American “Iowa Skinny” Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

In Iowa and Indiana, “tenderloin” doesn’t necessarily mean filet mignon. It often doesn’t even refer to beef. These states are the home of the Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, the “BPT”, a crisp fried pork loin cutlet with “fixins” on a soft, pillow-y hamburger bun. The Iowa Skinny is easy to identify as the fried pork patty is many times bigger than the hamburger bun it sits in.

The origin of the sandwich is likely from the Czech/Bohemian community that settled around Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who wanted to make traditional German-Austrian schnitzel but didn’t have access to veal. While German immigrants in Texas made due with beef to get their wienerschnitzel fix (i.e Chicken Fried Steak), in the Midwest, especially Iowa and Indiana, they used pork tenderloin.

American Iowa skinny fried pork tenderloin sandwich

Iowa Skinny – Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Like beef tenderloin, pork loin doesn't have much fat, so you have to cook it quickly to keep the meat juicy. Pounding the loin thin, then breading it and pan-frying achieves that effect. A hallmark of the traditional PTS is the huge pork patty that makes the hamburger bun it's served in look like a tiny hat. You'll never find a state fair in Iowa without these.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Lunch, Sandwich, Snack
Cuisine: American, American Midwest, North American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Heavy 12-inch cast-iron skillet or Wok
  • Shallow baking dish
  • Large plate
  • Medium bowl


  • 1 lb Pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 4 equal slices
  • ½ cup Bread crumbs
  • ½ cup Crushed Saltine crackers
  • ½ cup All-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Cornstarch
  • ½ tsp Each: garlic salt, onion salt, and black pepper
  • 2 large Egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 4 large Hamburger buns, split and buttered
  • 2 cups Canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • Optional condiments: dill pickle chips, ketchup, mustard, thin sliced sweet onion, bibb lettuce, or tomato in any combination


  • Prep Ingredients – Combine flour, cornstarch, black pepper, garlic salt, and onion salt in a shallow baking dish. In a second dish, combine 2 tbsp of the flour mixture with the crushed crackers and bread crumbs. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and mayonnaise until well-blended.
    Slip a pork tenderloin slice in an unsealed gallon ziploc bag. Pound to get a ¼-inch thick piece. Repeat for remaining pieces.
  • Dredge – Dredge a piece of flattened pork in the flour until well coated. Dip in egg mixture and immediately transfer to plate with breadcrumbs and be sure to completely coat meat. Gently shake off any excess and transfer to a clean plate. Repeat for remaining pieces and let rest for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • Cook and Serve – Pour oil into a large cast-iron skillet. Heat oil to 350°F (175°C) over medium-high heat. Slip 1 or 2 pieces into the pan at a time. Fry for about 2-3 minutes per side, remove to paper towels, and repeat. Outsides should be golden brown and crisp.
    To serve: Lightly toast buttered hamburger buns, place meat on top of bottom bun, and cover with pickle chips, onion slice, tomato slice, and lettuce. Top with mustard, mayonnaise, or anything else that meets you fancy.


Calories: 1518kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 125g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 36g | Monounsaturated Fat: 75g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 169mg | Sodium: 515mg | Potassium: 602mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 152IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 5mg

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