Last Updated on August 15, 2020
Do you love your pork hot and spicy or sweet and savory? Well, whatever your tastes or preferences, the type of seasoning you choose will determine if your pork recipe turns out just the way you want it.
Whether you are a professional chef or a home cook, choosing the best seasoning for pork is the first step to preparing a perfect recipe. Nevertheless, this is easier said than done since there are so many options to choose from as far as seasoning your pork is concerned.
Then again, pork is not conspicuously tangy like beef, thus it requires the best herbs and spices to bring out its savory taste.
Moreover, the seasonings you choose for your pork recipe will depend on parts that you intend to cook. For instance, pork tenderloin requires a different type of seasoning to pork chops, belly or ribs.
Your personal tastes will also come into play. For this reason, you should experiment with the different spices at your disposal until you learn what you love.
Here are suggestions for the best seasonings for pork:
As suggested by its name, allspice is a distinct type of spice that combines the flavors of other spices. It tastes much like nutmeg and cinnamon, with notes of black pepper and clove.
Many people will likely raise questions about using allspice on pork, but this seasoning brings out the classic jerk flavor to any cut of pig meat, particularly fatty pork cuts. It also works well with lean meat, and it is ideal for pork roast as well as pork chops.
Basil is a peppery, slightly minty herb, which is ideal for savory meats such as pork. It works well with pork recipes that have a less indulgent flavor. Furthermore, you can combine basil with a wide range of spices to enhance the flavor of your pork dish.
It is also an all-season spice, hence you can use it while it’s fresh in the summer or dry some for winter and other cold seasons.
If you are looking for a spice that works wells with almost everything, then consider garlic. It has pleasant savory, sulfuric taste and it combines well with other spices such as rosemary, basil, sage and parsley – no wonder it is called a universal spice.
Moreover, garlic is extremely versatile, and it is available in powder, minced and roasted forms. You can use garlic powder for smoked or grilled pork, and fresh garlic when braising.
Mustard has a sharp, strong and pungent flavor that goes well with pork and other types of meat. You can use it as a marinade or as a rub for all your pork recipes.
For best results, use mustard glaze on roasted pork loin, grilled pork chops, oven-baked ribs, or as topping for grilled pork chops.
For Mediterranean-inspired pork recipes, Oregano is the best seasoning to use. This classic Italian herb has a strong and earthy flavor that goes well with the sweet and savory taste of pork.
However, oregano tends to lose its touch quite easily when exposed to heat. With this in mind, you should add it to your pork dish last to preserve its flavor.
Here are more great seasoning choices
If you are seeking to add an earthy, nutty flavor to your meaty dish, then consider seasoning your pork with caraway seeds. These seeds have the sweetness of anise, and they add a licorice taste to any cut of pork they touch.
Moreover, caraway seeds have a way of cutting through animal fat, making them ideal for adding flavor to fatty pork cuts. However, it is important to note that caraway seeds don’t blend well with other spices, hence you should only use them as the main ingredient when seasoning your pork.
Celery seed is a tiny, dark brown spice, the size of a poppy seed, used in salads, brines and dry rubs. It has a surprisingly powerful herbal flavor, making it a great pairing for all types of pork cuts. Some varieties have a subtle citrus flavor with a slightly bitter edge.
You may use this spice as a whole seed or ground, depending on your preferences. However, for best results, finely ground and dried celery seed is always the ideal option.
Cinnamon seasoning is an excellent choice for grilled pork tenderloin and pork roast. It adds a nice, sweet touch to your dish – something a little bit different from the usual. Moreover, cinnamon dry rub has some hints of smokiness, making it ideal for grilled pork recipes.
What is even more amazing is that you can combine your cinnamon blends with other herbs and spices such as cumin, ginger, pepper and nutmeg, for a more enriched flavor.
If you are planning to cook pork chops for your next meal, consider using coriander rub for your seasoning.
Apart from giving your pork a refreshing, herbal flavor with a floral aroma, coriander offers plenty of health benefits. The herb contains several nutrients and minerals such as manganese, magnesium and vitamins.
What’s more, all the parts of the coriander plant, including the stems, leaves and seeds, are edible and you can use them to make your seasoning rub.
Surprise your taste buds with the cumin all-purpose savory spice. This nutty, earthy spice is the perfect match for any pork cut, particularly the fatty ones since it cuts through the fat layers easily.
Cumin adds an intense flavor to your meat, giving it a balanced, delicious, savory taste, worth remembering. Ground cumin rub works well with pork roast, but you can also use it with stew and curry recipes.
Cloves have always been a staple for seasoning different cuts of meat since time immemorial. It is therefore not surprising that ground cloves came out as one of the best seasonings for pork.
Notably, the flavor of cloves can be intense and pungent, sometimes a little bitter, hence it is always a good idea to use this spice in moderation. A pinch of ground cloves is enough to turn your pork into the savory, mouthwatering dish your taste buds desire.
Ginger is one of the most popular spices used for seasoning different types of meat, including pork. It has a very strong taste, and its mildly sweet heat makes it the perfect choice for various pork cuts.
The peppery and zingy nature of ginger can go a long way to add a sharper taste to your pork. Even though the flavor will likely mellow as you continue to cook, ginger will still maintain its assertive nature long after your dish is ready.
Juniper berries are the perfect match for strong-flavored as well as sweet-tasting meat such as pork, lamb and venison. They have a sweet, sharp taste with a hint of pine, making them ideal for various pork cuts.
Some berries may come with a little bitterness, but this is usually ideal when it comes to offsetting the fattiness of pork meat. For best results, crush juniper berries before adding to your seasoning marinade.
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Lemon pepper goes well with any type of fatty meat such as pork and mutton. Combining lemony and pepper flavors can work wonders on your pork recipe, as it helps tone down the immensity of the fattiness of your meat.
Moreover, lemon pepper adds a citrusy brilliance to your pork while giving it a light, fresh flavor without much hassle. This spice mixture is best for grilled or top cooked pork.
Marjoram is a herb that goes well with pork. It has a woodsy and earthy flavor with hints of balsam-like pine or citrus. The taste of this herb is very much like thyme or oregano since it is warm, sharp and bitter.
Since marjoram is not as strong as other herbs and spices, it is only logical that you pair it with other spices such as rosemary, for a more enriched flavor.
You may try dried and fresh parsley with all your pork recipes if you want a mild and bitter flavor in your dish. This herb has a reputation of brightening different flavors, and it is best used with Italian seasoning or with other herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage and marjoram.
Paprika has a neutral flavor, and it is almost impossible to notice its mildly sweet taste. For this reason, the herb is usually added to pork dishes as a garnish or just to add color.
Rosemary is a highly aromatic spice. When combined with other spices such as garlic and marjoram, it brings out the savory taste with a hint of woody, citrus or minty flavors, further enhancing the complexity of your pork dish.
This traditional holiday spice tends to be either subdued or overpowering, depending on its origin. With this in mind, it is always a good idea to use it sparingly not to spoil your broth.
Sage is an herb traditionally used for flavoring turkey, chicken and other fowls. However, you can now use sage with other types of meat, including pork. The earthy, fragrant and warm flavor works well to add a herbal flair to your pork recipe.
What is even more amazing is that you can pair sage with a host of other spices such as thyme, paprika, parsley and garlic. However, since sage is a strong, robust herb, you should only use a small amount.
Thyme is an all-round holiday spice that goes well with beef, mutton, chicken, turkey as well as pork.
This piney, smoky herb has a subtle, dry aroma similar to marjoram. Moreover, its flavor is slightly minty, but not particularly aromatic. To get the best of this seasoning, try using it with parsley, garlic, or sage.
It is ideal for all types of red and white meat dishes, appetizers, sandwiches, and salads.
Interestingly, you can use the dry mix as a seasoning rub or as a dressing for topping your grilled pork chops.
Instead of using one or two spices to flavor your pork, you could consider Italian seasoning to add more taste to your pig meat. In any case, Italian Seasoning contains a host of various spices ideal for the perfect pork cuisine.
Some of the spices included in the mix include oregano, thyme and basil. As if that is not enough, you can make your own Italian seasoning at home instead of buying the pre-packaged ones.
If you love Asian cuisines and delicacies, you could try out herbs and spices such as the Chinese Five Spice with your pork recipe. The Chinese Five Spice is a blend of five hot and sweet spices, including anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and star anise.
This unique blend will give you the flavor you need for all your pork cuts. What’s more, you can add fennel seed and peppercorns into the mix for a more enriched flavor.
How to Season Pork
Cooking pork is an art and learning how to season pork is the first step to preparing delicious meals. You may have the best seasoning for pork, but if you don’t know how to season the meat, then your efforts to cook delicious pork recipes will all be in vain.
Here are a few tips on how to season pork:
- Remove your pork from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking
- If frozen, defrost the pork overnight before the day you intend to cook
- Prepare your seasoning ingredients. You can combine a wide range of ingredients such as ginger, cumin, pepper, cloves and garlic, or use commercial seasoning
- Pat dry the pork
- Sprinkle both sides with seasoning (herbs and spices)
- Sear, grill or bake the pork as desired
To many people, the best seasoning for pork is perhaps the commercial spices found in supermarkets and retail stores. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
If you want to enjoy the best pork dishes, you are advised to prepare your own seasoning at home. In any case, most of these herbs and spices are readily available in your local stores, and you can make the best seasoning for pork quickly at home without spending much.