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What are the best seasonings for pork?

Pork is a versatile meat that can be seasoned in many delicious ways. The key to bringing out the best flavor in pork is to use seasonings that complement the meat’s natural subtle sweetness. When choosing seasonings for pork, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

Sweet and Savory Herb Blends

Sweet and savory herb blends are a perfect match for pork. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and marjoram have aromatic flavors that enhance the mild taste of pork. You can use a pre-made blend or make your own by combining 2-3 herbs like:

  • Thyme, sage, rosemary
  • Oregano, basil, parsley
  • Marjoram, thyme, sage

Rubbing pork chops or roasts with an herb blend just before cooking infuses tons of flavor. Herbs also pair well with spices like garlic, mustard, and chili powder.

Spicy Rubs

Spicy seasonings add delicious heat and complexity to pork. Chile powders, cayenne, crushed red pepper, and paprika give a kick of spiciness that complements pork’s richness. Dry rubs made with spicy seasonings are especially good for pork shoulder roasts, ribs, and chops grilled or roasted at high heat. Build a homemade spicy rub by combining spices like:

  • Smoked paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, cayenne
  • Ancho chile powder, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin
  • Chipotle chile powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, dried oregano, cayenne

For best flavor coverage, rub the spice mix over pork up to 24 hours before cooking.

Savory Sauces and Glazes

Brush pork with flavorful sauces and glazes during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking to add delicious caramelized flavor. Sweet and savory options like hoisin, barbecue sauce, teriyaki, and honey mustard glazes pair perfectly with pork. Get creative with homemade glazes using ingredients like:

  • Honey, whole grain mustard, balsamic vinegar
  • Brown sugar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce
  • Jams, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce

The sugars will caramelize to give a flavorful crust on grilled or roasted pork.

Cured Flavorings

Ingredients used to cure or preserve meats add robust, savory flavor to pork. Salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and smoke flavored rubs and brines infuse pork with delicious umami taste. Options like:

  • Brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder
  • Smoked paprika, black pepper, onions, jalapeño
  • Cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, bay leaves

Bring out the most flavor by rubbing pork with the cure mix and refrigerating overnight before cooking. The meat will absorb the seasonings as it cures.

Fruity Flavors

The natural sweetness of pork pairs fantastically with fruity flavors. Ingredients like citrus, pineapple, apples, and mangos complement pork’s mild taste. Marinades, glazes, salsas, and chutneys made with fruit are delicious ways to season pork. Try combinations like:

  • Orange juice, lime, garlic, cilantro
  • Pineapple juice, brown sugar, ginger
  • Peach preserves, chili powder, lime juice

The fruit sugars caramelize beautifully on grilled pork for maximum flavor.

Savory Sauces

Rich, savory sauces are natural partners for pork. Tomato based sauces, creamy mustard sauces, and nutty romesco all complement pork’s mild meaty flavor. Use sauces like:

  • Marinara – for pasta or pork medallions
  • Mushroom cream sauce – for pork chops or tenderloin
  • Romesco – for roast pork or sandwiches

Sauces add moisture and big flavor to roasted, grilled, or baked pork dishes.

Umami Flavorings

Ingredients that add savory umami flavor boost pork’s taste. Soy sauce, fish sauce, miso paste, mushrooms, and cheese add meaty, mouthwatering flavor. Rub pork with umami-rich mixtures like:

  • Soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger
  • Miso paste, rice vinegar, sesame oil
  • Parmesan, paprika, olive oil

Or slice umami-packed mushrooms and tomatoes over pork before roasting for extra flavor.


The versatile, mild taste of pork makes it perfect for all kinds of flavorful seasonings. Herb blends, spicy rubs, sweet glazes, fruity salsas, and savory sauces all complement pork wonderfully. Use your favorite seasonings to add delicious flavor and create amazing pork dishes.