Recommended Pork Cooking Temperatures

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One of the most frequent questions I get about cooking meat is about safe pork cooking temps. Over the past few years, the recommendations have changed and there’s been a bit of confusion.

145°F with a 3-minute rest provides the optimal eating experience and is the minimum safe internal cooking temperature provided by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

I can not encourage you enough to take the time to learn how to use a meat thermometer and try cooking pork to medium-rare or medium. The difference in taste, texture, and flavor just might blow your mind.

Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of this post, because I’m giving away FIVE oven thermometers with remote timers! (This is the meat thermometer that I use.)

Visiting pig farms with the National Pork Board - read more at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Ever wonder why “bunny suits” are used when someone is working with pigs? I talked a little bit last year about the biosecurity and safety measures used when we visited the farms.; even going so far as to shower from head to toe when entering and exiting the facilities.

Before I visited the pigs on the farm and saw the day to day work that goes into maintaining their environments, I was relatively clueless. Biosecurity is just a fancy word for “keeping pigs from getting sick.”

The cleanliness of the barns and stalls also helps minimize the risk of disease and illness. That concrete floor you see is key to preventing a lot of the illnesses that used to occur with pig farming. As it turns out, concrete trumps dirt in a huge way when it comes to preventing the spread of germs.

Visiting pig farms with the National Pork Board - read more at barefeetinthekitchen.com

The filtering systems pictured below all contribute to the biosecurity of pig farming today. This keeps the pigs healthier. It helps prevent disease and having to treat pigs with medicines. The cool water filtration system on the wall of the barn below both purifies the air going into the barns and also cools the air inside the facilities.

Filtering, vaccines, and antibiotics all improve quality of life for the pigs. No one ever jumps to give a medicine to an animal, but if it needs done, it is administered. If an animal does need to be given an antibiotic, it’s tracked and closely documented.

If any meat is tested by the usda at the processing plant with ANY residue of medicine it is flagged and the meat is discarded. If a farm is flagged a second time, they are no longer allowed to process their animals.

So, there is literally no way for antibiotics to be present in the meats that we purchase at the grocery store.

High tech biosecurity and safety measures are taken in the care and feeding of the animals in the pork industry today - read more at barefeetinthekitchen.com

The end result of all of these safety measures has helped make today’s lower temp cooking methods safe and also improved the pork’s taste in the end as well. Just about any pork purchased from a major store today that has been industrially processed is safe to cook to 145.

Please note that there is a caveat for that cooking temp. If the meat you’re buying is “enhanced” or “seasoned,” it has likely been injected with flavors or seasonings.

There’s nothing wrong or dangerous about injecting the meat with flavors, but you’ll want to cook it to the higher temperature to err on the safe side since you’re no longer working with a pure cut of meat.

Cool water filtration system both purifies the air going into the barns and also cools the air inside the facilities - read more at barefeetinthekitchen.com

The recommended cooking temperature for pork used to be 160°F; for every cut, for every single type of pork. Now, thanks to all of the biosecurity measures and the animal health issues that are of so much importance in the pork industry, we have healthier and safer pork to eat at lower temperatures.

That means that we can safely eat pork cooked to a juicy and never dried out 145°F. And THAT, my friends, is delicious pork.

Per The National Pork Board, the recommendations for cooking pork chops, pork roasts, and tenderloin is to an internal temperature of 145° F, followed by a three-minute rest.

Ground pork should always be cooked to 160° F. Doneness for some pork cuts, such as small cuts that are difficult to test with a thermometer or large cuts that cook slowly at low temperatures, is designated as “tender.” Pre-cooked ham can be reheated to 140° F or even enjoyed cold, while fresh ham should be cooked to 145° F.

Safe Pork Cooking Temp - read more at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Adhering to these pork cooking temperature guidelines will result in an optimum eating experience of enhanced flavor and safety. The National Pork Board follows the guidance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

How to Choose Pork in the Grocery Store

Here are a few pork-buying tips for you. Remember three little words when you’re in the grocery store, “redder is better.” Look for meats that are red, firm, and without excess liquids in the package.

If there are a lot of juices from the meat in the package, that is literally flavor that is no longer in the meat. If the pork is pale with a lot of liquids in the package, that’s not the optimal pork you’ll want to purchase.

By nature, pork shoulder roasts are redder. There’s already a good amount of fat in pork roasts. (Don’t panic, fat is good and it means that the meat will have lots of flavor.) However, when shopping for a pork shoulder, picnic, or butt roast, you want to look for less fat, simply because the fat dissolves as it cooks and the final yield will go down.

One final note: Pork shoulder roast = a picnic roast + a butt roast. A “butt” roast is not from the butt of the pig. Pork shoulders and pork butts used to be shipped, packed in salt, in a barrel called a butt. Regardless of the name, all three roasts are cooked the same way. I typically just buy whichever one is on sale.

How to Choose Pork at the Grocery Store - read more at barefeetinthekitchen.com

ENTER TO WIN one of (5) ThermoPro TP-16 Large LCD Digital Cooking Thermometers with Clock Timer

Enter to win this oven thermometer with remote timer! giveaway details at barefeetinthekitchen.com

To be entered for this giveaway, leave a comment telling me your favorite way to eat pork! Giveaway sponsored by Barefeet In The Kitchen. Giveaway ends on October 9, 2018 at 11:59pm EST. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of the U.S to enter. Five winners will be randomly selected and notified via email. GIVEAWAY CLOSED

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about pig farming in general, you can find out more at Pork.org.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with National Pork Board to share this information with you. The graphics shared are courtesy of pork.org. Pig photo by @sowmomma. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Annette says

    I love a good old fashioned oven baked pork roast filled with lots of garlic and seasoning. Reminds me of my childhood.

  2. Irma vasquez says

    Other than the obvious answer bacon , my family loves all things pork . Carnitas tacos are toos on our list with a close sencond being Hatch green Chile pork stew !

  3. Margaret Sergeant says

    I love a good pork tenderloin seasoned with garlic and rosemary! But to be honest, it is impossible to pick a favorite! I love smoked meat, I love ham, must have bacon! Possibly the only thing I don’t enjoy is ham hocks!

  4. Christine Horton says

    Absolutely love a smoked pork butt! Meat for days. My husband loves to make it for me— I’m a lucky woman!!!

  5. Sandra Perry says

    My favorite way to eat pork is roasted medium with potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I really need that thermometer, my glass one broke a couple days ago.

  6. Kimberly Guida says

    I love it when my husband smokes a pork roast on the Big Green Egg. So yummy for pulled pork sandwiches.

  7. FRANCES A OBRIEN says

    My family likes a medium well pork loin with lots of veggies. The pork loin is marinated with garlic and herbs the day before.

  8. Tracy W. says

    My favorite way to eat pork is marinating over night with soy sauce, coffee, oil, brown sugar, and spices. Then grilling them. Tastes sooooo goos and will quite literally melt in your mouth. Just delish! I usually do corn on the cob, when in season, and homemade mashed potatoes. My family’s favorite meal!

  9. GEORGIA WILLIS says

    My favourite way to eat pork? Every way! That’s what I love about it. I can make a lean and healthy dish or a big pot of calorie filled comfort food.

  10. LISA S ANDERSON says

    Looks Yummy! I have been looking for a good wine sauce! I am going to try this. I also love the post about the doneness of the pork! I think i have always been overcooking mine!

  11. Sharon says

    I love a quick-roasted pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet, deglazed with chicken stock for a nice gravy.

  12. Lisa says

    Thank you for the very informative article! I learned so much and will be bookmarking it for future reference. Pork is a serious contender for favorite meat in our house. Ham, bacon, St. Louis ribs, tenderloin all make it in the monthly rotation. And lastly, who can pass up a pulled pork sandwich?!?

  13. LAURA R RADELL says

    This would be VERY helpful when I am smoking meat! I just always hope that it’s done when it’s supposed to be! I would love it!

  14. Jolyn Wilkins says

    my hubby makes the BEST baby back pork ribs – slow smokes them then wraps them in foil to finish them off. Falling off the bone fabulous!!

  15. Cheryl says

    Thank you for this article. I used to love pork, but lately it is dry and tough. I am anxious to try it again after reading this article.

  16. Cheryl Osborne says

    What my husband and I did with this recipe was double the sauce. We love to have our sauce cover the meat totally.
    Side note we just love both of your recipe books. Every night we are cooking something new and so far we love everything. I have never had a recipe book that I was happy with until now. I am telling everyone to buy it you will not be disappointed.

    • Mary says

      Cheryl, that is awesome to hear! I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying the cookbook. Thanks for taking the time to tell me.

  17. Steve Nesbitt says

    I have a pretty good marinate for our pork chops. The ingredients are mint, light (lite) soy sauce, lemon pepper seasoning, garlic, water, vegetable oil, and about 6 boneless pork chops. (I would be glad to give exact amounts that I use, but I did get this from someone else! But it works extremely well. I put chops and marinate in a large “storage baggie” and it holds well.) I try to let my chops marinate for at least an hour or a little more. I grill them on a grill using charcoal briquettes and the chops are absolutely delicious. Eat well!

  18. Holly Sweet says

    We love pork so many ways. One of our favorite recipes this time of year is “Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples and Applejack Cream”

  19. Charlene Carney says

    Ah, your Pan Fried Pork Medallions with Creamy Wine Sauce is just the ticket for dinner tonight. I’ll use my sirloin chops though as they are my fave.

  20. Katheryn says

    I make pork tenderloin with slices cut into the meat then placing slices of garlic in the cuts. A little olive oil and balsamic vinegar then some Montreal steak seasoning on top. Yum!

  21. Phyllis Pike says

    I never knew we could eat pork rare! I use a meat thermometer to make sure its done, but we’ve always eaten it well done! I just bought pork tenderloins for the weekend; here’s our chance to try this recipe.
    Cheers!

  22. Nancy A. says

    We do love our pork! Pork chops are a favorite fried up nice and crispy. But, my mom made a delicious pork and rice casserole in the oven and I wish I could duplicate it!!

  23. Robin Bielby says

    I make various cuts of pork, from a roast to ribs with a plum sauce for basting and saving some for drizzling once plated. It’s made from canned plums, lemonade concentrate, spices and so on. It’s delicious!!

  24. Christine Simmons says

    My favorite pork dinner is a loin roast with pan roasted potatoes, gravy from a roux of pan juices and a nice green vegetable such as asparagus. I salt and pepper the roast and, with toothpicks, cover the top with thick onions slices. Oh…the aroma while roasting. If there are leftovers, I make a “pork mess”. Leftover roast and potato cut into bitesize pieces, simmered in gravy, onion, garlic, sliced mushrooms and noodles. There is rarely any roast potato leftover so the noodles are a welcome addition to the “mess”.

  25. Barbara Seidler says

    I learned this quick way to cook pork chops from Irene, a family dear friend. Usually I buy not very thick cuts of boneless or bone in meat. Slit the fat edges of the chops so they won’t curl up. Season both sides of pork chops with garlic and lemon pepper seasoning -pat seasoning into meat. Put in dry pan at medium heat until browned but not cooked thoroughly while moving it around every 30 seconds so it won’t stick. Lift meat up with fork and add underneath add to pan Worchestershire Sauce. Turn it over. Heat the uncooked side in the sauce. Move in pan so it does not stick and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Lift it up and add the sauce to pan. Then turn chop over again so first cooked side is now in the sauce. Let it cook 2 minutes in the sauce moving it in pan every 30 seconds so it won’t stick. Serve.

  26. Denise Cobb says

    My family likes a simply roasted pork roast seasoned with Greek seasoning suspended on a rack with a flavorful liquid in the bottom of the roaster, quite often beer. I roast uncovered for 30 minutes, then covered for 1 1/2 hour at a temperature of 350 degrees.

  27. Mary Moore says

    I grew up eating pork at least once a week. My favorite way to eat pork is any way at all! I guess you could call me a “pork-aholic”. Pork is so delicious roasted, in the slow cooker, braised, fried, stuffed; just any way at all. The flavors are like nothing else if cooked properly and seasoned correctly. My all time favorite is grilled after marinating with a combination of: EVOO, garlic, honey, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. OHH………………..So Yummy !!!

  28. Niki says

    A hit pork dish is my double crunch honey garlic
    Ny pork chops. I make a flour based coating with a ton of yummy spices like nutmeg and sage and more! To make it super crunchy I Dry the chops with paper towels lightly and salt and pepper both sides. Then I put them in a ziplock full of the spiced flour mixture and shake, 2 at a time. Dip both sides in egg and water and then back into the flour again. Cook in about 3 inches of canola oil until crispy. To make the sauce for them, I use honey, fresh garlic and soy sauce and other spices. This is what will give your dish that WOW! factor. After boiling the sauce for 5 minutes let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken. I serve with mashed potato’s and steak house green beans. It’s amazing and my family eats all of it.

  29. MaryB says

    We love good old fashioned pork rost, especially with the cracklin’s left on! Carnitas, pork tenderloin, pork stir fry, you name it. We are big pork eaters here.

  30. Christine Fields says

    My favorite way to eat pork is slow roasted on our pellet grill , we cook it very long so it is done so we can use the leftovers for pulled pork. Delicious.

  31. Mary F Brown says

    Pork tenderloin oven roasted with a simple rub and then we have lunch or dinners for a few days.
    also love this post and your blog Mary, Thanks for all the great recipes.

  32. Tim says

    My favorite way to eat pork is as a breaded pork chop. That was almost the only way we used to eat them. I also like to broil a pork tenderloin. You can season it an endless number of ways.

  33. Amanda LaRive says

    I love smothered pork chops dark brown gravy over rice with a side of corn cooked down in butter seasoned with a little bit of Tony’s!