A single pork tenderloin is the perfect size for a meal for two or three people. Sous vide is the perfect way to cook it. Here’s one of my favorite recipes.Jump to Recipe
I buy pork tenderloins in a family pack at my local grocery store, with four tenderloins per package. I then separate them into half-gallon Ziploc freezer bags and freeze them individually. When I decide to make pork for supper, I take enough out of the freezer and cook them with my sous vide for perfectly cooked, moist, tender, and juicy meat every time!
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I use the Anova sous vide circulator. Rated as Recommended by America’s Test Kitchen, it came in second only to the Joule sous vide circulator. They rated the Joule circulator higher for three main reasons: it has the ability to stand on its own in the middle of a pan without needing a clamp, it heats the water faster than any other circulator they tested, and it is the most accurate of all those tested. These are clear advantages over the Anova, but the deal breaker for me was the lack of a manual interface on the Joule. The Joule works solely through their app. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer a dial and visible interface where I can see the settings.
The Anova also works with an app via Bluetooth or wifi depending on which model you buy, but has the additional option to use the manual dial on the circulator. If you’re comfortable with using only your smart phone to control your circulator, then the Joule is definitely the better purchase! The prices of these two top rated circulators are comparable at just under $200 MSRP, but keep an eye out for sales! I got mine at a deep discount on a Black Friday deal and I use it all the time. Best purchase ever!
Prep the Pork
First, I take the frozen pork tenderloin out of the freezer and remove it from the freezer bag. To help reduce waste, I test the bag for leaks by filling it with water to see if it can be reused in the sous vide water bath. If no water leaks out, my bag has survived its time in the freezer intact and is ready to use! If it leaks, I use a fresh bag. For a single pork tenderloin, Ziploc half-gallon freezer bags are the perfect size.
Sprinkle the frozen meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste – approximately ¼ – ½ teaspoon of each spice per tenderloin. Put the seasoned tenderloin back into the Ziploc bag and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The oil prevents any air bubbles from forming in the bag. Air doesn’t conduct heat, so any bubbles would cause uneven cooking.
I prefer to use a light olive oil for this recipe instead of extra virgin olive oil. EVOO is more expensive and has a slight fruity flavor that may affect the taste of the dish. It also has a lower smoke point so it’s not recommended for frying. EVOO is mainly used in applications where you want the flavor and it’s not being heated.
Cooking the Tenderloin
Fill your water bath container with hot tap water and set your circulator for 140 degrees F to start heating the water. I bought a special container but it’s not necessary. You can use any pot that is deep enough to submerge your meat – at least 4” deep.
Seal the bag ¾ of the way and squeeze out most of the air. Submerge the bag gradually in the water using the pressure of the water on the outside of the bag to press out the remaining air. Be careful not to allow any water to get into the bag! When the bag is almost completely submerged, zip the last corner closed and clip the top edge of the bag to the side of the container. Be sure the meat is completely submerged.
A frozen tenderloin will take an hour and a half to cook; if you started with fresh or thawed pork, it will only take one hour. While the meat is cooking, prepare your side dishes and pan sauce. My meal included sautéed sweet potatoes and a green salad, which I started when the meat had 30 minutes left to cook.
The sweet potatoes will take about 20 minutes to cook – longer if you cut the chunks larger than I did. Heat about 2 teaspoons of oil in a 12” non-stick pan over medium heat and add the cubed sweet potatoes. Stir to coat the potatoes with oil and when they start to sizzle, turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Stir occasionally until potatoes are tender and lightly browned. Remove from heat.
Prepping the Pan Sauce
To prepare the ingredients for the pan sauce, whisk together ¾ cup of chicken broth, two teaspoons of brown mustard, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and two teaspoons of cider vinegar. Mince one medium shallot or ¼ of a small sweet onion (like a Vidalia), and measure out a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic.
Browning the Pork
When the pork has cooked in the sous vide for an hour and a half, remove the bag from the water bath. Remove the meat and carefully set aside the bag with the meat juices in it – you will use the juices for the pan sauce. Set the meat on a double layer of paper towels and pat it dry. Any moisture left on the meat will cause splattering when browning. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat in a 12” heavy pan.
My favorite is the Calphalon anodized aluminum non-stick pan. It has a heavy bottom that doesn’t warp like some other pans do. It heats evenly and retains heat well. The non-stick coating is nice and durable.
When the oil is just smoking, transfer the tenderloin to the pan and brown it on all sides. This should take between 3 and 5 minutes, depending on how hot the pan is. The goal is to brown the meat quickly so it doesn’t overcook during this step. Remove and cover the meat lightly with a foil “tent” to allow it to rest.
Cook the Pan Sauce
Reduce the heat to low. Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan, add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the chicken broth mixture and the meat juices from the bag the meat was cooked in. Increase heat to medium-high and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until sauce has reduced by half and thickened. It will start out pale and will deepen to a nice caramel color.
By the time the sauce is done, the tenderloin is done resting and is ready to slice!
Serve with the sautéed sweet potatoes and side salad and enjoy!
Perfect Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Sweet Potatoes
- 1 pork tenderloin 1-1.5 lbs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3 Tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 small sweet onion or 1 medium shallot
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tsp brown mustard
- 6 oz chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Sauteed Sweet Potatoes
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 lb sweet potato peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
Cook Pork Tenderloin
- Season the pork tenderloin with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Place seasoned tenderloin in a half gallon Ziploc bag with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Seal the bag ¾ of the way and squeeze out most of the air.
- Submerge the bag gradually in the water using the pressure of the water on the outside of the bag to press out the remaining air.
- When the bag is almost completely submerged, zip the last corner closed and clip the top edge of the bag to the side of the container. Be sure the meat is completely submerged.
Saute Sweet Potatoes
- While the pork is cooking, peel sweet potato and cut into 3/4″ cubes.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add sweet potato cubes and stir to coat.
- When the potatoes start to sizzle, turn the heat to low and cover the pan.
- Cook for approx. 20 minutes until tender and slightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Brown Pork Tenderloin
- When the pork is fully cooked, remove the bag from the water bath.
- Remove the meat and carefully set aside the bag with the meat juices in it.
- Pat dry the outside of the tenderloin with paper towels.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat in a 12” heavy pan.
- When the oil is just smoking, transfer the tenderloin to the pan and brown it on all sides, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove and cover the meat lightly with a foil “tent” to allow it to rest while you make the pan sauce.
Make the Pan Sauce
- Whisk together the chicken broth, brown mustard, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar.
- Mince onion or shallot.
- Heat olive oil on low heat.
- Add onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Pour in chicken broth mixture and pork juices from the bag the meat was cooked in.
- Increase heat to medium-high and cook until sauce had reduced by half and thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Slice pork tenderloin and serve with pan sauce, sweet potatoes, and a side salad (if desired).