If you’re looking for south-of-the-border flavor in a quick one-pot cast iron meal, look no further than this Mexican-style Cast Iron Pork Tenderloin. With its mole spice blend rub, and a few fresh ingredients, you’ll have this healthy meal on the table in 30 minutes!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – About Mexican Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is such a versatile, lean protein, and I rely on it for everything from quick, weeknight pork tenderloin tacos to special occasion sous vide pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is a very lean and tender cut with a mild flavor. It’s best suited for quick cooking methods like grilling, roasting, or stir-frying.
Rubbing the pork tenderloin with a Mexican-inspired spice blend that includes unsweetened cocoa powder, ancho or chipotle powder, cumin, and cinnamon lends a decidedly Mexican flavor to the seared and roasted tenderloin. The addition of black beans, corn (fresh cut or frozen kernels), bell and/or jalapeño pepper, and onion make it a one-pot main dish. This tasty and creative recipe relies on the Mexican flavor profile, and is not Abuelita’s authentic Mexican dish!
🐖Buying and Storing Pork Tenderloin
- To ensure you take home a good piece of meat, use visual cues to help you buy pork tenderloin. Look for a tenderloin that’s pinkish-red in color with a bit of marbling (fat equals flavor!). Avoid meat that’s pale or has dark spots on the fat. Pork tenderloin will average about one pound in weight, although it can range from 3/4 to 1 1/2 pounds. One pound is typical unless it’s a 2 pack.
- It’s best to cook fresh pork tenderloin immediately, but you can store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
- Any longer than 3 days, and your pork tenderloin should be frozen. Allow 12 to 15 hours in the refrigerator to thaw it. NOTE: It’s better to not cook the pork tenderloin straight from the refrigerator. Allow 30 minutes on the counter for more even cooking results.
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- pork tenderloin – Pork tenderloin pieces range from 3/4 to 1 1/2 pounds, with 1 pound being the most typical. Pork loin is not a good substitute!
- mole spice blend – My mole spice blend works really well in this recipe, but you can use your favorite Mexican spice blend, or even this taco seasoning or this homemade tajín. See Notes in recipe card if you don’t want to make an entire batch of spice blend.
- neutral oil – Pure olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola or vegetable oil, ghee, or refined coconut oil are good options. Searing requires a high smoke point.
- ground cumin
- bell pepper – I like lots of color in my food, and usually use red, yellow, or orange. Additionally, the addition of jalapeño is nice if you like a little heat. Reference pictures, and use what you feel comfortable with.
- corn – I always prefer fresh corn kernels, and that is what I almost always use. However, frozen corn does retain its crisp, sweet texture and flavor, and would be a good substitution. Of course canned corn will do in a pinch.
- black beans – You need to start with cooked beans, whether they’re canned (rinsed and drained) or cooked from dried.
- chicken broth
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
- Remove the silver skin and fat – The silver skin is tough, silvery-white connective tissue that is often found on pork tenderloin. Place the pork tenderloin on a cutting board, and use the tip of a sharp knife, lift a small section of the silver skin. While holding the lifted section with one hand, use the knife to cut just underneath the silver skin, keeping the knife parallel to the cutting board. Continue lifting and cutting, working your way across the length of the tenderloin, until you’ve removed the entire silver skin. If there’s any excess fat or connective tissue left on the tenderloin, you can trim it off as well. Trim any remaining fat in similar fashion. See this video for a visual.
- Prepare the pork tenderloin – Preheat your oven to 400℉. Pat the tenderloins dry with paper towel. Thoroughly rub the mole spice blend and sea salt/pepper into the tenderloin, then press the tenderloin into the spices to get the most coverage.
- Sear the prepared pork tenderloin – My apologies! I managed to miss the process shot for searing the tenderloin. I will address this at the earliest possible moment! Add a drizzle of neutral oil to your very hot cast iron skillet over high heat. Sear on all sides before setting it aside (in one piece). DO NOT OVERCOOK. You just want to sear it for maximum flavor.
- Sauté the vegetables – Add another drizzle of oil if your pan is dry. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and/or jalapeño, ground cumin, and garlic to the cast iron skillet. Sauté until the onion begins to show some color.
- Finish the black beans and corn mixture – Stir in the rinsed and drained black beans and chicken broth. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Add the pork tenderloin – Nestle the pork tenderloin into the black beans and corn. Place in your preheated oven.
- Roast the pork tenderloin – Roast the cast iron pork tenderloin until the internal temperature reaches 145ºF. Remove from the oven, and tent for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Serve – Slice the pork tenderloin into 1/2″ slices. Add a generous scoop of the black beans alongside, and garnish as desired.
While both cuts come from the same general area on the pig, the pork loin is a larger, thicker cut suitable for roasting, slow-cooking, smoking, etc., while the pork tenderloin is a smaller, leaner cut that requires quicker cooking – think stir-fries, medallions, and tacos – to maintain its tenderness.
Removing the silver skin helps the pork tenderloin cook more evenly and makes it more enjoyable to eat as it is tough and chewy. Additionally, it can cause the pork tenderloin to curl as it cooks. No bueno!
YES! Porkbeinspired.com recommends a range of 145º (medium rare) to 160º (medium) with a 3 minute rest time. I aim for 145º as I prefer juicy pork.
Don’t cook with pork tenderloin straight from the fridge. Let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you get started. Giving the meat a chance to warm up will ensure more even cooking.
A healthy portion of lean pork tenderloin is 4 to 6 ounces. We stay closer to 4 ounces. A typical pork tenderloin weighs between 3/4 and 1 1/2 pounds, with the average being 1 pound (454 grams).
While the pork tenderloin is being seared, you can chop the onion, peppers, and garnishes.
This deliciously healthy one-pot skillet pork tenderloin is so easy to make with only about 15 minutes of active time. Start 2024 off right by including more healthy recipes in your repertoire!
Mexican Cast Iron Pork Tenderloin
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- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 pork tenderloin - 1 to 1.5 pounds*
- 1 tablespoon mole spice blend - see Notes below
- ½ teaspoon sea salt - and fresh ground pepper
- ¼ cup onion - chopped
- 1 ½ cups corn kernels - 2-3 ears
- 1 bell pepper - chopped (and/or jalapeño)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic - 2-3 cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 15 ounce can black beans - rinsed and drained
- 1 cup chicken broth
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper - to taste – 1/2 teaspoon salt +/-
- Preheat your oven to 400F and move the rack to the middle position.
- Combine the spice blend, salt, and pepper. Coat the tenderloins all over with the spice rub mixture.
- Add a drizzle of oil to a very hot cast iron skillet. Sear the pork tenderloin on all sides. Set aside.
- Add another drizzle of oil if your pan is dry. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and/or jalapeño, ground cumin, and garlic to the cast iron skillet. Sauté until the onion begins to soften (about 3-4 minutes).
- Stir in the black beans and chicken broth. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Nestle the seared pork tenderloin into the black beans and corn.
- Roast, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until the pork has reached 145F. Tent with foil, and let it rest 3-5 minutes before slicing it into medallions.
- Serve the black beans and corn alongside sliced medallions.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.