Pork Loin vs. Pork Shoulder: 4 Major Differences and How To Cook Them (2024)

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The flavor and taste of meat is influenced by the cut of the meat. Today, we're going to cover the differences between pork loin vs. pork shoulder. The major difference between these two types of meat is where they come from. Pork loin comes from the midsection of the pig between the back fat and the ribs, and pork shoulder comes from the top part of the pig's front leg. But, there are other differences between these two cuts of meat that set them apart. Whether you're looking to make a roast or a hearty stew, understanding the differences between these cuts will enhance your skills in the kitchen. Let's learn more about these meats, their nutritional content, taste, cost, and more.

Pork Loin vs. Pork Shoulder: What Are They

A cut of pork loin is a tender and lean cut of meat that comes from the back of the pig. It usually comes from the shoulder blade to the hip bone. This cut is known to be the most tender part of the pig since it is the least used, which means it has a limited amount of connective tissue. Connective tissue is what makes a cut of meat tough. Pork loin is often cooked as a whole roast or cut into smaller pieces like pork chops or pork medallions.

The pork shoulder is the cut of meat that comes from the front of the pig and the top of the legs. It can be divided into two areas, the upper part is called a Boston or pork butt, and the lower part is called the picnic or shoulder roast. This cut of meat is known to have a higher fat content as well as being tougher. This part of the pig is used more often, so it has more connective tissue than pork loin. Because of this, pork shoulder will typically require a longer cooking time. Pork shoulder is often used to make pulled pork.

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Pork Loin vs. Pork Shoulder: Nutritional Content

When it comes to the nutritional content of these cuts, they are going to be similar because they are coming from the same animal. But the differences you will see are the calorie and fat counts. Because pork loin is a leaner meat, it is going to have less fat and calories than pork shoulder. This ultimately will make the pork loin a healthier option. But, it's important to recognize that only the meat on its own can be considered healthier. How you decide to cook and serve this meat will determine its final nutrition count.

Pork Loin vs. Pork Shoulder: Cost

Although both of these options are budget-friendly, one is cheaper than the other. Typically, a pork shoulder cut is going to be more expensive. A pound of pork shoulder can range from four to five dollars, whereas a pound of pork loin can range from three to five dollars per pound. Either way, both of them are an affordable protein option, especially if you're looking to feed a larger group of people.

Pork Loin vs. Pork Shoulder: Taste and Texture

There is quite a difference between these two meats when it comes to taste and texture. Pork loin is a leaner meat with less fat and less connective tissue. This gives the pork loin a mild taste, making it a good canvas! Pork loin can often be dressed up with any kind of sauce and side dish. The texture is also very tender since it has less connective tissue, so you can enjoy an easy chew when you eat pork loin.

Pork shoulder, on the other hand, has a denser, deeper, and richer flavor as well as a tougher texture. The pork shoulder tends to have more flavor because of its higher fat content that melts and infuses into the meat as it cooks. It is also a tougher cut of meat because it has more connective tissue. But there is no reason to fret. Cooking this cut of meat low and slow does everything it needs to become a tender and juicy meat.

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Pork Loin vs. Pork Shoulder: Cooking Methods

These two meats do call for different cooking methods. Cooking a pork loin is going to be quicker because it doesn't require a low and slow cook. You can grill, pan-roast, or oven-roast your pork loin. Of course, the exact cut of meat that you're cooking will determine which of these options is best for you. But, overall, a pork loin can be cooked in a variety of ways.

A pork shoulder, on the other hand, does require a longer cooking time. This cut of meat needs time to cook low for the fat to melt and the connective tissue to fall apart. Typically, a pork shoulder is braised, roasted, or smoked. In the oven and in a slow cooker, it can take up to six hours to cook. In a smoker, it can take up to eight hours to cook. This cut of meat is either something you cook over the weekend or in the morning in a slow cooker, so it can cook during the day while you are doing other things.

Our Favorite Pork Loin Recipe

As mentioned previously, a pork loin is a mild cut of meat, which makes it a great canvas to add any kind of flavor. This recipe is an apple butter pork loin. The sweet and spiced apple butter makes a delicious glaze for the pork and is served best with either a side of sweet potatoes or baked beans.

This recipe calls for two pounds of pork, seasoned salt, apple juice, apple butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, season the pork with seasoned salt and place it in a baking dish or roasting pan. Then, pour the apple juice over top of the pork and cover either with aluminum foil or a lid. Place it in the oven and bake for one hour. While that is cooking, you can make the apple butter.

To make the apple butter mixture, combine the apple butter, water, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cloves. Then, once the pork is done, remove it from the oven and cover it in the apple butter mixture. Place it back in the oven and cook for two more hours until it's tender. If you have any extra apple butter mixture that you want to turn into whipped apple butter, use a Kitchen Aid or hand mixer to whip it until it has a texture of your liking, and use it when you serve the pork.

Our Favorite Pork Shoulder Recipe


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BBQ Pork Shoulder Steaks

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com
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  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 boneless pork shoulder steaks, cut 3/4-inch thick


  1. In a small bowl combine paprika, coriander, lemon zest, marjoram, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, caraway seeds, and cinnamon.
  2. Rub herb mixture on both sides of steaks, pressing into surface. Place steaks in center of cooking grate.
  3. Grill 10 minutes for medium (160 degrees F) or 12 to 14 minutes for well-done (170 degrees F), turning once halfway through grilling time.

Pork shoulder can be served in a handful of different ways. Two of the most common ways include pulled pork and pork shoulder steak. This pork shoulder steak recipe is going to have you in love with pork shoulder. They are well-seasoned and barbeque-flavored, making them great for a Summer barbeque spread. Just add potato salad, mac and cheese, and sweet tea, and you've got everything you need for a good barbecue.

This recipe requires pork shoulder steaks, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder, coriander, paprika, and lemon zest. Start by mixing all the seasonings together to create a dry rub mixture. Then, rub the mixture into the steaks and place the steaks on the grill, cooking them for about 10-12 minutes or until done, starting with five minutes on each side. They are done cooking once they reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pork Loin vs. Pork Shoulder: 4 Major Differences and How To Cook Them (2024)
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