What Is a Pork Tenderloin Sandwich?

Megan Shoop

A pork tenderloin sandwich generally features a slice of breaded and fried pork tenderloin on a dense, crunchy bun. Toppings used may include traditional or flavored mayonnaise, sliced tomato, pickles, red onions, and cheese. These sandwiches are popular throughout the United States, especially in the midwestern and southern states.

Different cuts of pork, including the tenderloin.
Different cuts of pork, including the tenderloin.

A piece of pork tenderloin generally comes from the groin area of a pig, near the top and inside of both hind legs. This cut of meat is usually very flavorful and tender, making it ideal for a savory, rustic-style pork tenderloin sandwich. The entire tenderloin usually makes it onto the bun, giving many of these sandwiches a sort of lopsided quality. The ends of the fried tenderloin stick out of either side of the round bun, meaning consumers often have to nibble away at the excess before they get a bite of all the ingredients together. Some consumers enjoy this, while others believe it makes a pork tenderloin sandwich feel unbalanced.

Many people prefer making homemade pork tenderloin sandwiches.
Many people prefer making homemade pork tenderloin sandwiches.

Many restaurants in the midwest and south feature some version of the pork tenderloin sandwich. Often, the dish will include some sort of local twist. For example, the mayonnaise may be combined with other ingredients to make it into a chipotle, honey-mustard, or cracked pepper sandwich spread. Some pork tenderloin sandwiches may feature pickle relish instead of pickle slices. Different kinds of lettuce, sautéed mushrooms, and salsa made in-house are just a few more things a traveler might find when sampling sandwiches across the U.S.

Typically, one of the best ways to get the ideal pork tenderloin sandwich is to make it at home. This gives the cook total control over what ingredients go into the sandwich, and how much of each makes it onto the bun. Most sandwiches start with the pork tenderloin being coated in buttermilk, beaten eggs, or egg whites and pressed into a breadcrumb mixture. This mixture may contain just flour and breadcrumbs, or may include herbs and spices. Sometimes the tenderloin is dipped back into the buttermilk or egg and coated in a second layer of breadcrumbs to give it extra crunch.

After being coated, the meat is usually fried in some kind of oil until crispy, then placed in a bun with the toppings of the cook’s choice. These garnishes may include homemade sauces, or a variety of condiments set out so each person partaking in the meal can customize his or her pork tenderloin sandwich. A few cooks make big changes to this sandwich, like grilling the pork without breading it first or using long buns instead of round ones. These changes are largely a matter of preference and are rarely found in restaurant sandwiches.

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