10 Pork Recipes Perfect for the Holiday Season
December 11, 2023
7 min. read
The Protein Series: Part 4
Welcome back to our “Protein Series” where we explore different types of proteins and the important role protein plays in a maintaining a balanced diet. Each quarter, we have featured a unique protein option, showcased its benefits, and presented a series of exciting recipes that highlight it.
So far, we’ve covered the following topics:
- March: 10 Easy Fish Recipes to Make for Dinner
- June: 12 Ways to Cook with Beef
- September: 13 Easy Chicken Recipes for Dinner and Beyond
Next up, we’ll discuss the world’s most widely consumed meat1—one that is extremely versatile in both utilization and flavor, adaptable in its many forms, and beloved by chefs and foodies alike.
The featured protein for the month of December is: Pork!
All About Pork
As the holiday season approaches, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve right around the corner, we’re focusing on a protein that’s as versatile as it is delicious—pork! A beloved staple in cuisines worldwide, pork offers various cuts, each with its unique culinary potential. During the holidays, pork takes center stage in many dishes, from succulent roasts to festive hams. But more than just a holiday tradition, pork also serves as a year-round favorite, offering a range of flavors and textures suited to any occasion.
Curious to know where the different cuts of pork come from? Check out the below infographic.
- Complete protein offering all nine essential amino acids
- Can be an excellent source of lean protein, depending on the cut
- Provides essential nutrients such as thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium.
- A 3 oz. serving of pork tenderloin provides 122 calories, 3g fat, and 22g protein
- May aid in maintenance of muscle mass and improve exercise performance
If any of these facts resonate with you, we know you’ll find the below recipes useful!
10 Ways to Cook with Pork During the Holidays
If you’re looking for some menu inspiration for your holiday dinner spread, consider some of the below recipes that use pork as a primary ingredient!
1. Pork Chops
A staple in many kitchens, pork chops can be prepared in numerous ways, making them perfect for both festive and everyday meals. They can be grilled, pan-fried, or baked, offering a balance of tenderness and flavor. Ideal for a comforting holiday dinner or a simple family meal, pork chops are adaptable to various cooking styles and flavors. Take our below recipes, for instance—all hearty and delicious, and fitting for an intimate family dinner.
Pork Chop Recipes:
2. Pork Loin/Roast
Pork loin is a prime cut for roasting, known for its lean texture and versatility. It’s a popular choice for holiday gatherings, where it can be presented as a show-stopping roast. Throughout the year, pork loin can be sliced for medallions, stir-fries, or even stuffed for an elegant meal, making it a valuable addition to any dinner menu.
Pork Loin/Roast Recipes:
- Crown Roast of Pork with Mushroom Dressing (pictured above)
- Multi Pot Garlic Pork Loin with Bleu Cheese Topping
3. Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin, known for its tenderness and quick cooking time, is ideal for a range of recipes from casual to upscale. It absorbs marinades and seasonings well, making it suitable for a variety of flavors and cuisines. This cut is perfect for slicing into medallions, incorporating into sandwiches, or serving as a whole roast.
Pork Tenderloin Recipes:
- Tuscan Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (pictured above)
- Herbed Havarti and Pork Grilled Cheese
- Rosemary Pork Loin Sandwich with Spiced Cherries
- Texas Smokehouse Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
- Roast Pork and Cranberry Jelly Christmas Canapes
4. Pork Shoulder/Boston Butt
Renowned for its rich flavor and succulence, pork shoulder is the go-to cut for slow-cooked dishes like pulled pork or stew. Its marbled fat content ensures tender, flavorful meat, which is ideal for a variety of comfort foods. Pork shoulder can be the centerpiece of a hearty meal during the holiday season or used for barbecues and casual gatherings during the warmer weather months.
Pork Shoulder Recipes:
- Philly-Style Roast Pork Sandwich (pictured above)
- Slow Roasted Pork BBQ
- Pork Banh Mi
- Sweet and Spicy Pork Carnitas Tacos
- Sauerkraut and Pork Roast Sandwich
5. Ground Pork
Ground pork is incredibly versatile, forming the base for many dishes ranging from meatballs and burgers to Asian-inspired stir-fries. Its neutral flavor makes it a great canvas for a variety of seasonings and ingredients, allowing for plenty of creativity in the kitchen. It can also be mixed with other ground meats such as beef or sausage to create custom blends.
Ground Pork Recipes:
- Ham Balls (pictured above)
- Greek Meatball Sliders with Tzatziki Sauce
- Chorizo Sliders with Mexican Street Corn Slaw
Ham is often synonymous with holiday feasts but it is equally at home in everyday weeknight meals. It can be baked whole for a festive occasion or sliced for sandwiches, adding a savory touch to breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. From the classic glazed ham to gourmet brunch options like our Croque Monsieur Casserole, ham is a versatile and beloved pork variety.
- Overnight Croque Monsieur Casserole
- Ham and Gruyere Swirl Bread Panini
- Slow Cooker Glazed Ham Dinner Platter
- Open Faced Ham, Pear, and Cheese Melt
- Rosemary Goat Cheese, Ham, Apple, and Honey Sandwich
- Prosciutto, Brie, & Apple Butter Crostinis
Sausage, with its bold flavor, is perfect for adding depth to a multitude of dishes, from pasta and soups to casseroles and breakfasts. Available in countless varieties, from spicy to sweet, sausage can be a main dish, a flavorful addition, or a key ingredient in hearty comfort foods. Its vast range covers related categories like chorizo, Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, and even cured varieties like salami and pepperoni.
- Fennel and Sausage Stuffed Peppers (pictured above)
- Spicy Pork and Beef Meatball Sandwich
- Kale and Sausage Melt
- Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup
- Pigs-in-a-Blanket Wreath
- Santa Claus Party Rolls
8. Pork Belly
Pork belly, celebrated for its rich, luxurious taste, is a favorite in both gourmet and traditional cooking. It’s often slow-cooked or roasted to render its fat and crisp its skin, making it a decadent choice for special occasions or a sumptuous treat in everyday meals.
Watch a step-by-step video for this recipe below!
Pork Belly Recipes:
Bacon is a beloved ingredient that enhances any dish it’s added to, from appetizers and salads to main courses. Its smoky, savory flavor makes it a universal crowd-pleaser, whether it’s served on its own, wrapped around other ingredients, or crumbled as a topping.
- Cranberry, Bacon & Brie Grilled Cheese (pictured above)
- Slow Cooker Sweet Bacon Smokies
- Bacon Pecan Cheeseball
- Bacon Cream Cheese Bites
- Maple Glazed Donuts with Candied Bacon
- Bacon Apple Stuffins
Ribs are a celebratory food, perfect for gatherings and barbecues. They can be smoked, grilled, or baked, and are often enjoyed for their flavorful, tender meat. Ribs traditionally make for a fun, hands-on dining experience, but can also be pulled and used in sandwiches and the like.
Pork Rib Recipes:
Pork’s versatility makes it a perfect choice for holiday feasts and everyday meals. From the festive to the everyday, these pork recipes offer something for every occasion and palate. We hope you enjoy exploring the rich flavors and varied textures of pork in your cooking this season and throughout the year.
Check out these resources for more cooking preparation tips:
- Pork Cooking Techniques – National Pork Board
- 20 Bacon Lovers’ Recipes – Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls & Bread
- Health Benefits of Pork – National Pork Board
- How to Make Slow-Roasted Pork BBQ – Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls & Bread
- Pork Recipe Inspiration – National Pork Board
- Spicy Pork & Beef Meatball Sandwich – Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls & Bread
- Pork Cuts – National Pork Board
- Pork Industry News – Pork Checkoff
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