Pork cooking guide: How to tell if Pork is Done?

How to tell if pork is cooked?

Pork is believed to be a difficult meat to be cooked. However, that is not the case at all most of the time. Questions like ‘how to tell if pork is done?’ or ‘Is my pork undercooked?’ often haunted me too.

In this article, I will try to elaborate on how to tell if pork is done. We cannot let such good meat go to waste by not paying attention to how it is cooked. Let’s make a delightful meal out of what we know best!

There are couple of ways to tell if pork is cooked. Firstly, you could use a meat thermometer – the perfect temperature for pork is 145°F to 160°F.  Also, it can be decided by touch: the best cooked pork has the same firmness as this – join the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky finger. The firmness felt in the area at the base of the thumb when you press those two fingers together is what you should be aiming for.

Methods for checking if pork is cooked:

There are more than just a few ways to check if the pork is thoroughly and tastefully cooked. I’ll walk you through each of them while talking about why that is done and how. In summary, we’ll see what the critical details to look out for to tell how well pork is cooked are.

I’ll also further dive into the varieties of pork to see how to tell if they are cooked. Pork is tasteful and clean meat that is arguably difficult to cook and decide when it is cooked. Or so they say. We can make it easy with the help of the following methods.

cooked pork

Meat thermometer

A meat thermometer is a wondrous kitchen tool that pinpoints the exact moment when ingredients must be added or separated. It leaves no leaf unturned, literally, when cooking. The same can be said while checking if the pork is done or not.

There are other benefits to using a meat thermometer too. They include:

  • Not making a disaster of your pork and stopping you from either undercooking or overcooking it.
  • These thermometers come very cheap but serve a great purpose. Having one is always harmless, given the benefits.
  • It helps in making safer meat since it helps decide the exact moment you need to do something, whether it is to add, remove, or change something from the ensemble.

Different ways to tell if pork is cooked throughout

Once you notice that the meat is turning golden brown and you’re able to taste the encapsulating aroma of the pork, remove it from the pan. Or the oven, if you are baking it. Then, use the meat thermometer and stick it into the flesh of the cooked meat.

Be careful and ensure that the tip of the thermometer is not touching the base of the meat. This means that by pushing the thermometer in and through, you will be touching the plate or the desk on which your meat is placed. This will not give you accurate readings of the temperature.

Pork is safe to eat when internal temperature of the cut reaches 160° to 145° F.

And what temperature are we cooking it at? Before the revision, you and I continued to cook the meat at 160°F since that was what we had grown up with. It was what was taught to us.

In 2011 though, the USDA revised its guidelines, specifying that meat can be cooked until 145°F and can be left pink in some areas. Eating pink meat, the USDA said, is alright. (I would go as far as to suggest that the pink meat adds some texture and flavor to the meat)!

Make sure that the pork rests on the pan for a grace three-minute duration. This allows for the juices and the salt, and other condiments to bristle and settle for a taste.

Pork is safe to eat when internal temperature of the cut reaches 160° to 145° F.

And there you have it! A meat thermometer is one of the foolproof ways to tell if pork is done or not.

pork roast

The Classic Tell – by Touch

I say it is classic because it is the oldest and the most proven method to date that one can tell if pork is done. Our grandparents weren’t always wrong.

In the pan where it is being cooked, gently press on the pork and see if it is firm under pressure. Make sure you don’t break the layer with too much pressure; alternately, if it does break, let the meat continue to cook until the pork is firm.

The other way to tell if pork is done is to scrape off a slight bit of the meat in the center and test it on the back of your hand. Be careful not to burn yourself, though. Test the heat and the firmness against the fingers, and if it is firm enough, you’re good to go.

Here’s the trick I’ve learned: the best cooked pork has the same firmness as this: join the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky finger. The firmness felt in the area at the base of the thumb when you press those two fingers together is what you should be aiming for.

Tossing and Telling

The other way to ensure whether or not pork is cooked is by its appearance. Now, this is not as foolproof as the rest of the methods, but it is still a credible way.

When you toss and turn to roast the sides, see how it looks. Are they golden-brown on each side? When you cut into the thickest part of the pork, which is in the center, does it look white or pink to you? Are there any clear juices coming out when you cut it?

In that case, you’ve cooked your meat very well! Nothing to worry about the pink part of the pork; USDA’s guidelines deem it safe.

Undercooked meat is never an option since it tastes so bland and is also unsafe for health. It tends to contain worms that lead to infections and food poisoning. If you think the meat is undercooked, try roasting it in the pan again! You will get it right this time, I’m sure!

Texture Test

This method lines up with that of Tell by Touch method. However, in this method, we will be slightly driving the knife through the pork meat to check for resistance. If it cuts easily enough and feels tender to cut through, then you’ve cooked the meat excellently.

ready pork

How to tell if pork is done depending on the cut?

Pork is a versatile dish that encompasses countless dishes and varieties. Each of them heat and cook differently according to the area from which the pork meat was extracted. How different are they? Plenty different.

This difference can be attested only when using the traditional methods of checking how cooked the pork is. In case you are using a meat thermometer, gently stick the device in and record the temperature to decide it.

Pork sausages

Sausages look naturally pink, even after roasting to perfection. This makes it hard to decide when to take them off the oven, grill, or pan.

The solution, therefore, is to simmer the sausages in a liquid first and then let the heat of the pan gently push the vapor inside. A minimum of 20 minutes of tossing the sausages is required.

Pork tenderloin

Perhaps the hardest to determine, you would think. It is hard to decide when the tenderloin is cooked merely by its appearance, I will agree. However, if you can slice a tiny piece of it and feel the firmness and springy-ness of it, it becomes easy.

You can also take a note of the cooking time and temperature at which you’ve let the pork cook. Ideally, searing it on the pan and fishing it into the oven for 20 minutes at 375°F will do the job.

Pork chop/Steak

The best way to check if pork is done for pork chops and steak is to poke them and feel the firmness using the fingers. Always cook them until medium roast and not medium-rare.

Slow-cooked pork

The best cooked pork comes when you’re slow cooking it. Slow cooking allows the pork to sear in the pan with patience, which ensures its doneness. Cutting the pork and checking for its tenderness is the recommended way on how to tell if pork is done.

pork cooked well

Tricks to tell the firmness of pork

Here’s a handy guide to determine the firmness of the meat. If the meat feels similar to the following sensations, you will then be able to tell if pork is done:

  • Rare meat feels like the softness of your cheeks
  • Medium rare is the firmness felt at the area between the base of the thumb and the base of your palm when your thumb and the middle finger are touching
  • Medium meat feels like the tip of your nose
  • Well cooked meat has the firmness as that of your forehead

And that’s a wrap on how to tell if pork is done! I love to keep the firmness test in mind all the time to decide how well cooked my pork is. What recipes are you now eager to make? Pork is not so hard to cook, now that we know the secret to make well-cooked pork.


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