Pork Loin Vs. Pork Shoulders | Which One You Should Prefer?

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If you are new to eating meat dishes, especially pork, you might need clarification regarding what part to choose. Pork loin and pork shoulder are two of the most loved pork portions. Thus if you are confused about what to choose, give this article a read!

Pork Loin & Pork Shoulder

As its name suggests, pork loin and pork shoulders are all but pork in general. But what makes people choose one over the other? Undoubtedly, it’s their differences. Even though they are all a part of the same meat, they aren’t the same.

When compared, there are considerable differences between the two portions. Pork loin and pork shoulder have considerable differences in taste, culinary uses, and nutritional content.

Pork loin is the tenderest part of pork, located between the top shoulder area and back legs. It is lean with a tender and juicy taste. On the other hand, pork shoulders contain lean meat with less fat. It is cut out between the shoulder and shoulder blades.

If you are interested in learning more about such differences between pork loin and pork shoulder, read this article. In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between pork loin and pork shoulders and their culinary uses.

Pork Loin Vs. Pork Shoulders | Difference Table

Basis Of Difference Pork LoinPork Shoulder
Extracted FromPortion between top shoulder area and back legJust above the front leg
SizeThick and wide with a fat capLean meat with less fat
TextureSoft and juicyRough
Available inWith or without a boneWith bones
flavorMild flavor and extremely moist meatRich meaty taste with a slight sweetness.
PriceExpensiveComparatively cheap
Cooking TimeRequires less timeRequires slow and long cooking process
Best Way To CookRoastingSlow cooking
Nutritional LevelLess calorie value and high nutritional valueLow in nutrients with high calories.

What Is Pork Loin?

Pork Loin

Also known as center loin roast or pork center sib roast, pork lion is one of the most flavorful parts of pork. It is the meat taken from the front portion of the pig; that is, it was taken between the top shoulder and back legs.

It is leaner meat with a slight fat cap. The loin portion of the pork meat is extremely soft and tender and is sold as large, wide, thick pieces. It can be sold either as boneless meat or meat with bones. Pork loin is the largest and leanest cut of pork meat.

The pork loin has light pink to white colored meat. It has a mild flavor, and the meat is soft when cooked. If you have ever had pork steak, then you must probably be eating the pork loin part. This wide thick meat portion serves great as a steak.

What Is Pork Shoulder?

Pork Shoulder

The pork shoulder is the meat taken just above the front legs of the pork. It is one of the most commonly available as well as cheap parts of pork. It is often sold with some skin and a layer of full fat.

Pork shoulder, when compared to pork loin, is much more demanding. This is because the pork shoulder meat is taken from the pig’s front leg, which is physically active. The meat will be flavorful but not tender!

 Pork shoulder does have a gamey taste to it. It’s the perfect portion for you if you love the meaty taste of your dishes. Since it’s more rigid and has much more fat content than the loin portion, this cut is perfect for all slow cooker recipes.

Hence, if you plan to cook some pork shoulders, cook them correctly. Otherwise, the meat could be more rigid and chewier. Pork shoulder mostly comes with a lot of bones.

Pork Loin Vs. Pork Shoulders | Similarities Between The Two


Before looking into some of the much-talked-about differences between the two, let’s go through some similarities.

Both Are A Part Of Pig Meat

As their name suggests, pork loin and pork shoulder are taken from different parts of pork. Pork loin is taken from the portion between the front and back leg, whereas pork shoulder is the triangle cut of meat just above the front shoulder.

Both Are Used To Make Different Dishes

Pork loin, as well as pork shoulders, are widely used in making different dishes. As you may know, pork loin is often used as pork steaks. While on the other hand, many pork-based curries for pork shoulder.

Both Have Similar Health Benefits 

Pork is one of the most consumed red meat worldwide. It has so many nutrients and is extremely beneficial for our health. Since pork loin and pork shoulder are generally taken from pork, the health benefit it offers will be similar.

Pork meat, as you may know, is extremely rich in proteins. If you want a complete source of protein, then pork meat is something you should have. Protein is essential for the body’s growth as well as muscle-building purposes.

Pork is also a rich source of many vitamins and minerals. It is rich in vitamin B and contains many derivatives like niacin, thiamine, and selenium. Each of these vitamins caters to the different needs of our body.

It also contains vitamin B12, essential for blood cell production and brain development. Pork is also a great source of iron. 

Both Can Be Stored In Similar Ways

Pork loin, as well as pork shoulder, require a similar storage process. If they are stored correctly, the meat and the pork dish will remain fresh and be used for longer.

The raw pork meat will stay fresh for up to 5 days when kept in the fridge. Once cooked, the pork dish could stay up to 4 days in a refrigerator. However, if you have a large portion of pork meat, the best way to store them is to freeze it.

 Pork meat will stay flavorful for up to 6 months when stored in the freezer. However, some pork meat will be good even after that. 

Pork Loin Vs. Pork Shoulders | What Are The Differences Between The Two?

Pork Loin

1. Portion It Is Taken From

As their name suggests, pork loin and pork shoulder are taken from different parts of pork. Pork loin is taken from the portion between the front and back leg, whereas pork shoulder is the triangle cut of meat just above the front shoulder.

2. Taste & Texture 

There is a huge taste between pork loin and pork shoulder. Pork loin is one of the tastiest parts of pork. It comes in a lean cut and has a fat cap. When cooked, it becomes extremely tender and juicy. 

Since there is a slight amount of fat, the meat will remain moist. Pork loin has a very mild flavor to it. It is extremely moist and will appeal to everyone. Since it’s moist, it only takes a little cooking time.

Whereas pork shoulder meat isn’t as tender as pork loin. The pork shoulder was the active part of pork. It has comparatively less meat and fat content to it. Therefore when cooked, it has a more rough texture than the pork loin.

Pork shoulder, when cooked, has a very strong, meaty taste. It is not as juicy as pork loin and tends to dry if not cooked properly. The pork shoulder needs longer cooking time as it is rougher than the loin part.

3. Appearance 

If you are someone who is familiar with pork meat in general, you can easily differentiate between pork loin and pork shoulder just from its appearance. Pork loin is the leanest meat cut of pork.

Pork loin is a light-colored meat. It has a light pink color to it with a fat cap. It is wide and thick and comes with or without bones. Pork shoulder, however, comes with little skin or fat. It is darker in color.

4. Culinary Usage

If you have some pork loin at hand, then pork roast is what you should cook. Pork loin should be cooked at over 350 degrees celsius for at least 25 minutes to get it cooked properly. Pork loin tastes best when seasoned with salt and other herbs before roasting it.

Pork shoulder can be cooked in multiple ways. Just like pork loin, pork shoulder can also be roasted. However, pork shoulder tastes best when it is smoked or slow-cooked. Pork shoulders are usually used to make puller pork.

Besides this, pork shoulder is also used to make ground pork and is widely used in stews and curries.

5. Nutrition 

The nutritional content of pork loin and pork shoulder is the same as they all belong to the same meat. However, there is a considerable difference in the amount of nutrition present in each portion of the meat.

Both pork loin and pork shoulder contain sodium, potassium, protein, and cholesterol. When compared between the two, pork loin has much more nutrition and less caloric value than that pork shoulder.

6. Substitutes 

Now that we have talked so much about pork loin and pork shoulder, you must be clear: they are different kinds of meat even though they are taken from the same animal. 

Thus if your recipe calls for pork loin or pork shoulder, you need them. But if you are totally out of them and want some replacement, try a good pork loin or pork shoulder substitute. Here are some if you are confused about the best pork loin or pork shoulder substitute.

The pork loin is so tender and juicy that it is hard to find a replacement. Pork tenderloin, beef loin, and chicken breast are some of the best pork lion substitutes. However, go for tofu and mushroom if you need a vegan alternative.

Pork shoulder, on the other hand, can be substituted with beef chuck, lamb shoulder, chicken thighs, and pork butt.

7. Price

Everything comes with a price, but not under the same price! Even though pork loin and pork shoulders are generally taken from pork, there is a huge difference between these two when bought from a store.

Pork loin is one of the most expensive parts of pork in general. It is lean, tender, and juicy and is generally used for making a pork roast.

On the other hand, pork shoulder is inexpensive compared to that loin, which is mostly used for making ground pork.

8. Cooking Method

Pork loin and pork shoulders are used for cooking different dishes. This is mainly because of the fact that the cooking methods used for cooking these two portions of meat are very different from each other.

Pork loins are often cooked for a really low amount of time. It will get cooked easily and will be juicy and tender. However, pork shoulder needs a slow and long cooking hour as it takes time to cook.

Can We Use Pork Loin And Pork Shoulder As Each Other Substitutes?

Pork loin and pork shoulder belong to pork meat in general. But when we are out of pork loin, can we use pork shoulder and vice versa? Even though the most anticipated answer is yes, the answer is no.

Pork loin and pork shoulders don’t work as a substitute for each other. In the above section, we have seen that even though both are taken from pork meat, there is a considerable difference in their flavor and texture.

Not just that, the cooking time we need to cook these two parts are also different. Hence, if you try to make a pork roast with a piece of pork shoulder, your dish would be a loaf of undercooked chewy fat.

Hence if your recipe calls for pork loin or pork shoulder and you are out of it, try finding it at your nearest store and go on with the recipe using its substitute.

Can Pork Loin And Pork Shoulder Be Used Together?


In the above section, we have discussed the flavor and texture differences between pork loin and pork shoulder. Not just that, there is also a considerable difference in their cooking time.

Hence taking all of this into consideration, we could say that pork loin and pork shoulders aren’t often cooked together. Both are extremely flavorful meat portions when cooked in the way they need to be cooked.

How To Choose the Best Pork Loin And Pork Shoulder?

The best pork loin and shoulder dishes are made from the freshest pork meat. But if you are new to eating meat, you might be confused when choosing meat from the market. Hence, look for these three signs if you are shopping for pork.

  • Choose the grass-fed pork meat – Grass-fed pork tastes the best. They might be a little expensive when compared to farm-fed ones. 
  • Go for the bright-colored meat – Fresh pork meat will have a bright pink color. Avoid buying meat with any discoloration or one with brown color.
  • Choose one with some marbling – Go for pork meat that has some fat marbling. Fat marbling makes the meat more juicy and flavorful.

Top Dishes To Make With Pork Loin

If you have some pork loin in your fridge, here are some recipes you could try making with pork loin.

1. Pork Loin Roast

Pork Loin Roast

It is a shame if we are discussing pork loin and don’t mention pork roast. Pork loin roast is undoubtedly one of the most popular and easy-to-cook dishes that can be cooked with pork loin.

The ingredient list for making this recipe is a little long. It needs minced garlic, mustard, rosemary leaves, thyme, black pepper, beef loin pieces, and some butter. If you like some other spices, you can also add them to the recipe.

Mix all ingredients other than pork loin and butter to make the recipe. Make a rub from these ingredients and rub it onto the pork loin. Bake it well as serve it with some added butter.

2. Cuban Sandwich

Cuban Sandwich

Sandwich is a comfort food we all love to relish at all points in time. A good sandwich and coffee could instantly make you feel good. But you know what could make your mood better? A Cuban sandwich.

 A Cuban sandwich is made regularly, just like your everyday sandwich. It is different because it comes with two soft, juicy, and tender pork loin roast pieces in between. Just a single ingredient could change the whole flavor of the recipe, and the Cuban sandwich is no different.

3. Cider Glazed Pork Loin

Cider Glazed Pork Loin

Loin meat on its own is great. It is tender and juicy with a mild sweet flavor. But this cider-glazed pork loin is one of the tastiest pork loin recipes I have ever tried. If you love some extra kick of flavor in the meat, then you will love it.

To make this recipe, first, make a normal pork roast. After that to a pan, add some apple cider vinegar and simmer it. Into this, add some mustard sauce and honey. Bring the mix from the heat and coat the pork roast in this mix.

4. Spicy Pork And Cauliflower Chili

Spicy Pork And Cauliflower Chili

If you are tired of making your pork loin regularly, try this spicy pork and cauliflower chili. It brings the meaty pork taste along with pepper’s spiciness and cauliflower’s crunchiness.

To make this recipe, we first have to roast the pork loin using chili powder, garlic powder, and olive oil as its rub. Then, in a pan, add oil and cook onion, garlic, cumin powder, and chili powder.

 Add some tomato paste and cook further. Add chicken broth and diced cauliflower into the recipe and cook until the cauliflower is cooked. Finally, add the roasted pork loin into the mix and serve when hot!

5. Pork Ragu

Pork Ragu

This pork ragu is one of the easiest yet most flavorful one-pot dishes you can make from pork loin. It is nothing but some flavorful pork loin on top of pasta. To make this recipe, start by cooking pork loin in a pan.

Once they are half cooked, place them in a cooker and top them off with some tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook it for some 30 minutes.

Once it is done, cook pasta in a pan and drain it. Once done, serve it hot along with some pork ragu.

Top Dishes To Make With Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder is one of the cheapest and easily available pork meat. Therefore there are so many recipes available to us using this meat cut. However, below are some of our favorite pork shoulder recipes you can try!

1. Adobada


If you are not a fan of the sweet flavor of pork, then adobada is the dish for you. Adobada generally refers to pork marinated in thick chili paste and other flavoring seasonings.

The major ingredients needed to make this dish includes ancho chilies, guajillo chillies, bay leaf, garlic cloves, pork shoulder, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, etc. The dish’s taste comes from the perfect mix of all of its ingredients.

Adobada is the perfect dish with a crisp hot spicy marination outside and juicy, tender pork meat inside. It’s good to go on its own! However, it pairs extremely well with other dishes, especially as a taco filling.

2. Instant Pot Pork Shoulder


Some days we love the elaborate cooking; some other days simply call for making easy but tasty meals. If you are not in the mood to cook something with too many ingredients, try this pot pork shoulder recipe.

The ingredients needed for this recipe are limited. You will need some pork shoulder pieces, garlic cloves, olive oil, pepper, salt, and water. To make this recipe, make slits in pork and stuff them with garlic cloves.

Marinate them with salt and pepper and saute them for some time. Take the meat out and cook it under high pressure for 65 minutes. Carefully release the valve and transfer the dish to a serving plate.

3. Slow-Cooked Barbeque Pork Roast

Slow-Cooked Barbeque Pork Roast

The slow-cooked barbeque roast is the best thing to have on your game night or family gathering. It does require some time to cook and a lot of patience. But the final taste of the dish is worth all the wait.

The cooking process, as well as the ingredient list to make this recipe, is quite long. However, once cooked, it gives you the most flavorful and juiciest pork dish you have ever had! If you have never had barbeque pork roast before, try them this summer.

4. Posole

Pork Posole

Pork shoulders are used for making roast and curries and go well with soups and stews. Posole is a kind of Mexican stew which uses pork shoulder as one of its main ingredients. A hot pot of posole is all you need to survive a cold night.

Posole is an extremely flavorful dish. Besides pork shoulder meat, it also uses ancho chili, chicken stock, white onion, garlic, oregano, coriander, cumin, tomato paste, radish, and cilantro leaves.

5. Honey – Soy Braised Pork Roast

Honey - Soy Braised Pork Roast

A little bit of sweetness is all you need to elevate the flavor of your favorite pork dish. This honey soy braised pork roast is the perfect dish to serve along with all your favorite dishes. It’s a slow-cooking recipe and needs only a handful of ingredients.

Just as its name suggests, we need soy sauce, honey, chili garlic sauce, chopped ginger, pork shoulder, cornstarch, salt, and pepper as its ingredients. Most of these, I think, are easy-to-grab ingredients.

To make this recipe, mix soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, honey, and ginger in a bowl. Coat the pork shoulder in this mix and slow-cook it for 7 to 8 hours. Add to the pork while cooking whatever is left in the bowl after marinating.

Once it’s done, add some cornstarch to the sauce left with the cooked meat. For the best taste, serve it with some white rice.

Pork Loin Vs. Pork Shoulders | Which Is Healthier?

Pork Loin

Pork loin, as well as pork shoulders, have different fan bases of their own. However, if you are concerned about your health and want to eat healthily, always go for pork loin if given a choice.

Both pork loin and pork shoulders have a similar nutrient profile. But the amount of nutrients present in each part is different. Pork loin has a high amount of nutrition and low-calorie value, making it the healthiest among the two.

Pork Loin Vs. Pork Shoulders | Which Is Tastier?

Pork Loin

Both pork loin and pork shoulders are extremely flavorful. Each has its own methods of cooking and recipe to follow. However, when compared between the two, pork loin is far tastier than pork shoulders.

Pork loin is the tender, juicy, and most flavorful part of pork meat with a mild flavor. At the same time, pork shoulders are much tougher with a very strong, gamey taste. Not just that, the meat, even after cooking, retains its roughness.

Considering all these, we could say that work loin is tastier than pork shoulders.

Pork Loin Vs. Pork Shoulders| Which Is More Versatile?

Pork Shoulder

Coming to versatility, I would say, Pork shoulder is much more versatile than pork loin. There are a lot of dishes we could make from pork loin. However, compared to pork shoulder recipes, pork loin only has a few.

Pork shoulder is much cheaper than pork loin, making it a regular household item. Thus the number of recipes that use pork shoulder is higher than that of pork loin.

Pork Loin Vs. Pork Shoulders| Which Is Better?

Pork LOin

Now that we have ended, it’s time for us to choose the best of the two. Pork loin and pork shoulders are extremely good on their own. However, considering the flavor profile and nutritional benefits, we can say that pork loin is better than pork shoulders.

Pork loin comes with packed flavors as well as a lot of nutrition. You could enjoy all the goodness of pork meat without thinking too much about the calorie count! What could be better than that? Thus, go for pork loins when choosing between pork loin and pork shoulders.


We’ve finally come to the end of this article. The conversation regarding pork loin and pig shoulders went on for a while. We learn many new facts about pork shoulders and pork loin while comparing them.

We learned about its uses and taste and have also looked at the recipes which use pork loin and pork shoulders as their primary ingredients. Despite coming from the same meat, pig loin and hog shoulders have different flavors that can be identified from one another.

Pork shoulder has a pronounced gamey flavor, unlike pork loin’s gentler flavor. Both of these meat sections are quite healthy and have numerous health advantages besides their flavor profiles.

Knowing everything there is to know about meat cuts, we can confidently say that pork loin is better than pork shoulder. It tastes good and contains a lot more nutrients than pork shoulder. Having said that, we cannot ignore pork shoulder’s distinct flavor and health advantages.

I hope your question has been answered by the time we’ve finished this post. Also, try any of the dishes listed above if you have leftover pork loin or pork shoulders at home. I’ll be back soon with another intriguing article.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is pork shoulder better than loin?

No. Pork loin is much better than pork shoulders.

Is pork loin or shoulder better for roasting?

For roasting, always go for pork loin.

Is pork loin good for pulled pork?

We can use pork loin for pulled pork, however, for best taste choose pork shoulder for making the pulled pork.

Is pork loin the most tender?

Yes. Pork loin is one of the most leanest and tender cut of pork.

Is pork shoulder Tough or tender?

Pork shoulder is little rough and chewy.

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