How to Tenderize Pork Loin (5 Simple Steps)

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Pork loin is a lean meat which means it’s lower in fat and is more prone to drying out. Because of this, pork meat needs to be prepped and cooked in a certain way.

Some people tend to prepare it like chicken, and it ends up being too dry or tough, the key to pork loin is tenderizing it. 

The following guide will show you how to prepare flavourful, tender, and perfect pork that tastes as a grill master prepared it.

Choosing The Right Cut

First of all, you need to pick a cut of pork that is easy to tenderize. This would make your job easier.

Loin cuts include:

  • Blade End
  • Centre Rib
  • Center Loin
  • Sirloin End

Tenderizing Your Pork Loin Before Cooking

Step 1: Use a Meat Mallet

Use a meat mallet, rolling pin, or heavy bottle to hit the raw pork.

The idea is to break up the muscle fibers and connective tissue.

Step 2: Marinade Your Pork Loin

Fruit and dairy products help tenderize meat due to their enzymes. Use dairy products such as yogurt and buttermilk. Try to avoid vinegar with pork as more potent acids can have a toughening effect

There are tenderizing enzymes in fruit such as papaya, which contains papain enzyme, and pineapple, which contains bromelain.

These are both great for tenderizing meat. However, remember to use these in moderate quantities to avoid mushy meat.

Other ingredients that you can use in your pork marinade recipe include:

  • Fruit juice
  • Minced shallot
  • Lime juice/pineapple juice
  • Pepper
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Oregano
  • Sage

Step 3: Brine the Pork Loin

This involves soaking the raw meat for 2 to 6 hours in a simple solution of 1 cup of kosher salt and 2 quarts of water. You can also add ingredients such as:

herbs, peppercorns, garlic powder or cloves garlic, black pepper, onion powder, brown sugar, sesame ginger, white pepper, rosemary, thyme, apple cider vinegar, bay leaves,

The spice mixtures give a fantastic flavor.

Cooking Advice: Make sure to rinse off the brine before cooking to wash off excess salt.

Cooking a Tender Pork Loin

Let’s explore various options for cooking a piece of pork loin once it’s been tenderized. 

Option 1: Sear Pork Before Baking

Getting the pork in contact with direct heat in a hot pan over a stove or grill will give your pork a golden crust.

You would then transfer it to a cooler part of the oven and close the lid for the rest of the cooking time.

Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature: an internal temperature of 145°F means the meat is safe for eating. Some people write in and ask me how to tell when pork loin is done without a thermometer, but I always tell be safe, not sorry and get a thermometer.

Cooking Advice: searing helps give your pork a tasty brown crust. However, it can only cook the outside of your meat quicker than the inside, so it’s not advisable to use it throughout the cooking process to avoid getting tough pork.

Option 2: Braise the Pork

This involves cooking the meat in a simple mixture of ingredients and simmering in a hot sauce for hours.

It helps add moisture to the meat, making it tender and flavorful. It’s often preferred for pieces of meat with lots of connective tissues and tougher cuts of pork like shoulder cuts and country-style ribs.

Option 3: Smoke the Pork

This adds a unique, natural flavor to the meat. As the meat cooks over indirect heat from unique woods like mesquite, it absorbs the scent of the wood, which gives a fantastic flavor and helps it make it tender.

You could use any grill or smoker, but remember to rub your pork loin with a seasoning of your choice.

Smoke your pork for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours until the internal temperature reaches 204°F. At this point, your pork loin will be tender enough to pull. I recommend using two forks or bear claws to the pull the meat.

Option 4: Stew the Pork

This involves cooking your pieces of meat in a spice mixture of ingredients at low heat for a long time.

It helps soften tough pieces of pork like shoulder cuts and country-style ribs to make tender meat. 

Let the Meat Rest

Always allow the meat to rest after cooking for 10 minutes. This allows the protein in the meat to reabsorb the juices which usually runs out of the meat if it’s cut immediately after removing it from the grill or oven. Here of our favorite sides for pork loin.

How Long Does it Last in The Refrigerator?

Your pork loin will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator, however, it all depends on how you store it. Ensure you reheat the loin properly or it will end up dry.

This is how we tenderize pork loin, to get it ready for a delicious feast. How do you tenderize pork?

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

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 adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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