Pork Loin Roast With Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

This Pork Loin Roast will be some of the juiciest pork of your life, smothered in an irresistible sweet, tangy, spicy apricot sauce that will have everyone licking their plates!

Your search for succulent roasted pork loin, dripping with flavor stops here. This pork loin recipe is buttery tender from a simple brine and unabashedly flavorful thanks to a paprika tinged spice rub and hypnotic sweet, tangy and as spicy-as-you-like-it apricot sauce. This roasted pork loin may look impressive but is deceptively easy to make and prep ahead friendly (just pop it in the oven!).  It’s ideal for holidays or entertaining and makes fantastic leftovers – should you be so lucky.  I’ve included detailed instructions, tips, tricks and everything you need to know to make the BEST pork loin every time!  Serve this tasty recipe with mashed potatoes  or Hasselback potatoes, and roasted broccoli or strawberry salad for a dinner your whole family will beg you to make again and again!

Elevate your pork game with these popular pork loin and pork tenderloin recipes: start with this fanatic pork loin roast, then try crockpot pork loin, garlic butter pork tenderloin, balsamic pork tenderloin chili Dijon pork tenderloin, blackberry hoisin pork tenderloin, and pork tenderloin with pineapple glaze.

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How to make pork loin roast video

up close of sliced pork loin roast recipe showing how juicy and tender it is

PORK LOIN Roast RECIPE

If you aren’t a fan of pork loin, also known as pork loin roast, this recipe is sure to convert you! It’s:

  • A wonderful alternative to pork tenderloin because it is less pricy and larger so it feeds a crowd.
  • Fantastically flavorful spiced rubbed with paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, seared to create a flavorful crust topped with butter then baked with the dizzyingly delicious apricot sauce.
  • Smothered in the best slightly spicy, sweet and tangy, apricot sauce.  The sauce is inspired by my Honey Buffalo Meatballs recipe which everyone adores but I’ve swapped some of the sugar for additional apricot preserves to really bring the fruity flavor and Asian sweet chili sauce for its sweet, spicy, garlicky goodness. Add some spicy Frank’s hot sauce, tangy balsamic vinegar and umami forward soy and you have a dynamic sauce that tastes like a million bucks.
  • Extremely juicy thanks to the fat cap, pads of butter and simple brine which is optional, but so easy and hands off, and most importantly, it is CULINARY CHANGING!  It will deliver the juiciest roasted pork loin you’ve ever tasted. 
  • Extremely easy to cook to tender, juicy perfection in the oven or the slow cooker. Just spice rub, sear then it’s hands-off cruising. 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PORK LOIN AND PORK TENDERLOIN?

Before you make this pork loin roast recipe, it’s important you purchase pork loin and NOT pork tenderloin – they are two different cuts of meat and need to be cooked differently.  Pork loin is larger, wider and thicker with a fat layer on top, while pork tenderloin is smaller, long and thin, and usually comes with two tenderloins per package.  Here are the major differences: 

  • Cut of Meat:
    • Pork loin roast comes from the back of a pig, starting from the shoulder and running to where the animal’s leg begins. 
    • Pork tenderloin comes from the loin of the pig, which runs from the hip to the shoulder.
  • Size:
    • Pork loin is long and cylindrical in shape. A whole loin weighs up to 20 pounds, which is then cut down into various chops and roasts.  Pork loin roast can be cut to order anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds.
    • Pork tenderloin is thin and small, usually 1-2 pounds; it usually comes in a package of two tenderloins.
  • Texture and flavor: 
    • Pork loin roast is mildly flavored and relatively lean but can become extremely tender when cooked low and slow. 
    • Pork tenderloin gets its name for a reason – it is one of the most tender cuts of pork because it comes from a muscle that doesn’t receives much, if any, exercise.
  • Cooking Method:
    • Pork loin should be slow slow-roasted in order to become tender. It should not be cooked quickly or roasted at high temperatures. 
    • Pork tenderloin cooks quite quickly at higher temperatures, anywhere from 350 degrees to 425 degrees F.

WHAT ARE OTHER NAMES FOR PORK LOIN?

Pork loin roast goes by a few different names and can be a few different cuts, so don’t be confused when you go to the grocery store.  When a recipe calls for pork loin, it is referring to the most common cut of pork loin: top loin roast which is boneless from the end of the loin near the sirloin/rump.  This cut of pork loin may also be called “center cut pork loin roast,” “center-cut pork roast,” “center loin roast,” or “pork loin center.”

Pork loin from the shoulder area can contain bones and is called “pork loin center rib roast,” “pork loin roast center cut,” or “pork loin rib half.” 

For this crock pot pork loin recipe, we want boneless pork loin roast.

Can I make this recipe with pork tenderloin?

Yes, you can also make this pork loin roast recipe with pork tenderloin, but you will need to adjust the brining time and the baking time. 

  • Brine:  Pork tenderloin is small and tender, so it must only be brined for 20 minutes, any longer and it can become mealy. 
  • Baking: Bake at 400 degrees F until pork registers 145 degrees F at the thickest part of the tenderloin, 15-25 minutes depending on thickness. This is different than pork loin which bakes at 350 for upwards of an hour.
top view of roasted pork loin recipe sliced on a cutting board showing how juicy it is

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PORK LOIN ROAST?

You can purchase pork loin in the meat section of your grocery store or from the butcher counter.  When I picked it up last time, there weren’t any displayed, so I simply asked the butcher and he had one in back – so when in doubt, ask! Pork loin is typically $1.50-$2.50, so less than $10 to feed a crowd a restaurant worthy dinner.

  • Weight:  Pork loin roast weighs 3-5 pounds and comes single in a package. Please note this is different than pork tenderloin that can also weigh 3 pounds but contains TWO pork tenderloins in a package (each weigh 1-1 ½ pounds) – so choose the correct cut of pork!
  • Packaging:  Look for pork loin roast that is NOT packaged in a rub or marinade because we are going to brine and season the meat ourselves.  This way, we not only control the flavor, but we can control the amount of salt and eliminate the oil in the marinade. 
  • Color:  When choosing pork loin roast, look for a meat that’s pinkish-red in color with some marbling.  It will also come with a thin layer of fat on one side.  Avoid pork loin that is pale in color or has dark spots on the fat.
  • Storage:   The sooner you cook your newly purchased pork loin, the fresher it will be, although it will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator.   If storing longer than three days, transfer the pork loin roast to the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator 24 hours before using. 

DO I NEED TO REMOVE THE FAT BEFORE COOKING?

Pork loin comes with a layer of fat on the top.  I recommend trimming all but a thin layer, leaving about 1/8-¼ inch.  The thin layer of fat will keep the pork extra juicy as it melts over the meat as it bakes.  If you leave thicker fat on the pork loin, most people will trim it off as they eat, along with the wonderful spice rub, caramelization and browning flavors created by the Maillard reaction.

What sauce for roasted pork loin?

The star of this pork loin recipe is the sauce made with pantry staples in perfect proportion. Each ingredient plays a specific role in weaving the sweet and tangy tapestry.  You will need:

  • Apricot preserves: adds the fruity, multi-dimensional sweetness. 
  • Asian sweet chili sauceis sweet and spicy.  It is made with red chilies, onion, garlic, brown sugar and fish sauce for a one stop complex flavor stop.  It can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.  It is sometimes labeled “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.” Please do not confuse it with Asian Chili sauce/paste without the “sweet” – or your mouth will be on fire! 
  • Balsamic vinegar:  adds the needed tanginess to cut through the sweet apricot preserves.
  • Soy sauce: grounds the sauce with its salty depth. Use low sodium so your recipe isn’t too salty.
  • Hot sauce: cuts through the sweetness of the apricot preserves and sweet chili sauce.  I use Frank’s Red Hot Original Sauce, but I’m sure any hot sauce would work, just start with less and add more to taste.
  • Seasonings:  rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, salt and pepper round out the flavor profile with their herbaceous notes.  They are added to the sauce rather than the spice rub because they will burn if seared.

How do you cook a pork loin without drying it out?

  1. Brine the pork.  If you’ve never brined your pork before, it will change your culinary life!   Brining literally changes the molecular structure of the pork so the cells can no longer constrict, instead, they hold onto all the moisture.  Best of all, brining is done with pantry friendly ingredients in as little as 90 minutes.
  2. Sear the pork.  Searing the pork loin roast creates the Maillard reaction resulting in a rich, deep, caramelized crust.  This crust locks in the juices and helps insulate the pork by preventing the surface of the pork loin from becoming dehydrated when cooked for an extended period of time.
  3. Cook with the fat cap side up.  The pork loin roast comes with a layer of fat on one side of the pork.  The fat creates a self-basting effect along with the butter as it breaks down and drips over the meat, resulting in extra juicy and extra flavorful pork.
  4. Top the pork with sauce and pads of butter.  A sauce of sweet apricot preserves, tangy balsamic, and herbaceous herbs is poured over the pork loin before it bakes, then it’s topped with pads of butter that create a self-basing butter sauce for maximum flavor and tenderness.
  5. Bake the pork in foil.  The foil creates a hot, steamy environment that traps all of the moisture inside. It also infuses the pork loin with loads of flavor as the buttery sauce seeps back into the pork as it cooks.
  6. Don’t overcook the pork.  Pork loin roast is extremely lean so it can dry out very easily when overcooked.  Use your meat thermometer and check your pork frequently towards the beginning of the cooking window so it doesn’t become dry and chewy.   
slicing roasted pork loin across the grain

what is this PORK BRINE MAGIC?

Have you ever brined pork before?  What about turkey? The concept is the same and will change the way you make and see pork forever! 

Pork loin roast is a lean cut of meat so it can easily dry out unless you brine it first. With a brine, the pork emerges crazy juicy every time because brining changes the molecular structure of the pork without having to plan ahead with an overnight marinade – just 90 minutes will do the trick!

In all of my pork brine recipes, readers have commented that brining is a MUST and are converted; even overcooked brined pork emerges juicy – so PLEASE brine your pork!

WHAT IS BRINING? 

Brining is the process of submerging a cut of meat into a solution of salt and water in order to increase the moisture capacity of the meat.  The meat absorbs so much liquid that it can’t all evaporate during the cooking process, creating a juicier piece of meat.

HOW DOES IT WORK? 

The salty brine accomplishes two things: 1) hydrates the cells of the muscle tissues via osmosis; 2) breaks down the proteins so they can no longer contract when cooking, trapping in the moisture.  Or in other words, less water is squeezed out and lost when cooking, resulting in juicier meat.  

HOW LONG DOES BRINING TAKE?

Brining pork loin requires 90 minutes up to 24 hours. If you only have 90 minutes, your roasted pork loin will still emerge tender and juicy.

HOW TO BRINE PORK loin roast

If you’ve never brined any protein before, don’t be intimidated – you are simply immersing the pork loin in a salt solution, similar to a marinade.  To brine pork, you will combine the following in a large disposable bag (I recommend a slow cooker liner or oven roasting bag):

  • kosher salt
  • warm water
  • apple cider vinegar
  • brown sugar
  • ice cubes
  • pork loin

First, you’ll mix the kosher salt and warm water to dissolve the salt. Next, you’ll add the vinegar, brown sugar and ice cubes.  The ice cubes cool the water back down so it’s ready to receive the pork.  Lastly, you’ll add the pork.

Quick tip about brining – Do NOT evenly swap table salt in your brining solution for kosher salt or your roast pork loin will be too salty.  You will need half as much table salt as kosher salt. 

PORK loin DRY RUB

Now that we have tender pork loin roast, it’s time to make it flavorful!  The outside of the pork is coated in a rich, earthy, and complex dry rub with just the right amount of kick.  It takes minutes to whisk together and delivers rich, dynamic flavor without knocking you over the head with one note.

For this pork loin dry rub, you’ll need:

  • Paprika:  I prefer regular paprika as opposed to smoked paprika in this recipe so the sauce can really shine.
  • Garlic powder:  is a favorite ingredient in rubs because it delivers all that yummy garlic goodness in concentrated flavor right on the meat in a way clumpy garlic cannot.
  • Chili powder:  made from a blend chili peppers and other spices including cumin, onion, garlic powder; note American chili powder is NOT hot cayenne pepper.
  • Onion powder:  is dehydrated, ground onion that infuses our roast pork loin with yet another layer of aromatic flavor.
  • Salt and pepper:  are musts to enhance all of the flavors. I used good old table salt in the rub and NOT kosher in this recipe – if you use kosher salt, you will need twice the amount.

HOW TO cook a PORK LOIN

Pork loin in the oven is very simple to make but it is not a dump and run recipe, so you’ll want to plan a couple hours ahead for the brine or you can brine and/or sear the pork a day ahead of time (make ahead instructions to follow). 

Let’s take a closer look at how to make the best pork loin with step by step photos (full recipe in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

STEP 1:  BRINE PORK Loin

  • How to brine pork:  Mix the kosher salt with warm water in order to dissolve the salt, then mix in the vinegar, brown sugar and ice cubes, then add the pork.  The only real trick about brining pork loin roast, is that it’s larger than a freezer size bag so you’ll need a bag large enough to enclose it.  You can use an oven/turkey roasting bag, slow cooker liner or even a plastic grocery bag.  I find it helpful to place the bag in a large bowl to stabilize it and secure the bag by folding the edges around the rim of the bowl (see photo below). This will prevent the brine contents from pouring out while mixing.  Make sure the pork is completely submerged in the brine.
  • Rinse and dry pork loin before seasoning: When your pork is done brining, rinse thoroughly in cool water. If you don’t rinse the pork, it will be too salty – so don’t forget this step!  Next, dry the pork loin roast completely with paper towels so the rub will stick.
a collage showing how to brine pork by 1) dissolving kosher salt in warm water, 2) adding brown sugar, ice and bay leaves, 3) adding pork to the bag and covering in brine

STEP 2: MAKE DRY RUB AND SAUCE

  • Make the dry rub:  While the pork is brining, you’ll make the dry rub and the apricot sauce.  Mix the paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, salt and pepper together. These spices create a wonderful flavor base for any sauce direction you want to go. 
  • Make apricot sauce:  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the apricot preserves, Asian sweet chili sauce, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce and herbs.
showing how to make pork loin roast by adding apricot preserves, soy sauce, balsamic and herbs to a bowl

STEP 3:  SPICE RUB PORK

  • Dry rub the pork loin.  Evenly shake the spice mix over the pork loin roast and pat it into the pork on all sides.
showing how to make pork loin roast by rubbing the pork loin with spices

STEP 4: SEAR THE PORK loin

  • Heat the skillet.  Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat and swirl the pan to evenly coat the bottom with oil.  Don’t substitute olive oil for vegetable oil because we need an oil with a high smoking point. Use a large cast iron skillet and squish the pork loin roast in the best you can if it’s long.  
  • Sear pork: Add pork loin and sear until golden on all sides. Searing the pork creates a caramelized crust which locks in the juices and creates complex flavors that cannot be achieved any other way. It also helps our dry rub stick to the pork and not wash away when adding the sauce.  It’s important that the oil is very hot before you add the pork and that you don’t move the pork before a couple minutes otherwise the spices will stick to the pan. 
showing how to make pork loin roast by searing pork until golden

STEP 5: WRAP THE PORK loin IN FOIL

  • Add sauce: Place the seared pork loin roast on a large sheet of foil.  Make sure the foil is long enough to fold up around the sides of the pork. 
  • Wrap in foil:  Pour about one third of the sauce over the pork loin roast then top with 4 pads of butter.  Top the pork with another piece of foil and tightly wrap around the pork. Transfer the enclosed pork pouch to a 9×13 baking dish or rimmed baking sheet.
showing how to make pork loin roast recipe by adding pork loin to foil and topping with butter

STEP 6: bake THE PORK loin roast

How many minutes per pound do you cook a pork loin?

Bake pork loin in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. For a 3 pound pork loin roast, this will be between 60-75 minutes at 350 degrees F.

showing how to make pork loin roast recipe by basting with sauce

STEP 7: REST THE PORK

  • Let roasted pork loin rest. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and carefully open the foil because a lot of steam will escape. Spoon some of the accumulated apricot butter sauce in the bottom of the foil over top the pork. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
  • Smother with sauce. After slicing, slather the reserved apricot sauce (that wasn’t cooked with the pork) over the slices – this is where the real flavor comes in!
showing how to make roasted pork loin  by slicing across the grain

expert TIPS FOR THE BEST PORK LOIN RECIPE

The best pork loin roast recipe is achieved by following a few key techniques:

  • Brine for optimal tenderness.  As previously detailed, brining the pork results in the juiciest pork so PLEASE don’t skip! 
  • Thoroughly rinse the pork after brining so it isn’t too salty. You can always add salt after cooking but it’s hard to take away!
  • Don’t overcook: overcooked pork is dry pork. Pork loin roast is extremely lean so it can dry out very easily when overcooked.  Use your meat thermometer and check your pork at the early end of the cooking window.  
  • Use an instant read meat thermometer.  There are many variables when it comes to cooking pork loin roast such as size, thickness, actual oven temperature, searing level and your desired level of doneness.  To eliminate the guesswork and guarantee perfectly cooked, juicy pork loin every time, invest in an instant read meat thermometer.  This is the exact one I use (more details below).
  • Slice the pork loin roast across the grain.  Cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers so they become as short as possible, as opposed to parallel which will result in long muscle fibers and chewy, rubbery meat.  You can either slice in ½” slices or my husband loves super thin slices.

Can I make this recipe in the crockpot? 

Yes!  Follow the recipe, except instead of placing the pork in foil, place it in a lightly greased 6 qt. or larger slow cooker. Add the pork loin, top with one third of the sauce, followed by the butter.  Cook on LOW for 2 – 4 hours (check early) until pork reaches 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

Transfer pork to a cutting board, let rest for 15 minutes before slicing, then slather with reserved sauce.

PORK loin COOKING TEMPERATURE

The USDA guidelines state that pork can be safely consumed when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F with a resting time of three minutes. Your pork loin roast will increase in temperature anywhere from 5-10 degrees as it rests, so I remove my pork loin as soon as it hits 145 degrees F for the juiciest pork.

HOW TO CHECK PORK COOKING TEMP

The most accurate way to check the internal temperature of pork loin is with an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast. Instant read thermometers eliminate all of the guesswork – you simply cannot make perfectly cooked pork without one!

You can pick up an inexpensive instant read thermometer at the grocery store or Amazon, or I HIGHLY recommend this digital probe thermometer – you will never overcook any protein again!  Instant read thermometers can be temperamental, but this digital probe thermometer retrieves temperature precisely to within ±1.8°F (±1°C). 

To use the digital thermometer, you insert one probe into the pork (through the foil) and leave it in the pork while it cooks.  Set the desired temperature on the monitor and an alarm will ring as soon as it reaches the set temperature.  Now, just walk away and be rewarded with succulently juicy roasted pork loin every time.

CAN PORK loin BE PINK?

Yes, pork loin roast is safe to consume when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145 degrees F which means it will be slightly pink inside.

This 145-degrees temperature is 15 degrees less than the old standards of 160 degrees F which would mean the pork would be completely cooked through without any pink.  The research shows, however, that 145 degrees F is the same safety-wise as cooking pork to 160 degrees F AND yields much more tender pork.

front view of roast pork loin with thick slices brushed with glaze

possible RECIPE VARIATIONS

This pork loin roast recipe is fabulous as is or you can use the basic cooking technique and make it your own.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Brine:  Mix up the brine by adding peppercorns, rosemary and/or thyme.  You can swap the vinegar for orange juice or red wine vinegar.
  • Spice rub:  The spice mix can be made with any mix of spices as long as you don’t add herbs or they will burn. you can also play with the ratios – swap the chili powder for paprika, add additional pepper, chipotle chili powder, go Cajun, etc.
  • Customize the sauce: The sauce can be made sweeter, tangier, or spicier.  Sweeten it up with honey or granulated sugar or add sweet heat with Asian Sweet Chili Sauce, make it tangier with additional balsamic vinegar or spicier with additional hot sauce. Just keep a note of your adjustments then whip out the perfect apricot sauce for next time.  
  • Try a different preserve: I have not experimented with this, but I imagine different flavored preserves such as apricot-pineapple, pineapple, peach, orange, blackberry, etc. would all be tasty.
  • Use a difference sauce:  You virtually can use anything here!  Pick a sauce from your favorite recipe, but keep in mind you may need to thicken it with a cornstarch slurry after the pork bakes. 

WHAT SIDES ARE BEST WITH roasted PORK LOIN?

This pork loin roast pairs beautifully with practically everything!  Here are some more favorites to choose from:

MAKE AHEAD PORK LOIN

You can prep this pork loin recipe completely ahead of time up to the point of baking or you can prep it in stages.  Here are four make ahead options: 

  • Brine: Brine the pork for up to 24 hours, rinse and dry, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to another 24 hours.
  • Rub:  Brine, rinse, dry and coat the pork with spice rub.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
  • Sear:  Brine, rinse, dry, spice rub and sear.  Let the pork cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Let sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before roasting in the oven.
  • Sauce:  Can be whisked together and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • Everything!  Brine, rinse, dry, spice rub and sear. Place the pork in foil, then cover with one third of the sauce and pads of butter. Cover with additional foil and refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Let sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before baking.

HOW TO USE LEFTOVER PORK LOIN

If you are fortunate enough to have leftover roast pork loin, it reheats beautifully or you can repurpose it in sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas, eggs, omelets, breakfast hash, hash browns, breakfast enchiladasbreakfast casserolessalads, pastas or pasta salads, rice, soups (amazing in ramen) or plain.  It is also tasty jazzed up with other sauces.

HOW LONG IS LEFTOVER PORK LOIN GOOD FOR?

Leftover pork loin should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When properly stored, pork is good up to 5 days.

HOW TO REHEAT PORK LOIN ROAST

  • Stove:  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat along with a splash of water. Add sliced pork loin in a single layer and heat through, flipping halfway.
  • Microwave: Transfer sliced pork loin to a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 1 minute, then continue to microwave for 20-second intervals, if needed.
  • Oven: Add sliced pork loin to baking dish along with a few tablespoons of water. Brush with some sauce and cover with foil. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until warmed through.

CAN I FREEZE LEFTOVER PORK LOIN?

Yes!  You can freeze pork loin whole, chopped or in slices.  Frozen pork loin roast should be used within 3-4 months.

TOP RATED PORK loin RECIPES:

Looking for more ways to use delicious pork? Try these top-rated pork loin and pork tenderloin recipes!

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up close of pork loin roast recipe showing how juicy the pork is

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slicing pork loin roast across the grain

Pork Loin Roast with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce

Your search for succulent roasted pork loin, dripping with flavor stops here. This pork loin recipe is buttery tender from a simple brine and unabashedly flavorful thanks to a paprika tinged spice rub and hypnotic sweet, tangy and as spicy-as-you-like-it apricot sauce. This roasted pork loin may look impressive but is deceptively easy to make and prep ahead friendly (just pop it in the oven!).  It’s ideal for holidays or entertaining and makes fantastic leftovers – should you be so lucky.  I’ve included detailed instructions, tips, tricks and everything you need to know to make the BEST pork loin every time!  Serve this tasty recipe with mashed potatoes  or Hasselback potatoes, and roasted broccoli for a dinner your whole family will beg you to make again and again!
Servings: 8 -10 servings
Prep Time: 2 hrs
Cook Time: 1 hr 15 mins

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Ingredients

  • 3-4 pounds pork loin roast, fat cap trimmed to 1/8-¼ inch (NOT pork tenderloin)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter sliced into 4 pads

BRINE

  • 6 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt or ¼ cup table salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup ice cubes

SPICE MIX

  • 2 tsp EACH paprika, garlic powder
  • 1 tsp EACH onion powder, chili powder, salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

SAUCE

Instructions

  • Brine Pork: In an oven roasting bag, slow cooker liner, (or even grocery bag, whatever will fit the pork) mix salt with warm water until dissolved. (I place the bag inside a bowl to help prop it up.) Whisk in the brown sugar, vinegar and bay leaves, followed by the ice. Add the pork, tie the bag and make sure the pork is completely submerged. (Placing the bag in a bowl can help the pork stay sumberged.) Brine pork in the refrigerator for 90 minutes up to 24 hours. RINSE pork very well and pat very dry. Meanwhile:
  • Sauce and Spice Rub: Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk all of the spice rub ingredients together in a separate small bowl; set aside.
  • Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay a piece of foil in a 9×13 baking dish, long enough so it overhangs the dish (it will wrap up the pork later).
  • Rub and Sear Pork: Evenly rub the dried pork all over with spice mix. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot and just smoking, add pork loin (squeeze it in). Sear each side of the pork until golden, about 3-4 minutes, then transfer to the foil lined baking dish fat side up.
  • Enclose Pork: Fold up the foil snuggly around the sides of the pork. Pour or brush ⅓ cup sauce over the pork, then top with 4 pads of butter. Top the pork with another piece of foil and tightly close.
  • Bake: Roast until the internal temperature registers 145°F (62.5°C) in the thickest part on an instant read thermometer, about 20-25 minutes per pound (60-75 minutes for a 3 pound roast – check early, DONT'T OVERCOOK!). This means the pork will be juicy and slightly pink in the middle.
  • Rest and Slice: Remove the pork loin from the oven. Carefully remove the top foil and baste several times with some of the juices then transfer the pork to a cutting board. Let the pork rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Once sliced, brush with reserved sauce; dig in!

Video

Notes

Tips and tricks

  • Pork loin and pork tenderloin are not the same:  They vary in size and cooking method, so they should not be directly substituted for each other (see below for cooking tenderloin).  Pork loin can also be called “pork loin roast” “center cut pork loin roast,” “center-cut pork roast,” “center loin roast,” or “pork loin center.”  
  • To use pork tenderloin:  Brine for a maximum of 20 minutes (any longer and it can become mealy because it’s so tender). Bake at 400 degrees F until pork registers 145 degrees F at the thickest part of the tenderloin, 15-25 minutes depending on thickness.
  • Trim fat cap:  I recommend trimming all but a thin layer, leaving about 1/8-¼ inch.  The thin layer of fat will keep the pork extra juicy as it melts over the meat as it bakes.  If you leave thicker fat on the pork loin, most people will trim it off as they eat, along with the wonderful spice rub, caramelization and browning flavors created by the Maillard reaction.
  • Please brine! The juiciest pork loin is brined pork loin – it will blow your mind! The brining process increases the moisture capacity of the pork for outrageously juicy pork every time. 
  • Brining salt: Do NOT evenly swap table salt in your brining solution for kosher salt or your pork will be too salty.  You will need half as much table salt as kosher salt.  
  • Asian sweet chili sauceis sweet and spicy.  It can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.  It is sometimes labeled “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.” Please do not confuse it with Asian Chili sauce/paste without the “sweet” – or your mouth will be on fire! 
  • Hot sauce:  If you like heat, use 3 teaspoons/1 tablespoon hot sauce.  If you are on the fence, start with 1 teaspoon, then add more to taste if desired.  Keep in mind the sauce will lightly glaze the meat and will taste extra spicy on its own. 
  • Use a meat thermometer. The only accurate way to check your pork loin temperature is with an instant read thermometer.  It will save you all the guessing and deliver perfectly juicy pork every time.  This is the exact digital probe instant read meat thermometer I use (seen in the video).
  • Don’t discard juices:  Use the buttery basing juices/sauce over vegetables like roasted potatoes, broccoli, etc. (Thanks to reader Rose for the idea!)
  • Crockpot Pork Loin Roast: Follow the recipe, except instead of placing the pork in foil, place it in a lightly greased 6 qt. or larger slow cooker. Add the pork loin fat side up, top with one third of the sauce, followed by the butter.  Cook on LOW for 2 – 4 hours (check early) until pork reaches 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat.  Transfer pork to a cutting board, let rest for 15 minutes before slicing, then slather with reserved sauce.

MAKE AHEAD PORK LOIN

You can prep this pork loin recipe completely ahead of time up to the point of baking or you can prep it in stages.  Here are four make ahead options: 
  • Brine: Brine the pork for up to 24 hours, rinse and dry, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to another 24 hours.
  • Rub:  Brine, rinse, dry and coat the pork with spice rub.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
  • Sear:  Brine, rinse, dry, spice rub and sear.  Let the pork cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Let sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before roasting in the oven.
  • Sauce:  Can be whisked together and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • Everything!  Brine, rinse, dry, spice rub and sear. Place the pork in foil, then cover with one third of the sauce and pads of butter. Cover with additional foil and refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Let sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before baking.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

  • Storage:  Leftover pork loin should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat on the stove:  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat along with a splash of water. Add sliced pork loin in a single layer and heat through, flipping halfway.
  • To reheat in the microwave: Transfer sliced pork loin to a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 1 minute, then continue to microwave for 20-second intervals, if needed.
  • To reheat in the oven: Add sliced pork loin to baking dish along with a few tablespoons of water. Brush with some sauce and cover with foil. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until warmed through.

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8 Comments

  1. Susan says

    I have a pork loin roast to make tonight and just saw your recipe come to my email! I have everything but the sweet chili sauce, any sub you can suggest so I can make this tonight??

    • Jen says

      Hi Susan, the sweet chili sauce is hard to replicate exactly because it’s such a complex ingredient but it’s main purpose is sweet heat, so I would try adding 2 tablespoons sugar, additional hot sauce to taste and 1/2 tsp ground ginger. Good luck!

      • Susan says

        Hi Jen, thank you for the reply, I made the sauce before I saw your reply so I did a mix of sambal oelek and honey to get the sweet heat thing and it turned out pretty good actually! The recipe was a huge hit with my boys and hubby, this recipe was the answer to my dinner dilemma today with the pork loin just waiting to be cooked and I couldn’t decide how to fix it so THANK YOU!!

        • Jen says

          Oh good, I’m so glad you worked out the sauce and that it was a huge hit! Thanks for being the first to review the recipe!

  2. Mannette Pugh says

    I just made homemade orange marmalade and wonder if I could swap with the apricot and the rest of the recipe remain the same or should some spices be different than listed. Thanks for all you do as you know my family and I are your biggest fans.

    Love to you and your loved ones,
    Your Murrieta neighbor,
    Mannette Pugh

    • Jen says

      Hi neighbor! Yes, I think that would be delicious – it will just have a more pronounced orange taste instead of a more neutral one. Please let me know how it goes!

  3. English Rose says

    How much did I enjoy prepping this, cooking this lushious, delicious, sink your tiny teeth into pork loin?
    Well, I’ve never “Brined” anything in my life before and what a treat that was!
    Next up, the herbs and spices … some like it hot like me (As I added the paprika, chilli, chilli sauce, hot sauce etc) but I was blown away at the end by how much it was not spicy at all! Methinks the apricot conserve balanced it all out.
    Aahhh, the basting, what a joy! Spooning over thick, herby, buttery sauce which I sank all my roast potatoes into afterwards, cleaning up my plate.
    The result? Absolutely delicious! This has elevated what used to be a much avoided dry cut of pork to absolute delight! So moist and tender and the flavour is immense.
    Jen, you are a genius!

    • Jen says

      I am loving your comment, Rose, it has me salivating all over again, thank you so much! I’m so pleased you loved the brining method (I can’t eat pork without it!), and your idea to toss your roasted potatoes in the buttery basting sauce is genius! I am definitely adding that to the notes, thank you!

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