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Spice-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Bites

4 Servings

20 minutes

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Loosely translated as “Moorish bites impaled on thorns or small pointed sticks,” pinchos morunos is a Basque dish of seared pork rubbed with a blend of spices, garlic, herbs and olive oil. The recipe dates back generations, boasting influences from Spain and North Africa. Classic versions skewer the meat, which is seasoned with ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend, among other flavorings. We streamlined, nixing the skewers. And since ras el hanout can be hard to find, we went with a blend of cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and black pepper. We finished with a drizzle of honey, which heightened the flavor of the pork and seasonings.



20 minutes


  • 1

    tablespoon honey

  • 1

    tablespoon lemon juice

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Donna C.
November 4, 2022
Pork is never dry!
This is my go-to method for pork tenderloin. I vary the spices depending on what I’m serving it with. I also prefer butter to oil. The pork is always moist. Pairs perfectly with so many veggies. Leftovers are great wrapped in flatbread for sandwiches.
Jo U.
July 13, 2022
Quick & Tasty - What’s Not To Like!
I’ve made this recipe several times. It is very easy and quick to prepare and yet really tasty. Especially good with Yukon’s roasted with olive oil & garlic but also excellent with Milk Street’s Fettucine Alfredo.

You have not included which stove setting to use when heating the oil....High? Medium High? Medium??? I have everything to begin cooking and I just discovered....I am guessing medium to medium high....but it would be great to be sure...

Lynn C.

Hi Jill -

Since everyone's stovetop heat yields somewhat different results, we chose to focus on the visual clue for the short recipes featured in our Cookish book. In this case, once the oil is heated to just smoking (that may be over high, medium-high, or medium on your stovetop), the oil is hot enough to add and cook the pork.

The Milk Street Team

Vicky R.

Saw this on the PBS Milkstreet series. I'm, going to do this with the Ras El Hanout spice that was mentioned by Chris. I have it on hand and it's great to add big flavors to dishes. Also good on roasted squash.

Maria A.

Made this as written with and without the honey. Preferred without honey. Tasty, easy and lots of flavor.

Michael R.

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Gail G.

So good! I'll be using this style often. The lemon/honey was a delightful addition.

Terry A.

I am going to try this recipe, and have Ras El Hanout from Villa Jerada in my pantry. I am assuming that I can substitute a heavy tablespoon for the coriander, cumin and paprika listed in the recipe. If you have other advice, please share. Thanks!

Charles G.

In the book and on the tv, they had the meat sit in the bowl at room temperature for an hour. What happened to that step?

Lynn C.

Hi Charles-

This version of the recipe is from our recently-published cookbook, Cookish. Cookish is a fresh take on fast food at home. Six ingredients. Minutes, not hours. Fresh, bold flavors for any night of the week. Therefore, the step in which the pork sits for an hour was removed. That's not to say that this version isn't as good it's just not going to have as pronounced a spice flavor as the original. You can find that version here -

The Milk Street Team

David E.

If I rub the pork chunks with salt and let it sit for a day or two in the fridge, would I overcome the inherent blandness of pork tenderloin? I ask this because a) I LOVE his recipe and b) it falls short as all pork tenderloin recipes do, however barded, apple-d, bacon-ed, etc

Lynn C.

Hi David -

We think that this spice crust adds a ton of flavor to the otherwise bland pork tenderloin so we didn't feel like we needed to dry brine here. However, if you decide to do so, pork tenderloin is a pretty small cut so doesn't require a ton of dry brining time. 6 to 24 hours is probably all you need. Maybe even less.

The Milk Street Team

David E.

Thank you! I LOVE Cookish and gave it to both my daughters as a holiday gift so I mean no disrespect when I say if people hear have any more time they should search out the ORIGINAL Spanish pork bites recipe which has a couple of extra steps and ingredients. Dry-brining was WORTH it! My pork chunks were 1 to 1/4 inches and in addition to the salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, and smoked paprika, I added a tsp. of Berbere--which ramped up the spiciness and added its own magic. I put it in the fridge for 6 hours. Going by the original recipe again, I mixed the honey & lemon with minced garlic. At the end, I sprinkled it with fresh thyme because I didn't have fresh oregano--which is stronger and probably better but I wanted that herb-iness. This is a great recipe under Cookish conditions but a killer one if you put in a wee bit extra effort and time.

Alex H.

Delicious and so easy! I also used Villa Jerada's ras el hanout for the spice mixture.

Katherine K.

Rub is fantastic but my tenderloin cooked much faster and they were a bit dry (we like pork slightly pink). My advice is to check sooner than later. The honey, lemon dressing was not optional to us.

Martha C.

I made this a couple of weeks ago and plan to make it again tomorrow. I served it with brown basmati rice studded with dried apricots and currants. I doubled the sauce. It was quick and really delicious.