Chilli Barbecue Pork

As I said in the post accompanying my recipe for Rosemary, Mushroom & Garlic Pork there are some recipes that require considerably more work than others. It’s usually a case of refining either the flavours or the method. I guess you could argue that if both need work you’re better off starting from scratch. Anyway, this rather delicious Chilli Barbecue Pork happens to be one of those recipes which has required a two-pronged reworking attack…

We’ll start with the method. The very first variant of this dish was a recipe that I used to have on the blog under the name “Slow-Cooked Chilli Barbecue Pork”. In that version the sauce was made first and used as the base of the dish. The pork was marinated, for less time, then added to the sauce and cooked “low and slow” for a couple of hours, until it was falling apart. Now, I am a total sucker for pulled pork and I have to say that the end result was pretty good. The downside is that it takes a lot of time and effort to cook that way. Yes, it lends itself to catering or to batch cooking – but I get a bit bored of the same foods after a while and don’t do it all that often. I wanted to see if I could find a way of making the same flavour profile in slightly less time.

Which brings me nicely on to the flavour. This is the bit that actually took the most attempts to get right… three or four if I remember correctly. The first time I made the slow-cooked version I felt that the flavour was almost spot on – hence it went on the blog pretty quickly.

However, when I made it a second time the sauce was far too sweet and it didn’t feel as special as I remembered. The recipe was retired to be reworked… I know there’s a fair bit of sugar in both the marinade and the sauce, but they are necessary to give you that sweet barbecue flavour. Cutting back on those wasn’t really at the top of my list. I think the issue came from the fact that the first version contained more peppers (both red and yellow from memory) which, when slow cooked, became very sweet. I know it can depend on specific ingredients, but to save things going a bit off-piste I swapped them for a single green pepper in this version.

I also found that the spicing didn’t really come through quite as I wanted it to. As I’ve said before Michael isn’t afraid of spicy food, but too much is an instant turn off for him. In this Chilli Barbecue Pork I wanted you to get that mixture of Mexican-inspired heat and comforting smoky sweetness. I had always marinated the pork, but wondered if the slow cooking method dispersed the flavours a bit too much.

Knowing my love of a pork loin (see pretty much every pork recipe I post) you won’t be surprised that it wasn’t long before I settled on a solution. Marinade the pork for a couple of hours, then cook it on its own to really let it embrace the flavour. Then add the barbecue sauce for the last few minutes of cooking, to bring in the rest of the flavour right at the end. Yep, it works and the end result was worth the persistence.

As the old Guinness advertising slogan goes: Good things come to those who wait.

Chilli Barbecue Pork

The spice rub on the meat brings the heat to this Chilli Barbecue Pork, which is then tempered by the sweet sauce and creamy dressing.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Marinating Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Pork
Servings: 2
Calories: 714kcal


for the Pork

  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika Pimentón
  • 1 tsp Onion Granules
  • ½ tsp Garlic Granules
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Mild Chilli Powder
  • 2 tsp Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 350 g Pork Fillet Tenderloin

for the Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Red Onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika Pimentón
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Purée
  • 2 tbsp Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Cider Vinegar
  • 400 g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Green Pepper deseeded and chopped

for the Cooling Creamy Dressing (optional)

  • 2 tbsp Good Quality Mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp Sour Cream
  • ¼ tsp Dried Mixed Herbs
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • Pinch Garlic Granules
  • Pinch Onion Powder
  • Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp Lemon Juice


Marinate the Pork

  • Mix together the spices in a bowl, then add the olive oil and bring together to form a paste. Add as much water as you need to give it a spreadable consistency.
  • Trim any fat or sinew off of the pork tenderloin. Spread the marinade over the surface of the pork, ensuring that it’s thoroughly coated.
  • Put into a bowl along with any excess marinade, then cover well and put into the fridge for 2 hours to allow the flavours to develop.

Make the Barbecue Sauce

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and stir to coat in the oil, then reduce the heat to low. Allow the onions to sauté for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent, stirring regularly to ensure they don’t burn.
  • When softened turn the heat up to medium, then add the garlic and fry for a minute or so until fragrant. Stir the smoked paprika, tomato purée, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and cider vinegar through the onions.
  • Pour in the chopped tomatoes, then bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover with a loose-fitting lid, then allow bubble gently for 30 minutes. Stir every few minutes to ensure the sauce doesn’t catch.
  • After 30 minutes, then add the chopped green pepper and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes until the sauce is thickened and darkened in colour.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • When cool blitz the sauce in a food processor or blender, then pass through a sieve to give you a smooth, rich barbecue-style sauce.

Make the Creamy Dressing

  • Mix together the mayonnaise and sour cream in a bowl. Add the herbs and seasoning, then stir until well combined. Add the lemon juice, stir again, then cover well and store in the fridge until needed.

Cook the Pork

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place a heavy baking sheet in the oven as it heats – you want this to be nice and warm.
  • Take the pork out of the fridge whilst the oven is heating up, as you don’t want it to go into the oven too cold.
  • Remove any excess marinade from the pork and put to one side. Place the pork on the hot baking sheet in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, reheat the barbecue sauce in a small pan. Add in the excess marinade from the pork and stir into the sauce. Ensure that the sauce comes to a boil when reheating, as the marinade will have been in contact with the raw pork and you want it to be properly cooked through. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
  • After 20 minutes, remove the pork from the oven and spoon over enough sauce to thickly coat the pork. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10-15 minutes. When cooked, allow the pork to rest for a few minutes before cutting into thick slices.
  • Serve the pork topped with the excess barbecue sauce and some of the creamy dressing.


Estimated Values per Serving
of which Saturates10g
of which Sugars21g
Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.

Scott Silverthorn

Hi, I’m Scott. I love cooking food and I love eating it - both useful credentials for writing a food blog! I get a lot of joy from sharing my passion with my friends and family, so here's hoping you enjoy it too.

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