How to Cook Pork
With many tasty cuts and cooking methods to choose from, the versatility of pork is almost unmatched. It's such an excellent choice for quick-and-easy dinners like pork lo mein, glazed pork chops, pork stir-fries, and much more.
When it comes to cooking times for pork, no matter what cut it may be, the temperature is key to pork that is cooked but not dry.
Here we're sharing the best way to cook different cuts of pork in the oven, on the stove, on the grill, and more.
How to Cook Pork Chops
The pork chop is to the pig, what a beefsteak is to the cow. They're a similar cut from a similar area of the animal. Pork chops are taken from the pig's loin, an area that includes the tenderloin. The loin chop will often contain meat from the loin and the tenderloin separated by a T-shaped bone.
How long should you cook pork chops?
The cook times for boneless pork chops will be different from bone-in pork chops, so check out this chart from the National Pork Board for cooking times and temperatures.
The Best Way to Cook Pork Chops
The key to cooking pork chops so they stay tender, moist, and delicious is not to overcook them. Easier said than done, right? The "sear-roasting" method is a great way to cook pork chops gently enough to keep them from drying out.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pat dry the chops with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- On the stove, heat oil in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add the pork chops to the pan, fry one side until golden brown, flip, and transfer the pan directly to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the desired internal temperature.
How to Cook Pork Tenderloin and Pork Roasts
Pork tenderloin and pork loin roast are different cuts of meat taken from different areas of the pig. The pork tenderloin is long and thin like a cigar; it's the muscle that runs along the pig's backbone. The pork loin roast is short and wide, like a beef roast; it comes from the back of the pig. Pork loin roast is known by many names; you may find it in the butcher section listed as center-cut pork roast, center-cut rib roast, center loin roast, pork loin center rib roast, pork loin roast center cut, or pork loin rib half.
How long should you cook a pork tenderloin and pork roast?
Pork tenderloin takes well to quicker cooking methods, and it's a good candidate for marinating, while loin roasts do well with longer roasting techniques.
The rule of thumb for pork roasts is to cook them 25 minutes per pound of meat at 350 degrees F. Use a thermometer to read the roast's internal temperature. When the temperature reaches 140 degrees F, pull the roast out of the oven; it'll continue to cook due to the residual heat and reach 145 degrees F. For more on cooking times for specific cooking methods, check out this handy chart from the National Pork Board with recommended pork cooking times and temperatures.
The Best Way to Cook Pork Tenderloin
Tenderloin is so lean that it can easily dry out, so this versatile cut of meat is best for quick roasting, broiling, grilling, sautéing, and braising.
- Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
- Place pieces evenly spaced on a hot grill. Allow meat to sear onto the grate until pieces can be easily turned, 4 or 5 minutes. Turn and grill on the other side for another 4 or 5 minutes.
- An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 135 to 140 degrees F and transfer onto a serving platter and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
The Best Way to Cook a Pork Loin Roast
The easiest way to cook pork loin is to roast it in the oven— all you'll need are a few pantry-friendly ingredients, a preheated oven, and a little patience.
Make sure to consistently baste your pork loin while it cooks to keep the meat juicy and allow it to soak up all the flavors.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place your pork loin on a foil-rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven at at 450 degrees F until browned on top, 20 to 25 minutes then lower to 325 degrees F to allow to cook until the internal temperature reaches 145 to 150 degrees F, about 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and lightly tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
How to Cook a Whole Ham
Ham is a cut of meat taken from the back legs or sometimes the shoulders of a pig. It can be wet-cured, dry-cured, smoked, aged, or raw. The best cooking technique will depend on which type of ham you buy.
Do you have to soak ham before cooking it?
Most U.S. ham producers use the injection-curing method to inject the ham with brine. After curing, a ham might be smoked to add flavor and aging capability. Because the use of salt is essential to the curing process, it is very unlikely that you will ever find a non-salty ham. You can try and eliminate some of the salt by soaking the ham in water in the refrigerator for about 6 hours before you cook it. This is recommended for most salt-cured "country-style" hams. If you have a honey-glazed ham, you should definitely not soak it, as this will dissolve the glaze.
The Best Way to Cook a Whole Ham
For a whole ham slow cooking creates a super-moist, wonderfully tender ham. This method works well for an 8-pound bone-in picnic ham or a 9-pound spiral-cut honey-cured ham.
- Spread 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar on the bottom of the slow cooker crock. Place the ham flat side down in the slow (you may have to trim it a little to make it fit). Rub the remaining brown sugar over the ham.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or 4 hours for spiral-cut ham.
How to Cook Pork Belly
Pork belly comes from the underside of the pig, the belly. It's the fattiest part of the pig. It's the rich, boneless piece of meat from the pig's underside with a decadent fat to meat ratio that almost melts in your mouth when cooked correctly.
The Best Way to Cook Pork Belly
For the crispiest pork belly, slow roast it in the oven, so it gets very tender, and the fat has time to render to baste the meat as it cooks.
- To prepare pork belly for roasting, use a sharp knife to make several parallel cuts across the skin to score the skin and fat, but not the meat.
- Rub the pork with kosher salt and your favorite spice blend.
- Roast at 300 degrees F for three to four hours, depending on size, until meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and skin begins to crisp.
How to Cook Bacon
Bacon is a type of salt-cured and smoked pork made from various cuts, typically from the pork belly or less fatty parts of the back.
The Best Way to Cook Bacon
Instead of wrangling a grease-spitting skillet, cooking bacon in the oven is a much cleaner and easier way to get the crispest strips.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon strips on the baking sheet or on the rack if you're using one.
- When the oven is heated, put the pan in and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked the way you like it. Remove it from the oven and let the bacon drain on paper towels before serving.
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- Check out our full collection of Bacon Recipes