Garlic-Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks

With beef prices up 80% (chuck roast) over the last few years, my family has been eating a lot more alternatives. So I was excited to try this new recipe (May/June 2014), even though it is still too early for grilling. The recipe uses 2 pork tenderloins (ubiquitously sold in packages of two) to create 4 steaks. The steaks are then pounded flat, soaked in a marinade and grilled for about 15 minutes. Half the marinade is used as the base for a delicious sauce. The sauce is perfect; very bright, flavorful and balanced. My execution of the grilling portion of the recipe was slightly flawed (as I will describe below). But even with my shortcomings, the results were amazing. A perfect 5-star recipe. This is the top 2014 recipe (so far).

Grilled pork with a perfect sauce

Grilled pork with a perfect sauce

Issues / Comment:

  1. The instructions to cut tenderloins crosswise weren’t completely clear to me. I almost cut them lengthwise, but that didn’t make sense to me. The idea is to cut the tenderloins so that they are half the total length. You want short, fat steaks, not long skinny ones.
  2. As I mentioned above, I had a few grilling issues. First, it was raining heavily as I headed out to my grill. So instead of grilling uncovered in Step 6, I grill with the steaks covered (so I didn’t need to move to the cooler side of the grill). Second, I had run out of briquettes and had to use only lump charcoal. Because lump charcoal burns hotter it should not have been a problem, but I allowed it too much time to ignite and lost some of it’s charring power. Instead of attaining the desired 140-degrees, I ended up with 155-degrees. But still, these were minor blemishes which were completely covered up by the strength of the sauce. I cannot emphasize enough how perfectly conceived is this sauce.
  3. My supermarket sells 10 different flavors of enhanced pork tenderloins for $9, which I have never cooked and never will. In contrast they stock very few un-enhanced pork. My guess is that it has to do with profit-margins.
  4. If you are using a gas grill, Chris Kimball says to turn all burners to high heat, cover, and pre-heat for 15 minutes. When cooking leave only the primary burner on.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: $13
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:15 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare the meal today are given below:

2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
2 limes; zested and squeezed
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Flake sea salt (or Kosher Salt)

  1. Trim tenderloins and remove silver-skin. Use sharp knife to cut both tenderloins in half crosswise which will create 4 individual, half-length steaks. Use a meat pounded to flatten each half to 3/4″ thickness. Cut 1/8”-deep slits spaced 1/2″ apart in crosshatch pattern on both sides of all the steaks.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together lime zest and juice from 2 limes (1 tablespoon grated lime zest plus 1/4 cup juice), 4 garlic cloves garlic, 4 teaspoons honey, 2 teaspoons fish sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. While whisking, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup vegetable oil into lime mixture until it slightly thickens and becomes smooth.
  3. Measure out 1/2 cup lime mixture into small, microwavable bowl, and whisk in 4 teaspoons mayonnaise; set aside sauce.
  4. Add steaks to the large bowl with remaining marinade and toss thoroughly to coat. Empty steaks and marinade into large, gallon-sized zip-lock bag. Press out as much air as possible, then seal the bag. Let steaks stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  5. For your charcoal grill, fully open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). After about 20 minutes when top coals become partly covered with ash, empty evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and completely open top vent. Allow grill to pre-heat for 5 minutes, then clean and oil cooking grate. (especially important as this was my grills first use in 2014)
  6. Remove steaks from bag, but do NOT pat dry. Cook, uncovered, over hot-side of grill for 3 to 4 minutes until becomes well-browned. Flip and cook continue cooking the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes until becomes well-browned. Move steaks to the cooler side of the grill, arranging so that the wider end of each steak facing hotter part of grill. Cover grill and cook for 3 to 8 minutes longer (remove steaks as their internal temperature reaches 140 degrees).
  7. Allow steaks to rest on a carving for 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile microwave sauce for 15 to 30 seconds until warm, and stir in chopped cilantro.
  9. Slice steaks against grain into 1/2″ thick slices. Drizzle with half the sauce, and sprinkle with sea salt. Passing the remaining sauce separately.
First BBQ of the season

First BBQ of the season

18 Responses to Garlic-Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks

  1. Deanne says:

    I wanted to let you know that I read your blog last week. I loved it – I especially love that you rated the mess and also noted the cost. The only thing I would add is – did your kids eat it, but apparently your children are pretty sophisticated eaters, so not a big problem on that. I’m a little sorry to see you have slowed down on blogging, but still looking forward to future posts.

    • Hi Deanne,

      Yes, my kids both rated it 4-1/2 stars, and only one of them is a sophisticated eater. The picky one loved this one too.

      My blogging slows down in snowboarding season, which coincidentally ended for me this last Saturday. But this year has been hectic all around. I do have 3 or 4 backlogged meals that are only half written. We’ll see how the rest of the year goes. Thanks for noticing. lol


  2. Dennis says:

    This looks good…I will try this as soon as it stops raining!

    If you are unsure about a recent recipe you can watch the video on the CooksIllustrated website. No subscription necessary.

    [video src="" /]

    • Shel says:

      Thanks for the link. I too am a CI subscriber but couldn’t really envision how the steaks were to be cut. Makes perfect sense now! Hate that subscribing to the magazine doesn’t give you access to the website without paying more money. Can’t wait to try this recipe now!

  3. Chris says:

    I have really enjoyed your blog for the last couple of years. Just wanted to say how much I appreciate you documenting your experiences. I am a CI magazine and web subscriber, but I overlooked this recipe until I saw it here. Now I can’t wait to make it.

  4. Jim Turner says:

    First off, thank you so much for your blog! I’ve really enjoyed following it, and especially the perspective of a family man who loves to cook, but that also needs to be practical.

    I recently made this recipe twice, based upon your strong recommendation. I had skipped over it in the magazine, as it hadn’t caught my eye the first time through.

    It was, indeed, very very good! Quite excellent. I had high hopes, but had not expressed anything to my family, other than I was making yet another new recipe.

    They absolutely loved it!

    I’m usually able to get unprocessed pork tenderloins from Costco, and they’re usually about 1.25 pounds each. Two in a pouch, and two pouches per pack. One tenderloin barely feeds our family of five.

    I made the recipe according to the magazine, except I basically doubled the sauce, since I only cooked one tenderloin at a time. The family was very disappointed there were no leftovers!

    Thanks again,
    Jim T.
    Temecula, CA

    • Jim Turner says:

      I made this two more times, for guests. Everyone immediately loves it and is very impressed. It’s fun to present a common cut of meat in such a different manner.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This pork recipe is incredibly good. I followed your instructions. Came out perfectly, and the only pork dish I have had that I wanted to lick my plate! I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work!

  6. Dykesak says:

    The magic continues! Made it tonight and it was FABULOUS. Thanks!

  7. Crabby Girl says:

    I have made this dish twice. I didn’t have fish sauce so substituted tamari sauce, and it was fine. This is so crazy good. I would give it 6 stars if I could! It is something extremely delicious and different to wow your dinner guests. I love your blog. I use it as a cross reference with ATK. I figure what ATK makes is usually good, and if you give it 5 stars, then it should be super good:) Thanks for your evaluations. Keep up the good work!

  8. Ann Cromwell says:

    thanks so much for your blog. Your potato salad is now my favorite.

    How do I print your recipes? I’ve searched for the print button.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What a great recipe very simple and just delicious

  10. Ann Cromwell says:

    what an awesome recipe! Ditto what Crabby girl said.

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