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Pulled Pork recipes using tenderloin?

The recent post about what to do with leftover pork tenderloin has brought me to this; I have a five pound - give or take - uncooked pork tenderloin in the freezer. I understand that pulled pork is usually prepared with pork shoulder, but is it possible to make with the tenderloin? Please supply any recipes or ideas you have, Thanks!

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  1. With a tenderloin, I'd lean towards grilling or roasting. Pulled pork works best with fattier cooks cooked slowly. That type of cooking is likely to just dry out the leaner tenderloin.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 9lives

      That is what I figured. I was hoping for otherwise, though. :) A fan of grilled tenderloin, myself, my boyfriend told me the other day he just doesn't like it. I figured if I could make pulled pork we would both be able to enjoy.

      1. re: Justpaula

        There isn't really anything stopping you from seasoning it as you would pulled pork, grilling/roasting then cutting it into small pieces and making sandwiches out of it. It won't be the same, but it might be pretty good.

    2. I make a pulled pork style dish in the crockpot with tenderloin, except it's Thai flavored -- 2 lbs pork tenderloin, 1/3 c. teriyaki sauce, sliced red bell peppers, lots of garlic. Cooked on low for about 8 hours, then you shred the pork and add peanut butter to the sauce before adding the pork back in. It's very juicy and tender -- I imagine something similar would work with more traditional pulled pork flavors, but I wouldn't try it without the crockpot ...

      1. Is this really a tenderloin you're talking about, or just a boneless pork loin? I'm asking because I've never seen a tenderloin over two pounds, though maybe a truly giant pig could produce a five-pounder. Anyway, neither of these things will respond well to the sort of cooking pulled pork is subjected to. Shoulder is full of fat and collagen, and long slow cooking sort of melts that into the meat and makes it want to fall apart. The same process would simply dry out and toughen a lean cut such as loin or tenderloin.

        I do sympathize; even after 26 years with my wife she still sometimes reveals that yet another thing I'm just crazy about is something she'd rather I never cooked again.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          Thanks, Will. Funny you should bring up size... Becasue the five pounds I have in the freezer is only HALF of the piece I bought. And I bought it in a state of frenzy at eleven o'clock at night from the Waldbaums for a family BBQ. I used the other half a few weeks ago. I was suspect from the beginning. Usually I by a pork tenderloin from the butcher that is fairly thin. Maybe two pounds whole. But this monster, in only half its size resembles a long eye round beef roast. My thought was , wow, this is from some sort of mutant hippo-pig. Well, what do you think it is if not a tenderloin?

          And thanks for your empathy. I have made countless pork tenderloins before the boyfriend of three years told me he was not into it. It might have been this gigantor piece that drove him to finally admit it,

          1. re: Justpaula

            I've seen whole boneless port loins at Sams Club in cryo pack. This is the thicker side of a pork chop (or bone-in pork loin roast). It's not as tender as the true tenderloin (the small side of the chop), but still pretty lean (except for possible layer of fat on the outside). So you don't need (or want) to roast it as long and slow as a pork butt.


        2. Well, I just tried to shred the leftover pork tenderloin, or loin roast, and it isn't working very well. I'm thinking I may put it in my mini chopper and coarsely chop it. I have to wait for the DH to let me know if that is acceptable - I do not want to waste this meat! And he is soooo picky.

          1. Don't do it...there's just not enough fat and collagen in a tenderloin (or even just a plain ol' boneless pork loin) to pull well. If the BF doesn't like it as a roast, slice it into pieces about 3/4" thick and pound them thin (less than 1/4")...dredge in seasoned flour, egg wash, and panko...fry until GB&D on both sides (it won't take long, and do NOT overcook). Set aside (tent w/ foil) while you build your favorite pan sauce. Serve, eat, and settle back while BF does the dishes.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ricepad

              Some of the Carolina pulled pork that I've seen on BBQ specials (FN or Travel Channel) appears to use the whole pig. At least they show a whole pig being roasted, then pulled apart into large chunks (with industrial rubber gloves), chopped into bits, and finally seasoned. Assuming they don't separate out the loin(s) in the process, the result must include the lean loin meat along with the butt and shoulder.


              1. re: paulj

                True, but the OP is asking about just the tenderloin, not the whole pig. Very different.

            2. Folks have alluded to, but not really nailed (I don't think), the distinction between the LOIN and the TENDERLOIN. Think of a T-bone steak. It has a big side and a small side. Now think of a bunch of T-bone steaks stacked on top of each other -- which is the way they would be before they were cut into steaks. On one side of the bone would be the small side, a tubular strip of meat. This is the tenderloin. On the other side of the bone would be the big side. This is the loin. The loin is fattier than the tenderloin, but not very much fattier.

              Now, if these items were cut from a pig, the tenderloin would be about 12 - 14 inches long, about 2-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, would weigh between 1 and 1-1/2 pounds, and would have virtually no fat on or in it. The loin (if left whole and not sliced into boneless loin chops) would be about the same length, but considerably thicker, would not be uniform in thickness (as the tenderloin is -- essentially a tube) but would taper somewhat from one end to the other, and would probably have a layer of fat on the outside but still be very lean once that fat was cut away.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ozhead

                very nice word pictures. Great job!

              2. I have made a pulled pork-esque type dish in the crockpot. Use whatever type of seasonings you would normally use plus your favorite BBQ sauce and some finely chopped onion. Cook on low about 8 hours and the pork will shred nicely. It's not authentic by any means but it does make nice sandwiches. Add more sauce after cooking if you like your sandwich more on the wet side.

                1. Roasting is the Only way to treat this meat properly.
                  Marinate with olive oil, garlic, rosemary in the refrigerator overnight.
                  Remove from fridge, season thoroughly with S&P.
                  Roast in a 400 degree oven until meat internal temp hits 140.
                  Remove from oven, cover with foil and let pork 'carryover' cook for 30 minutes.
                  Slice. Eat.
                  Down side - almost no fat to make gravy.
                  Up side - cubano sandwiches!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: DiveFan

                    I'm resurrecting this old thread in the hopes that someone can help me.

                    My son did some grocery shopping (a welcomed rarity) and brought home what he thought was beef tenderloin (yah, at .99 a lb - ha!), but what turned out to be a cryovac 7 lb pork - well it says tenderloin, but I'm questioning this.

                    Opened it up - it's two pieces, both with bones. Both pieces have a thick layer of fat on the outside, but (as far as I can see), they don't seem all that lean.

                    The reason I'm questioning this is, first of all, of course, I need to figure out how to cook it. Also because just about the only type of pork they like is pulled pork - but I don't want to waste this much meat on something that may not turn out decent.

                    Does this sound like a tenderloin to you guys? Frankly, from the smaller pieces of tenderloin I used to buy, it looks much different. (Would rather it's not, so my guys can have pulled pork, once I figure out how to make it....)

                    This would be much easier if I didn't break my digital camera a few months ago..

                    1. re: threedogs

                      Sounds like you have a bone in pork LOIN, not a tenderloin. Loins have a sort of fatty membrane around them, so that may be why it seems less lean than you would think. The bones should look like rib bones, if that's the case. If so, you can cut it into chops or roast it whole. Either way, I would brine it with a solution of water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. You can find a lot of brine recipes online - any ingredient other than those four is used for flavor and is pretty much interchangable. Sometimes you'll see bay leaf, garlic, coriander, mustard seed, peppercorns, etc. The important part is brining pork really makes it much more tender and juicy, unlike a normal marinade which just flavors it. If you make your family some nice brined then pan roasted pork chops they will change their tune about only liking pulled pork, I guarantee.

                      1. re: johnmlinn

                        Thanks, johnmlinn. Did a search, and you are right - that's what is sounds like (rechecked the package, and it's labeled "sirloin" - that's why my son thought it was beef.

                        I've been brining my turkeys on holidays lately, and they turn out fantastic. I'm headed out to the kitchen to brine this one.

                        Thanks so much. Will let you know how it turns out.

                        1. re: threedogs

                          Hmm - I found a photo (on how to smoke pork butt) that looks more like what I have. Got me more curious because the bone isn't at all like rib bones...


                          I think it's actually pork butt. Now it's marinating in the salt/sugar/vinegar & spice mixture - wondering if that will be OK for this?

                          (Man, do I wish I had a smoker...)

                          1. re: threedogs

                            Yeah, brining will still work great for that. The main difference is you're going to have to cook that low and slow. If you don't have a smoker, 225 in the oven for 6-8 hours is probably the best bet. You can use a meat thermometer to tell when it's done - 180 degrees (held for 30 min or so) should be about right.

                            A butt will actually make great pulled pork via this method. Get some Carolina style sauce for it, or make some yourself! You can also apply a rub before you roast in the oven or smoke.

                            If you have a propane grill you can use it as a smoker too! It takes some finagling though. You need a grill with multiple racks (like a warming rack above the regular grates).

                            Get a big aluminum pan, like the kind people use for catering. Fill it with 1" of water and put it on the bottom grates of your grill. Get some wood chips (I like hickory) and douse them with a little water and wrap them in aluminum foil. You want about a big handfull (a cup, maybe). Place them next to the pan on the bottom grates of the grill. (Above the flame)

                            Next, you need to get the grill to stay at about 225. Experiment with temp and use only one burner if you have to (most propane grills have 2+ burners). Once you have it stable, place the butt on the warming rack above the pan of water, close the lid, and wait!

                            You may have to replenish the wood chips after about an hour, but don't do it any more than that. Too much wood smoke will make the meat taste like a table.

                            Again, 6-8 hours is the time frame, you're looking for 180 in the middle of the butt for about 30 mins.

                            That will make a mean pulled pork sandwich. :-D

                  2. Grilled pork tenderloin or oven-roasted is awesome for sliced pork. You can make sandwiches or dice it up and put it hot on cold macaroni salads. That contrast is great. Slice it on a bias and people will eat it up if you have, or make, a good BBQ sauce on the side. Great for Superbowl coming up Sunday if you're might have friends/family over.