Cuban Style Baked Pork Tenderloin
I’m a huge fan of pork tenderloin and would take it over chicken breast any day of the week for a lean protein source. While my usual method of cooking pork includes barbecue sauce, this Cuban style baked pork tenderloin is my new favorite.
Seriously, I’m not just saying that. It’s tender, juicy, and has just the right blend of salt and acidity that makes it melt in your mouth.
Before we get to the recipe, I’d like to clarify I’m no expert in Cuban cuisine. This recipe is a lower calorie spin on Roy Choi’s Cuban Mojo Pork Roast as seen in Chef and Jon Favreau’s The Chef Show on Netflix. If you’re a fan of food and cooking, I’d highly recommend watching both!
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How to Bake Pork Tenderloin
This recipe is super simple. All you’ll need to do is squeeze a few fruits and add a handful of spices to a big bowl before throwing a pork tenderloin inside. Refrigerate that a while before baking and voila, magically juicy and flavorful pork tenderloin.
The salt and acidity does wonders to the pork while refrigerating, and the leftover dry spices create a crispy crust on the exterior during baking. Pro tip: Be sure you save the end pieces for yourself!
Aside from using a pork tenderloin instead of roast, the only other major changes I’ve made from the original Mojo Pork Roast is the omission of oil (to save fat/calories) and a few ingredients (to save time/effort). Part of my M.O. is to make recipes that are healthier, scrumptious, and arguably most important of all, easy.
Cuban Style Pork Tenderloin Recipe Questions
I’ll quickly run through some questions I commonly receive with recipes like this baked pork tenderloin.
What if I’m missing an ingredient?
The beauty of this recipe is that there are so many flavors working together, it’s difficult to mess things up. If you don’t like cilantro or garlic, leave ’em out. Things should work just fine.
Although a few key ingredients are the sea salt and citrus. You need the acidity from the fruits and salt to do some sciency stuff like carry goodies into meat pockets for tender, juicy, flavorful pork tenderloin after baking.
And aim to use sea salt or kosher salt instead of table salt so you have some flakes remaining after refrigerating to rub on top of the pork before baking. This will create the crispy crust we’re after.
Do I have to refrigerate the pork tenderloin for 8 hours?
It’s highly encouraged but if you need to speed things up a bit, blend all the ingredients together before adding the pork tenderloin. This will help flavors develop faster and, as you’ll learn in a moment, allow more sciency good stuff to happen in a shorter time window.
Also, cooking the pork lower and slower may help with tenderness in the final product. Bumping the oven down to 350F should allow the inside of the pork to cook through without the outer layers becoming dry and tough.
Would this recipe work in a crockpot, Instant Pot, or Ninja Foodi?
You betcha. For a crockpot, I’d follow the recipe exactly but instead of refrigerating, cook the pork tenderloin in the crockpot on low for maybe 4-5 hours.
For a pressure cooker, you could marinate all the same and then sear using the sauté function before pressure cooking on high pressure for 12-14 minutes. My Ninja Foodi carnitas and pressure cooker jerk pork tenderloin are great examples of this method.
After cooking, you could shred the pork or cut into slices like you see here. Or if you wanted some crust development, you could broil in the pressure cooker (if you have a Ninja Foodi) or transfer the pork tenderloin to a baking sheet, rub any remaining dry spices on top, and broil for a few minutes on the top rack.
What do I serve with baked pork tenderloin?
For the corn in the photos, I pan roasted drained canned corn with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt, and chili powder. Then topped it with a small amount of cotija cheese. I guess that’s my spin on easy Mexican street corn which may or may not go with a Cuban style pork tenderloin, but it sure tasted like they belonged together!
The rice was even easier. It’s jasmine rice with a squeeze of lime juice and lime zest. You could add a bit of cilantro as well.
Another pairing idea might be a homage to the original source material, slicing the pork tenderloin thin and making cubanos. Binging with Babish has a great video re-creating the sandwiches from Chef.
And that’s about all ya need to know! If you make this baked pork tenderloin, I want to see it. Be sure to grab a photo and tag me on Instagram @mason_woodruff or join my free Facebook group and let me know what you think!
- 1 1/2 lbs Pork Tenderloin
- 3 Navel Oranges
- 2 Lemons
- 2 Limes
- 5 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 1 handful Cilantro
- 1/2 Tbsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 Tbsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Allspice
- Zest one of each of the fruits into a large bowl before juicing them. Add the spices, garlic, and cilantro to the bowl, stirring well.
- Add the pork tenderloin to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, if possible. (If you're in a hurry, you can go for about an hour and reduce the oven temp for a slower roast to keep the pork moist and tender.)
Baking the Pork Tenderloin
- Remove the pork from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 400F. (For best results, let the pork rest at room temp for about 30 minutes before baking.)
- Remove the pork from the bowl and place it on a baking sheet.
- Drain the liquid from the bowl using a very fine strainer or your hand, keeping as much of the remaining dry spices as possible. Use your hand to rub them on top of the pork tenderloin.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the thickest part of the pork is cooked through or reaches an internal temp of 165F. Let the pork rest for at least 10-20 minutes after baking before cutting into it. Enjoy!
- Each serving has 2 Smart Points.
- If you cut the pork tenderloin into twelve equal slices, one serving will be two slices. Or if you need absolute precision, weigh the finished product and divide that weight by six for the weight of each serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Servings Serving Size: 1 Serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145Total Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 23g