Know Your Pork

Whether it’s a rack of ribs or a juicy slice of bacon, pork is a delicious meat, packed with lots of protein and healthy vitamins. With so many options available, choosing the best pork cuts can get tricky.

There are 7 primal cuts. These are the big butcher cuts that you have likely seen if you have ever watched your local butcher breakdown a pig.

Each of the primal cuts are broken down again into smaller cuts, which is where we get some of the popular cuts like bacon and pork chops.

In this guide, we’ll go through our favourite pork cuts and the best way to cook each. Let’s get started.

Pork Loin Chop

There are several different cuts that can be called pork chops. They are cut from meat perpendicular to the spine, often from the loin. They come thick or thin, bone-in or boneless. All are great broiled, grilled, or pan-fried..

Here are the different cuts of pork chops, listed in order of tenderness:

  • Loin chops
  • Rib chops
  • Sirloin chops
  • Top loin chops

Pork Shoulder Chop

Pork shoulder chops, often sold as pork blade chops, come from the blade roast and are fattier and a bit tougher than other cuts of chops. 

They are still great for broiling, grilling, or pan-frying, especially when marinating or tenderising beforehand. They also work well with slower cooking methods like braising.

Pork Belly

Contrary to its name, pork belly is not the stomach of the pig. Rather, it is the flesh that runs on the underside of the pig and surrounds the stomach.

It is one fatty yet incredibly tender cut of meat, great for slow-roasting or using to make bacon or pancetta.

Because pork belly is a fattier cut, it is a versatile one. You can cook it slowly at a low temperature for soft meat that melts in the mouth or you can slice it and crisp it up in a hot pan. It can also be roasted or stewed, but you’ll want to skim away some of the fat.

Pork Loin

Cuts from the loin are the most tender pork cuts. The three sections of the pork loin are:

  • Blade end: Closest to the shoulder and tends to be fatty
  • Sirloin end: Closest to the rump and tends to be bony
  • Center portion: In the middle of the loin and is the leanest, tenderest, and most expensive section.

You can cook the loin in one piece, deboned or with the bone, stuffed and rolled up to make a roast. Keeping the skin on and crisping it up provides nice crackling. You can also remove the skin and marinate the whole loin.

For the best results, you’ll want to rest the meat before carving.


The fillet or tenderloin is part of the loin, found on the inside of the ribcage. It is a long thin muscle and can be cooked whole, cut into small round medallions and pan-fried, or cut into thin slices and crushed into escalopes. Pork fillet may also be stuffed with your choice of fillings. Pork tenderloin is the healthiest cut as it is the leanest.

For best results, you’ll want to marinate or tenderise the tenderloin, then cook it quickly at a high temperature until it’s slightly pink in the center. Cooking it for too long will dry the meat out. Remember to rest the tenderloin after cooking to seal in the moisture.

Pork Butt and Shoulder

Pork butt and shoulder each come from the shoulder of the pig. They are technically different cuts, with the butt coming from a thicker section of the shoulder with intense marbling.

Pork butt includes the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm of the pig. It is a relatively tough cut of meat and is great for braising, slow roasting, and smoking. It also works well for pork sausages and ground pork.

Pork shoulder, also known as picnic shoulder, comes from right below the butt. It is usually cured or smoked and is also great for ground pork and sausages.

Ham and Pork Rump

Pork rump comes from the top of the pork leg. It can be sold boiled, fresh, smoked, or cured.

The entire fresh rump is typically roasted but it can be cut into delicious steaks as well. When rump is smoked and cured, you get serrano ham and prosciutto.

Baby Back Pork Ribs

Whereas spare ribs are located between the loin and the pork side, baby back pork ribs are taken from around the loin, and tend to be more curvy and shorter than spare ribs. Baby back ribs have ample lean meat between each rib and on top of the bones as well. They aren’t just for the barbeque, either. You can roast them on the bone for a wonderful, full-flavour Sunday lunch.

Your Local Pork Butcher In Essex

Like any other meat, the quality of your pork will determine how tasty your cuts are. This means finding an animal that has led a happy and healthy life before reaching your plate.

Meat and Cleaver cares about the welfare of our animals and ensures that our meat is ethically sourced and sustainable. Our produce is prepared fresh each day by our expert butcher and all cuts arrive at your door perfectly chilled and ready for use.

Contact us today to place an order or to learn more about our delicious meats, stocked pantry of savory gravies and jellies, and check out our convenient subscription boxes that save you time and money!

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