Roasted Pork Loin

updated Dec 14, 2023

This extra-tender roast is delicious (and impressive) any night of the week.


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For your next holiday dinner, hit the reset button with this easy-yet-stunning juicy roast pork loin. You won’t believe how succulent and savory a slice of roasted pork can be when rubbed with a simple garlic paste and sprinkle of pepper.

You can stick to the one-pot preparation, which is delicious any day of the week, thanks to the apple and onions cooked alongside it. But, I insist that you make the tart green apple sauce to spoon over top for your next big gathering.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

What’s the Difference Between Pork Loin and Pork Tenderloin?

Chances are you know all about pork tenderloin. This lean, affordable cut of meat often steals the spotlight, thanks to its quick cook time and accessibility at the grocery store.

Pork loin roast, on the other hand, is larger, meatier, and, dare I say, actually easier to cook. These roasts are usually between two and four pounds and are uniform in shape. That uniformity is helpful because you do not have to worry about one part of the roast cooking more quickly than another as you do with pork tenderloin.

Both pork loin and pork tenderloin are lean and have a mild flavor, but pork loin roast is uniquely suited for casual dinner parties or even the fanciest of holidays, thanks to its size and ease. After a quick sear, leave it to cook in the oven for an hour and use the hands-off time to make a salad or pack tomorrow’s lunch.

Ingredient You’ll Need for Roasted Pork Loin

  • Pork loin roast: Buy a three- to four-pound boneless pork loin roast from the grocery store. Do not substitute a pork tenderloin for this recipe, as that is a different, smaller cut of pork.
  • Apples: You’ll need a total of three apples for the pork and green apple sauce. Choose two sweet-tart apples, like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady, and one tart Granny Smith apple.
  • Fresh herbs: Snip sprigs of rosemary, sage, mint, and parsley from your garden or pick them up from the produce section.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How to Make Juicy, Tender Roasted Pork Loin

  • Make the garlic paste. Smash a few garlic cloves, sprinkle on some salt, then scrape with your knife to a smooth paste. This mellows the garlic flavor and makes it easier to rub all over the pork loin.
  • Trim and season the pork loin. Trim visible silverskin or loose pieces of fat, but leave the fat cap in place. Then, rub the pork with the garlic paste and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. You can do this up to a day in advance or cook it right away.
  • Brown the pork loin. A 10- to 12-inch cast iron skillet and a slick of oil makes for a nice golden-brown crust. Wait until you have a deep brown color before turning. If the meat sticks to the pan as you try to turn it, wait another minute or so until it releases easily.
  • Arrange apples, onion, and herbs in the pan with maple syrup. Large chunks of apples and onion hold their shape when roasted. Sprigs of rosemary and sage and a drizzle of maple syrup flavor the pork drippings for a quick pan sauce.
  • Roast the pork loin for 1 hour. Roast the pork until an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F. The key to juicy pork is not overcooking it.
  • Make the green apple sauce. Let a food processor do all the work to turn green apples, lemon, garlic, herbs, salt, and olive oil into a spoonable tart apple sauce.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Apples and Pork Are a Perfect Pairing

It’s rare that I ever serve pork without some apple accompaniment, whether it is slow-cooked apple sauce spread over thick pork chops, tossing bacon and apples with shredded cabbage for slaw, or rubbing pork shoulder with apple butter before slow cooking for sandwiches. Here, large chunks of onion and apples serve as a bed for a seared pork loin roast.

Choose an all-purpose or eating apple, such as Honeycrisp and Pink Lady apples, because they hold their shape rather than falling apart in the heat of the oven. The apples soften slightly, soak up the juices dripping from the pork, and caramelize in the maple syrup you have drizzled over top. The pork is so savory and the maple syrup so sweet, you’ll want something acidic to cut through those caramel-like flavors. Enter: the fresh green apple sauce.

More apple than herb, the tart green apple sauce included here is not quite a chimichurri sauce or gremolata, but it delivers the same fresh flavors as you would expect from one. With a few quick pulses of your food processor, turn Granny Smith apples, a few fistfuls of herbs, and a squeeze of lemon into a sauce that will perk up the flavor of slow-roasted pork.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How Do You Prevent Roasted Pork Loin From Drying Out?

Resting the pork is an important step that prevents the pork from drying out. Once the pork loin roast reaches 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, remove it from the oven, and let it rest on a cutting board for 20 minutes. This gives the meat time to reabsorb all its juices.

You can also brine the pork before you cook it, which ensures the meat stays tender, juicy, and well-seasoned.

How to Serve Roasted Pork Loin

I like cutting thick, 3/4- to 1-inch slices of pork loin (although certainly slice it thinner if that’s your preference). Lay a few slices of pork on the plate and scatter some of the cooked apple and onion pieces around. Finish with a drizzle of the sweet herbed-maple pan drippings and a tablespoon of tart green apple sauce.

The juxtaposition of the savory pork, sweet caramelized roasted apples and onion, and tangy, crisp green apple sauce hits all the right notes and will satisfy everyone around the dinner table.

Roasted Pork Loin

This extra-tender roast is delicious (and impressive) any night of the week.

Serves 8

Nutritional Info


For the pork loin:

  • 2

    medium tart-sweet apples, such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady

  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 4 cloves


  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1

    (3- to 4-pound) boneless pork loin roast

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh rosemary

  • 2 leaves

    fresh sage

  • 1/4 cup

    maple syrup

For the green apple sauce:

  • 1

    medium Granny Smith apple

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1 clove


  • 1 sprig

    fresh mint

  • 1 sprig

    fresh sage

  • 1 sprig

    fresh parsley

  • 1 sprig

    fresh rosemary

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil


  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Knife and cutting board

  • Kitchen twine (optional)

  • 10- to 12-inch cast iron pan or stainless steel straight-sided skillet

  • Tongs

  • Microplane

  • Melon baller (optional)

  • Citrus reamer or juicer

  • Food processor

  • Instant-read thermometer

  • Mixing bowl

  • Spoon


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  1. Heat the oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Prep the ingredients. Quarter and core 2 tart-sweet medium apples. Peel and cut 1 large yellow onion into eighths. Cut 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces.

  3. Make a garlic paste. Coarsely chop 4 garlic cloves. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Hold the blunt side of the knife with both hands, angle the knife slightly, and scrape the pile of garlic and salt to flatten. Use the knife to create a small garlic and salt pile, then press and scrape again. Repeat this process a few more times until you have a smooth paste. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon black pepper over the paste.

  4. Trim the silverskin from the pork loin and rub with garlic paste. Trim the silverskin from 1 (3- to 4-pound) boneless pork loin roast, but leave the fat cap intact. Rub the garlic paste evenly over all sides of the pork loin. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

  5. Brown the pork loin on all sides. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10- to 12-inch cast iron pan or stainless steel straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pork and sear on 4 sides until deep golden-brown and it easily releases from the pan, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  6. Add the butter, onion, apples, and herbs to the pan. Turn off the heat, but keep the skillet on the stove. Scatter apples, onion, butter, 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, and 2 fresh sage leaves around the pan. Drizzle with 1/4 cup maple syrup.

  7. Return the pork loin and any juices to the pan. Nestle the browned pork loin on top of the onion, apples, and herbs, and pour in any accumulated juices from the plate.

  8. Roast the pork loin for 1 hour. Roast the pork loin until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers at least 145°F, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the green apple sauce.

  9. Make the green apple sauce while the pork roasts. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment as you prepare it: Peel, core, and quarter 1 medium Granny Smith apple. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon until you have 1/2 teaspoon, then juice the lemon until you have 1 tablespoon. Mince 1 garlic clove. Finely chop fresh mint leaves and fresh sage leaves until you have a 3/4 teaspoon of each. Finely chop fresh parsley leaves and fresh rosemary until you have a 1/2 teaspoon of each. Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely chopped, 12 to 14 pulses. Drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil and pulse again until incorporated.

  10. Rest the pork loin for 20 minutes. When the pork loin is ready, transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes.

  11. Slice the pork loin and serve. Cut the pork loin crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Serve with the onion and apple pieces, drizzled with some of the pan drippings and the green apple sauce.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Rub the pork loin with the garlic paste up to 1 day ahead and refrigerate. Let sit at room temperature while heating the oven. The green apple sauce can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Stir the sauce before serving.

Storage: Refrigerate leftover pork and sauce in separate airtight containers for up to 4 days.