The Pork Cuts You Should Never Put In The Slow Cooker, According To An Expert

There are many uses for that slow cooker in your kitchen, but employing it to gradually simmer meat at a low temperature for a long period of time is supreme, especially with pork. When you do want to slow cook pork, however, you might think all cuts are fair game. And while you can technically go with whatever cut of pork you desire in a slow cooker, not all types will result in flavorful and tender meals. According to Rich Parente, chef and owner of Clock Tower Grill in Brewster, New York, you should avoid cooking pork tenderloin and pork chops in a slow cooker.

"Pork tenderloin and chops usually don't have a lot of fat compared to cuts like pork butt," Parente explains. "And because they are leaner, slow cooking will dry them out, which isn't a desirable outcome." When you slow cook fattier cuts of pork, the low and slow method will tenderize the meat so well that it should fall right apart, but those smaller and leaner cuts Parente describes won't be able to obtain that effect because of their lack of natural fats.

If you're stuck with a lean cut, use the lowest setting for a shorter time

If you are determined to cook leaner cuts of pork in a slow cooker, or if that's all you have on hand for tonight's meal, be mindful that they require far less cooking time. To prevent meat that ends up dry and tough like Parente warns, cook pork tenderloin or chops on the low setting, and check them on an hourly basis. You don't want them to overcook, so use a food thermometer to monitor internal temperatures. Pork is fully cooked when it reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Some recipes suggest a slow-cooked pork tenderloin can take up to four hours, but check occasionally to prevent a dried out and tasteless meal. 

As for the more ideal cooking methods for lean cuts of pork, there are a couple of options. Pork tenderloins can benefit from roasting like with our recipe for simple roasted pork tenderloin that only cooks for 25 minutes. You can also throw pork tenderloin on the grill or in an air fryer. One more option is to step up your game and sous vide the lean cut. For pork chops, pan-frying, baking, and grilling are all techniques that won't take much time and should result in flavorful, moist meat when done properly. And if you're curious about other cuts, check out our ranking of every cut of pork from worst to best.