How To Tell If Pork Loin Is Done Without A Thermometer (5 Easy Methods)

Are you spending time cooking for your guests but then serving overcooked, chewy, undercooked, or pork loin? It can be both frustrating and disappointing. 

Using a thermometer to check for internal temperature is the easiest and safest way to tell if your meat is ready. However, if you don’t have a food thermometer, there are several ways you can check for the doneness of your smoked pork loin.

So keep reading to see how you can check if your pork loin is cooked without using a thermometer and serve the perfect juicy pork.

The Best Way to Tell if Pork Loin is Ready Without Using a Thermometer.

The USDA recommends cooking raw pork from 145 °F  to 160°F. If you don’t have a thermometer to check for safe internal temperature before taking your food off the heat you can try some of the following.

Note: The tips below shouldn’t be used to make a definitive decision, you should use a thermometer where possible.

Check If The Meat Juices Are Clear. 

You check for clear meat juice by cutting or poking the meat with a knife or fork and looking at the color of the juices from the meat. Clear juices or slightly pink juice indicate doneness. Deep pink or red color shows that you need to cook your meat more.

Note: Clear juices don’t always indicate the whole piece is cooked fully, so use your judgment

Check If The Pork Loin is Tough Inside. 

Using a long knife or skewer can help you determine if the middle of the pork loin is tough or tender. When you puncture the cooking pork you should gauge the resistance it builds. 

  • If the skewer or knife goes in and out easily and the center has tender meat, it’s an indicator of doneness.
  • If the knife or skewer is resistant, cook the pork for a little extra time.

Test a Piece of The Pork Loin

To test a piece of pork loin, use a fork and knife – cut the meat and get into the middle of the pork loin. You can check how hot it is by pulling a piece out and placing it at the back of your hand. It should be as hot as a cup of coffee.

Test Using the Firmness Under Your Thumb

You can also check if the meat is ready by feeling and comparing the firmness to the tissue under your thumb.
Use your fingers to poke the cooked pork loin and take note of the firmness.

  • Raw: Raw meat feels like the fleshy spot between your thumb and the base of your palm when the hand is relaxed. Keep cooking the meat until it gets firm.
  • Rare: To check if your meat is rare, touch the tip of your thumb and press it against your index finger. Rare-cooked meat has the same feel and region under your thumb. 
  • Medium-rare meat: to check for medium-rare cooked meat, touch the thumb with your middle finger. The feel of the flesh underneath the thumb has the same firmness as a medium-rare pork loin 
  • Medium: Medium-cooked pork loin roast feels like the skin underneath your thumb. You can check for this by touching the tip of your thumb with your ring finger. 
  • Well done: When your pork loin is ready, it’s as firm as the skin below your thumb. Note this when your thumb tip touches the pinky tip of your finger. 

Cut to See if The Pork Loin is Opaque

Cut your pork loin to the thickest part and pull it apart using a knife and fork. Check for the internal color of the meat.

  •  When you cut a slice of pork, it should have an opaque internal color with a slight pink color when done. Eating slightly pink pork is okay according to USDA
  • For thin cuts of sliced pork, check the color without cutting.

Remember that cooked meat color is also affected by meat pH. The color alone cannot tell whether the meat is ready or not. The darker red color in meat than the normal red color indicates microbial growth. Discard the meat if you notice this color change. The process of this color change is known as color reversion.

Follow The Proper Cooking Time 

A recipe can guide you on the cooking temperature for pork and how long you need to cook. Use the timer in your oven or set the time using your phone.

Remember to cook your pork for 20 – 25 minutes for every pound of pork you add. If you are smoking pork loin for pulled pork you will want to cook too it to 200°F – 205°F so that it is easier to shred.

To be certain your meat is ready, cook at the proper temperature and add some extra minutes to the cooking time. It’s better to consume overcooked meat than get sick from consuming undercooked pork loin. If you’re doing a stuffed pork loin you will want to ensure it’s 145°F before pulling it from the smoker.

 Slow-cooking pork in a slow cooker or crockpot ensures that your meat reaches the correct internal temperature and is tender. But, judging meat doneness alone without a thermometer is a big risk. Here’s why having a meat thermometer is important:

Top reasons for having a meat thermometer.

  • It takes the guesswork out of the way, makes you an excellent cook, and gives accurate temperature readings.
  • It’s safe and can help you keep your guests from getting sick.
  • It saves time. You don’t have to spend more time cutting the meat to see if it’s cooked or not.
  • It’s cheap. You can get one for as low as $10-14. Get yourself a digital thermometer or an instant-read thermometer.
  • The best part is that you can stick your oven-safe probe thermometer for the perfect temperature in your roast. Set your timer without babysitting your food.

These tips can help you to know if pork is done without a thermometer. But you should rely on that method It is important to have a food thermometer so you can cook your pork at a safe temperature and serve your guests a delicious meal.

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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