This pork tenderloin recipe ticks all the right boxes. Quick, easy and delicious! A great weeknight meal.
This cranberry balsamic pork tenderloin is a favourite dish of mine and one I have been making for years! It is one of those perfect trifecta recipes - quick, easy and delicious. It's solid and reliable and special enough for company, too.
I was inspired to make this one again this week to use up some leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. If you have leftover cranberry sauce, this dish is a perfect use for some of it! The beautiful thing about this dish though, is that is it just as lovely with canned whole berry cranberry sauce, so it can be made easily any time of year.
Pork: You can use two small or one large pork tenderloin here. About 1 1/2-2 lbs. total is good. I find the smaller ones fit nicely in my smaller cast iron frying pan and I can often find the two-pack of small pork tenderloins at a good price.
Balsamic: Any nice balsamic vinegar will work here. Feel free to add a touch more, if you feel it needs it.
Cranberry Sauce: You can use homemade or canned cranberry sauce here. Look for the "whole berry" cranberry sauce, for a more interesting sauce with the bits of cranberry.
While this recipe is a great use for leftover cranberry, I find the sauce is a little thicker/more syrupy when I use canned cranberry sauce. The taste is delicious either way though.
You can use use fresh rosemary instead of thyme, if you prefer or for a change.
If you'd like to make this ahead, simply cook as directed, except undercook the pork just slightly (cook it to 145F internal temperature. Let cool a bit, then cover with foil and refrigerate. Remove from fridge for about 20 minutes before reheating loosely covered in foil in a 350F oven until warmed through.
A small centre-cut pork loin roast could also be used for this recipe. The oven cooking time will increase considerably. Simply cook it at 375F for the oven roasting, until the internal temperature registers 145F.
Top Tip! Did you know that cooking pork has changed over the years. It's now recommended that pork be cooked only to 145F (lowered from 160F) internal temperature. This produces a tender and moist "medium" cooked pork, with a touch of pink in the middle.
When testing your pork with a thermometer, be sure that you aren't inserting it too far in and too close to the bottom of the pan, or your reading will be artificially high. Aim for the centre of the pork, which is only about 1 inch in. Allow you pork to rest at least 5 minutes.
If you have some frozen cranberries on hand and a little extra time, you can quickly turn them in to some cranberry sauce to use for this dish. Here's my quick and easy Cranberry Sauce recipe (it's the one I use every Thanksgiving!)
Quick and Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup water
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then cook, stirring, until cranberries are mostly popped. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Let cool a few minutes, then cover and refrigerate. Mixture will thicken as it cools in the refrigerator.
What to Serve with Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
The plentiful and delicious sauce with this pork is perfect with mashed potatoes. I have also served it with mashed sweet potatoes or roasted mini or sweet potatoes. Cauliflower mash would also be good here.
A green vegetable makes for a pretty plate, such as broccoli, green beans, broccolini etc., but as this is a nice Fall and Winter dish, carrots or squash would also be nice on the side.
This is an easy, one-pan recipe! I love to use my cast-iron skillet, as it goes easily from stove-top to oven.
Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, 2 small pork tenderloins
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, (or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme)
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 2/3 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce, (or homemade cranberry sauce - see recipe in post)
- 3-4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- Melt 1 Tbsp butter in an ovenproof skillet (such as cast-iron) over medium-high heat.
- Remove the silverskin and any visible fat from pork. Pat dry with a paper towel and sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork in hot skillet, cooking on all sides, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Place skillet with pork into the preheated oven. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into centre registers 145° F, about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your pork.
- Remove skillet from oven. and remove pork to plate. Loosely place a sheet of aluminum foil over pork. Melt remaining 1 Tbsp butter in the same skillet on the stove-top over medium-high heat. Add the onion and thyme and sauté, stirring until the onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, cranberry sauce and balsamic vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes. Boil until sauce is syrupy and reduced, about 8-10 minutes. Taste sauce and season as needed with salt and pepper. *If sauce get too thick, thin with a splash more chicken broth.
- Remove foil from pork and add any juice on the plate to the sauce in the skillet. Add whole pork tenderloin into the warm sauce and allow the pork to re-warm in the sauce. To serve, remove pork to a serving plate and spoon sauce over and around the pork. Serve pork sliced with a spoonful of sauce
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.