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Shake Up Your Holiday Routine with this Easy Braised Pork Tenderloin

Tired of the same-old holiday turkey and ham? This simple-yet-satisfying pork tenderloin dish may be just what you’re looking for to freshen things up this year.

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Pork tenderloin is an amazing “alternative” to standard holiday fare. It’s relatively easy to prepare—as this recipe proves—and makes for really tasty leftovers. And there’s nothing to fear in the fat from pasture-raised pigs. Which brings us to an important point about animals in the food supply. 

A food and cooking column might not be the most perfect forum to discuss the debate over eating animals, but I can’t wholly recommend pork—or, actually, any meat—without making a disclaimer: I am an animal lover. At the same time, as a nutritionist, I am of the opinion that humans do better with some animal products in their diets. 

So, I try to eat beef, pork, chicken, and eggs only from pasture-raised animals. This isn’t always possible, of course, but in researching this column, I easily found a dozen places online that sell pastured pork, grass-fed beef, and the like—and farmers’ markets across the country are filled with people who raise their livestock humanely. Yes, it’s usually a little more expensive than the horrible, factory-farmed, hormone-and-antibiotic-filled meat sold at most supermarkets, but I’d rather eat less of the good stuff than more of the stuff that’s bad for my body and the planet. 

With that in mind, pork tenderloin—also known as pork filet—is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B1 (thiamine), phosphorus, vitamin B6, and niacin. It’s also a very good source of potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and zinc (important for immunity).

All those old commercials touting pork as the “other white meat” were based on the fact that pork is low-fat, but we now know that fats—even saturated fats—aren’t the problem in our diets. Sugar and processed carbohydrates are. And pork has none of those!

—Dr. Jonny

Notes from the Clean Food Coach 

If you want to stay with an Asian theme for your holiday meal, this pork tenderloin recipe pairs beautifully with coconut rice and a tangy marinated cucumber salad. To make a quick “pickled” salad, whisk together ¼ cup lime juice, 2 teaspoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons finely sliced scallions. Add ²/3 cup shredded carrots and 2 large cucumbers, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced. If the skin is tough, peel before slicing. Toss to combine and chill until ready to serve.

Easy Braised Pork Tenderloin



  • 2 Tbs. neutrally flavored vegetable oil
  • 2 16-oz. pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat and silver skin (connective tissue)
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • ½ cup unsalted crunchy natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup light coconut milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup finely sliced scallions, greens only, optional for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional for garnish


  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Gently arrange prepared tenderloins in pan and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sear until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip, and repeat on the other side. Remove meat and set aside on plate to rest.
  2. Add garlic and ginger to hot pan, and cook about 30 seconds, stirring frequently, until very fragrant. Add peanut butter, tamari,
    lemon juice, brown sugar, cayenne, coconut milk, and water, and whisk until well combined and just beginning to boil. 
  3. Reduce heat to lowest setting, return seared tenderloins to pan, roll gently to coat in sauce, cover, and cook until instant-read thermometer reads 145°F (or to desired doneness), about 12 minutes. Remove tenderloins and allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve slices with sauce and garnish with prepared green onion and cilantro, if using.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 270
  • Carbohydrate Content 7 g
  • Cholesterol Content 75 mg
  • Fat Content 14 g
  • Fiber Content 1 g
  • Protein Content 29 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 2.5 g
  • Sodium Content 570 mg
  • Sugar Content 3 g