Iowa Pork Tenderloin sandwiches, AKA tenderloins or breaded pork sandwiches, are a staple throughout the Midwest. Easy and inexpensive, they are one of the few things I truly miss about Iowa–besides my family, of course!
A tenderloin consists of a trimmed and pounded-tender slice of pork loin, traditionally (in Iowa, at least) pounded out as wide as a dinner plate, breaded, and fried until golden brown and served on a regular hamburger bun. In fact, the tenderloin is normally so big, it doesn't allow you to get your hands on the bun. You actually have to tear off the edges of the tenderloin to eat before you can sink your teeth into the bun covered portion of the sandwich. Mmmmm, a little taste of paradise!
A tenderloin is normally dressed with lettuce, pickles, mustard, and onions (YUCK, I hate onions!) but I topped it off with my Tangy Apple Slaw. This is my family's favorite coleslaw. It's not a typical coleslaw. Even my youngest, who refuses to eat most veggies, thinks it's delicious!
My daughters beg me to make tenderloins all of the time! So much, that I finally bought a huge package of boneless pork chops at the wholesale club and made a bunch to keep in the freezer. They freeze nicely (last for about 6-8 months) and you can pop them in the hot oil directly from the freezer.
If you don't have a wholesale club in your area, another place to get delicious, affordable whole pork tenderloins is Aldi. And when they go on sale you can't beat the price anywhere. I always stock up and then have a major prep session so I can keep my freezer full of ready-to-cook tenderloins.
I hope you love them as much as we do!
Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Traditionally, a tenderloin is served with just mustard and pickles, but you can dress it with nearly anything. It's delicious with my tangy apple slaw. I also love it with jalapeno chutney.
- 4 boneless pork chops or pork tenderloins
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup bread crumbs (I have used both bread crumbs and panko. I actually prefer the bread crumbs, it gives the sandwich a nice texture... you can substitute crushed saltines or potato chips... I'm thinking about trying it with crushed Goldfish crackers next time!)
- 1/2 tsp each salt, fresh ground pepper and granulated garlic (not garlic salt)
- vegetable oil (enough to fry the tenderloins, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup)
- Place a chop on a cutting board and pound it out until it’s less than 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the rest of the chops.
- If using, crush crackers/chips finely in a Ziploc bag.
- Mix the salt, fresh ground pepper and granulated garlic into the flour. (If using potato chips, omit the salt.)
- Pour flour, breadcrumbs (or cracker/chip crumbs) and whisked egg into three separate shallow bowls.
- Dredge the tenderized loin in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip it into the egg mixture, and finally coat the meat evenly with the breadcrumbs.
- Set the breaded tenderloin on a piece of waxed paper or a baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the tenderloins.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat with enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the tenderloins, about 1/4-1/2 cup depending on the size of your pan.
- When the oil is heated to approximately 360 degrees (if you do not have a thermometer, place a grain or rice in the oil, if it pops right back up and starts to cook the temp is correct, you can also place the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil, if it bubbles the oil is ready) gently lay 1 or 2 breaded chops in the pan of oil. (I cook two at a time.)
- Cook about 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
- Remove from oil, and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Cook remaining tenderloins.
- Place cooked tenderloins on a bun and dress to your taste.