Pork Tenderloin and Bourbon Marinade

Oh, yum! I love finding a new marinade. And pork tenderloins are so lean and so good and cook up so easily. I’ve always grilled them although I suppose one day I’ll have to experiment with indoor cooking. But for now… I’m never sure when they say bourbon quite what that means since I’m not a big whiskey drinker. (I do enjoy some good Scotch now and then, the taste for which I blame on my Scottish grandfather but that could be just wishful thinking.) I made this with some Jim Beam I found in the cupboard, probably left over from who knows how many years ago. Maybe my old bluegrass days even, as I have some fond memories of my first taste of bourbon when it began snowing while we were camped up in the foothills for some festival. But I digress. First the marinade. This and the sauce came from Mom’s Updated Recipe Box , one of my all-time favorite cookbooks.


1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbs brown sugar

1/2 tsp minced ginger

2 Tbs oil

1/4 cup bourbon

I actually did this in a hurry the first night and then left the 2nd tenderloin to marinate overnight and the while the first was good, the second was great. The extra time really paid off. I almost always marinade my meats in a 1 gallon bag; it’s so easy to turn them periodically. Plus, you can freeze them in the marinade if you’re doing two of something at once. (Just don’t generally thaw and refreeze raw meat. However, you can put frozen meat in a bag, add the marinade, and then put it back in the freezer. Pull it out a night or two before you want to cook it and let it thaw and it will be marinating while it thaws. I’ve heard this referred to as “dump cooking” because you can dump the meat and marinade in a bag and then dump it in the oven.)


My kids think this just needs to say “Ketchup” and I’d be done. It’s the all-purpose meat sauce for them. I, however, like a bit of variety: chutneys, chimichurri, capers and lemon juice and wine, port-based sauces, and mustards. This honey mustard sauce was okay but needed a bit of something. As he has done before, my friend suggested adding horseradish. Next time, I’ll use less mayonnaise as well. And probably halve this recipe, but I already used some on a sandwich at lunch and it was great! I’m thinking it will make a good base for a salad dressing as well.

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbs honey (maybe more…)

1-2 tsp horseradish

salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up and let it sit or refrigerate until serving time.

The Cooking:

As I was perusing various books for ideas on pork tenderloins, I remembered to check Cook Smart: Perfect Recipes for Every Day. This is a great book. She did what I dream of doing. Let’s try this cut; let’s try this cooking method. Let’s redo this with this instead of that. Ah the joys of the professional. I have to fit this all in my food budget (not big as you might guess by the parent site of CheapCooking!) and we eat it all up. (Okay, every now and then something is really horrid and I throw it out because we don’t have a dog right now and the cats are as picky as the kids!). But I saw used copies of this book on Amazon for $9 and you will learn a TON by reading this book. Learn from her having the money to experiment and you can just settle right on the best methods and recipes. Her basic advice was to use a gas grill for the pork tenderloins. She also suggested brining them first. I’ve never yet brined anything but I do want to try one day. It just wasn’t last night since the tenderloins were barely thawed when I pulled them out of the frig, company was on the way over, and the girls evidently hadn’t eaten in a week judging by their moaning “When is dinner ready?”

So the secret is: 7-6-5. I also love this because I can remember it! Heat the gas grill for at least 10 minutes so it’s hot. Put the pork tenderloin in and cook it for 7 minutes on the first side. Turn it. Cook another 6 minutes. Turn the gas OFF and leave it in there for 5 more minutes. It was, as she promised, absolutely perfect. Not dry, not too pink, with a nice browned outside. Next time I may even follow the whole recipe and try the brining and some of her sauce ideas. They sounded good. But I’d already made the marinade above when I thought to pull this out.



  1. Great 7-6-5 tip. I made up your marinade with pork loin this weekend for friends and everyone thought it was perfect (no ketchup). Paired with some yummy Syrah wine (the new French wine – Red Bicylette), the flavors really came out.



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