Pork Loin - Help!

Fairly new to this technique and have had success with steak, chicken and a pork tenderloin but this weekend, I attempted a 5lb, bone in pork loin. We put a dry rub on it, scoring the fat first. I used a similar temp to my pork tenderloin, cooking it at 153 for 6 hours. It then sat resting after the sear for about 45 minutes before we ate it and it came out pretty dry. I wasn’t happy with it to say the least.

We don’t like pink in our pork which is why I kept the temp that high - seemed to work for the tenderloin and what the app’s guide says too (no guide for loin but was for tenderloin). Was that temp too high? Should I stay in the 145 range and will that result in some pink? I know, I know, pink is fine, but still can’t get over it for some reason.

Does dry rubbing dry it out that much? Is 6 hours too long? Did the rest period have something to do with it? Unfortunately, the timing just didn’t work out…


Sean, those who are relatively new to sous vide cooking often attempt to use their conventional cooking experiences in their new SV cooking technique. As you’ve discovered, sometimes the results are disappointing.

Here’s my responses to your multitude of questions.

  1. To be successful, don’t “attempt”. Cook with knowledge and certainty, elements that require you to do some work in gaining them.
  2. A roast with bones can be a SV challenge as the bones add inedible mass to your cook. Bones are dense and offer resistance to uniform heat diffusion in a significant part of the roast.
  3. Other than its salt content, a dry rub has almost no impact other than colour on your meat. It won’t dry meat. Apply it before the sear to enhance flavour. That way you can use the meat juices from the bag to make a sauce that won’t be too salty. And i think you will find pork more enjoyable if you serve it with a sauce.
  4. A 5 pound bone in pork loin is only a former neighbour of the tenderloin. They are two different items and require different cooking formulae.
  5. If you are aiming for better results next time i suggest you reduce both time and temperature. 145F may have a little pink meat. Try 147F next time, the meat will have little or no pinkness and will be more tender. Cook the meat off the bones. If you need the bones for presentation, you can cook them separately and tie them back together.
  6. A 3-inch thick boneless pork loin will be uniformly cooked in about 3 3/4 hours.
  7. What was the purpose of the meat’s 45-minute rest meat after you seared it? By the nature of the SV technique, cooked meats are uniformly cooked. No rest is needed, other to possibly promote dryness and temperature loss.
  8. You might consider the possible reason you found no guide for pork loin.

While there’s no guide for pork loin, there are quite a few recipes in the app, but they are usually for boned loin. It is definitely worth removing the bones from your loin roast for the reasons suggested and it makes serving so much easier.

It’s also worth mentioning that the loin modern commercial pig is a pretty dense lump of meat. There’s little or no fat within the muscle to break up the texture, so there can be a bit of a tendency toward dryness. There are quite a few chef’s that shy away from loin for this reason. But with a bit of practice and assistance from sous vide processing you should be rocking it in no time.

Thank you both for the responses, appreciate your input. I always thought cooking with the bone in was the preferred way to cook, but seems that is not the case, at least with pork loin. The “attempt,” as you put it in quotes, was just that, an attempt. I cooked it for the first time, knowing that I will probably have to change the approach based on the outcome. No need to read into that too much.

Most dry rubs do release water content from the meat, that has always been my experience, so not sure how that doesn’t play into this in some form or another. Are you saying not to apply the dry rub before SV’ing it and only right before searing it?

The background is that my father-in-law brought the pork and cooked the rest of the meal. Apparently we weren’t aligned on when it would be done and wasn’t intentional. I know I don’t need to let it rest like meat cooked on the grill or the oven.

This was a fairly cheap piece of meat so it makes sense regarding the fat content and dryness now that you point it out. I was hoping this would come out better than it did but I will have to try again at the lower temp.

Regarding time, I have read in a few places to cook for 30 minutes per half inch of meat. Is that accurate or is there some other guide i can use for time? Hoping to do larger roasts in the future so curious the best way to calculate.

Again, thanks for your input!

Boneless pork loin is lean and dry, so it benefits from salting, before it is cooked. You can either brine or dry rub it. When a dry (salt) rub is applied, the meat is wrapped in plastic, and left to cure, in the refrigerator, for two days. The salt draws out some water, which is then reabsorbed, with the salt, making the roast much tastier.

After the salt treatment, you can wipe it clean, vacuum seal it and sous vide it. My preference is 140F-144F, for 3-4 hours

I cooked a wonderful pork loin at 140 for about 24 hours. I removed the bone first. When it was done, It was difficult to remove from the bag because it was so tender. I was falling apart in my hands. We pulled it into strands, put into a baking dish and smothered it with baby ray’s bbq sauce. We served it to 20 people on small kaiser rolls. Was the best little sliders we ever had.

The 30 mins per half inch is a (very) rough guide for time to temperature equilibrium for smaller pieces of naturally tender meat. It doesn’t take into account that heat transfer is not a linear gradient but a curve. Absorption slows as the mass gets closer to temperature. But it is fine if you think of it as an hour and a bit per inch.

Then there’s the conversion of collagen to gelatin for tenderness in non-tender meats.

Timing is not an exact science in sous vide cooking.

S. the 30 minutes/1/2-inch heat diffusion rate is a general approximation, but it’s not a linear rate which is why SV cooks have more time challenges with large cuts of meat as you plan to do in the future.

A bone-in roast done by a conventional cooking technique, which is usually by convection, - heated air, could be preferred as the bones act as a rack allowing air to circulate around the roast. Bones also retain heat providing carry-over heat to finish cooking which doesn’t happen with SV. You likely know heated water has approximately 10X the thermal efficiency of air which is why the SV technique differs so much from conventional cooking.

Community members find Baldwin very informative.
His cooking time guide for tender meat is the following table:

As M-Hand suggests you might consider brining your next pork roast before cooking. It helps maintain moisture content. I think of it as an essential for pork chops, but i also cook at a lower temperature.

It’s not been my experience that dry rubs release a significant amount of water content from the meat. Heat does that. Salt ions do too. However the moisture released by salt is reabsorbed by meat at room temperature in about 45 minutes.

For your SV cooks, only salt penetrates meat for flavour enhancement. The dry rub doesn’t stay dry when vacuum packaged and becomes diluted. Apply it if you want to, but it’s will have greater effect when applied before searing allowing the aromatic elements to be more noticeable. Alternatively, diluting your dry rub and injecting it into the meat will flavour the meat as it cooks.

A trick i use when serving pink-adverse guests is to blot their meat portion with a wad of paper towel. It absorbs the pink meat juices so the meat’s appearance approaches that of well done, but isn’t.

I have also had good luck with 24 hour cooks on pork loin (very different from tenderloin as other commenters have pointed out). Mine have always been boneless, maybe that plays into it. The bone doesn’t provide any additional flavor at SV temps like you might expect using traditional methods. Temps can range quite a bit depending on preferred done-ness, try adjusting that a little bit on the next cook. Most people prefer well done pork based on traditional cooking expectations. It’s safe to eat at lower temps, especially using SV and safe food handling practices. Also make sure you’re getting quality meat, loin is already a tough piece of meat, so make sure it comes from a good pig. Don’t give up!

I just cooked one, boneless. No brining, just herbs and garlic. 1 ½ hour, 145F. Moist, perfect. A little pink but I guess another couple of degrees would do away with that. Of course, searing is important but I would not recommend using butter as in the app. Reducing the juices is much, much better.