Air fryer pork tenderloin is a delicious weeknight dinner. The air fryer makes the outside crisp and brown while leaving a tender juicy interior. This recipe has only 2 ingredients and cooks in less than 30 minutes and is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner!
Pork tenderloin makes an excellent inexpensive, quick and easy dinner for the family. Cooking it in an air fryer means this easy meal can be ready in less than 30 minutes.
Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin Recipe
Because pork tenderloin is so lean it is an easy meat to overcook. And very little tastes worse than dry, overcooked pork.
My husband used to tell me he didn’t like pork, but that was just because he was used to his grandmother overcooking it. In this recipe the high heat of the air fryer coupled with the quick cooking time makes for tasty, juicy pork with very little effort!
An air fryer cooks pork so it is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The high heat of the air fryer is perfect for cooking this lean and tender pork roast.
Pork Tenderloin vs. Pork Loin
Pork tenderloin and pork loin sound similar and are easy to get confused. But these two cuts of meat look and cook very differently and cannot be used interchangeably in most recipes.
Pork tenderloin is long and skinny and cut from the muscle near the backbone. It is also very lean, which lends it to cooking quickly over high heat. Which pretty much exactly describes air fryer cooking!
Pork loin, on the other hand, is thicker and can be cut into pork steaks. It has some fat, but is still fairly lean. Pork loin is more of a classic pork roast than pork tenderloin.
This recipe is only for pork tenderloin. If you try to use this recipe for pork loin you will find the meat won’t be cooked through in the given time! If you have a pork loin check out my Air Fryer Pork Loin recipe or my Instant Pot Pork Loin Recipe instead.
Spice Rub for Pork
My favorite thing about this air fryer recipe is the contrast between the crusty outer layer and juicy pork inside. To get the outside nice and crispy you need coat the pork tenderloin with a good spice rub.
I like to use a Kansas City Barbecue rub for this recipe. This type of rub is traditionally sweet and is made with a fair amount of sugar. The sugar caramelizes while the pork cooks and gives it a nice crispy outer layer.
How to Make Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin
1. Prepare the Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin has silver skin on the underside. This is a tough thin membrane that can be peeled off easily. Once you have peeled off the silver skin pat the meat dry with paper towels.
2. Add the Spice Rub
Coat the pork with the spice rub. I like to put it on thickly and use about 2 Tablespoons for each pork tenderloin. Rub it all over the pork.
3. Air Fry the Pork Tenderloin
Put the pork tenderloin in the air fryer basket, bending it as needed to fit it inside. I made this in a 5.8 quart air fryer, and there was plenty of room to fit the tenderloin.
You could also cut it in half if it fits into your air fryer better that way. Air fry it at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
After 10 minutes pull the basket out and use tongs to flip the tenderloin over. It will brown more evenly if you remember to do this. But I have forgotten to flip it and it still tastes delicious!
4. Check the Pork’s Internal Temperature
Once the 20 minutes are up check the temperature of the pork with an instant read thermometer. To ensure food safety you want the meat to have reached an internal temperature of between 145 degrees F – 150 degrees F.
Always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, don’t try to cook based just on time. A thermometer is not expensive and the peace of mind they give you is priceless. Food poisoning is not fun! This is my favorite inexpensive meat thermometer, which you can buy on Amazon.
When you check the temperature make sure you are putting the thermometer into the thickest part of the tenderloin, not the skinny end. If the pork needs more time put it back in the air fryer and check the temperature again at 3-5 minute intervals so it doesn’t overcook.
Pork tenderloin sizes are fairly uniform, will probably take less than 25 minutes to cook in the air fryer.
5. Let the Pork Rest
Once the meat is done remove the pork to a serving platter. Let it rest for about five minutes before slicing and serving. This allows some of the juices to reabsorb into the meat and makes the meat juicier.
Once the pork has rested slice it into medallions that are 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Serve the pork immediately or refrigerate it for up to three days.
How To Reheat
If you have leftover pork tenderloin the air fryer works well for heating it up. To reheat:
- Slice the meat into medallions.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F.
- Add the pork medallions and let them cook for 3-4 minutes, then serve.
However this pork meat doesn’t have to be reheated as it also tastes excellent served cold.
It makes great sandwiches if you have leftovers and I especially like to use it to make Cuban sandwiches or Ba Minh sandwiches. I sometimes make this air fryer recipe just to have the meat for sandwiches!
Spice Rub Variations
There are many different ways to spice this air fryer pork roast. Here are some alternatives to the Kansas City rub I used in this recipe.
- Almost any spice mix made for barbecue will taste good on pork.
- Steak seasoning also works well on pork. Montreal steak seasoning is one of my favorites.
- You can make this a spicy pork roast by using taco seasoning on it.
- Simplicity can also be good. Garlic powder combined with salt and pepper is enough to make this a delicious family dinner.
Brining or Marinading
Either brining or marinading is an excellent way to add taste and keep meat juicy. But this pork cooks so quickly in the air fryer that it isn’t necessary to brine or marinade it.
It certainly won’t hurt to do either of those things and it will add flavor to the meat. But for me this air fryer pork tenderloin is a dinner I make when I am in a hurry and want dinner fast.
I love the simplicity of this two ingredient recipe with no brining, no marinading and very little prep time. Low effort meals like this one are ideal for busy days!
Making More Than one Tenderloin
I find that one pork tenderloin usually serves 3-4 people. So if you have a larger family you might want to make two at time.
Additionally tenderloin is frequently sold in packages of two. This recipe will work fine for two pork tenderloin as long as your air fryer basket is big enough.
I can fit two pork tenderloin in my 5.8 quart air fryer if I cut them each in half. Make sure that you leave room between the tenderloin halves so that the air can circulate in the air fryer.
An air fryer depends on circulating air to cook and will not work well if the food is too crowded. If you are cooking two pork tenderloin in your air fryer you might need to cook them a few minutes longer.
But check the temperature after 20 minutes to be sure, because over cooked pork is not nearly as good.
Frequently Asked Questions
You might be able to air fry a frozen pork tenderloin, but not with this recipe. The issues with using frozen meat in this air fryer pork tenderloin recipe are:
1. The tenderloin won’t bend once it is frozen, so it might or might not fit.
2. The spice rub won’t stick to the frozen meat.
If your pork tenderloin is frozen I would either thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or roast it in the oven.
I don’t add any oil to this air fryer pork tenderloin. While this is a lean cut of meat there is some fat and the meat browns well without any added oil.
But if you want you can brush on a tablespoon of olive oil or vegetable oil before adding the spice rub. It will make the rub stick a little bit more.
How to Serve With Pork Tenderloin
I love the crispy outer layer of pork that results from this recipe. But if you want a more moist final dish you can serve this with a side of barbecue sauce. Warm up some sauce in a bowl and dip the pork medallions into the sauce.
Find More Quick and Easy Air Fryer Dinner Ideas
- 1.25 pound pork tenderloin
- 2 Tablespoons Kansas City Barbecue rub, or other spice rub, see note below
Watch the video below to see this recipe in action!
- Remove the silver skin from the bottom of the pork tenderloin. This is a tough thin membrane that can be peeled off the bottom of the pork. It should just pull off with a bit of tugging.
- Pat the pork tenderloin dry with a paper towel. This helps ensures the spice rub will stick to the meat.
- Coat it in the Kansas City Barbecue rub. Be generous with the rub and use your hands to rub it into the meat.
- Put the pork tenderloin in the air fryer basket. Bend it to fit inside the basket. If absolutely necessary you can cut the meat in half to make it fit better.
- Set the air fryer on 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes use tongs to flip the pork tenderloin over. This ensures even browning.
- Check the pork tenderloin after 20 minutes with an instant read meat thermometer. The temperature should be between 145 degrees F and 150 degrees F. If the meat needs extra time put it back in the air fryer, still at 400 degrees F, for 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to cook the meat until it reaches at least 145 degrees F internally.
- Let the pork tenderloin rest on a cutting board for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Slice it into medallions that are 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick.
Pork Loin vs Pork Tenderloin
Make sure you use pork tenderloin. Pork loin is not the same cut of meat and will need different cooking instructions. Pork tenderloin weighs about 1.5-2 pounds and is long and skinny. Pork loin is wider and is also called pork loin filet. If you have a pork loin use my air fryer pork loin recipe instead.
Check the Temperature for Food Safety
Always measure the internal temperature of the pork to ensure it is thoroughly cooked. The FDA says the minimum internal temperature for pork is 145 degrees F.
You can vary the spice rub used in this air fryer recipe. Almost any pork rub or barbecue spice mix will work well. Steak seasoning, like Montreal steak seasoning also tastes great on pork. You can also just season the tenderloin with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Two pork tenderloin
You can double this recipe to cook two pork tenderloin if you need to feed more people. Just make sure there is enough room in the air fryer basket for the air to circulate. If necessary cut the tenderloin in half to make it fit better.
Brining or Marinading
Brining or marinading are a way to add extra flavor to pork and keep it moist and juicy. I don't think they are necessary in this recipe because the meat cooks so quickly in the air fryer that is stays juicy. But it won't hurt if you want to brine or marinade the meat.
Air Frying a Frozen Pork Tenderloin
This recipe doesn't work great with a frozen tenderloin. You can't bend the meat to make it fit easily in the air fryer. Additionally the spice rub doesn't stick well to frozen meat. I suggest either thawing the meat overnight in the refrigerator or roasting it the oven.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 177mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 51g
Nutrition facts are estimates.