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Grilled Island Spice Pork Tenderloin

grilled pork tenderloin

This spice rub makes you feel like you’re on a little mini-vacation to the islands!

My friend Melissa Horwitz brought this pork tenderloin to a regatta after party and I knew I had to try it! The spices are warm and inviting and complement each other perfectly, like a Jamaican curry. This recipe originally came from Epicurious and was meant for the oven and I have adapted it to the grill and changed a few ingredients. The recipe is in two parts, the spice rub and the glaze that goes on at the end that caramelizes on the grill.



  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (I used smoked sea salt to add flavor depth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used a smoked brown sugar from
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    boubonbarrelfoods.com- it really adds nice depth of flavor)

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle Tabasco


Combine the rub ingredients and apply to your pork tenderloin. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Right before putting on the grill, mix the glaze ingredients and apply to the pork.

You will be using the indirect and direct cooking method to cook this pork tenderloin. You are essentially going to “bake” in your grill much like you would in the oven, and then finish the pork on direct heat at the end to achieve nice char marks. By searing the meat at the end and not the beginning, we are using what is called the “reverse sear method”. This tends to leave the meat more juicy than searing in the beginning.

Create a direct and indirect grilling zone. You want your grill temperature to be at 350 degrees- one or two burners on and one off (where you will place the meat). On a charcoal grill, your coals will be moved to one side and you will have the pork on the side without coals.

Cook the pork tenderloin on a well oiled grill on the indirect side until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees (this will take approximately 20 to 25 minutes). Next, grill the pork on direct heat for 3 minutes each side until it obtains nice char marks.

Tent under foil for 10 minutes so juices can reabsorb for serving. I paired mine with a nice big salad and texas toast. This is also wonderful sliced and put on Hawaiian king rolls for mini- sandwiches that can be topped with a tropical cole slaw. My chipotle cilantro coleslaw pairs well with this dish!


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9 Responses to Grilled Island Spice Pork Tenderloin

  1. Liz Newey August 13, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Sounds like it is delicious! The mini sandwiches would be great for an afternoon cook out….I’m glad you go into such detail when explaining how long to cook and on direct/indirect. Makes it easier for newbies to accomplish something similar to what the pros can do! Thanks.

  2. Larry August 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Robyn – I just watched the Chopped episode and I thought your dish looked very good. I had trouble getting oysters to steam open one time, so I know what it was like for you – except for the being on national TV thing, which is maybe a little different :-). You sure looked tiny beside those guys.

  3. Jenn's Food Journey August 14, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    Oooohh… this sounds really good. Love the use of chipotle powder… it doesn’t get used enough in my book!!

  4. Matt August 14, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Do you use/have a probe thermometer that you recommend? I’ve tried a couple, but am still looking for one that I’m happy with … or do you just use an instant read?

  5. Robyn August 15, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Matt- I recommend the thermapen. They are the best- instant read, waterproof. They are what all the competition people use. I have a link on my website under “favorite things” and if you purchase one via my site I make a small commission. :)

  6. Chris August 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    That looks great, Robyn! Does the glaze go on more as a wet rub or does the 1 Tbsp of hot sauce do a good job of making it a slurry?

    Pinned it!

  7. Robyn August 16, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    Chris- it is more like a wet rub. This recipe was originally made for the oven and they asked to do the glaze after searing on the burner first. But since this is grilled, I added this right before putting this on the grill and it turned on great.

  8. Katherine C. Brown March 10, 2013 at 4:49 am #

    Oh my! That is one mouth-watering food! Thanks for sharing the recipe and the instruction! I will try this myself!


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