The Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich is a Midwestern favorite that has many loyal fans! Crispy breaded pork tenderloin that’s been pounded thin, fried, and sandwiched between two buns is something you’ll find on many Midwestern restaurant menus and everyone claims their recipe is the best. We’ve brought that favorite to you guys and we’re making it in the air fryer to keep dinner easy, tasty, and a bit healthier!
Our pork tenderloin sandwich is not just a sandwich—it’s an experience. A Midwestern experience, to be exact.
If you’re not from the Midwest, or have never visited, you may not be familiar with our ways. Ranch dressing covers everything. Casseroles are a staple. Corn is considered a vegetable. And pork tenderloin sandwiches are often the size of your head, sandwiched between a normal hamburger bun – making for a unique dining experience.
This breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is a bit more manageable than the ones you’ll find in most restaurants around here. Rather than being 8-12 inches in diameter, we kept ours a more manageable size. This makes eating it a little easier and cooking it a lot faster. It’s still juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and ready for a bun, a heavy squirt of mustard, and plenty of dill pickles. Maybe a slice or two of onion if that’s your style.
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Pork – Look for a pork tenderloin that is around 1 pound in size. Be sure to grab a tenderloin and not pork loin – these are two different cuts of meat.
Pork seasoning- Onion Powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt will enhance this pork tenderloin sandwich before we even get to the breading!
The breading– The breading is made up of flour, seasoned salt, eggs, and panko bread crumbs.
We’re making our pork tenderloin sandwiches around 4 ounces each. If you’d like larger pieces, just cut the pork into larger chunks and pound them out so that they are wider. You’ll want to keep them nice and thin regardless of how wide you make them.
How to Make Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches in the Air Fryer:
- Shape– Slice your tenderloin on the bias into 4 evenly sized pieces of meat. Place each piece between a layer of plastic wrap and pound it out with a mallet to about 1/4″ thickness throughout. Don’t worry about the shape at this point, it won’t be a perfect circle and it will very likely be larger in size than a bun.
If you haven’t heard the phrase “slice on the bias” before, don’t worry! It simply means to cut at an angle down the length of the item instead of cutting straight across it. So in this case, your first piece and last piece will have a slightly different shape than the other two pieces.
- Season- Add your onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to a bowl and stir those ingredients to combine. Rub this seasoning onto both sides of each pork piece.
- Breading– Grab a shallow dish and add your seasoned salt and flour. Stir to combine. In a second shallow dish whisk together the eggs with two tablespoons of water. In a third dish, add your panko and seasoned salt, then stir to combine. You will dredge each piece of pork into the flour dish, then egg, then panko. When dipping the pork into the panko, press the meat into the panko to help the breading stick.
- Air Fry– Spritz your air fryer basket with an oil spray. Add your tenderloin to the basket in a single layer, not touching the edges. Cook in batches if needed. Air fry for 8 minutes at 400 degrees F and flip halfway through cooking. When you flip, you can spritz with an oil mist again for a nice crispy breading.
Recipe Tips for Cooking in Batches!
Set cooked pork on a plate in an oven with the light turned on to keep warm and continue cooking the remaining pork tenderloin until it’s all cooked.
After they are all cooked, place all of the pork tenderloins in the air fryer basket (it’s okay to stack them here) and rewarm them for 1 minute at 400 degrees.
While the pork is cooking, I like to butter buns and cook them on a hot skillet until the buns are toasted.
Sandwich the pork tenderloin between a bun and then top with your favorite condiments. The classic Midwestern breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is served with a squirt of mustard, slices of dill pickles, and thinly sliced white or yellow onion.
Serve with potato chips, french fries, potato salad, or coleslaw for an easy lunch!
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French fries, waffle fries, or potato chips are classic favorites! You could also go for macaroni salad, coleslaw, or cottage cheese for a cool side dish to go with your hot sandwich!
There are so many options! For the “sauces” you could do mustard, mayo, ketchup, BBQ sauce, or honey mustard. For other toppings, pickles and onions are best to me. You can also add lettuce or tomato if you like those!
Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
For the pork:
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the breading:
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons seasoned salt divided
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
For the sandwiches:
- 4 sandwich buns
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Mustard, dill pickles, sliced onion for topping
To prepare the pork:
- Slice the pork tenderloin on the bias into 4 evenly sized pieces of meat.
- Place each piece between a layer of plastic wrap and use a mallet to pound it out to 1/4 inch thickness. The pork won’t form a perfect circle and will be larger in diameter than a sandwich bun.
- Add the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Season both sides of the pork.
To make the breading:
- Add the flour and 1 teaspoon seasoned salt to a shallow dish and stir to combine.
- Whisk the eggs and 2 tablespoons of water together in a second shallow dish.
- Add the panko and remaining teaspoon of seasoned salt to a third shallow dish.
- Dredge each piece of pork in first the flour, then egg, then panko, making sure the pork is fully coated in the breading.
To air fry:
- Spritz the basket of your air fryer with oil spray.
- Arrange the breaded pork in a single layer in the air fryer basket. You will likely need to work in batches. Liberally spray the top of the pork with oil spray.
- Air fry at 400 degrees for 4 minutes, flip, spray with oil spray, and continue air frying for 4 more minutes or until golden brown and crispy and cooked through.
- Set cooked pork on a plate in an oven with the light turned on to keep warm and continue cooking the remaining pork tenderloin until it’s all cooked.
- Place all of the pork tenderloin in the air fryer basket (it’s okay to stack them here) and rewarm for 1 minute at 400 degrees.
To assemble sandwiches:
- While the pork is cooking, butter the buns and cook on a hot skillet over medium heat until the buns are toasted.
- Arrange a piece of pork on each bun and top with a squirt of mustard and slices of pickles and onions.
- Serve hot.