Tired of the same boring old pork tenderloin? Jazz it up with this incredible pesto stuffed pork tenderloin made with spinach, basil, and herbs. Then coat that delicious tenderloin in an herb & pistachio crust that will blow you and your dinner guests away with flavor!
I honestly don't eat a lot of pork because, while I like it, it's kind of boring. Jeff is always asking me to make a pork tenderloin and I'm always stumped about how to make it exciting and super flavorful.
I must give credit where credit is due, this recipe is 100% Jeff's idea. He said, "hey, can you make a stuffed pork tenderloin with pesto and coat it in pistachios?" Ummm, I guess so.
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Of course, stuffing it with straight pesto would be way too high in calories and fat, so I had to make some modifications and the end result was amazing!
Even if you don't like pesto or pistachios, there are a ton of ways to customize this recipe so you love it and I'll go over some suggestions in the post.
Frequently Asked Questions
Of course, that depends on individual appetites, but you can easily feed 4-6 people with this pesto stuffed pork tenderloin. I usually get 8 servings out of it, but I make small slices.
The most visible difference is size. A pork tenderloin will be long and narrow and usually weigh between 1-2 pounds tops. They are a strip of meat from the backbone and very tender. A pork loin is about 3-4 times the size in circumference and is the cut that pork loin chops come from.
Yes and no. You can make this recipe with a pork loin, but the timing and temps will be different and I haven't tested the recipe that way, so I'm not sure what they would be.
What is Pesto and do I have to make it?
Pesto is a combination of basil, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and usually pine nuts. This combination is combined into the consistency of a paste and used a lot in Italian cooking.
It is absolutely delicious made the traditional way, but I like to change things up and that is exactly what I did in this recipe. I also forgot the garlic! You can most definitely add garlic; 1-2 cloves will do the trick!
I, of course, want you to make it my way, but you don't have to. You can buy the store-bought variety and it will work just fine. You do need to add the spinach, or something else to provide volume, though.
If you used all pesto, it will be very oily and I'm not sure how well it would work.
Can I stuff the Pork Tenderloin with other fillings?
Of course! You could make a stuffed tenderloin using the ingredients I used in this recipe for Stuffed Chicken Breasts and it would be delicious.
In fact, this recipe started out with the pesto, provolone, and prosciutto, but I didn't think it made enough difference in flavor to justify the added calories.
There are so many variations to this recipe, you can really get creative and make this dish any way you like.
Here are a few ways I've thought about trying.
Cuban Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Spread a spicy mustard over the butterflied pork, lay down some ham slices and Swiss cheese. Then add some dill pickles right on the edge where you start to roll. Roll it up and bread it with either plain pork rinds, bread crumbs, or panko.
Cheesy Mashed Potato Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Spread this recipe for cheesy garlic mashed potatoes over the butterflied pork tenderloin and roll. You can use any breading you like, but crushed potato chips sounds so interesting to me!
Bacon & Mushroom Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
You would want to cook your bacon and sauté the mushrooms in the bacon grease. Then, finely chop or use your food processor to create a chunky, but spreadable mixture. Spread over the butterflied pork tenderloin and roll.
You could even wrap this one in bacon if you like!
Do I have to use Fresh Herbs?
I really recommend using fresh herbs instead of dried, but you can use dried.
Fresh herbs make this dish so fragrant and perfectly balanced that I almost want to say, you HAVE to use them. I won't, though, because I don't want you to not make the dish because you don't have or can't find fresh herbs.
The rule of thumb is to use ⅓ less of a dry herb than you would a fresh herb. You can apply that to this recipe and it should work out just fine!
What can I use besides Pork Rinds in the breading?
The only reason I used pork rinds is to keep the recipe lower carb. They are not needed for the pesto at all, so, if you wanted to use breadcrumbs or panko or even combination of both, here is how I would do it.
Omit the pork rinds. Crush the pistachios with the herbs and remove about ½ of the mixture and place it in a shallow container. Add about a total of ½ cup breadcrumbs, panko, or a 50/50 mix to the container along with the ¼ cup shredded parm and mix.
Then, proceed with the recipe.
Can I Make this Recipe without the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Crisper?
Absolutely! You can make this recipe in your oven or any appliance that has a bake function.
If you are using a regular oven, you will want to increase your temp to about 425℉/218℃ and keep an eye on it. If the outside is getting too brown before the pork has a chance to cook, decrease the temp.
In the Ninja Foodi Digital Oven, I would set the tenderloin on the tray and bake at 375℉/190℃ for about 20 minutes.
In the Ninja Foodi Grill, I would also decrease the temperature to 375℉/218℃ and bake for 20-25 minutes.
How to make Herb & Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin in the Ninja Foodi
I can't stress enough how easy this recipe is. It looks like a lot of steps, but it really goes fast. I think the best way to do it is to break it down into four steps; the breading mixture, the pesto, butterflying and stuffing the pork tenderloin, and baking the pork tenderloin.
As with any recipe, I always recommend having your ingredients measured out and ready to go. It just makes everything easier.
The first thing you want to do is remove the pork loin from the fridge. It will be much easier to butterfly and roll it if it is at room temp. This also helps with even cooking.
Make the Breading
I chose to use pork rinds to keep this low carb, but you can use regular breadcrumbs without any issues. The instructions for doing that are above in the post.
If you are using pork rinds, you will need to crush them and I found it really easy to use the Ninja Foodi Cold & Hot Blender to do this, but a food processor will work just as well. Honestly, a food processor might even work better, especially when you get to the pesto making, but I didn't feel like dragging mine out!
I strongly recommend using a block of parmesan cheese and grating it yourself. Nothing compares to the flavor of freshly grated cheese. The prepackaged kind will work, but it is usually a much coarser grate and you would only want to use about 2 Tbsp in this step of the recipe.
I always use a fine grater, like this one, Microplane Fine Grater, to grate all of my hard cheeses. You can get a cup of grated cheese from just 1-1½ ounces of a hard cheese.
Add your shelled pistachios, pork rinds, 2 green onions, 1 Tbsp of rosemary, and 3 basil leaves to the blender or the bowl of the food processor. Pulse 3-5 times until the mixture is well blended and the texture of fine crumbs. Don't turn the blender or food processor on a high speed because you will over process the pork rinds and they become wet and sticky because of the fat content.
Remove a good cup, maybe even 1¼ cups and place into a shallow dish for breading. Add the ¼ cup of finely shredded parmesan cheese and the ¼ teaspoon of find grind sea salt, stir to combine ingredients. I usually use these coating trays from pampered chef, but found them to be too small to easily coat the pork tenderloin, so you might want to use a baking dish that the entire loin will fit into easily.
The rest of the pistachio/pork rind mix will be used in the next step.
Making the Pesto
Prep the remaining herbs by removing the thyme and rosemary from their stems.
To the blender or food processor (with the remaining breading mixture in the pitcher/bowl), add the remaining herbs, green onions, ¾ cups of parmesan cheese and 3 cups of loosely packed spinach.
You can try to pulse blend the dry ingredients, but I found that in the blender, nothing really happened until I added the oil. It will probably be different in a food processor.
Stream in ¼ cup of olive oil while the blender or the food processor is on medium speed. Scrape down the sides as needed. Process or blend until the mixture is a spreadable consistency. You can add more oil if needed, but I found ¼ cup worked fine.
Butterflying and Stuffing the Pork Tenderloin
Having a sharp knife is key to making the cut down the tenderloin to butterfly it. The knife I use the most and absolutely LOVE is an 8" Chefs knife from Pampered Chef.
I've owned a ton of knives in my lifetime and this one has the best feel in my hand. It stays sharp a really long time and is easily sharpened at home with an electric sharpener.
I always trim up my pork by removing most visible silverskin, that is the part that is shiny and sinewy. I run my knife underneath it and cut it away, trying not to get too much of the meat itself.
Then I turn it over to the flat side and make a shallow slit down the center, while running my finger down the slit to separate it. I continue to make shallow cuts in the same slit until the pork in that spot is about ¼-½" thickness.
Here is a video showing the process.
Once the slit is made and the tenderloin is lying flat, I cover it with parchment and pound the edges to get even thickness. I don't pound the middle where the split is or you can get it too thin. The best tool for pounding meat, crushing nuts in a bag, and tenderizing meat that I have found is the meat tenderizer from Pampered Chef. It's heavy, has two sides (flat and pointy), and is dishwasher safe.
PREHEAT THE FOODI on broil, with the basket in, for 10 minutes. If you are in the UK, your broil is called grill. If you don't have the broil function, use the hottest setting on your Foodi. The rest of the prep will take less than 10 minutes, so this is why I preheat now.
Spread the pesto mixture evenly over the pork, stopping about ½" from the edges. Roll the pork tenderloin, starting from the long side, until it is in a roll.
Place the rolled tenderloin into the breading mixture and press the breading onto the pork. You don't need an egg wash, but you can use one if you want.
Once the pork is coated, you are ready to bake it. I stick in some meat pins into the meat where the seam is to help hold everything together. Toothpicks will work as well.
Baking the Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
When the Ninja Foodi is completed preheated, spritz the basket with oil and place the tenderloin in the basket.
You will usually have to bend it a little bit to get it to fit. Or you can cut it in half and bake it that way.
Bake at 400℉/200℃ for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temp is at least 140℉/70℃. Keep in mind that the pork will continue to cook through carry over heat as it rests. You do not need to flip.
I have found that the pork is done to my liking, which is slightly pink, in 20 minutes. If you want your pork to not have any pink, go the whole 25 minutes. It can be difficult to get an accurate internal temp of the meat when it is stuffed and rolled, so I also pay attention to the color of the juices that come out when I take a temp. If they are clear, I'm good to go.
Remove the pork tenderloin from the basket and allow it to rest for about 5-10 minutes.
Slice and serve!
Low Carb Herb & Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- Ninja Foodi Cold and Hot Blender
- 1 cup pistachios shelled
- 2 ounces pork rinds about 2 cups
- 1 Tbsp rosemary fresh or 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 green onions
- 3 basil leaves or ¼ tsp dried basil leaves
- ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp fine grind sea salt
Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 green onions
- 3 cups spinach
- ¼ tsp fine grind sea salt
- ¾ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lb pork tenderloin
- oil for spritzing
- Combine the pork rinds, pistachios, 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, 2 green onions, 3 basil leaves, into the pitcher of the Cold & Hot Blender or the bowl of your food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Remove about 1- 1 ½ cups and place in a shallow bowl. Add the ¼ cup of finely shredded parmesan cheese and the ¼ tsp salt. Leave the rest in the blender/food processor for the pesto.
- Add 1 cup of loosely packed basil, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (not the stem), 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, 2 green onions, 3 cups spinach, ¼ tsp sea salt, and the remaining ¾ cup of finely grated parmesan cheese. You can pulse blend a few times, but I found that until you add the oil, it doesn't come together that well in the cold and hot blender.
- Select the manual medium blend function if you are using the cold and hot blender or the medium speed on your food processor and stream in the oil. Use the tamper or scrape the sides as needed. Continue to blend until you have a nice spreadable consistency.
- Trim and butterfly your pork tenderloin. See the post for the video on how to do that if you aren't sure. Place a piece of parchment on the butterflied pork tenderloin and use a meat tenderizer (flat side) or another tool to pound the meat until it is about ¼-½" thick.
- Preheat the Ninja Foodi with the basket in on broil for 10 minutes.
- Spread the pesto over the tenderloin, stopping about ½" from the sides. Roll the pork tenderloin.
- Coat the pork in the pork rind mixture and press the mixture into the pork. Secure with meat pins or toothpicks if needed.
- Spritz the basket with oil and place the tenderloin, seam side down. Bake at 400°F/200°C for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temp is around 140-145°F/60-63°C. Remove the tenderloin and allow to rest 5 minutes.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.