How to Roast Pork Perfectly
How to roast pork so that it’s juicy and tender on the inside and has a nice brown crust on the outside. It works perfectly every time!
Last year I was searching for the best way to roast prime rib when I found this on Serious Eats.com. It’s a great discussion of what searing does to a roast (it doesn’t seal in juices, if that’s what you’re thinking). And then it has a set of experiments testing to find the perfect roast. What they were seeking was an evenly cooked piece of meat with a nice brown crust. They achieved it by doing something that I found backwards. Because it is backwards:
They seared the meat at the end rather than at the beginning.
I have since applied this method many times to roast beef and I’m here to tell you that it’s brilliant. The meat is an evenly cooked perfect pink throughout and the crust is dark and crunchy. The crisp crust is because the roast goes straight from the very hot oven to the table with no time to rest, steam and lose that texture.
Today I’m sharing how to apply this same basic technique to roasting pork. Let me tell you, the reverse-sear is even more amazing with pork. You get a soft juicy inside (nearly as soft as pulled pork) and all kinds of good crunchy meat and fat on the outside.
How to Roast Pork Perfectly
This how-to is for pork roasts that have some marbling. Look for a pork butt or a pork shoulder (boneless or with bone). Don’t try it with a loin. Just don’t. If you do have a pork loin, go here for instructions for roasting it perfectly. And if you’re looking to make a traditional Pork and Sauerkraut dish for New Year’s, head over here.
Here’s a video showing how to roast pork butt and pork shoulder, followed by very detailed step-by-step written instructions. A printable, shorter version of the instructions is at the end as well.
1) Take your pork roast out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven temperature to 300°F.
2) If your pork roast has a thick layer of fat on the outside, cut all but a thin layer away so that it’s a thinner coating.
Tip: Don’t throw this fat out. Season it lightly with salt and then put it in a single layer in a cake pan (something with edges because a lot of hot fatty liquid is going to come out of it). Roast it in the 300°F oven until some fat is rendered. Drain off the fat and keep roasting until very crispy. Check it every 30 minutes or so. When it’s crisp and lightly browned blot it on kitchen towel and then break it into pieces. Try hard not to eat it all yourself.
3) Season the pork roast all over with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
When my mom and dad were doing roasts for catering gigs I’d watch them prepare these huge cuts of meat. My mom seemed to be putting a ton of seasoning on the outside. I asked about the amounts and my mom said, “Always put more pepper and garlic than you think you need. But not as much salt.” To accomplish this I do a good sprinkling of salt all over and then a more liberal seasoning of pepper and of garlic powder. Then I go in with a bit more pepper and a bit more garlic to make sure that I’m following my mom’s advice.
Tip: Measure out the salt, pepper and garlic into a small bowl and mix it up. Now you can season directly from the bowl without worrying if your hands touch the roast in between rounds of seasoning. For a 5lb. roast I measure 1 teaspoon salt, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. I use all of the mixture but if you have some leftover, discard it.
4) Put the roast in a large roasting pan, fat-side-up. Add about a half inch of low or no-salt-added chicken broth to the bottom of the pan. Roast it uncovered.
For how long? You’re not aiming for a medium-rare pork here. You want that really tender meat like for pulled pork. But you don’t want it to be so tender that it actually pulls when you try to slice it. Aim for about 180°F internal temperature. That will be about 40 minutes per pound at 300°F.
Use an instant read thermometer (I really like this one, it’s inexpensive and works well) to check it after 25 minutes per pound and then again every 5 minutes per pound after that. So if you have a 5 pound roast, you’ll check it after 125 minutes (about 2 hours) and then every 25 minutes or so after that. It will probably take 3 and 1/2 hours to get to 180°F.
5) When the broth evaporates and has left a light brown layer on the bottom of the pan, add more (or add water).
Tip: You want to add enough liquid so that it goes back up the sides of the pan. This is to dissolve any brownings on the sides of the pan from the previous round of broth. You want all of this brown flavor in your eventual gravy.
6) Put the roast back into the oven. When the liquid level gets low again, add more liquid again.
7) When it gets to 180°F, take the roast out of the oven and let it rest for 30-40 minutes. It will be fine for up to an hour. There is no need to cover it during resting time.
This is important because this is the only time the roast will rest. Don’t skip this step.
Tip: Use this resting time to finish off your other side dishes and make the gravy using that gorgeous brown liquid. Here’s my method for making a perfect gravy using drippings like the ones you have from this roast.
8) Preheat the oven to 475°F.
9) Put the roast into a clean roasting pan or onto a baking sheet and put it into the hot oven for 13-17 minutes, uncovered.
You want the outside to get really nice and brown and the fat to get crunchy.
Tip: You can use the same roasting pan you used the first time but rinse it well beforehand.
10) Carve and serve.
It already rested back in step 7 so don’t let it rest now. Carve it immediately.
Tip: Use an inexpensive electric carving knife like this one to carve roasts. It shreds the meat less and you can get thin slices with an even thickness.
11) Eat :)
Isn’t that the coolest way to roast pork? It’s low and slow so that it’s tender, just the way you want it. And the outside is all brown and crunchy and full of flavor. I’m never going to roast pork another way.
Here the whole How to Roast Pork tutorial in printable form. Just click print below.
- a boneless or bone in pork butt or pork shoulder (4-8 pounds is ideal)
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- low or no-sodium chicken broth
- Take your pork roast out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat oven to 300°F.
- If your pork roast has a thick layer of fat on the outside, cut about half of it away so that it’s a thinner layer. You can throw this out. Or, the best thing to do, is to turn it into a snack to have while your pork is roasting. Put the fat that you removed from the roast in a single layer on its own cake pan. Use a pan with edges because a lot of hot fatty liquid is going to come out of it. Season it lightly with salt. Roast the layer of fat in the 300F oven until it’s brown and very crispy. Check it often. Blot it on kitchen towel. Break it into pieces and offer it as nibbles to anyone who is lured into your kitchen by the roasting pork smells.
- Meanwhile, mix the pepper, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl and then sprinkle liberally all over the roast. Depending on the size of your roast, you may not need it all.
- Put the roast in a large roasting pan, fat-side-up. You do not need to use a rack in the pan. I never do. Add about half an inch of low or no-sodium chicken broth to the bottom of the pan. Put it into the oven, uncovered. For how long? Well, you’re not aiming for a slightly rare pork here. You want that really tender meat like for pulled pork. But you don’t want it to be so tender that it pulls when you try to slice it. Aim for about 180°F internal temperature. Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature. It will take about 40 minutes per pound. If at any point most of the broth has evaporated, add another half inch.
- Take the roast out of the oven. Transfer it to a plate so that you can get at the roasting pan and make your gravy. Let the roast rest for 30-40 minutes. This is important because this is the only time the roast will rest. The roast does not need to be covered during resting time. Don’t skip this step. Use this time to make your gravy. (Here’s how to make gravy using the flavorful broth from the bottom of the roasting pan) and to finish off your other side dishes and set the table.
- Preheat the oven to 475F.
- Once the roast has rested, the oven has preheated and once you have everything else for your dinner just about ready, put the roast into a clean roasting pan or onto a baking sheet, uncovered, and put it into the hot oven for 13-17 minutes. You want the outside to get nice and brown.
- When it’s really nice and browned, take the roast out of the oven and immediately carve it* and serve it. Do not let it rest now since it has already rested.
Video by Leigh Olson. Article, photos and recipe by Christine Pittman.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.
This post originally appeared in December, 2014 and was revised and republished in December, 2016.