Well-Done Pork: What Temperature Do You Cook Pork On?

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Pork is a famous global dish, providing versatile recipes, from roasts, barbeques, and baking to stews.

One thing we struggle with when it comes to pork is the doneness color.

Does properly cooked pork mean no pink at all?

At what temp is pork done?

When the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145F to 160F with a 3 minutes rest time, then it’s well done.

Use a  digital thermometer for the most accurate temperature reading; leaner cuts have a lower cook temperature than tougher cuts.

Similarly, different methods and meat thickness alter pork cooking temperature and timing. 

Everyone knows that cooking pork well, you need to take the temperature of its core, but what’s the recommended cooking temperature?

Here’s a guide on how long to cook it and what sort of cuts you should be using.

What temp should pork be cooked at? 

According to USDA guidelines, the internal cooking temperature of pork should be 155F, then rested for about five minutes until it reaches 160F, which is the safe temperature for cooked pork.

In the past, this was the recommended temperature for cooking all pork cuts in whichever recipe you chose.

However, the USDA updated the guidelines in 2011, classifying pork cooking temp according to the various pork cuts.

This helps reduce the prevalence of trichinosis posed by undercooked meat.

Moreover, overcooked pork is dry and bland.  

So, what temp is pork loin done?

The current recommended temperature for leaner cuts like loin, pork chops, steaks, ham, and roasts is at least 140F, then rest for about 3 minutes to reach a final 145F.

The meat retains its moisture and flavors at this cooking temperature without drying out.

On the other hand, ground pork, organ cuts, and pork sausages should be cooked to 160F (710C).

The higher the cooking temperature, the better for tougher cuts.

How to measure pork temperature?

A digital meat thermometer is a simple and effective method for measuring the internal pork temperature.

Insert it in the thickest part of the pork, avoiding the bones, fat, or gristle.

The meat is well cooked depending on the temperature reading and your desired doneness.

For instance, medium rare (145-150F), medium (150- 155F), medium-well (155- 160F), and well (160 – 180F).

Once the pork has reached the desired temperature, remove the heat source and rest for a few minutes.

Clean your thermometer before and after use for accurate readings and to avoid contamination.

This process is for all pork cuts.

What temp do you cook pork: Different pork cuts 

The final cooking temperature should be 145F for any pork cut, lean or tough (higher temperatures).

Allow a resting time to preserve juices and flavors in the pork meat.

Leaner cuts of pork cooking temp

Least used pork muscles like tenderloin, pork chops, and ham provide tender and juicy meats when prepared correctly.

The fewer fats make these cuts prone to overcooking and drying out.

145F is a perfect temperature for these cuts, unlike the 160F USDA recommendation. 

The general rule is to cook tender pork cuts at a high temperature for a brief time until it reaches 140F and a three-minute resting time to a final 145F.

Avoid slow-cooking recipes for tender pork cuts, the most likely result would be a dry meal.

Instead, sear the outsides on a cast iron, then transfer to a hot oven (425F) until the meat thermometer reaches 145F at the thickest part.

The different ways to cook tender pork cuts

These steps are best for pork tenderloins, pork chops, pork roasts, and pork loins.

It’s a general outlook for tender pork cuts, but the exact timing depends on meat thickness and particular cut. 

Tender pork cuts on the barbeque:

  • Step 1: Pre-heat the barbeque to 500F (2600C) and set it to medium high.
  • Step 2: Cook over direct heat (apart from pork roast, which is best over indirect heat).
  • Step 3: Keep the lead open unless you prefer otherwise.
  • Step 4: Grill the barbeque for about 5 minutes on each side. Or until the internal pork cook temp reaches 145F.

Tender pork cuts in the oven:

  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325F.
  • Step 2: Bake the lean pork cut for about 30 minutes, flipping each side at 15-minutes. Preferably, bake uncovered.
  • Step 3: Turn off the oven when the internal pork temperature is 140F and allow resting to a 145F final.

Tender pork cuts in a frying pan:

  • Step 1: Season the pork cut and pat them dry.
  • Step 2: Set the heat to medium-high and pre-heat the oil until it’s shimmering.
  • Step 3: Add the pieces of your tender pork cuts into the hot pan without overcrowding them. Fry for about five minutes on each side or until the internal temp is 155F and rest to a final 160F.

P.S: The timing depends on the thickness of the cut, be keen.

Tough cuts pork cooking temp

Cuts that contain more collagen, such as pork shoulders and ribs, should be subjected to more prolonged cooking at lower temperatures.

Maintaining an internal temperature of 160F for an extended period breaks the collagen into gelatin resulting in a moist and flavorful pork cut.

These tough pork cuts are perfect for slow-cooking recipes.

Preferably, cook pork shoulders or ribs in a slow cooker for hours to an internal temperature of 180 – 195F.

This gives the meat enough tenderizing time resulting in juiciness and tasty pork.

The different ways to cook tough pork cuts

The below methods are a general representation of tough pork cuts like pork ribs and shoulders.

However, the timings differ according to the meat thickness and size.

Tough pork cuts on the barbeque:

  • Step 1: Pre-heat the barbeque to 250F and set the dials low with the center off.
  • Step 2: Cook over indirect heat; place the meat on the sides of the grill.
  • Step 3: Keep the barbeque lid closed.
  • Step 4: Cook for about 10 hours or until the internal pork temp reaches 160F. Preferably, let the internal temperature reach a final 195F if aiming for pulled pork.

Tough pork cuts in a slow cooker:

  • Step 1: Sear the pork cut over a hot frying pan for browning and flavor enhancement.
  • Step 2: Place the meat in a slow cooker and set it at a low temperature—Cook for about 10 hours.  Alternatively, set the temperature to high and cook for 5 hours.

Tough pork cuts in an instant pot:

  • Step 1: Season and pat your pork cut dry
  • Step 2: Brown your pork in a hot frying pan for about 2 minutes on each side for flavor enhancement.
  • Step 3: Add the seared pork meat to an Instant pot and adjust the settings to pressure cook (High temperatures).
  • Step 4: Cook for 60 minutes and let the pressure cooker naturally release. Allow a 10-minutes to rest or until the internal pork temperature reaches 160 – 180F.

What is meat resting time?

Meat resting time is the period when you allow cooked meat to stand for about three minutes before carving or serving it.

The meat remains at the same internal temperature or continues to increase after removing it from the heat source.

A meat thermometer helps you determine if your meat is well rested.

The resting time depends on the meat type, the thickness, and the size of your cut.

For pork, it’s about 3 minutes or until a final internal temp of 145F for leaner cuts and 160F for tough ones.

Letting the meat rest deepens the flavors and juiciness by redistributing the juices back to the meat fibers.

It also kills harmful bacteria for a safe meal.

What is the danger of undercooked pork?

Raw pork contains a parasite called Trichinella, which causes a fatal infection known as trichinosis.

Thoroughly cooking pork at 145f to160F will kill the harmful bacteria making the meat safe for consumption.

In retrospect, the trichinella parasite was combated by cooking pork at 160F.

However, new study according to the USDA, the trichinella parasite is killed at 137F, and 160F is overkill.

Recent decades have seen a tremendous reduction in trichinosis infections from pork meat.

Today, pork is leaner; thus hard to undercook it.

Safety tips for handling  pork

Besides thoroughly cooking pork to eliminate bacteria, there are additional practices to ensure proper handling.

Such practices include;

  • Cook pork in a hygienic setting away from other food that doesn’t require cooking
  • Properly wrap pork before storing to avoid drying pout and contamination
  • Store cooked or raw pork in the fridge for up to 4 days—below 40F temperatures
  • Don’t leave leftovers at room temperature to avoid cross-contamination

The bottom line

There’s no right answer for the best way to cook pork.

Some people prefer their pork well done, while others prefer medium or rare.

However, remember that meat thickness, preparation method, and pork cut will determine the cooking time and final temperature.

The general rule of thumb is to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 145F; that way, it’s free from bacteria contamination. 

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