America's Test Kitchen LogoCook's Country LogoCook's Illustrated Logo
Weeknight Cooking

Tetris Your Way to a Great Pork Tenderloin Dinner

The key to this sheet pan dinner is the precise arrangement of its ingredients.

Published Nov. 3, 2021.

It’s no secret that we love one-pan meals of all varieties, from a baking dish of mac and cheese to a Dutch oven of vegetarian chili. The real weeknight workhorse, however, is the humble sheet pan. Its large surface area makes it an ideal vessel to cook a main course and side dish(es) all in one go.

If only you could just pile the ingredients on a sheet pan and shove it in the oven, but it’s not quite that simple. With some one-pan meals, the key to success is timing. With others, it’s the size and shape into which the components are cut. But with our One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans and Potatoes, it’s actually the precise arrangement that ensures each ingredient comes out perfectly cooked. You can learn how to make this streamlined weeknight recipe in the latest episode of our YouTube series Today's Special, with Ashley Moore.

First up in the architecture of this sheet pan dinner are the green beans. After trimming their ends and seasoning them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, Ashley arranges them in the center of the sheet pan crosswise. Next, she cuts fingerling potatoes in half (no peeling required) and arranges them cut-side down on either side of the green beans, ensuring that the flat surface makes contact with the sheet pan for maximum browning potential.

15 One-Pan Meals You Can Prepare in a Skillet

One-pan meals equal one fine dinner. Find a skillet version of some of your favorite recipes from lasagna to beef enchiladas.  
View Collection

The star of the show is pork tenderloin, but it’s important to purchase them as two separate 1-pound loins, small enough that they’ll cook through quickly in the oven. The only cutting required is removing the pork’s silver skin, a connective tissue that will become chewy and unpleasant if left on during cooking. Lastly, Ashley seasons the pork with black pepper, but instead of adding salt, she turns to hoisin. Common in Chinese cooking, it adds a welcome savory-sweet quality thanks to fermented soybeans, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. Even better, the sugar promotes flavorful (and visually appealing) browning in the oven. 

Back to the arrangement factor of this recipe. Once the pork is prepped, it goes on top of the green beans in the center of the sheet pan, which helps the vegetables to steam. Just make sure there’s space between the two tenderloins for that steam to escape, and it’s finally time to pop that tray in the oven.

Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter

10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

At this point, the cooking is almost entirely hands off, leaving just enough time to mix up some garlic and herb butter for a final flavor boost. Take half a stick of butter, mix in some grated garlic and chopped chives, and there you have it. 

“This might be a weeknight friendly meal, but it could be made any day of the week,” Ashley says. Tender green beans, juicy pork, and beautifully roasted potatoes. This is company-worthy food.”

While the tenderloins rest, the compound butter will melt and infuse the meat with extra savory richness. Simultaneously, the vegetables go back into the oven for 5-10 minutes longer to get a little more browning, and they too get topped with the remaining herb butter, because what isn’t improved by a little herb butter?

This is a members' feature.