Looking for a festive roast for a special dinner or a holiday celebration? This cranberry apple stuffed pork loin presents beautifully, and is easier to pull off than it looks. Really!
I first made a version of this roast a decade ago with my father. The original recipe we had came from a grocery circular, but the instructions fell a little short on the how to actually stuff the roast part. It also included croutons, which frankly, are hard to use for this type of stuffing. (Panko or breadcrumbs work much better.) So our roast back then wasn't exactly a thing of beauty.
But this one is.
The Trick to a Perfect Stuffed Pork Loin
And the reason? Because we are properly butterflying the roast.
It can be tricky to butterfly a pork roast (See our tips below.) if you are attempting it for the first time. But all you need is patience (a sharp knife helps too!). Even if your pork cutting skills aren't perfect, you can still make it work. You're going to cut the roast so that it rolls out flat, which you can then stuff and roll back up.
The Best Stuffing for Pork Loin
The stuffing ingredients are classic for the holiday season—apple, walnuts, cranberries, breadcrumbs, shallots, maple syrup, and rosemary—and work wonderfully with the roast.
When the roast is done, make sure to save any pan drippings! Drizzle them over the cut roast slices, or use them to make gravy.
How to Butterfly Pork Loin
- Chill the roast: Chilling the roast in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes will make it easier to cut.
- Use a sharp knife with a long blade: A sharp knife that can make smooth, long cuts makes all the difference!
- Make slow, shallow cuts: Making shallow cuts will give you more control as you cut the roast.
- Keep the knife parallel to the board: After the first angled cut, keep the knife parallel to the board as you cut the roast. Eventually, you'll be able to open the roast out like a book!
- Pound to an even thickness: After you've cut the roast open, put it between two pieces of plastic wrap. Then, use a meat pounder to pound the roast to a more even thickness, which will make it easier to stuff and roll.
Can You Make This Pork Loin Ahead?
If you want to plan ahead, you can butterfly and stuff the pork loin. Roll it up and wrap it with kitchen string, then wrap the whole thing up in a couple of layers plastic wrap. You can store it in the refrigerator a day or two before baking.
When you're ready to cook it, pull it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes in advance to let it come to room temperature before roasting.
We don't recommend freezing the pork loin, since the apples will turn mushy.
How to Keep Pork Loin from Drying Out
Pork loin is a leaner cut, and overcooking it will make it dry. To prevent this, cook your pork loin fat side up, so the fat juices can pour down into the meat as it cooks. If your pork loin does not have a thick fat layer on the outside, rub it with some soft butter or olive oil before roasting.
If you have one, use a thermometer. Check the roast 30 minutes into your cooking time. Just because it's pink doesn't mean it's not cooked.
Take your roast out of the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F. Let it rest for a few minutes, and the temperature will rise up to 10°F more. The resting time also allows the moisture to be reabsorbed into the roast.
You can also brine your pork before filling and rolling. Just be sure to rinse the brine before prepping your roast so that it's not too salty.
Fabulous Sides for Stuffed Pork Loin
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Broccoli Rabe with Caramelized Onions
- Roasted Asparagus
- Maple Glazed Yams with Pecan Topping
- Honey Chipotle Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Cranberry Apple Stuffed Pork Loin
To toast walnuts, spread them on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until aromatic, 7 to 10 minutes.
Recipe adapted from one in a Raley's Supermarket circular in the early 2000s.
1 boneless pork loin (about 3 to 4 pounds)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup panko or homemade breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup peeled, chopped tart green apples
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see recipe note)
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Butterfly the pork loin:
Place the pork loin roast fat side down on a cutting board. Note that one long side of the pork loin roast will be thicker, and one side thinner.
Using a sharp knife, make a long cut an inch or so from the edge from the thinner long side of the roast at about a 45° degree angle, stopping a half inch from reaching the bottom of the roast.
Then angle the knife so that it is flat, parallel to the cutting board, and make slow, shallow cuts into the roast, along the same line.
As you cut, you can open up the top part of the roast like a book. Keep making slow, even cuts until you have "rolled" the roast out completely.
Pound the butterflied roast to an even thickness:
With the pork roast unfolded, cover with 2 layers of of plastic wrap.
Pound with a meat mallet to flatten to a somewhat even thickness. Remove the plastic wrap. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper and set aside.
Make the filling:
Place the panko and stock in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Stir in the apples, walnuts, cranberries, shallots, maple syrup, and rosemary.
Spread the filling and roll up the pork roast:
Spread the filling over the surface of the pork, leaving an inch margin around all sides except for the fat layer side. With that side, leave a 2-inch margin.
Starting with the end of the roast rectangle that does not have the fat layer on the bottom, roll up the roast.
Secure with kitchen string:
Tie the roast in 1 to 2 inch intervals with cotton kitchen string.
Note: At this point you can wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate if you are making ahead.
Brown at a high temp, then lower the temp and keep roasting:
Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with cooking spray or a little olive oil. Place the roast in the pan and cook at 450°F for 15 minutes to brown the top, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Cook uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140°F.
Let the pork rest, then slice and serve:
Remove from the oven. Tent the roast with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Remove the kitchen string and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices to serve.
Save the pan drippings! Serve with pan drippings or use the pan drippings to make gravy. See How to Make Gravy.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 24g||31%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||34%|
|Total Carbohydrate 18g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||6%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|