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Best Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin – Quick & Easy Dinner

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!

air fryer pork tenderloin slice for dinner

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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 ready for eating after cooking in the air fryer

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.

sliced pork tenderloin on a plate with potatoes

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.

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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.

raw pork tenderloin on cutting board with spice rub

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.

pork tenderloin coated in spice run

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.

pork tenderloin with rub in air fryer basket

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 an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, don’t try to guess based just on time. A thermometer is not expensive and the peace of mind it gives you is priceless. Food poisoning is not fun!

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 in air fryer basket after cooking

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.

air fryer pork tenderloin before slicing

How To Reheat

If you have leftover pork tenderloin the air fryer works well for heating it up. To reheat:

  1. Slice the meat into medallions.
  2. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F.
  3. 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 on a cutting board

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!

top view of pork slices on a plate

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

Can I air fry a frozen pork tenderloin?

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.

Do I need to add oil?

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.

pork tenderloin roast on a plate ready for eating

How to Serve With Pork Tenderloin

This air fryer pork tenderloin makes a great entree to serve with your favorite side dishes. I like to serve it with something easy like garlic mashed potatoes or corn on the cob.

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

Yield: 3

Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin

pork tenderloin roast on a plate ready for eating

Air fryer pork tenderloin is a tasty dinner that is crispy and brown outside and juicy on the inside. This two ingredient recipe is simple to make and perfect for a busy weeknight meal!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.25 pound pork tenderloin
  • 2 Tablespoons Kansas City Barbecue rub, or other spice rub, see note below

Instructions

Watch the video below to see this recipe in action!

  1. 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.
  2. Pat the pork tenderloin dry with a paper towel. This helps ensures the spice rub will stick to the meat.
  3. Coat it in the Kansas City Barbecue rub. Be generous with the rub and use your hands to rub it into the meat.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Notes

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.

Spice Rub

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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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 177mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 51g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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overhead view of pork tenderloin on a plate with potatoes
Air fryer pork tenderloin is a delicious weeknight dinner. The air fryer makes the outside crisp and brown while leaving a tender juicy interior.
By on February 13th, 2020

8 thoughts on “Best Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin – Quick & Easy Dinner”

  1. I don’t normally comment on recipes, but seriously… this was so good!!! And so easy. The pork tenderloin is PERFECT in the air fryer. So moist and tender and cooks so fast with minimal effort.

    Reply
  2. I highly recommend trying this recipe! It was so easy to make and I used Twisted BBQ rub as I couldn’t find the one listed in the recipe. So tender and great flavor!

    Reply

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