a bit stronger with the lemon here, both in the ratio of lemon juice to olive oil that’s typical in a marinade, and adding the incredibly aromatic and flavorful lemon zest to the mix. A little bit of Dijon mustard also helps emulsify the ingredients and brings in another of pork’s strongest flavor affinities. Though the ingredients are minimal, they make for a really flavorful pork tenderloin.
Ideally it’s best to marinate this cut for a couple hours, but you can also let it go overnight. The marinade is not so acidic that the meat risks going mealy. And as far as actually making the marinade, it only takes about 5 minutes. Easy, easy!
Tips for Best Results
Squeeze fresh lemon yourself – Try to avoid the pre-packaged lemon juice at the grocery store. It usually has preservatives, and fresh lemon juice tastes a lot better.
Mince the rosemary finely – For the best flavor and distribution, you’ll want to almost mince the rosemary, so it’s in really fine pieces. It takes another minute beyond chopping, but it’s so worth it!
Use a quality mustard – Try to avoid a cheap yellow mustard here, and choose a nice Dijon mustard, maybe even one that has some grainy bits to it for extra texture.
Step by Step Overview:
In a bowl, combine all of your marinade ingredients, which consists of extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, fresh lemon zest, chopped rosemary, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper:
You’ll notice that I do not add sugar here, and I do not think this savory marinade needs it. However, feel free to add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar or 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice to the ingredients for a touch of sweetness. Want to make it a little spicy? Add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Also, this is one of those instances where you want to use a great quality extra virgin olive oil, and not the refined and flavorless stuff. I like both California Olive Ranch and Trader Joe’s Kalamata olive oil.
Whisk to combine:
The marinade is now ready to use on your desired meat. Pork tenderloin is my favorite, but this is also great with pork chops, pork loin roast, and even chicken breasts..
How much marinade does this make?
This yields a little more than 1/2 cup of marinade, which is enough to marinade up to 3lbs of pork tenderloin in a ziptop bag.
How long do you marinade the meat?
For any pork tenderloin recipe, 2 hours is just about perfect, though you are welcome to leave it in the fridge overnight. You can safely leave meat at room temperature for up to 2 hours, but if you are not cooking it within that window, marinate it in the fridge from the very beginning.
Make sure to marinate in a sealed or airtight container. I always like to marinate in ziploc bags, squeezing all the air out so the marinade coats the meat really well.
How do you cook the meat?
My favorite method is following this Roasted Pork Tenderloin recipe, where you start by searing in an oven-safe skillet, then transfer the skillet into the oven to finish cooking. It only takes about 15 minutes total, but make sure to check the internal temperature of the pork using a meat thermometer. Also be sure to discard any leftover marinade in the bag, and let the pork rest for 5-10 minutes, loosely covered with aluminum foil.
You may also cook the pork tenderloin on an indoor or outdoor grill over medium-high heat, or really via any cooking method that you like. The slow cooker makes for very tender meat.
For other pork marinades, you can use the same marinades as this Chipotle Shrimp (marinate for 2 hours), or this Korean Kalbi Beef (marinate for 2 hours as well). Pork tenderloin takes well to so many different flavor themes, and you can pair it with a simple side dish like Roasted Brussels Sprouts for an easy weeknight meal. Enjoy!
Tips and FAQ
Yes, but I don’t recommend making it more than one day in advance, just so the flavors are really fresh and potent.
Technically yes, but since it only takes 5 minutes to mix together and freshness is such a big deal, I don’t really recommend it.
Pork Tenderloin Marinade
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5 large garlic cloves pressed (about 2 tbsp)
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary minced (about 2 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1.5 tsp salt*
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Place all ingredients in a bowl, and whisk to combine.
- The marinade is now ready to be used. I find it’s the optimal amount for 2 standard pork tenderloins (about 2.5 pounds total). Place the marinade and pork in a zip top bag for about 2 hours**.
- Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, then cook as desired. I like to follow this method: Roasted Pork Tenderloin. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.