Roasted pork loin is probably one of the easiest (and inexpensive) main dishes you can make. Just add a little seasoning, pop it in the oven, and let it do its thing. The only thing you have to be mindful of is overcooking, but we’ll talk more about that below. As long as you avoid that one pitfall, you’ll have a tender, juicy pork loin that makes a deeelish main dish that can be paired with tons of different sides.
Pork Loin vs. Pork Tenderloin
This recipe is written for pork loin, sometimes called a pork loin roast, which is different than pork tenderloin. Pork loin is a large roast, usually sold in 3-4 pound cuts. Pork tenderloin is a different, smaller muscle that tends to be slightly darker and more tender. Here is a more in-depth look (with photos) at the difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin. If you’re looking for a recipe for roasted pork tenderloin, try my Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin.
About that Brown Sugar Rub…
If you’ve made my Glazed Pork Chops, you’ll be familiar with this sweet and spicy brown sugar rub. It’s the perfect mix of sweet, savory, and spicy, and it’s just so incredibly simple. When it’s used with the direct contact heat of a skillet it turns into a glaze, but when it’s baked in the dry air of an oven it forms a delicious crust on the surface of the pork. Either way, it’s a winner!
The Key to Good Pork Loin
Don’t overcook it. That’s it! Overcooked pork is dry, tough, and resembles something like a hockey puck. So how do you not overcook it? You really need to get a meat thermometer (my favorite is linked in the recipe card below) since every pork loin is a different size and shape, and every oven cooks a little different.
How Long to Cook Pork Loin
The safe internal temperature for pork (excluding ground pork) is 145ºF. The estimated amount of time you’ll need to cook your pork loin using the method below (starting at 400ºF then reducing to 350ºF), is about 15 minutes per pound after the initial ten minutes at 400ºF. Use your trusty thermometer about ten minutes before the estimated time to see if you’re getting close, then about every 10-15 minutes after that until you reach 145ºF.
And lastly, make sure to let your pork rest for about 10 minutes after it’s removed from the oven before slicing. This gives the steam pressure time to reduce, which means more of the moisture will stay in the meat instead of evaporating out once it’s sliced.
What to Serve with Roasted Pork Loin
I love classic comfort foods with this Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin. I have it pictured with mashed potatoes and some roasted broccoli, but I think something like macaroni and cheese, collard greens, coleslaw, or potato salad would also be awesome!
Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin
- 4 lbs. pork loin ($7.92)
- ½ cup brown sugar ($0.32)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.10*)
- 1 tsp garlic powder ($0.10)
- 1 tsp paprika ($0.10)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.05)
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil ($0.48)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Place the pork loin on a parchment lined baking sheet or in a large casserole dish with the fat cap facing up. Begin packing the brown sugar and spice mixture all over the surface of the pork loin (no need to get the bottom). The moisture from the pork loin should help the sugar mixture stick to the surface.
- Transfer the pork loin to the oven. Roast at 400ºF for ten minutes, then reduce the heat to 350ºF and continue to roast for about 15 minutes per pound of roast, or until the internal temperature reaches 145ºF. Always use a meat thermometer just to be sure.
- After roasting, let the pork loin rest for 10 minutes before slicing into ½-inch thick slices and serving.
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How to Make Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Combine ½ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, and 3 Tbsp olive oil in a bowl.
Mix the rub ingredients together until they look like damp sand.
This is the pork loin I used, which was 4 pounds. Your cooking time will vary depending on the size of your pork loin, so make sure to use a meat thermometer so you can prevent over or under-cooking the pork. Pork loin usually has a “fat cap” which is a layer of fat on one side (it’s on the bottom in the photo above so you can’t see it).
Place the pork loin on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a casserole dish with the fat cap side facing up. Pack the brown sugar rub all over the surface of the pork loin.
Roast the pork for 10 minutes at 400ºF, then reduce the heat to 350ºF and roast for an additional 15 minutes per pound of pork, or until the internal temperature reaches 145ºF. The temperature of the roast will continue to rise slightly after it is taken out of the oven, due to carryover cooking. (Don’t worry if the brown sugar burns on the baking sheet, the rub ON the pork will not be burned. The burned sugar can be cleaned off with a quick soak in hot soapy water.)
Let the pork loin rest for ten minutes before slicing into ½-inch slices and serving.
Nice flavour but 145 degrees was probably 5 minutes too long – if I made this again I would remove at 140 as it still rose another 8 or 9 degrees when resting
How can I !make this pork roast with sauerkraut without over cooking the pork??
Hi, Monica! First, I would recommend reading back over some of the information in the blog post above the recipe, including the sections labeled “THE KEY TO GOOD PORK LOIN” and “HOW LONG TO COOK PORK LOIN.” I also suggest you peruse some of our other recipes like Bratwurst and Saurkraut, or Kapusniak (a stew made with pork and sauerkraut) for other techniques for combining those two ingredients accurately. Rather than trying to cook them together and risk overcooking the pork, you’ll likely want to cook them separately: the pork in the oven, and the kraut on the stovetop, and then slice and serve the pork on top of the kraut.
I made this and it turned out great! However I was wondering if this rub and cook method would work on tenderloin if I used a meat thermometer?
We haven’t tested it, so we can’t say for sure. xoxo Monti
I use this on pork tenderloin all the time and love it. We have a meat thermometer so we just make sure it’s done.
Not sure where I went wrong on this one. I followed the directions as written, but the brown sugar rub melted right off my pork roast in the first 10 minutes of baking. :( Do you think using less/no olive oil would help it stay on? I usually love your recipes, and the pork itself cooked fine, but there was no crust or flavor from the rub since it melted off.
Hmm, it sounds like the meat might have been too wet. I would try patting it dry with a paper towel before adding the rub next time. :)
Thank you so much for replying! I’ll try your suggestion next time and hopefully have better luck. :)
Won’t rate this again since I’ve already done it once, but I’m afraid there wasn’t much improvement the second time around. I carefully dried the roast with paper towels before adding the rub, which kept it on a little longer in the oven, but it still all melted off by the time the pork was fully cooked. I’m afraid this one’s a bust for me.
Maybe try a binder such as mustard
Should I cover the roast WITH FOIL??
I did not cover the roast.
I didn’t have paprika so I replaced it with chili powder. Oh my, this is delicious! I have leftovers and still can’t wait to make it again. Those totally aren’t 2022 prices though 😭 I think my pork loin was 4.48/lb, which would make 4 lbs about $18.
A hit for Christmas dinner. I did not use cayenne pepper in the mixture. Instead I used smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, a hint of chili powder with the brown sugar. The crust was absolutely perfect and everyone had seconds. Waited till internal temperature was 150 degrees, let it rest for approximately 20 minutes.
This was great! Reading through the comments before I tried it, I decided to use paper towels to dry, and then mustard to keep the rub on the loin. I am also trying to go low carb, so I used Swerve brown sugar, and it worked out great! Thanks for the recipe!
This is so good! It is the first time I cooked pork and it wasn’t dry! I will be sure to add this to the rotation.
This recipe was delicious. I usually make pork tenderloin but wanted to try making a loin instead. However, I had the same issue as another commenter where the bottom half of the roast was still undercooked and pink. Next time I will flip it halfway through to make sure it’s cooked all the way. Other than that, I recommend this recipe.
I was looking for a recipe for someone that has no sense of taste due to covid. This looked like it would be better than most recipes for flavor. Sorry, but I did not stick to the recipe. I had Memphis Rub that contains all the spices. I used two teaspoons and a quarter cup of brown sugar. I needed to add about thirty minutes. I do let my pork rest about fifteen or twenty minutes to remove some of the chill. I used a meat thermometer but I just don’t trust pink pork. It was delicious. I will definitely be making this again. Thank you so much. I served it with Steakhouse Style Garlic Mashed Potatoes from the stay at home chef website. With a green vegetable and a fruit cup with kiwi and clementine it provided a well balanced tasty meal.