Pork Loin vs Pork Tenderloin — What’s the Difference?

Feb 24, 2023 / MIN READ


In the wild world of pork, there are many different cuts of meat to choose from. Each one is delicious and good for different occasions or recipes, but how can you tell the difference? For example, pork loin and pork tenderloin are terms that sound the same, but they aren’t. Learn more about the differences between these two cuts of meat and what each one is best for. Let’s get started!

Taking a Look at the Difference Between Pork Loin and Pork Tenderloin

Even though pork loin and pork tenderloin sound the same, they can’t be used the same way in your cooking. Understanding the differences is important when you are learning how to master the art of making a delicious pork recipe dish.

Pork tenderloin

When you select the pork tenderloin, you need to be aware that it’s a lean and tender cut of meat that you can grab from the meat section of the grocery store.

  • Pork cut of meat: The tenderloin doesn’t have a bone in it and is long and narrow. On the pig, the tenderloin comes from right next to the backbone. This is one of the main components that differentiate tenderloin from loin.
  • Fat content: Pork tenderloin is not as fatty as a loin, and is extra lean according to the USDA.
  • How to cook: The next key difference is how you prepare the meat. Because pork tenderloin is so tender, you want to be careful not to overcook the cut. A common method is to quickly cook it at a high temperature to retain its sweet taste and texture.

Pork loin

You can tell what a pork loin is because the cut of meat is wider, flatter and bigger in general. Someone could buy a pork loin without a bone or with the bone in, depending on preference.

  • Cut of meat: The loin is located on the back of the pig, between the back fat and ribs.
  • Fat content: Pork loin can be fatty because of the layer of fat that runs along the top of the cut of meat, called the fat cap.
  • How to cook: Because the cut of meat is larger, you can roast it and cut steak-sized pieces from it. Unlike the pork tenderloin, you can cook the pork loin by roasting it slowly or even grilling it. Many people love the pork loin for its ability to easily feed large amounts of people.

As you can already tell, there are plenty of reasons to treat pork loin and pork tenderloin as beautifully different cuts of meat. Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get to the fun part: the recipes!

Pork Loin and Pork Tenderloin Recipes For The Whole Family

Being aware of the differences between pork loin and pork tenderloin is important when incorporating them into new recipes. In most cases, they can be used interchangeably as long as the cuts of meat are cooked appropriately. Here are some of our favorite dishes to use either cut of pork.

Pork Tenderloin With Mustard Glaze

What you need:

  • 1 Hatfield® Tenderloin or Loin Filet
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

How to cook:

  1. Remove outer packaging before cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  3. Place pork in a shallow baking pan.
  4. Roast for 35 minutes UNCOVERED until internal temperature reaches 145°F (thickest part) or juices run clear.
  5. Remove from oven/pan and let rest for 3 minutes before slicing.
  6. In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar and mustards. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until thickened.

Check to see what grocery store carries our Hatfield® products to add the right cut of meat to your shopping list. Here is another great recipe!

Grilled Tuscan Herb Pork Tenderloin Bruschetta

What you need:

  • 1 container of multi-colored grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil, used for drizzling (1 tsp. for ricotta)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 32 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • Country bread, portioned into ¼–inch slices and toasted

How to cook:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high for 10 minutes.
  2. Place tenderloin on the grill and cook for 10-12 minutes on each side until internal temperature reaches 145° F at the thickest part.
  3. Remove and let rest for 3 minutes before slicing.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. In a medium bowl, put the tomatoes and garlic, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. On a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, place the tomato mixture on the sheet and put in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  7. In another bowl, put ricotta, salt and pepper plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil and mix together.
  8. On a cutting board line up the toasted country bread and begin assembling. Spread ricotta, then sliced pork, tomatoes and julienned basil. Finally, drizzle with olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.

There are plenty of recipes to choose from on our website, including the Tuscan Herb Pork Tenderloin Parmesan dish and Sage & Sweet Potato Hasselback Pork loin.

FAQs to Keep in Mind

Do you still have some questions about the differences between a pork tenderloin and a pork loin? Here, we’ll attempt to answer some of the most common questions.

Q: Can I use a pork tenderloin instead of a pork loin?

A: Yes, but be sure to cook the meat differently according to the instructions on each product.

Q: Are the two cuts of meat cooked the same way?

A: No, but you can find the correct cooking method on the packaging of the Hatfield® product.

Q: Is pork loin tough or tender?

A: If you cook the pork loin correctly, you will have a tender cut of meat.

Q: How long do you cook pork loin and pork tenderloin?

A: Pork loin is bigger, so it works well to cook the meat for longer. On the other hand, you will need to quickly and carefully cut the delicate pork tenderloin.

Experience a Mealtime Like No Other With High-quality Pork Products

The truth is that no matter what cut of meat you choose, you’re going to have one of the best meals of your life. Whether you go with a pork loin or a pork tenderloin, Hatfield® products will elevate your dish to the next level. Are you ready to cook pork the right way? We make it easy and accessible with a variety of marinated pork options to choose from. Find out where to buy our high-quality pork products, and get started today!