Juicy, tender Pork Tenderloin with Port, Balsamic and Cranberry Sauce is a versatile dish that’s easy enough for everyday and sophisticated enough for entertaining!

close up of sliced cooked pork tenderloin covered with cranberry sauce

Beautiful Pork Tenderloin Medallions

I like to serve this Pork Tenderloin with Port, Balsamic and Cranberry Sauce at dinner parties during the holidays with wild rice as an accompaniment. The colorful dried cranberry and port, balsamic, thyme-infused sauce are so festive and pretty on the plate. Best of all, you can have an elegant dinner on the table in under 30 minutes!

You can either sauté sliced tenderloin, or sear and then roast it – both methods are detailed in the recipe below. During the holidays I prefer the second approach, mainly because I can sear it and make the sauce ahead of time, then finish the tenderloin off in the oven shortly before serving dinner.

What’s the difference between a pork loin and pork tenderloin?

These two cuts of meat are actually quite different. Pork loin (also called loin roast or center loin roast) is wide and thick, with a layer of fat on the top. And, it’s typically sold in 2 to 4 pound cuts. On the other hand, pork tenderloin is long and thin, with little to no fat, and usually runs 1 to 2 pounds. Because they are smaller, pork tenderloins are often sold 2 to a package. Note that, given their differences, pork loin and pork tenderloin require different cooking methods.

An incredibly flavorful sauce for Pork Tenderloin

I love this deeply colored, sweet and tangy Cranberry Sauce! And, it’s so easy to prepare, too. Dried cranberry-infused water is the base, which is enhanced with mildly sharp shallots, sweet port wine, woody, tangy aged balsamic vinegar, flavor-enhancing broth and minty thyme. The sauce is cooked to reduce the liquids, concentrating and combining the varying tastes into one heavenly mixture.

close up of Cranberry sauce cooking

Method 1: How to Make Stovetop Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce

This entire recipe can be prepared quickly and completely on the stove top! Here are the easy steps:

  1. Cook dried cranberries.
    In a small saucepan, combine the dried cranberries and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain, reserving both fruit and cooking liquid. Set aside.
    Overhead view of cranberry sauce cooking
  2. Prep and cook pork.
    Slice each pork tenderloin into 16 medallions (round slices). Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until browned on the outside and light pink inside, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter, cover and keep warm. (Do not wash the skillet.)
  3. Cook sauce.
    In the same skillet, add the shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the port and vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Boil until reduced by half, around 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, thyme and the reserved cranberry cooking liquid; boil until reduced again by half, around 5 to 7 minutes.
    Overhead view of shallots cooking for cranberry sauce
  4. Finish sauce.
    In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and glossy. Stir in the reserved cranberries and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Plate and serve.
    Spoon the sauce over the pork medallions on the serving platter and serve immediately.

Method 2: How to Roast Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce in the oven

Another way to cook the pork is to sear it in a skillet, then roast it. The steps are outlined below, as well as shown in this video:

  1. Prep oven.
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Sear whole pork tenderloins.
    Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet (I like to use cast iron) over medium-high heat. Season whole pork tenderloins with salt and pepper, place in skillet and sear outsides until nicely browned.
  3. Roast pork.
    Place skillet in oven and roast for around 10 to 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 145 to 150 degrees.
  4. Let pork rest.
    Remove tenderloin from pan and place on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Prep sauce.
    While the pork is resting, prepare the sauce as directed above, in the same skillet used to roast the pork.
  6. Plate and serve.
    Slice pork, place medallions on a platter and spoon sauce over.

Should pork tenderloin be cooked covered or uncovered?

When cooking pork tenderloin medallions (slices) on the cooktop, I recommend not using a lid. Covering the pan will trap in moisture, causing the meat to steam instead of sear, changing not only the way it will look but also the texture.

Similarly, when roasting in the oven I don’t find it’s necessary to cover the pork. Searing it on the cooktop before roasting helps keep it moist.

Pork Tenderloin FAQ

Does pork tenderloin get tender when cooked?

The tenderloin cut of pork is naturally tender, but it is also very lean with little fat. So, the best way to get a tender, moist result is to not overcook it. If you do, it will become dry and tough. Use a meat thermometer and cook just until the center reaches around 145 to 150 degrees, then let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Can you overcook pork tenderloin?

Yes, you definitely can overcook this cut of meat. Because it is small and low in fat, it’s important to watch it carefully and use a meat thermometer to ensure you don’t cook it too long.

Do you put liquid in with pork tenderloin?

I can’t think of a recipe I’ve made that calls for cooking pork tenderloin with liquid. It’s not necessary with this cut of meat to keep it moist – as long as you don’t overcook it.

How to Store Cranberry Pork Tenderloin

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They’ll last for 3 to 4 days.

Side Dishes that complement Cranberry Pork Tenderloin

Here are some recommended dishes to serve alongside this pork recipe:

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Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce

  • Author: (From “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®” by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: pork, meats, gluten free
  • Method: stovetop or roasting
  • Cuisine: everyday, entertaining
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Juicy, tender Pork Tenderloin with Port, Balsamic and Cranberry Sauce is a versatile dish that’s easy enough for everyday and sophisticated enough for entertaining. Pork tenderloins are either sautéed or seared and roasted, then served with a colorful dried cranberry and port, balsamic, thyme-infused sauce. Best of all, you can have an elegant dinner on the table in under 30 minutes!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 large pork tenderloins
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup port
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon-pear or aged balsamic vinegar (see Note)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the dried cranberries and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain, reserving both fruit and cooking liquid. Set aside.
  2. Slice each pork tenderloin into 16 medallions. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until browned on the outside and no longer pink inside, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter, cover and keep warm. (Do not wash the skillet.)
  3. In the same skillet, add the shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the port and vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Boil until reduced by half, around 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, thyme and the reserved cranberry cooking liquid; boil until reduced again by half, around 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and glossy. Stir in the reserved cranberries and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the pork medallions on the serving platter and serve immediately.

Notes

Gluten free: Use gluten free chicken broth.

Note on vinegar: Specialty balsamic vinegars are available online and at specialty food stores.

Searing and roasting method: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet (I like to use cast iron) over medium-high heat. Season whole pork tenderloins with salt and pepper, place in skillet and sear outsides until nicely browned. Place skillet in a 400 degree oven and roast for around 10 to 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 145 to 150 degrees. Remove tenderloin from pan and place on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before serving. While the pork is resting, prepare the sauce as directed above in the same skillet. Slice pork, place medallions on a platter and spoon sauce over.

Lee Clayton Roper

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I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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