When you are considering cooking pork the question of pork loin vs butt often comes up. The 2 cuts of pork are quite different and both have their pros and cons depending on what your desired outcome might be.
In this article we will discuss the topic in detail and give you plenty of ideas to help you make the decision about which cut of pork is going to suit your context and intentions. We’ve also tried to address the most frequently asked questions about the 2 pork cuts.
Pork Loin vs Butt – Which is Better For Roasting or Pulling?
Pork butt is the much more popular and common choice for pulling because it has good mix of a high fat content and muscle content. This makes it a great choice for cooking low and slow to break down the fat and muscle for pulled pork.
Most people use pork loin for a roast because it is a lean meat that is fairly quick to cook for a family dinner. It’s worth considering that you can also roast pork shoulder and slow cook pork loin to make it tender enough to pull apart. It depends on your preferences and context which one could be considered a ‘better,’ fit for you.
Does Pork Loin Work For Pulled Pork?
You can absolutely use pork loin for pulled pork but bear in mind that you need to cook it longer than you would if you were just going to slice it.
It will take around 5 hours in the oven to make it fork tender, whereas you can roast a pork loin for slicing in around 1 1/2 hours. You will also need to make sure you use more liquid than the more popular choice for pulled pork (pork shoulder) because a loin can dry out quite easily.
Which is Better Pork Loin or Pork Fillet?
To decide whether pork loin or pork fillet (also called pork tenderloin) is ‘better,’ will depend on your context and preferences. Pork loin is better in terms of roasting it in the oven and slicing it to feed up to 10 people as a family dinner.
Pork fillet is a smaller cut of meat that will feed up to 4 people, but it is a highly prized moist and succulent cut of meat. You can serve it like a steak with a slight blush of pink.
What Cut is Pork Butt?
Pork butt is a cut taken from the upper part of a pig’s shoulder which is very fatty, but also contains connective tissue meaning it needs to be slow cooked for a long time to break it down. It’s a cut that is often used for pulled pork for this reason.
Due to its name people can understandably confuse it with a cut that comes from the pig’s hindquarters but that is not the case.
Pork Loin vs Pork Shoulder for Pulled Pork
Pork shoulder is the more popular choice for pulled pork because it contains plenty of fat but also connective tissue, making it perfect for slow cooking and pulling apart with a fork.
Pork loin can be used for pulled too but it doesn’t contain much fat so you would need to make sure use plenty of liquid (ie sauce or stock) to cook it so that it doesn’t dry out. In general pork loin is more commonly used for pork roast and then sliced for a family dinner, but if you want to use it for pulled pork then you certainly can do so.
Pork Shoulder vs Pork Butt
People often think that pork shoulder and pork butt are the same thing, but while pork butt does come from the shoulder of the pig it is cut from higher up than the pork shoulder cut. In fact it contains meat from the animal’s neck and shoulder blade.
Although the 2 cuts are similar pork butt has a higher fat content than pork shoulder which has more muscle content.
Pork Loin vs Pork Shoulder For Carnitas
Most people prefer using pork shoulder for carnitas because of its higher fat content, however if you prefer a meatier, leaner taste and texture pork loin could be a good option for you.
Try the link below for a recipe for pork carnitas.
Pork Loin Recipes
Pork loin can be cooked in the oven at medium-high heat in around an hour and a half or smoked in your smoker in 2-3 hours at a low and slow heat of 225F or 107C.
It is delicious served with apple sauce, roast potatoes, mash, vegetables, gravy and all the trimmings. It is also delicious with a honey, garlic and mustard sauce such as our recipe below demonstrates.
Try the Instagram video below to see the process of smoking a pork loin.
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You might also enjoy our how much pork roast per person article.
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