Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Two pork tenderloin sandwiches on a cutting board. Potato chips on the side.

One of the most delectable and overlooked sandwiches from the Midwest is the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. While deep-dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches get all the attention, this sandwich deserves to be in the limelight. Imagine a wiener schnitzel, but instead of veal, it’s made with a pounded-out pork loin, sandwiched between two hamburger buns.

Where Did the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Originate?

The origins of this sandwich can be traced back to Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana. This popular Midwest creation has been satisfying palates for years.

How to Make our Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Recipe

Ingredients for a pork tenderloin sandwich shot overhead.

Process

Pork

  1. Start by pounding the pork loin until it reaches a thickness of about 1/8 – 1/4 inch. Season the pieces generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Dredge each piece in flour, shaking off any excess.
  3. Dip the pork into beaten eggs, allowing any excess to drip off.
  4. Press each piece into crushed oyster crackers, coating both sides thoroughly.
  5. Allow the coated pork pieces to rest on a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack while the oil heats up.
  6. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large skillet on the stovetop to 350˚F.
  7. Carefully slide two coated pieces into the hot oil and fry each side for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Transfer the fried cutlets to a clean baking sheet lined with a cooling rack. Season with salt.
  9. Repeat the frying process with the remaining pork cutlets and transfer them to the cooling rack.
Further reading:  Sweet and Sour Garlic Short Ribs: A Flavorful One-Pot Delight

Freshly fried pork tenderloin cutlets on a baking sheet.

Assembly

  1. Spread a generous amount of mayo onto the top and bottom of each toasted bun.
  2. Top each bottom bun with a pork cutlet.
  3. Add pickles and sliced onion, if desired, and press the top buns over each sandwich.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Overhead image of two pork tenderloin sandwiches on a cutting board.

Tools You Will Need

  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Meat mallet
  • Mixing bowls or shallow baking dishes
  • Tongs
  • Wide pan with high sides
  • Sheet pan
  • Cooling rack

Using Pork Loin vs. Pork Tenderloin

Although the recipe is called a pork tenderloin sandwich, we use pork loin in our recipe. While the two cuts of meat are not normally interchangeable, in this case, either one works perfectly fine. The thin and tenderized pork makes it suitable for either cut. We prefer pork loin because it is easier to find individually cut, boneless loin chops at the market. The slightly meatier texture of the loin pairs well with the oyster cracker breading. However, if you prefer tenderloin, each piece should be about 6 ounces in weight.

Best Breading for Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

Hands down, crushed oyster crackers are the best and most delicious option for breading these sandwiches. They provide an incredible flavor and a satisfying crunch. Alternatively, you can use crushed saltine crackers for equally delicious results. If neither cracker option is available, panko breadcrumbs can be used, although the flavor and texture will be slightly different.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions

These Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches are best enjoyed when freshly fried, as they may lose some of their crunchiness if not served immediately. However, for convenience, they can be made ahead of time and frozen.

Further reading:  Crispy Fried Pork Chops

Make Ahead

If you can’t enjoy the sandwiches fresh, you can place the fried cutlets in an airtight container, separated by layers of parchment paper, for up to 2 days. To reheat, preheat the oven to 375˚F. Place the cutlets on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip them over and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes until they are heated through and regain some crispness.

Freezing

For the best results, freeze the uncooked cutlets before frying. Once fully coated, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1/2 inch apart. Freeze them until fully frozen, then transfer them to a resealable freezer bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to use, fry them as directed, extending the frying time by 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Conclusion

The Pork Tenderloin Sandwich is a true Midwest delight that deserves more recognition. With its crispy exterior and tender pork inside, it’s a sandwich that never fails to satisfy. Whether you use pork loin or tenderloin, and coat it with crushed oyster crackers or saltine crackers, you’ll indulge in a flavor-packed experience. So gather your ingredients, follow the recipe, and enjoy this classic sandwich from the heart of America.

Close-up of a pork tenderloin sandwich on a cutting board.

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