Pork loin doesn’t always get the credit it deserves around the dinner table. This simple, yet tender and juicy slow cooker pork loin recipe will become a repeat addition to your family favorites!
Pork loin is a fantastic option for a hearty dinner, while also budget-friendly with a typical range of $3-4 per pound. Since it is a red-meat variety, it is also a great protein source with similar nutritional benefits as other types of red meat such as beef or lamb.
According to the USDA, pork is the “most widely eaten meat in the world.” A staple in nearly every culinary profile around the world, it works with a myriad of flavors and dishes. Pork loin, in particular, is the perfect slow cooker meat due to its leanness and texture.
At the grocery store, you will often find pork loin (also known as pork loin roast) in 2-3 pound portions. Don’t be intimidated by the purchase size – with the slow cooker, you can count on enough portions for a filling family meal with minimal prep and satisfying taste.
What is the difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin?
Pork loin and pork tenderloin might seem interchangeable, but they are actually very different cuts of meat. When cooking pork, it helps to have a basic understanding of where the different types of meat originate.
Any basic diagram of pork cuts (or the one here) will show that both the pork loin – or pork loin roast – and pork tenderloin come from the top, leaner area of the pig and don’t have a lot of marbling (fat!). Leaner meats include more protein, thus resulting in a longer cooking time than say, bacon or sausage (higher fat content).
Smoked meat enthusiasts will often debate methods of “low and slow” or “hot and fast.” You can apply the same principle here with the slow cooker (even while cooking at a high setting). Typically, the leaner meats will cook at a lower heat and for a longer period of time.
Pork loin works exceptionally well for this recipe because the slow cooker allows for that even cooking time. Additionally, the gravy can help prevent toughness or over-drying that can occur in other cooking methods.
This recipe takes a basic meat to a flavorful dish with this combination of simple, everyday ingredients – especially with the sweet-and-savory additions of apricot preserves and bacon!
- 2-pound boneless pork loin
- Spices – thyme, garlic powder, paprika, salt
- 6 slices of pre-cooked bacon
- ½ of a yellow onion, sliced
- chicken broth
- apricot preserves
- Cornstarch for the gravy
Step By Step – How To Make A Pork Loin In The Slow Cooker
Pork Loin – Start your journey to tender and delicious slow-cooked meat by patting the pork loin dry with a paper towel. Rub the meat on all sides evenly with the spice mixture.
Next, wrap the pre-cooked bacon slices around the pork loin or lay them across the meat in the slow cooker. Add the sliced onions to the slow cooker along with chicken broth and apricot preserves.
Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. Feel free to test the pork with a meat thermometer near the end to ensure it has reached 145 degrees.
Remove the meat from the slow cooker and slice to serve hot with a few spoonfuls of sweet gravy.
Gravy – Don’t forget this special step that really makes this tender meat a meal!
To make the gravy, strain the leftover juices into a saucepan and bring to a simmer on the stove. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca flour with 1 tablespoon of water until it is smooth.
Whisk the cornstarch or flour mixture into the saucepan and continue until the gravy is thickened and bubbly. Spoon over the sliced pork loin and enjoy!
How To Serve Slow Cooker Pork Loin
Serve slow cooker pork loin right after cooking as a juicy slice with nearly any of your favorite sides! With the sweetness of the apricot preserves, you might want a savory side such as Perfect Slow Cooker Red Potatoes, Slow Cooker Creamy Herbed Fingerling Potatoes, or Slow Cooker Roasted Fall Vegetables.
Another scrumptious side would be a slice of brown bread and butter or an artisan dinner roll to soak up every bit of the slow cooker gravy. Serve with a fresh garden salad or green beans and your home-cooked meal is complete!
How long should pork loin be cooked in a slow cooker?
If you choose a larger pork loin, consider adding an extra hour of cooking time on low for each additional pound. Have your meat thermometer handy to check the pork each additional 30 mins to 1 hour to ensure it does not become overcooked (which causes it to be tough).
Why cook pork loin in a slow cooker?
The slow cooker is best for a meat such as pork loin because it can cook low and slow at an even temperature – freeing you to let it slow-roast for amazing flavor and texture.
Should the fat be removed before cooking?
Pork loin is already very lean so there usually won’t be much visible fat to remove – although this can vary based on where the pork loin is cut for packaging. If you do happen to have extra fat on the top or ends, you can leave it to help seal in the flavors.
How do you keep pork loin from drying out in a slow cooker?
To prevent pork loin from drying out in the slow cooker, start checking the internal temperature of the meat around the last hour of cooking. Be sure that there is plenty of liquid in the slow cooker throughout the entire cooking time to limit the opportunity for burning. Remove the meat from the slow cooker once finished so that it does not continue to cook and dry out.
How do I store leftover pork loin?
Store your leftover pork loin for tasty leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also save slices or individual portions in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What are the best ways to use leftover pork loin?
Leftover pork loin can be chopped up into bite-sized pieces and used in a variety of ways for leftovers! Saute the pork and vegetables on hand in a pan with oil for a quick stir-fry and serve over rice or lo mein noodles.
Another leftover option for this pork loin roast would be to cut thin slices and serve on a pork sandwich – either Cuban-style with grilled Swiss cheese or on a toasted bun with your favorite BBQ sauce.
How else can this recipe be made?
If your slow cooker is occupied with other tasty sides, you can opt for the oven or Instant Pot.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prep the meat and other ingredients following the same steps as the slow cooker in a deep, oven-safe pan. Pour the chicken broth and apricot preserves over the meat and place in the oven for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.
- After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound of meat.
- When the meat has reached 145 degrees, remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest before slicing.
- Prepare the gravy according to the slow cooker directions.
- When cooking in the instant pot, you will need to sear the meat before cooking. Start by setting the instant pot to “sauté” and heat up some olive oil. Rub the spices on the meat, then brown on all sides.
- Next, remove the meat and sauté your onion slices. Deglaze the pot by scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the pot and add in your chicken broth.
- Place the meat, bacon slices, and apricot preserves in the pot, seal, and cook on high pressure for approximately 20 minutes per pound (per Instant Pot’s recommended guidelines).
- Allow for a 15-minute natural release of the steam, then remove the pork from the instant pot.
- Prepare the gravy according to the slow cooker directions.
Slow Cooker Pork Loin
- Slow Cooker
- instant-read meat thermometer
To make the pork loin:
- Pat pork loin dry with paper towel
- Rub evenly with spices
- Carefully wrap bacon slices around pork loin or simply lay across the pork loin in the slow cooker
- Add onions to slow cooker along with chicken broth and apricot preserves
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8
- Remove from slow cooker and slice to serve
To make gravy:
- Strain the leftover juices into a saucepan and bring to a simmer
- Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca flour with 1 tablespoon water until smooth
- Whisk into gravy mixture
- Continue whisking until gravy is thickened and bubbly
- Alternative Seasonings – Switch up your flavors by using a marinade with balsamic vinegar and rosemary, or different preserves such as plum or peach.
- Alternative Meat Cuts to Use With This Recipe – Use the same seasoning and flavors to prepare this meal with your favorite way to cook pork chops (since they are sliced pork loin).
- What temperature should the pork loin be when it is done? Pork should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
- Leftover Instructions
- Fridge – Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezer – Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Best way to reheat leftovers
- Stove – Warm up a portion of pork loin in a skillet on the stove with a bit of olive oil.
- Microwave – Reheat a single portion at a time in the microwave in 30-second increments to prevent overcooking.