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Make this easy turkey tenderloin marinade recipe with maple syrup, dijon mustard, and garlic for irresistibly juicy and flavorful turkey!
Ever since I stumbled upon turkey tenderloins and began experimenting, I've been smitten. I don't just make herb-crusted turkey tenderloin at the holidays anymore!
Baked turkey tenderloin rubbed with spices is on regular dinner rotation. And now I have another favorite turkey recipe using this sweet and tangy marinade.
It's truly a flavor explosion in every bite, and you only need a handful of simple ingredients. I like to turn it into a sheet pan meal by roasting carrots and apples using the same marinade. On a cool fall or winter night, it's delightful.
If you haven't tried this cut of turkey, you're missing out on a healthy, low-carb protein.
Boneless turkey breast tenderloins cook quickly. The meat is so lean and incredibly tender that you can slice it with a regular dinner knife. And leftovers make delicious turkey sandwiches the next day!
Are you in the mood for an easy, show-stopping dinner? Learn how to make the best marinade for turkey tenderloins!
Turkey tenderloins are naturally tender. So, the primary purpose of this marinade is to give spectacular flavor to the meat! Here's what you'll need and why these ingredients work so well in this recipe:
- Olive oil helps distribute the flavor.
- Other oils, such as canola oil or avocado oil, can be used instead.
- Maple syrup sweetens the marinade.
- Brown sugar can be used. If using this ingredient, add a little water to thin out the marinade (amounts are provided in the recipe card.)
- Alternative, low-carb syrups or sugars, such as those made with monk fruit or stevia, make this recipe keto-friendly.
- Stone ground dijon mustard (also known as whole grain mustard) has a coarse texture from uncrushed mustard seeds. It's a tangy addition that offsets the sweetness. Since it's made with vinegar and white wine, it also tenderizes the meat.
- Dijon mustard doesn't give cooked turkey tenderloin a rustic look but is a perfect substitution. Yellow mustard can be used, but it has a mild flavor and is not the same!
- Dried thyme leaves perfectly complement the turkey flavor. Rosemary and oregano are also great options.
- When substituting with fresh herbs, use a 3 to 1 ratio. So use 3 tablespoons of fresh herbs for every teaspoon of dried.
- Garlic powder or fresh garlic cloves also give this marinade a flavor boost. (As usual!) Onion powder works, too.
- I tend to use powder in marinades because it dissolves so easily, giving an even distribution of garlic flavor.
- Salt and black pepper round out the ingredient list. Note that many packaged turkey tenderloins come in a brining solution, which includes salt. Adjust the salt amount up or down as necessary.
- Turkey tenderloins are the boneless, skinless part of the turkey breast. There are usually 2 per package. We used JENNIE-O® All Natural Turkey Breast Tenderloin to make this recipe. Many larger grocery stores also sell turkey tenderloins, especially around the holidays.
- This marinade can be used for turkey breasts, turkey cutlets, chicken breasts, and pork tenderloin too.
Marinade Yield: About 10 tablespoons, which covers up to 2 pounds of meat. For this recipe, about half the marinade is left behind. Be sure to consider that if you're thinking about calories or carbohydrates!
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Directions with Pictures
The preparation and marinating process is the same whether you make this easy turkey tenderloin recipe in the oven, air fryer, or on the grill. Below are step-by-step pictures and instructions for baking them in the oven.
- Whisk to combine the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Pat the turkey tenderloins dry with a paper towel and place them in a glass baking dish or large resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the them, flipping to coat all sides. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or seal the bag tightly and place it in the refrigerator.
- Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes (or overnight,) spooning excess marinade on top or flipping the bag halfway through.
- Cook turkey tenderloins in the glass baking dish used for marinating or transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- You do not need to brush the marinade off the turkey before cooking it! It will continue to work its magic while it cooks and provides a tasty glaze when finished.
- Discard marinade that has touched raw meat unless you sanitize it in the next step.
- If you want to use the excess marinade, bring it to a rolling boil for several minutes. After this step, it can be drizzled over the finished meat or vegetables.
- Allow turkey tenderloins to rest for 5 minutes before slicing so that the juices have a chance to redistribute in the turkey. Then.. enjoy!
According to the FDA, turkey is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165F. The exact cooking time varies based on the size of the meat and oven. For perfectly cooked meat, insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey. It's the best way to ensure that your meat is not overcooked and is safe to eat!
What to Serve with Turkey Tenderloin
Make a fabulous menu any time of year from these healthy side dishes that pair perfectly with marinated turkey tenderloins.
- Roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, carrots, or a medley of bell peppers, zucchini, and red onions. Cook the veggies alongside the turkey on the same sheet pan! Drizzle the delicious marinade over the vegetables, too.
- Creamy mashed potatoes are always a crowd-pleaser.
- Mashed cauliflower is a healthier twist on potatoes you can whip up in minutes using frozen cauliflower. Or, add spinach or kale to make cauliflower colcannon!
- Low-sugar cranberry sauce is not just for Thanksgiving!
- Crispy roasted green beans made in the oven or air fryer.
- Dressing such as homemade oven-baked stuffing or the pilaf version made with farro.
- Broccoli or Cauliflower or bite-sized broccoli muffins!
- Roasted asparagus with a drizzle of balsamic glaze, a squeeze of lemon, or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
- Sauteed baby carrots with a garlicky choice.
- Roasted cauliflower rice is fluffy and delicious. Roast it next to the turkey!
Storage: Store turkey tenderloins in an airtight container or bag for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer.
Reheating: Reheat leftover turkey in the oven or microwave. Add a little broth broth to the bottom of the dish and cover to hold in moisture.
Cook in the oven at 325°F until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Or reheat in the microwave at 50% power, using short intervals so it doesn't overcook.
For best results, marinate turkey tenderloins using this recipe for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Even though this marinade does not have a significant acidic component, marinating any longer may result in the meat texture breaking down and becoming mushy.
Searing turkey before baking it in the oven locks in flavor and is visually appealing. If taking this step, gently brush away the excess marinade since it contains mustard seeds that may burn during the process. Brown turkey tenderloins for several minutes on each side in olive oil that has been heated to medium-high temperature. Note that we did not find it necessary to take this step since this marinade is thick and turns into a glaze while cooking.
This easy marinade recipe can be used to make delicious air-fried turkey tenderloin. Here's how to do it.
Prepare and marinate the turkey tenderloin as usual.
Lift the turkey out of the marinade allowing excess marinade to run off. Discard or follow the directions above to remove bacteria.
Spritz the air fryer basket with cooking oil and place the turkey tenderloin in a single layer. Cook at 350°F until the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 165°F using an instant-read thermometer. It takes about 20 minutes. Flip once to ensure that it is evenly cooked.
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Easy Turkey Tenderloin Marinade Recipe
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup or brown sugar + 1 tablespoon water; Low-carb sweetener can be used.
- 3 tablespoons stone ground dijon mustard or dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder or 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1.5 pounds turkey tenderloins
- Combine marinade ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Pat turkey tenderloins dry with a paper towel and place them in a glass baking dish or plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the turkey tenderloins, flipping to coat all sides. Cover or seal tightly and place in the refrigerator.
- Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes up to 8 hours, flipping halfway through.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Place turkey tenderloins in a glass baking dish or rimmed baking sheet, discarding excess marinade. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.See notes for important steps necessary to safely use leftover marinade as a side sauce.
- Allow turkey tenderloins to rest for 5 minutes before slicing so that the juices have a chance to redistribute in the turkey.