Pork loin vs pork chop is a tough comparison. Both these cuts come from the same part of the animal and show similar characteristics. However, there are changes that make them entirely different.
In fact, though related, these cuts of meat are so different that they can’t substitute or replace each other in a meal.
Ever wondered what sets them apart and how two cuts from the same part of the pig can be so different? Well, let’s get to those answers.
Pork Chop vs Pork Loin – The Key Elements
The Location Of Pork Chop And Pork Loin
As we know, both of these cuts come from the same part of the pig, which is the loin. Despite its name, the loin of the pork is the area between its shoulders and hind legs.
There are four cuts in this section, going from the back to the belly, these are back fat, loin, ribs, and bacon (or pork belly).
As such, the loin is a fairly large area and there’s scope for different cuts of meat in this portion.
One of these cuts is the pork loin, which is also (and perhaps more accurately) known as the pork loin roast. The pork loin has a relatively lighter color for the meat when compared to the pork tenderloin. It often also sports a thin layer of fat towards its top, which is known as the fat cap.
Despite the presence of this layer of fat, the loin is usually the leanest and most tender part of the animal. The pork loin roast cut comes from the dorsal side of the rib cage of the pig. Many people confuse pork loin roast with pork tenderloin.
While both these cuts come from the loin, the tenderloin is a slightly darker and lean meat that runs along the pig’s spine.
Pork chops are meat cuts from the pork loin. They’re sliced perpendicularly from the spine to the rib, and in a way, they present a cross-section of the loin. Simply put, pork chops are thin slices of pork loin.
What Is A Pork Chop And Types Of Pork Chops
The pork loin is a fairly large part of the pig. As such, some parts of the meat might differ slightly from the others.
The difference becomes very evident with pork chops, which are relatively thin slices of the pork loin roast. So, let’s take a look at the types of pork chop and how their location affects the meat.
- Shoulder chop: As its name implies, this cut is from the part of the pork loin closest to the pork shoulder. This meat is relatively darker in color and has a good amount of fat, bones, and connective tissue. It’s flavorful, but some effort must be put into tenderizing it.
- Rip chop: Also known as the center-cut rib chop or pork rib cut chop, this one comes from the rib section of the loin, going from the shoulder to the middle of the loin. Sometimes, baby back ribs might be attached to this cut. The rib chop is a large piece of loin meat and no tenderloin meat.
- Loin chop: This cut of the pork chop comes from the rear part of the loin that’s towards the hip. It’s also known as the center loin chop, since it’s pretty close to (and often includes) the center of the pork loin. Depending on the location of the cut, it might contain some part of the tenderloin. This cut is fairly lean and has a mild pork flavor.
- Boneless chop: Also known as pork loin filet, this cut comes from the top loin or rib chops. As the name implies, it doesn’t contain any bones. This is a fairly lean cut of meat with little to no connective tissue.
- Sirloin chop: This cut comes from the part of the loin that’s towards the back legs or hip area of the pig. Its placement is towards the back of the pork loin. This cut contains a fair bit of muscle and has the highest amount of bone when compared to other types of pork chops. This cut has a good amount of pork flavor and can get quite tough. Be sure to tenderize this meat when cooking.
The Key Difference Element Between the Pork Loin And Pork Chops
Pork loin is a large cut of meat, often sold in thick, chunky blocks. This part is better known as the pork loin roast. When used for cooking, this cut lends itself especially well to roasting.
Pork chops, on the other hand, are thinner slices of the pork loin roast cut. These can have different flavors and textures depending on the part of the pig from where the meat was cut.
What Is The Best Pork Chop Cut?
Conventionally, the boneless chop or the pork loin filet is the most sought-after pork chop cut. This is a tender, lean cut of meat without any bones. The cut isn’t as flavorful as its bone-in counterparts, but it gets quite a lot of love and popularity.
Cooked right, the cut has a good amount of flavor and moisture, which gives it an excellent mouthfeel and texture.
The loin chop, especially the boneless loin chop is perhaps as popular as the pork loin filet. This one’s more flavorful than the filet, and when boneless, it’s relatively easier to cook.
The lack of bones and a presence of only a small amount of fat make it somewhat tricky to cook. But if done right, this becomes an amazing treat.
Which Is The Most Tender Pork Cut From The Loin?
The most tender cuts of pork usually come from the rib or the loin. In the loin, there’s the tenderloin, which, as its name implies, is fairly tender. However, the rib chop is more tender and is a delicious pick.
Where Is A Loin On A Pig?
In a very crude way, we could say the pig’s loin is placed at the center of the pig. This region is usually between the shoulder and the back legs of the animal. The area between the shoulder and hind legs contains four cuts of meat.
Going from the back of the pig towards the belly, a small part of the back forms the back fat, this is followed by the loin, and then the ribs, and finally, the bacon.
As we see in this pork loin vs pork chop comparison, both these cuts are remarkably similar. The pork loin roast comes from the loin of the pig and is a big and thick cut. It often has a layer of fat over it, called the fat cap.
The pork chops are thinner cuts of the pork loin roast. Since the pork loin is a pretty large cut, the pork chops can have varying flavor and texture profiles depending on what part of the pork loin they are sourced from.