Pork loin is one of the most festive and flavorful meats you could choose for a dinner party.
It comes from the upper back of the pig, between the shoulder and the leg joint. Sold bone-in or deboned, loin roast can be very lean or can have some marbling, mainly on the end closer to the ribs. Pork loin is commonly cut into smaller portions and sold as 3- to 4-pound roasts, to be baked in the oven.
To keep the meat juicy and moist, brine or season it before cooking, and check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking.
Things You'll Need
Parts and Seasoning
Boneless pork loin roasts are sold either as a rib end (also known as the top loin or New York pork roast) or as a center cut roast (also known as a sirloin pork roast). The center cut roast is leaner and doesn’t have as much marbling, but its even shape does make it easier to cook. Whichever cut you choose, we recommend seasoning them both. Soak the pork loin in a spiced brine for 24 hours in the fridge. Short on time? Rub it with dried spices like cayenne, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, thyme, and salt and let it sit for at least 20 minutes to 8 hours.
The Basic Roast
For a basic center cut roast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the pork in a roasting tray. Sprinkle chopped root vegetables around the meat. Pour 1 cup of stock, white wine, or water and apple cider into the roasting tray and place it on a center rack in the oven. Cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Check the roast every 5 minutes, spooning liquid over it to baste. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and cook the roast for another 45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. When the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest, tented with foil, for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Pork loin can be seared and roasted at a lower temperature for more flavor and crispness. Seared and roasted pork loin is best made with the rib end, as the extra marbling keeps it moist and tender during the slow cooking.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Heat a large, oven-safe, heavy-bottomed skillet, such as a cast-iron pan, on the stove. The pan needs to be large enough to hold the roast as well as any other vegetables you wish to cook with it. Pour in a thin layer of vegetable oil and heat on high until it begins to smoke. Pat the roast dry and place it in the pan. Leave it untouched for 2 to 3 minutes before turning it onto the other side. Sear all sides of the loin, except for the cut ends, for 2 to 3 minutes each, creating a dark brown crust. Add in any vegetables and 2 cups of stock, white wine, or water, then transfer the pan to a center rack in the oven. Cook for 40 minutes per pound, basting the pork roast every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the roast rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Food Safety and Doneness
All pork loin roasts are fully cooked and safe to eat when the internal temperature reads 145 degrees F. Even when the meat firms up and turns white and the juices run clear, these are not reliable indicators. At 145 degrees, the center of the roast may still be slightly pink, but it’s safe to eat.
Pork roasts, as large cuts, continue cooking after they’ve been removed from the oven, rising upwards of 10 degrees more while resting. To avoid overcooked, dry pork, test the internal temperature every 5 minutes during the last 40 minutes of cooking, and remove the roast from the oven when it reaches 130 to 135 F.