Pork Shoulder Vs Pork Loin: Which One’s Better?

pork loin
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Pork meat has become a staple food for some of us. Who doesn’t like that fatty, meaty, and juicy taste that stirs our taste buds? Whether it’s cooked as a stew, steak, or grilled, it just works perfectly.

However, we’re still confused at times on picking which type of pork cut we should use for certain pork dishes. The two most common pork cuts are pork shoulder and pork loin. So which is better? That will depend on what type of dish and how you’re going to cook it.

Difference Between Pork Shoulder and Pork Loin?

In this article, let’s find out how these two vary from each other and we’ll do our pick by the end of this article.

PORK SHOULDER PORK LOIN
Other Common Names Boston butt and pork butt Pork tenders and pork filets
Which Part of the Pork it’s from It’s the meat from the pork’s upper part of the shoulder which starts from the front leg area It’s the specific muscle that surrounds the pork’s backbones
Does it have Bones? Normally, it contains what you call the blade bone. Butchers removed them before selling and then tied back into a joint. It is sold boneless.
What’s the Size? It’s usually cut as a large piece of meat. When ordering, you may request the butcher to have it in smaller cuts. One piece of pork shoulder could weigh up to 18 pounds. The pork loin is usually cut small. The average weight of 1 piece of loin is about a pound.
Flavor and Texture It’s quite lean with a little bit of fat marbling around it. When cooked nicely, the texture should be tender and juicy. The flavors are not too strong compared to other pork cuts. The meat is very lean with little to no fat. Although it lacks fat, it’s still tender when cooked. The taste of the meat is quite flavorful and succulent.

Which Cut is More Expensive?

In general, when raising livestock, hogs are cheaper to maintain than cows. That’s the main reason why in the grocery stores pork meat is more affordable than beef.

Both pork cuts, shoulder, and loin are cheap. In the US, you can get a pound of pork shoulder for $3 while a pound of pork loin can be between $3-4.

Whichever you pick, none of it will break a wallet.

Which One Takes Longer To Cook?

Pork Shoulder is tough meat to cook. To enjoy its flavors and get the perfect results, it must be cooked slowly with the right temperature. Cooking it too soon may result in a hard chewy texture and less flavorful piece of meat.

It’s also recommended to cut it into smaller parts so it will cook faster especially if you have no time. If you have a pressure cooker, it will come in handy for the pork shoulder.

Pork Loin can be tricky to cook since it’s less tough compared to pork shoulder. Be careful to not overcook the meat or it will dry out and lose its flavor. Ideally, pork loin must be cook for only 10 minutes in the oven with a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can You Substitute Both Cuts from One Another?

That’s a hard NO. You can’t substitute it from one another since both of them are completely different from each other. The texture, flavor, and the way it needs to be cooked will have different results.

To avoid kitchen mishaps, better stick to what works best for each pork cut. We’ll show you below which cut works best for each pork dish.

Pulled Pork

For Pulled Pork

It’s always best to use pork shoulder for this one. Through the years, pork shoulder meat has been used for making pulled pork. When trying to make it with other meat cuts, it just doesn’t give the same results.

Pork shoulder tastes more flavorful and tender especially when cooked slowly. All the fats and juices from the marinade and seasonings will be absorbed by the meat which results in a tender and juicy bite.

For Roasted Pork

Both actually work well when roasted. Just take note of the differences in the cooking time and temperature. Pork shoulder will cook longer than pork loin.

So if you’re expecting guests for dinner and have no time to prepare, I would suggest going for pork loin instead of pork shoulder.

For Pork Steak

Steaks are generally tender, juicy, and should melt in your mouth before chewing it. Without being said, pork shoulder won’t make a cut. It could get overcooked or too dry if cooked as a steak.

The best option would be pork loin. The pork loin should be cooked in the skillet for 8-10 minutes on each side with a temperature of 145 degrees F. If done properly, you can expect a juicy and well-cooked pork steak.

Which One’s Better – My Personal Pick

I love my pulled pork, especially for sandwiches and summer barbecue parties. It tastes really good and it always reminds me of my childhood memories.

It’s just that pulled pork is meticulous to cook and takes longer, too. Pork shoulder is special meat to be cooked on special occasions. It needs patience and dedication to make sure that it will only produce desirable results.

So since I’m an on-the-go person, I would always go for a time-friendly option which is the pork loin. It’s not too hard to cook and it goes well with other vegetables.

Cooking time is also not an issue, so even if I cook it for dinner every night, it still won’t take so much of my time. I’m a fan of steak over wine so pork loin is always a good staple in the fridge.

But overall, both pork cuts are tasty and worth eating in their own right. It’s up to you now on which to choose on your next dinner night.

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