Sheet Pan

Crockpot Brown Sugar & Balsamic–Glazed Pork Tenderloin

July  3, 2013
88 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 8 hours
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

This recipe is from: Laura's Sweet Spot.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- OXO Measuring Cups and Spoons
- GIR Silicone Basting Brush
- Five Two Essential Cookware

Melissa Bossler

Test Kitchen Notes

We try to be very thoughtful about featuring recipes (by naming them "Community Picks" or "Wildcard Winners") that weren't developed by the poster—or we're careful to attribute clearly and with the original recipe-writer's permission. The recipe clearly wasn't Melissa's, since she links to her source. And then, upon closer inspection, we realized that the recipe isn't original to the blog Melissa credits, either. We decided it would only be fair to feature the recipe on Food52 with the original recipe-writer's permission, and because that recipe-writer remained a watery figure somewhere off in the internet-distance, we never did.

But let's back up a few steps: The recipe wasn't original to Melissa Bossler or the blog she credits, Laura's Sweet Spot. Laura links out to a user-submitted recipe on the website BigOven, where it has 4 1/2 stars and has been saved over 2000 times. The only difference between the recipe on Laura's Sweet Spot and the recipe on BigOven is that the BigOven iteration is made with a pork loin, not a pork tenderloin. This is an easy mistake to make, writes our butcher friend Cara Nicoletti—and, as it turns out, a crucial one. Pork tenderloin has very little fat; the fat on a pork loin is necessary to keep the meat from drying out during its long cook time.

But people do make it, and overall, the comments on the recipe are hugely positive: "Just perfect." "Even the picky eaters loved it!!!" "One of the best things to ever come out of my crock pot." "SOOO tender!"

Our Creative Director, Kristen Miglore, attributes its success to the brown sugar-balsamic glaze, which is shiny and thick and sweet-salty. "You could put this on anything," she told me.

The rabbit hole goes on and on: A quick search using the same recipe name "Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin" on Google gave me a string of recipes and blog posts 354,000-links long. The same search on Pinterest produces what seems to be a zillion results—many of them with different photos, each cook's own adaptation of another recipe. Sometimes that recipe is exactly the same as the one posted on BigOven and sometimes it's got a few variations: Maple syrup and honey appear in place of the brown sugar; blueberries make an appearance. Sometimes the meat is shredded for sandwiches. The loin becomes chops and ribs and, as on Laura's blog and on Food52, tenderloin.

In 2019, Test Kitchen Director Josh Cohen and Senior Editor Eric Kim decided to test a version of this recipe with half the cook time (2 to 3 hours), or until the pork reached exactly 145°F, and loved how tender it tasted once carved and slathered with the sticky glaze.

Featured in: This Is Our Most-Popular Recipe of All Time...but Why? —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  1. Mix together the seasonings: sage, salt, pepper and garlic, and rub over the tenderloin.
  2. Place 1/2 cup water in slow cooker, followed by the tenderloin, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. 1 hour before the roast is finished, mix together the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan: brown sugar, cornstarch, balsamic vinegar, water, and soy sauce.
  4. Heat over medium and stir until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.
  5. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. (For a more caramelized crust, remove from Crockpot and place on aluminum lined sheet pan, glaze, and set under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, until bubbly and caramelized. Repeat 2 to 3 more times until desired crust is achieved.)
  6. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Julia Manning
    Julia Manning
  • juliunruly
  • Little Piggy
    Little Piggy
  • Caitlin Gunther
    Caitlin Gunther
  • leigh frat
    leigh frat

168 Reviews

This I. March 8, 2024
I'm writing a review for Food 52. If I'm forced to take the time to create an account simply in order to print the recipe, the least you guys could do is provide an actual print formatted recipe. Thanks so much.
DelilahMoon September 17, 2023
This is a badly written recipe. Namely, it's the wrong cut for this long (and type) of cooking, resulting in a dried out piece of pork. Either use a different cut with more fat/marbling, or cook the tenderloin in the oven for 25 minutes.
petergroninger July 16, 2023
The glaze is quite good, but cooking the pork in a crock pot for 6-8 hours (even on low heat) will result is a dried out, stringy, mess. You will have a much better result by pan roasting the pork until the internal temperature is 140 degrees or so, and then caramelizing the glaze under the broiler. Several of the reviewers suggest the cut of meat should be a pork butt rather than a tenderloin, and I would heartily concur.
cindy M. May 29, 2023
This dish was average at best. Seasoning for the pork was average. Did not like the cornstarch in the sauce; tasted like something from a cafeteria. My husband really enjoyed it so 4 stars from him.
[email protected] September 7, 2022
Mostly I rated it average because of the name of the recipe. It was my mistake for just jumping to the recipe, because in the article, it said this should be a loin not a tenderloin. If I were to have read it , I would have cut back on the cook time for a juicer outcome.
Ean T. February 8, 2022
I wish I had read the reviews before cooking this. It's ok but overcooked after 6hrs in the slow cooker.
jo December 16, 2021
For those intuitive enough to read these reviews Before cooking, take these reviewers advise and do not cook 6 hours in the slow cooker! Turned out dry and stringy. The sweet candy glaze is nice but not great enough to try again.
Julia M. January 3, 2021
About 2 hours into this recipe, the pork looked like a dead, grey fish. So I ditched the crock pot, put the pork in my Instapot with the glaze ingredients (doubled) and pressure cooked on high for 45 minutes. PERFECTION and turned it into pulled pork which is really what we wanted in the first place. AHHHHmazing! Highly recommend doing this in the Instapot from the beginning. Probably the best pulled pork I have ever made and because it's done with a tenderloin, it is lean lean, lean!
Vermicmpstr January 1, 2021
I saw a revised/updated recipe from Food52 using a pork butt roast. That makes much more sense than using a tenderloin. I don't know why you'd ever use a slow cooker for a tenderloin, cooking for hours when it's a tender cut of meat. A pork butt works perfectly.
Seaview1 January 1, 2021
I haven’t seen the revised recipe, but have made it for years with pork tenderloins. The original I have from Laura’s Sweetspot does not have it cooking for 6-8 hours. A hour and half - two hours it comes out tender. I usually have tenderloins around as a staple the only difference is the vessel you cook it in.In the introduction to the recipe listed above they said they shortened the cooking time to 2-3. Which unless you have a weak slow cooker is still too long.
Seaview1 July 29, 2020
To add to the history. I have made this for years, pinned from Laura’s blog spot. At some point, when I clicked on the pin the recipe was still there but she became vegan and invited you over to her new blog. Now when I click on my original pin the recipe comes up but it’s says moveable feast? Though it shows her picture and name below. She did credit where the original recipe came from but her difference was removing the tenderloin and glazing under the broiler. She specifically said it makes a huge difference. It does and that’s how it will come out, crusty on the outside doing it that way. The cook time was always too long and I learned to adjust that after the first time. It is excellent, tasty. We usually go the route of using it as pulled pork. It’s 5 star whoever is getting credit. The glaze can take longer to thicken, but I find as in most recipes the timeline is a guide, not a exact science.
Karl R. March 10, 2020
Such a shame that readers have to interpret the notes to create a useable recipe. I followed the recipe as written, using pork tenderloin and setting my slowcooker on low for 6 hrs (the low end of what is in the recipe). Checking at 4 1/2 hrs the meat was ruined at 176F!
Food52 should either change the cook time to 2-3 hrs (as buried in the 6th paragraph of the notes!), or change the meat to a pork loin.

I'm very disappointed!
cass December 9, 2019
Failure. Used pork tenderloin and cooked half the time in slow cooker. It was dry and tasteless!
juliunruly November 18, 2019
This was fine, but it came out nothing like a plump, juicy piece of pork like every other tenderloin I've ever cooked—and like what the photo shows. It was falling apart and shredding. Still fine, but probably wouldn't make again. As one reviewer below said, it managed to be tender and dry at the same time.
adavis September 25, 2019
Perfect as is! So tender with a glaze that is not too sweet! Takes a bit longer than 4 minutes to thicken glaze if you have an electric stovetop.
amanda L. September 20, 2019
In the video they use oregano, and olive oil for the dry rub paste...not in the ingredient list though. Just a FYI. Trying this tonight.
Little P. September 13, 2019
I finally made this last night and thought it was delicious! I chose to do the shorter method. Total cook time was less than 3 hours. At the last hour I prepared the glaze as suggested. I temped the pork and it was already way over 145 only 2 hours in. (so I was afraid it would be WAY dry but it was not) I just removed the pork at that time and let it sit for a few minutes while I preheated the broiler. I brushed the pork with glaze a few times while under the broiler. I never really got the crispy bits that I was hoping for because you can't really leave the pork under the broiler too long as the sugars in the glaze burn easily. I served it with smashed potatoes and sautéed spinach and my husband was in heaven. I will definitely make it again. OH.. and, even with the soy sauce I think the glaze lacked salt so I will add some next time.
Caitlin G. September 12, 2019
Um, guys, I don't have a crockpot, but I tried this anyway in a normal (non-cast-iron) pot, with a lid, on low heat for like 4.5 hours, eyeballed all the ingredients, accidentally allowed the internal temp to go WAY past 145 degrees F, and it was STILL DELICIOUS. (Maybe the slightest bit dry inside, but I prefer pork that way anyway.) I turned up the heat at the very end so that the last bits of sauce would get thick and a little crispy/clingy around the meat. Everyone at dinner was asking — but what's in the sauce!?!? WILL do again.
Dawn September 11, 2019
I was skeptical about this recipe as 6 hours seems like too much time to cook a cut of pork that is so lean but thought I’d try anyway. As suspected, I found it way over cooked and extremely dry; however, we all loved the glaze. Next time, I’ll seer the pork and then roast at 375 for about 7 min. And then broil/glaze for just a couple of minutes. Until done but still tender & juicy. Rest 5 min then carve.
caroline0ne September 11, 2019
Thank you. I like your approach and will try it as you suggest. Seven minutes is a far cry from six hours.👍🏼
Fran M. December 10, 2019
I have been cooking my pork tenderloin this way for many years. Delicious.
caroline0ne September 8, 2019
I would like to try this in the oven as I no longer have a crock pot; but all I see in the comments is to roast it at 350* and remove it a half hour before it is done. Any idea how long to roast it. Am also wondering about trying it with the St. Louis style ribs I just bought. Does anyone use their oven?
Dawn September 11, 2019
Hi Caroline! I just cooked this tonight and would not use a slow cooker next time. Just posted my thoughts. If you cook it in the oven, use a meat thermometer to guide your time. I like mine tenderloin a little pink but most people cook lol until 145 degrees.
leigh F. September 3, 2019
I don't get the big deal about this recipe. It is easy. I cooked it less, but don't think I'll make again.