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Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Macadamia Nut Pesto

June 16, 2024

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Grilled pork tenderloin is inexpensive, super tender, really juicy, and quick to cook. That makes it an all-star protein in my book. I love to serve it simply grilled with a flavor-packed sauce, and so I decided to do a take on a pesto featuring the classic basil and olive oil base, but swapping in meaty macadamia nuts and grilled tomatoes for an additional punch of flavor. This is a dish that is really easy, but looks like you spent a lot more time on it: perfect for a weeknight meal or Sunday dinner with friends and family.

Chris Loves Julia | Chris in front of a wood cutting board featuring Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Macadamia Nut Pesto

Boos Cutting Board | Made In Limited Edition Bunka Knife (similar) | Turkish Kitchen Towel

To start, I trim as much of the silver skin off the pork tenderloin as possible with a sharp knife (boning knives work great). This helps ensure that every bite is tender and not tough. I season the tenderloin on all sides with salt, pepper, and freshly chopped oregano.

Then I get the grill going on high heat. When you’re making anything that could stick to the cooking surface, the trick is to start with room temperature oil and a hot pan. Once you preheat the pan or grill, then oil the food or add oil last minute to the surface to prevent sticking. I like to use avocado oil for high heat cooking for its added nutritional value. The tenderloin goes right onto the hot grill grates.

Chris Loves Julia | Chris grilling pork tenderloin
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While the tenderloin is cooking, I add cherry tomatoes to the top of the grill to blister. You can use larger whole tomatoes in the summer, but I often use cherry tomatoes which are almost always sweet any time of year. The cherries sit there until they’ve developed some color and “wilt” slightly.

Chris Loves Julia | Chris making Macadamia Nut Pesto with tomatoes and basil

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Back to the pork! After a couple of minutes on the hottest part of the grill (we’re really just looking for grill marks), I move it up to the top rack and cook until the thermometer reads between 145 (my preference) and 160 degrees. Keep track of it, as it should be done in less than 5 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes. slice it up, and then we’ll finish up the sauce.

Chris Loves Julia | Chris slicing grilled pork tenderloin

I turn to my trusty little Ninja food processor for my take on pesto. I blend 1/3 cup of macadamia nuts until well chopped and then add the tomatoes, removing any stems (use gloves so you don’t get lava juice on you). I add copious amounts of basil and fruity olive oil along with half of one lemon, salt and black pepper. Add in chili flakes if you like the extra kick! Blend it all together in the processor and then spoon it over the pork and serve.

This is a great easy weeknight meal that really feels summery and looks impressive. I hope you make it for someone you love. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Macadamia Nut Pesto

Recipe by Chris Marcum
Course: Chris Cooks, RecipesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


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Cooking time


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  • 2 pork tenderloins

  • 1 T fresh oregano, stems removed and finely chopped

  • 1 t salt

  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper

  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes on the stem

  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts

  • 2 cups basil leaves

  • 1 T fruity olive oil

  • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced

  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 pinches salt

  • 1-1.5 t red chili flakes (optional for heat)


  • Trim the silver skin from the pork tenderloins and salt them generously. Rub the oregano, salt and pepper onto the pork.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes on the vine to the top rack of the grill.
  • Add the pork tenderloins to the hottest part of the grill for a minute per side until you have nice grill marks. Transfer the tenderloins to the top rack to finish cooking.
  • Give the macadamia nuts a quick blend in the food processor until coarsely ground and keep them in the processor.
  • Remove the cherry tomatoes from the grill and take the stems off with heat-resistant gloves. Add the cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and combine until blended into a thick sauce.
  • Remove the pork tenderloins from the grill once they reach 145 degrees and let them rest 10 minutes, covered.
  • Slice the tenderloins into 1/2 inch pieces and drizzle the sauce on top. Serve with more sauce on the side.

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What do you think?

  1. Chris, I saw this and what intrigued me was that I couldn’t imagine how all these flavors would come together, so I had to see.
    This is one of the tastiest dishes I’ve cooked for a long time. I brined the tl’s but otherwise I followed your recipe exactly. That PESTO! I’m putting Parmesan in it next time, tho.
    Thank you for posting.

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