Your Guide to Roasting Pork
Versatile pork makes a simple dinner for two or an elegant yet hearty roast for a holiday feast. It works well with just about any flavouring you choose, whether savoury rosemary or sweet peaches. All you need to cook a pork roast to perfection is a pan and an oven, so check out our expert guide for simple steps to creating standout meal for any occasion – or just a weeknight at home – with straightforward how-tos and tried-and-true tips.
Any cut of pork can be roasted, so when you’re at the meat counter, consider how many people will be pulling up a chair for dinner. Pork rib roast has more marbling than other cuts and is perfect for a big dinner. Pork tenderloin is small, lean and has a mild taste that works well with both sweet and savoury seasonings. Also lean, but very flavourful, pork loin roasts can accommodate any number of dinner guests: choose from cuts such as boneless, bone-in, centre-cut or sirloin. Both tenderloin and pork loin roast can be rolled, stuffed and tied.
Pork should be dry and pale pink in colour, with flecks of white fat throughout the cut. Bone-in cuts are more flavourful and juicy.
Estimate about two and a half ounces (75 grams) of pork per person, which equals about four ounces (125 grams) of uncooked boneless meat. Raw pork can be refrigerated for up to four days. Store in sealed plastic bags or containers and place on the bottom shelf of the fridge, so juices don’t contaminate other foods.
What You’ll Need
- Large aluminium, cast-iron or glass roasting pan with high sides to accommodate large cuts of meat, and a rack insert to allow air to circulate.
- Instant-read thermometer, to check doneness with the most accurate results.
- Foil for covering skin if it’s browning too quickly, and for tenting the roast to keep it warm while it rests.
- Kitchen twine for securing the meat to maintain its shape, keep any fillings inside and help the meat cook evenly.
- Long, sharp carving knife and fork to neatly slice meat off the bones.
Preparing the Meat
Pat the meat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and your preferred seasonings. To add a filling (sweet and savoury options include apple and cranberry stuffing, herbed rice or your favourite cheese), use a long non-serrated knife to slice the meat open like a book; spread on filling and tie up roast with kitchen twine to seal in the flavourful juices. Or simply tie the roast in a few places and rub or brush with your preferred seasonings.
There are many ways to boost pork’s flavour and tenderness.
- Marinades (typically an acid plus an oil) break down the meat, trapping moisture inside and imparting flavour.
- A dry mix of salt, sugar, spices or herbs can also be rubbed on and left to marinate.
- Pork, especially tenderloin, pairs well with fruits such as apples, peaches and cherries.
- Glazes are perfect seasoning choices for pork. At the end of cooking, brush a sweet or savoury glaze over the roast for even more flavour. Another option: Coat the roast with a sticky marmalade or a sweet and tangy honey and orange juice mixture before cooking.
To make your own custom seasoning, stir together a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and mix with:
- Dijon mustard + fresh rosemary
- brown sugar + chili powder + ground cumin
- hoisin sauce + soy sauce + rice wine vinegar + minced garlic
Roasting is a dry method of cooking, so you’ll get the crispiest, most flavourful exterior by using a rack set on a shallow pan, and roasting uncovered. Searing creates the same effect: pan-sear the roast in a bit of olive oil in an ovenproof pan on the stovetop, and then pop the pan into the oven to finish cooking.
How to Roast Pork Like a Pro
- When turning the pork in the pan, use a blunt tool, such as a wooden spoon, spatula or tongs that aren’t sharp – piercing the meat will cause the delicious juices to leak out.
- Invest in an instant-read thermometer that lets you monitor the temperature of your roast – or even alert you when it’s done – without opening the door.
- When checking the temperature of a stuffed pork roast, ensure the thermometer is in the meat, not the stuffing.
- Always overcooking? Remove meat from the oven when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads a few degrees below the desired doneness. The meat will continue to cook while resting.
- Too much fat? While pork is a very lean meat, you can also trim any visible fat before cooking.
- Roast is too rare for some dinner guests? Make a few more well-done pieces by slipping them into a pan of simmering gravy or broth for up to two minutes.
- No one had seconds? Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of serving, and keep in the coldest part of the fridge for up to four days. Use it to top salads, or in tacos and sandwiches.
When pork is done roasting, it may still have a slight hint of pink inside, but resist the temptation to overcook it – as long as the internal temperature hits 160°F (71°C), it’s safe to eat. Make sure the tip of the thermometer does not touch any bone or stuffing, because you could get a false reading. Refer to our handy chart below for temps and times.
|Cut||Preheat oven to…||Roast for…||Cook until internal temp is…||Let rest for…|
|Pork tenderloin||375°F (190°C)||25 to 30 min. per 3/4 to 1 lb (375 to 500 g)||160°F (71°C)||10 to 15 min.|
|Pork loin, boneless or bone-in||325°F (160°C)||20 to 25 min. per 1 lb (500 g)||160°F (71°C)||15 to 20 min.|
|Pork shoulder blade or picnic roast, bone-in||325°F (160°C)||25 to 30 min. per 1 lb (500 g)||160°F (71°C)||15 to 20 min.|
|Pork shoulder blade or picnic roast, boneless||325°F (160°C)||30 to 35 min. per 1 lb (500 g)||160°F (71°C)||15 to 20 min.|
How to Cut and Carve Pork Roast
Transfer your cooked roast to a carving board and tent it with foil for 10 to 15 minutes to get the juiciest meat. A whole tenderloin can be cut into half-inch (one-centimetre) slices. When carving, slice against the grain for the tenderest cuts, and remove any twine as you go.
To make a simple gravy, place the roasting pan (if it’s stovetop-safe) on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Add a liquid, such as wine, broth or even cider. Simmer, scraping up the brown bits left on the bottom of the pan until thickened. Or whisk flour with a little water, and then whisk into the sauce and simmer to achieve the desired consistency. Another option: Whip up a mushroom- or onion-based sauce while the pork is roasting. To thicken up a glaze, spread it on the meat during the last five minutes of cooking. Brush on an extra layer of flavour when the pork comes out of the oven to rest.
Cut tenderloin into medallions or pork loin into even slices (a bone-in rib roast can be carved between the bones to create individual chops). Arrange pork on a platter surrounded by vegetables; top with gravy or extra glaze from the pan.