Everything About Pork Loin Roast: How to Buy It and Cook It to Perfection

published Mar 6, 2017
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

If you’re already a fan of pork chops and pork tenderloin, it’s time to get acquainted with pork loin roast. Don’t be put off by its larger size — the loin roast is just as tender and mild as the lean cuts you’re already familiar with, and it’s pretty easy to cook. From buying a pork loin roast to the prep and cooking that happens before it hits your table, here’s what you need to know to master this cut of meat.

What Is Pork Loin Roast, and Why Should You Cook It?

Pork loin is a large cut of meat that comes from the back of the animal, running from the shoulder and the beginning of the leg. The loin roast, typically ranging from two to four pounds, is a portion of meat cut from the full pork loin.

This cut is often referred to as a roast because of its size; it is sold boneless or bone-in. You may also see it labeled as center cut pork loin roast (a boneless cut), center cut pork roast, and center cut rib roast (a bone-in cut), among others.

Like its pork chop and tenderloin brethren, pork loin roast is a fairly lean, mild-tasting cut of meat. Because of its size, pork loin is fantastic if you’re cooking for a crowd. Even though it calls for a longer cook time, it’s simple enough to cook on a weeknight and easy enough to dress up for a special occasion or dinner party.

Buying and Storing Pork Loin Roast

Here’s what you need to know about buying a pork loin roast, and what to do with it when you get home.

Know that pork loin is different from pork tenderloin.

While these cuts do share a few similarities, they look totally different. The loin roast is considerably larger than the tenderloin and benefits from cooking at a lower oven temperature. Because they vary in size and cooking method, loin roast should not be substituted for pork tenderloin, and vice versa.

Expect to pay less than a tenderloin and pork chops.

Consider pork loin roast the lean budget cut to know. Pound for pound, this larger cut roast comes in cheaper than the butchered chops and pork tenderloin you’re familiar with.

Choose a loin roast with pinkish-red color.

To ensure you take home a good piece of meat, use visual cues to help you buy a pork loin roast. Look for loin roast that’s pinkish-red in color with some marbling in the meat (remember that fat equals flavor!). Steer clear of meat that’s pale in color or has dark spots on the fat.

Store fresh loin roast in the fridge.

It’s best to cook loin roast soon after buying it, although it will keep for two to three days in the fridge. Any longer than three days and it’s best to store it in the freezer, where it will keep for up to six months. Plan to give frozen pork loin roughly 16 to 24 hours to thaw in the refrigerator before cooking.

Cooking Pork Loin Roast

Loin roast is super versatile and quite easy to cook. These are the essential things to know to get it right every single time.

Take the chill off pork loin before cooking.

Avoid cooking pork loin straight from the fridge. Instead, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you get started. Giving the meat a chance to warm up will ensure more even cooking.

Slice the loin roast into individual chops.

Don’t want to cook the whole roast as is? Use a sharp knife and cut the loin into 1- to 1 1/2-inch-thick chops. This is the same cut that already butchered pork chops come from.

Don’t worry too much about pink meat.

A little bit of pink is perfectly fine. For pork loin roast, as with all meat, internal temperature, not color, is the best indicator of doneness.

Cook loin roast to 145°F.

Measuring internal temperature with a probe thermometer is the best way to measure the doneness of pork loin. Cooked to 145°F, the meat is tender, juicy, and just a touch pink.

3 Essential Ways to Cook Pork Loin Roast

Pork loin roast is a relatively lean cut, with a cap of fat over the top. Larger cuts are ideal for a crowd or if you’re just looking for some leftovers.

1. Roast it in the oven.

Whether you have a bone-in or boneless cut, this is the go-to method for cooking tender, juicy loin roast every time. While cooking can range from 45 minutes to just over an hour depending on the size of the roast, it’s a mostly hands-off process that requires just seasoning and flipping the meat once during cooking.

Recipes for Roasting Pork Loin Roast in the Oven

2. Grill it.

Seasoned with a simple mix of salt and pepper, or coated with a dry rub or paste, loin roast can be easily grilled over indirect heat. It’s a mostly hands-off affair that requires turning the meat a couple times during cooking.

Get a recipe: Grilled Pork Loin

3. Treat it like pork chops.

This one takes a little more effort, but it works! The loin roast is the same piece of meat that pork chops are cut from. Instead of cooking the loin roast whole, slice it into thick, 1- to 1 1/2-inch-thick steaks and cook them just like pork chops.

Recipes to Cook a Cut Pork Loin Roast Like Pork Chops