Spiral ham and roasted turkey get all the attention around the holidays but pork tenderloin with cranberry-orange sauce is a delicious alternative to the usual main course. It’s a simple and mostly hands-off dish to prepare and classic holiday herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme) give the tenderloin lots of flavor. While the pork roasts, the cranberry sauce comes together right on the stovetop.
Before you start, you might have a few questions about selecting your key ingredients. These are some factors to consider.
Pork Tenderloin or Pork Roast?
Pork cuts can be confusing; you may see both tenderloin and roast at the grocery store. The difference: Tenderloin is longer, thinner and, like its namesake, tender. It’s typically about 1 to 1½ pounds. Meanwhile, a pork roast can be up to twice that in weight and features a thicker and wider cut. You can use a roast instead of tenderloin but the roast will take longer. Either way, both of these cuts will benefit from the bright flavors of cranberry sauce.
Some pork tenderloins are sold two to a package and sometimes they’re sold in a marinade already. You can double the recipe if you want to make more or freeze one of them. But you’ll want to skip those that are already marinated since you’ll be making your own blend here.
Fresh or Frozen Cranberries?
You can use fresh or frozen cranberries for the cranberry sauce. Fresh ones are easy enough to find at the grocery store in the fall and winter months, but you can also cook them right from frozen if you like. Either way works for this pork tenderloin with cranberry sauce.
Another tip: Save yourself any last-minute stress and make the cranberry sauce a couple of days ahead of time. Store in a well-sealed container in the fridge, then serve it either cold or at room temperature with the pork.
You’ll likely have some leftover cranberry sauce and in that case, you can mix it into applesauce, oatmeal or plain yogurt for future meals. It’s great served with duck or chicken, too.