Stovetop Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin
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If you typically cook pork tenderloin whole in the oven, pressure cooker, or crockpot, this recipe will be a great change of pace. While the other methods require minimal prep, this sweet and spicy pork is actually much faster (and possibly easier) than my other recipes like crispy carnitas or Cuban-style pork!
I’ll walk you through the recipe below and touch on ingredient substitutions as we go. There’s a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post. If you skip ahead and have a recipe question, check the post and leave a comment if I didn’t cover it already.
This recipe was inspired by Foodie with Family’s garlic ginger glazed sticky pork. You might as well try both recipes while you’re at it!
Step 1: Prepare the pork tenderloin, sticky sweet and spicy sauce, and garlic.
First off, don’t sweat perfection with your pork tenderloin strips. The width you cut your rounds (1/2-inch) is more important than the length. Some in the center of the tenderloin will be 3″ while others towards the ends will be more like 2″. The length won’t really affect cook time as long as they’re all about the same width.
The recipe recommends patting the strips dry with a paper towel. That’s a big tip when it comes to seasoning almost any type of meat. The excess moisture makes it difficult for spices and in this case, chili oil, to stick to the meat.
Aside from the pork strips, the rest of ingredient prep is easy stuff. Mix a handful of sauce ingredients and mince or chop a bit of garlic. Onward.
Step 2: Cook the pork tenderloin strips.
It won’t take long! That’s why step 1 is to have everything prepared in advance. Once the pork hits the pan, it should take about 5-6 minutes to fully cook.
Don’t be afraid to let the first side of the pork strips cook and develop a little color before flipping. And don’t worry about the crispy bits stuck to the skillet. You’ll deglaze the pan with the sauce in the next step to get all the flavor incorporated into the final dish.
Step 3: Add the garlic and sauce to the skillet.
Once you cook the pork tenderloin, it’s smooth sailing. You can pick up some visual cues from the photos above as to what your sauce should look like at each step. The sauce will thicken quickly, so don’t pour and walk away.
And as a pro tip for this step, remove the pan from the heat before adding the pork to the sauce to avoid over cooking.
Sauce Ingredient Notes
The lime juice and soy sauce are straightforward enough, but you may have questions about the pancake syrup and gochujang.
Starting with the former, you could use another sticky sweetener like the honey in my spicy coconut ground chicken or another sugar free syrup. You could also try some brown sugar or zero-calorie Swerve Brown like in my bbq pulled pork tenderloin and Korean ground beef recipes.
As for the gochujang, you could substitute with another hot chili paste or even something like sriracha or a chili garlic sauce. Gochujang is a bit more like tomato paste than something like sambal oelek and definitely more so than sriracha. So it may affect the viscosity a tiny bit, but you can make it work!
Serving Your Sweet and Spicy Pork
I was tempted to do a stir fry like my chicken fried cauliflower rice or 5-spice noodle stir fry, but I ultimately decided to keep things simple and served mine over white rice. You could definitely get more creative, though! Let me know what you come up with in a comment below or join my Facebook group and share it with 13,000+ other healthy home cooks!
- 1 lb Pork Tenderloin, cut into strips
- 1 Tbsp (16g) Chili Oil
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
For the Sauce
- 3-4 cloves (20g) Garlic, roughly chopped or minced
- 1/4 C (60g) Lite Pancake Syrup*
- 1/4 C (60g) Lime Juice (about 2 medium limes)
- 2 Tbsp (60g) Gochujang**
- 1 Tbsp (15g) Soy Sauce
- Cut a pork tenderloin into 1/2" rounds and then cut each round into 2-3 strips. The strips should be about 2-3 inches long or roughly the size of your pinky or ring finger.
- Use a paper towel to pat the pork dry before adding the strips of pork to a bowl and toss in the chili oil before adding the ground ginger, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Toss/stir until evenly coated. Set aside.
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mince or chop the garlic. Set both aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the pork strips in an even layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until there's a small amount of pink remaining in the center. Flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until fully cooked (165ºF internal temp). Transfer the cooked pork to a plate.
- Add the minced garlic to the skillet and toast until fragrant, about 30 seconds, before adding the sauce. Scrape any crispy bits of the bottom of the skillet and cook until the sauce thickens, about 45-60 seconds. Be sure to stir to avoid burning.
- Turn off the heat, add the pork back to the skillet, and stir to coat the pork in the sauce. Serve with toasted sesame seeds, scallions, cilantro, and/or lime wedges.
*I used Hungry Jack Lite syrup, but you could use any sugar free pancake syrup. You could also use other sticky sweeteners like honey.
**You could substitute another hot chili paste like sambal oelek or a chili garlic sauce/sriracha.
Don't be salty. Since every gochujang, soy sauce, and pancake syrup may vary, you can add fresh lime juice in the case of an overly salty finished product. Other solutions include fresh cilantro or herbs, serving with rice and other vegetables, or adding sweetness via a pinch of sugar or honey drizzle.
Each 3-ounce serving of pork has 3 WW SmartPoints (blue plan).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Servings Serving Size: 3 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 5gCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 16g