Juicy, flavorful, and inexpensive boneless pork loin roast makes a beautiful centerpiece. A simple sweet and tart cranberry orange sauce scented with rosemary takes it over the top.
For me, holiday entertaining almost always involves some sort of roast meat. In the past, I've made rack of lamb, prime rib, beef wellington, turkey, and more.
When you think of a holiday roast, you might not necessarily think of pork (unless it's ham). But a well marbled oven roasted pork loin can be so juicy, tender and flavorful that you'll never want to make another roast again!
And here's a HUGE bonus. Pork is cheap. I mean, in the past I've spent upwards of $100 on a piece of meat to feed 4 people. I picked up the beautiful, quality pork loin roast you see below from my local butcher for $12.
I mean, aren't we already spending enough at the holidays without blowing up the food budget?
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Is pork loin the same as pork tenderloin?
No. Although they are often confused, they are two very different cuts of meat.
Pork tenderloin is a long, boneless cut, very lean and very tender, as the name implies. It's a muscle that runs along the spine of the animal. It's best cooked very quickly with high heat.
Pork Loin is a larger, thicker cut that has more marbling (fat). It can be purchased bone-in or boneless and is usually trussed with string. This cut comes from the animal's back. It is best slow-roasted.
How well does pork need to be done?
If you look at the photos below, you might notice that my roast is on the pink side of done.
It's a common belief that pork needs to be cooked well done like poultry, with no pink left. But if you do that, you're pretty much guaranteed a tough, dry piece of meat.
145 degrees F is the temperature to aim for. As the pork rests after roasting, the temperature will climb a few more degrees and be perfectly done and juicy when you slice it.
I always rely on a meat thermometer when it comes to roasts, because oven temperatures vary and time is not always the best indicator. I use and love this digital meat thermometer.
Here's the step-by-step!
How to make a boneless pork loin roast with cranberry orange glaze
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and gather these ingredients:
- A 3 lb pork loin roast, tied with string.
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- Cranberry sauce, homemade or canned. I used canned with whole berries.
- brown sugar
- apple cider vinegar
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- dry mustard
- fresh rosemary
2. Sprinkle all sides of the roast with salt and pepper and rub it all over with olive oil. Transfer the roast to your cooking vessel. A cast iron skillet is my favorite thing to cook a roast in, but a roasting pan obviously works too.
3. While the roast is in the oven, combine the cranberry sauce, butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, orange juice and zest, dry mustard, and rosemary in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking until butter is melted. Simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat, and remove the rosemary sprig.
4. After 30 minutes, remove the roast from the oven and baste it with the cranberry sauce. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, and baste it again.
5. Remove the roast from the oven and stick a meat thermometer into the center of the meat.
6. Return the roast to the oven and take it out when the thermometer registers around 145 F (about another 5-15 minutes). Check it in a couple of places to make sure.
7. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and brush it with more glaze. Let the pork rest on the cutting board for 5-10 minutes before cutting and removing the strings, and slicing.
8. Pour the juices accumulated on the cutting board into the pan with the remaining glaze and reheat gently. Slice the roast about 1/4 inch thick, transfer to a serving platter and serve with the glaze.
Tips for the best pork roast
- Before cooking: Bring the roast to room temperature. Take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before putting it in the oven. This will ensure that it cooks evenly.
- While cooking: As noted above, the most important thing is not to overcook it! You can count on approximately 20-25 minutes per pound to cook a pork roast, but it's always best to use a meat thermometer and take it out of the oven when it reaches 145 F.
- After cooking: The second most important thing is to let it rest once you take it out of the oven. I give it about 5 minutes before slicing into it. This allows time for the roast to finish cooking and for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
What to serve with a boneless pork loin roast
Here are some ideas for sides to complement this roast.
- mashed potatoes
- Maple balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon
- Fall salad with apples and maple vinaigrette
- Brown butter roasted sweet potatoes
- Glazed carrots
- Roasted cauliflower with cumin and coriander
Happy holidays! 😘 🎄
Oven Roasted Boneless Pork Loin with Cranberry-Orange Glaze
- 3 lb pork loin roast at room temperature
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup cranberry sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rub salt, pepper and olive oil all over the roast. Place in a cast iron pan or roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes.
- While the roast is in the oven, combine the cranberry sauce, butter, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, orange juice and zest, dry mustard and rosemary in a medium saucepan and whisk over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the rosemary and take off heat.
- Baste the roast with the glaze and return to the oven. Bake another 15 minutes and brush with more glaze.
- Stick a meat thermometer into the center and return to the oven for a final 5-15 minutes, or until the thermometer registers 145 F.
- Remove from the oven, brush more glaze onto the roast and let it rest for 5-10 minutes, removing the strings before slicing.
- While the roast is resting, pour the pan juices into the remaining glaze, season with salt and pepper, and reheat gently. Serve with roast.
- Before cooking, bring the roast to room temperature. Take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before putting it in the oven. This will ensure that it cooks evenly.
- You can count on approximately 20-25 minutes per pound to cook a pork roast, but it's always best to use a meat thermometer and take it out of the oven when it reaches 145 F.
- After cooking, allow the roast to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into it. This allows time for the roast to finish cooking and for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
- When choosing a roast, figure about 1/2 lb per person. So a 3 lb roast will feed 6, while a 2 lb roast will feed 4.
- Leftover roast can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and is absolutely wonderful in sandwiches.
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