Growing up, the answer to can pork be pink? was an absolute no. The only pork we ate was gray, tough and chewy. That’s not a knock to my mother’s cooking; she followed the guidelines established at that time, cooking pork to the safe temperature of 160°F. Sadly, that “safe” pork was also overcooked.
Luckily for pork lovers, the United States Department of Agriculture—the organization responsible for determining minimum safe food temperatures—revised their recommendations for food-safe temperatures in 2011. Now, pork is safe to eat when it reaches 145°F. The lower temperature means your pork will be juicy, tender and delicious, but it may also have a hint of color.
So, is pink pork safe?
In short, yes! We used to be afraid of pink pork because of a parasite known as trichinosis, but the risk of contracting it is virtually nonexistent these days.
Like beef, pork temperatures are designed to cook the meat long enough to nix E. coli, which means it may have a little color in the middle.
How do you know when pork is done?
The best way to know when pork is finished cooking is to use a meat thermometer. The Taste of Home Test Kitchen recommends this Thermapen thermometer.
Sure, you can do a poke test or probe it with a skewer to see if the juices run clear, but these methods don’t tell you for sure that your meat has reached a safe temperature.
After you let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes, slice into it; it should be pale white with a hint of pink. That color doesn’t indicate anything nefarious—at 145°F, your pork is at a “medium rare” temperature. You would expect to see some pink in a medium-rare steak, so don’t be surprised to find it in your pork chops!
If the pink color freaks you out, you can continue cooking it until it reaches 155°F. It will still be tasty, but it won’t be quite as juicy. Cook it much past this point, and you’ll want to serve it with a good sauce to cover up the dry bits.
What about ground pork?
It’s never OK to undercook any ground food products, like pork, beef, veal or poultry. Grinding meat introduces air into the mix along with potential bacterial contaminants, so it’s safest to cook ground meat to 165°F.
Try Our Best Pork Dinners
When time is of the essence, it's nice to have a quick and easy meal idea
in your back pocket. Not only is it delicious, but you can clean it up in a flash. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas. Looking for more? Learn how to make pork Milanese
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Low and slow is the best way to go when cooking pork butt, and it happens perfectly in a smoker. This has very little hands-on time, but you will need to plan for a long cook time. The fantastic thing is the meat freezes very well so you can make it ahead of time and have it ready to go. —James Schend, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
We have pork at least once a week, and this is one dish we especially enjoy. Moist tender pork medallions are served up in a savory sauce for a combination that's irresistible. I'm not sure where the recipe came from, but I'm glad I have it. —Janie Thorpe, Tullahoma, Tennessee
This is my family's favorite healthy dish, but you'd never guess it's good for you. A little squeeze of lemon gives these crispy seasoned chops a bright boost. —Christine Datian, Las Vegas, Nevada
My son named this "pizza rice" after I threw together a quick dinner from what I had in the fridge and pantry. Add any other pizza topping ingredients you desire. I often add black olive slices or mushrooms. —Teri Rasey, Cadillac, Michigan
My family loves this tender and juicy roast, so we eat it a lot. The sweet and salty crust is so delicious mixed into the pulled pork. —Lisa Allen, Joppa, Alabama
This recipe is a marvelously spicy combo that's perfect for cooler fall weather and satisfying after a day spent outdoors. —Monica Osterhaus, Paducah, Kentucky
The classic flavors of herbes de Provence, apples and dried plums make this easy slow-cooked pork taste like a hearty meal at a French country cafe. For a traditional pairing, serve the pork with braised lentils. —Suzanne Banfield, Basking Ridge, New Jersey
This Canadian comfort-food classic is even better when served southwestern style as either an appetizer or an entree. Although these ribs are done without fuss in a slow cooker, you can also bake them at 325°, covered with foil, for about 45 minutes. Then uncover and bake them for another 20 minutes. —Johnna Johnson, Scottsdale, Arizona
This heartwarming one-dish meal is adapted from a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. I start the pot roast cooking before I leave for church, add vegetables when I get home, and then just sit back and relax until it's done. —Donna Wilkinson, Monrovia, Maryland
This recipe came about because I didn't have pepperoncini for my usual Italian pork recipe so I used pickles instead. It reminded me so much of a Cuban sandwich that I added the ham and Swiss cheese to complete the dish. Instead of adding cheese to the slow cooker, you can also build the sandwiches and top with sliced cheese. Place under the broiler to melt. —Kristie Schley, Severna Park, Maryland
I threw together spicy sausage and three of our favorite veggies for this incredible sauce that makes our mouths water the whole time it's cooking. Besides serving this with pasta (refrigerated tortellini is best), we've had it with brown basmati rice, on toasted Italian rolls to make sloppy subs and as a stew with garlic bread. —Ann Sheehy, Lawrence, Massachusetts
I like to spice up my meat dishes with peppers, and this Basque piperade—adapted from a Spanish recipe—is a family favorite. —Hyacinth Rizzo, Buffalo, New York
My mother has fixed this recipe for years and now I prepare it for my family. The chops are delicious with scalloped potatoes and home-baked bread. —Teresa King, Whittier, California
I work at a local hospital and another job part time, so I'm always on the lookout for good, quick recipes to fix for my family. Some of my co-workers and I exchange recipes. This zippy casserole is one that was brought to a picnic at my house. People raved over it. —Dianne Esposite, New Middletown, Ohio
Back when I was a girl, I couldn't wait until I was grown up and could start cooking for my own family! Now that I am, I really enjoy using pork. The tender meat and the rich mustard sauce in this recipe are delectable together. —Irma Pomeroy, Enfield, Connecticut
I enjoy cooking ethnic foods, especially those that call for lots of rice. Like my mom, I often prepare this dish for special Sunday get-togethers. Traditional paella uses saffron, but turmeric is a budget-friendly alternative. —Ena Quiggle, Goodhue, Minnesota
Schnitzel is one of my husband’s favorites because it reminds him of his German roots. An appealing dish for guests, it’s ready in a jiffy. Pop it on buns for a fun handheld option. —Joyce Folker, Paraowan, Utah
I grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where many people are of English ancestry. Pasties—traditional meat pies often eaten by hand—are popular there. —Carole Lynn Derifield, Valdez, Alaska
This is one of the best pork recipes I've ever tried. My family looks forward to this roast for dinner, and guests always want the recipe. The flavorful rub, and the glaze brightened with orange juice, are also outstanding on pork chops. —Lynnette Miete, Alna, Maine
If you're looking for a change from typical barbecue ribs, you'll enjoy this recipe my mom always prepared on birthdays and special occasions. The tender ribs have a slight sweet-and-sour taste that my family loves. I usually serve them with garlic mashed potatoes and a salad or coleslaw.
—Dorothy Voelz, Champaign, Illinois
To prepare this colorful, zesty oven meal, I "shop" in my backyard for the fresh garden vegetables and oranges (we have our own tree!) that spark the ham's hearty flavor. It's my family's favorite main dish. —Margaret Pache, Mesa, Arizona
I fix this saucy skillet dish often, especially when I'm running late, because it's easy and it takes so little time to prepare. The recipe won first prize in our local paper some years back. —Emma Magielda, Amsterdam, New York
My husband, Clark, and I reserve this recipe for Sundays after the grandkids have gone home and we're too tired to prepare a big meal. It's comforting and quick. —Kathy Thompson, Port Orange, Florida
I've been making this low-fat ham dinner for my family for years, and we always look forward to it. With asparagus, tomato, pasta and chunks of ham, it's a tempting blend of tastes and textures. —Rhonda Zavodny, David City, Nebraska
I mixed and matched several recipes to come up with this one. I'm always happy to adapt recipes for my slow cooker. It's so easy to prepare a meal that way. —Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, Texas
An easy herb rub gives sensational taste to boneless braised pork chops that can be cooked on the stovetop in minutes. The meat turns out tender and delicious. —Marilyn Larsen, Port Orange, Florida
Guests will be impressed by this elegant entree and its golden crumb coating with peppery pizazz. The meat slices up so moist and tender, you can serve it without sauce and still have a succulent taste-tempting main dish. —Ellen Riley, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The sauce on these honey garlic pork chops is so good, I sometimes double it so there's extra for dipping whatever veggie we have on the side. —Michelle Smith, Eldersburg, Maryland
Bacon, cream and Parmesan cheese make a classic pasta sauce that's absolutely heavenly. It's a delightful option for company! —Cathy Croyle, Davidsville, Pennsylvania
This succulent pork supper was one of my mother's most-loved recipes. The moist chops simmer to perfection in a tangy sauce, then are served over pasta. —Ellen Gallavan, Midland, Michigan
This easy treatment for pork caught my eye when I saw the word "caramelized." The slightly sweet glaze is yummy. I like to serve this over noodles or rice, or with mashed potatoes. —Elisa Lochridge, Beaverton, Oregon.
Tender chops cook on a bed of creamy potatoes in this all-in-one meal. It's a snap to assemble, thanks to frozen hash browns, canned soup, shredded cheese and french-fried onions. —Dawn Huizinga, Owatonna, Minnesota
When I was a new mom, I needed tasty, healthy meals I could whip up fast. These juicy chops won me over. Since this is a one-pan dish, cleanup is a breeze, too.
—Kristin Tanis, Hatfield, Pennsylvania
My grandmother added bacon to her cheesy lasagna—something she borrowed from carbonara-style pasta. I learned so much by her side. —Cathy McCartney, Davenport, Iowa
Even though a co-worker gave me this recipe more than 20 years ago, my family still enjoys it today. —Martha Nickerson, Hancock, Maine
A honey-rosemary glaze delicately seasons pork tenderloin in this delightful entree. As elegant as it is easy, the main course is ideal for weekend dinner parties and weeknight suppers alike. —Barbara Sistrunk, Fultondale, Alabama
Pork slowly stews with jalapenos, onion, green enchilada sauce and spices in this flavor-packed Mexican dish. It's wonderful on its own or stuffed in a warm tortilla with sour cream, grated cheese or olives on the side. —Kimberly Burke, Chico, California
As a working mother, I depend on my slow cooker to help feed my family. We all love the spicy but slightly sweet flavor of these tender burritos. —Kelly Gengler, Theresa, Wisconsin
Tender pork is treated to a rich and creamy sauce with a slight red pepper kick. This hearty dish is very simple to prepare and is always a dinnertime winner at my home. —Monica Shipley, Tulare, California
These tender chops cooked in a savory sauce are perfect for a hectic weeknight because they're so easy to prep. Try them with hot buttery noodles. —Jana Christian, Farson, Wyoming
For an elegant but easy dinner you can put together in a twinkling for guests or unexpected visitors, these lightly breaded medallions are truly something special! —Taste of Home
Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The recipe for these moist, tender pork chops was given to me years ago by my best friend. It's become one of my family's favorites and we enjoy it often. Hope you do, too! —Gina Young, Lamar, Colorado
I've been making these pies for years, so lots of friends and family now have the recipe. If you can't find leeks, a sweet or mild onion works just as well. —Bonny Tillman, Acworth, Georgia
Everyone will enjoy these fork-tender, slow-cooker pork chops with a creamy, light gravy. Serve with a green vegetable, mashed potatoes and coleslaw or a salad. These are the best slow cooker pork chops. —Sue Bingham, Madisonville, Tennessee
For a standout holiday dinner, start with this change-of-pace entree. Begin by simmering the chops in apple juice, then drizzle with sweet maple syrup and top with crunchy pecans. —Taste of Home
Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Tender chunks of pork slowly cook in a nicely seasoned, wine-infused sauce. Add some crushed red pepper flakes to this pork stew for a little extra kick. —Penny Hawkins, Mebane, North Carolina
I am single and love to cook, so I often cook for friends that either don't cook or who work nights. They love new recipes, and this was one of their favorites. The leftover meat makes great barbecue pork sandwiches the next day. —Lisa J. Chamberlain, St. Charles, Illinois
It was such a joy to come home and find my mom making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. This recipe has always been dear to my heart. —Debbie Heggie, Laramie, Wyoming
A creamy sauce flavored with apple cider and sage makes for a quick and tasty weeknight dinner. If you'd like, serve these lightly seasoned chops with couscous, rice or noodles. —Erica Wilson, Beverly, Massachusetts
A pork braise is a sure way to make people’s mouths water. The tomatillos in this dish offer a subtle hint of lightness to the meat. For ultimate flavor, make the dish one day ahead and reheat. —Matthew Lawrence, Vashon, Washington
My grandma used to make this for our family on special occasions. We love to carry on the delicious tradition. —Tonya Cline, Greenville, Ohio
The genius combination of seasonings and citrus in this tender roast reminds us why we cherish tasty recipes. It's nice to serve with hot noodles to soak up any extra citrus gravy. —Laura Brodine, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Not only do refrigerated breadsticks lend a fun twist to pizza, but they make this dish a weeknight staple at my house. Feeding kids? Slice pieces into small strips and let the kids dip each strip into marinara sauce. They’ll love it! —Mary Hankins, Kansas City, Missouri
This comforting pork dish feels fancy, thanks to the creamy sauce kicked up a notch by blue cheese. Guests go crazy over it, and would never guess how quickly it all comes together. —Lynne German, Woodland Hills, California
This slightly sweet and tender pork tenderloin with apples is quick enough to make for a weeknight, but I often serve it on special occasions. It tastes amazing served with mashed potatoes or over egg noodles. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
Here's an easy recipe that's versatile, too. Serve the saucy brats over rice for one meal and have them on buns the next. For extra punch, add a splash of root beer concentrate to the sauce. —Pam Thompson, Girard, Illinois
I've made quite a few tacos in my day, but you can't beat the tender filling made in a slow cooker. These are by far the best pork tacos we've had—and we've tried plenty. Make the mango salsa from scratch if you have time! Yum. —Amber Massey, Argyle, Texas
Spicy stuffing balances the delicate flavor of pork in this dish that looks great on the plate—and tastes even better! —Margaret Allen, Abingdon, Virginia
The zingy-sweet fruit compote complements the spices in the rub in this juicy pork roast that can be your holiday headliner. —Teresa Ralston, New Albany, Ohio
The idea for this sausage lasagna recipe comes from my mother-in-law, who always makes it for my three boys on special holidays. I've put an easy twist on Carole's classic dish, and it's become one of my go-to dinners as well! —Blair Lonergan, Rochelle, Virginia
I love to serve this family-favorite tenderloin—maybe because of the compliments that come with it! When the weather warms up, we grill it instead. —Megan Riofski, Frankfort, Illinois
When we're missing the grill during winter, these tangy ribs give us that same smoky barbecue taste we love. They're so simple, and fall-off-the-bone delicious, too! —Sue Evans, Marquette, Michigan
My family enjoys cooking easy and delicious meals. This pork chop recipe is also inexpensive, which makes cooking easier for everyone. Keep an eye on the spinach—it cooks fast! —Joe Valerio, Whitinsville, Massachusetts
I created this unique pulled pork recipe so we could replicate our favorite food truck tacos at home. They're a little sweet, a little spicy and totally delicious any time of year. —Julie Orr, Fullerton, California
We shared these flavor-packed tacos with friends from church who came over to help us move. They're so good, I put them on my blog, manilaspoon.com! The slow cooker makes this recipe extra easy, and I love that whenever I make it, I'm reminded of the wonderful people back in Michigan. —Abigail Raines, Hamden, Connecticut
These apple cider pork chops are a must for fall family dinners. I serve them with buttered egg noodles to soak up more of that delicious sauce. The recipe is easy to double when company pops in. —Debiana Casterline, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
The Asian influence here in the Hawaiian islands inspired my char siu recipe. It’s tasty as is, in a bun or over rice. We make it often so we have leftovers to add to fried rice, ramen and salads. —Karen Naihe, Kamuela, Hawaii
As a dietitian, I’m always looking for ways to make meals healthy and delicious. These juicy chops are fast, too. —Suellen Pineda, Victor, New York
This is a super easy recipe full of sweet fall flavor. The maple flavor really shines through. —Susan Stetzel, Gainesville, New York
Satisfy the meat-and-potatoes eaters in your house with this satisfying dish that all cooks up in one pot! Talk about classic comfort food. —Faith Cromwell, San Francisco, California
During high school, I spent a year in Brazil and fell in love with the culture and food. One of my favorite dishes was feijoada, a chili/stew served over white rice. I introduced this easy recipe to my family, and it has become one of our favorite comfort foods. —Andrea Romanczyk, Magna, Utah
When I was working two jobs, slow cooking was my way of life. Sometimes I had more than one slow cooker going at a time to help me feed my family delicious home-cooked meals. It's nice to walk in after a hard day's work and have dinner ready. I hope you agree these ribs are quick, easy and delicious. Enjoy! —Paula Marchesi, Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania
I find that simple dinners are the best comfort foods that my family of seven really desires. Simple, good ingredients are the key to my success in the kitchen. Three ingredients poured over the pork and—voila!—the most mouthwatering pork you have ever tasted! —Grace Neltner, Lakeside Park, Kentucky
I went through several variations before creating the pork chops my family considers perfect! I wanted something rich, delicious and tasty that was still relatively healthy. This is a delicious Sunday dinner idea
because you can pop it in the slow cooker in the morning and let it cook while you are at church! I suggest serving it with salad or grilled asparagus. —Kristin Stone, Little Elm, Texas
I lived in Florida for a while and loved the pork I ate there, so I started making it for myself. The flavorful meat makes amazing Cuban sandwiches, but you can also use it in traditional pulled pork sandwiches or tacos. —Lacie Griffin, Austin, Texas
When I was little, I would often ask my mom to make "favorite meat." She knew I was requesting this homey pork recipe. It's been in my family for more than 30 years and it's still a favorite! —Alexandra Barnett, Forest, Virginia
My husband doesn't think it is a meal without meat. I prefer something lighter, so this recipe satisfies us both. You can also roast this in the oven if you're short on time. —Tracy Dalin, Gooding, Idaho
Most nights I need something that I can get on the table with minimal effort and delicious results. This sheet-pan supper has become an all-time favorite, not only because of its bright flavors but also because of its speedy cleanup time. —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, Utah
I lived in Germany for five years and developed a fondness for traditional schnitzel. It’s a labor of love, so I came up with this easy, clever way to make it in a slow cooker. —Beth Taylor, Pleasant Grove, Utah
Even though a co-worker gave me this recipe more than 20 years ago, my family still enjoys it today. —Martha Nickerson, Hancock, Maine
This pulled pork is tender and has a fabulous spice rub on it. It is my sweetie's favorite meal, and I love that it is so easy. What a fantastic way to warm up a chilly afternoon. Add more or less salt to taste if you'd like. —Katie Citrowske, Bozeman, Montana
This new twist on pork roast has a rich molasses flavor with a tantalizing hint of chocolate. It’s easy to make, yet elegant enough for entertaining. Serve this with mashed potatoes so as not to waste a drop of the delicious gravy. —Avionne Huppert, Adams, New York
This is truly a one-pot recipe—there's no need to brown the roast, as the rub gives it rich color. As it cooks, the house fills with the amazing aroma of apples and pork. It's a perfect dinner for a chilly autumn day. Use the cooking liquid as a sauce when you're ready to serve. And if there's any pork left over, it makes delicious pulled pork sandwiches. —Jackie Sharp, Suffolk, Virginia
While living in Switzerland for a few years, my friends introduced me to an area renowned for their cabbage, pork and potato dishes. I decided to try a cabbage and fennel combination and believe they complement each other well. —Grace Voltolina, Westport, Connecticut
My dear mother-in-law passed this simple recipe to me. With meats, beans and savory veggies, it's tasty, easy and economical, too! —Carol Simms, Madison, Mississippi
A sweet and spicy combo is the perfect accent for meaty chops. With a fresh green veggie on the side, this is a hearty summer meal. It’s easy, yet impressive enough to serve to company. —Laura Davis, Chincoteague, Virginia
I started out fixing another recipe but didn't have all the ingredients, so I came up with this one! The spice gives it a flavorful kick. You can make your own five-spice powder by combining cloves, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg. I love that you can make this dish on the stovetop or the grill. —Jill Thomas, Washington, Indiana
I combined several recipes to come up with this dish that my family loves. It is not only quick and delicious but also healthy. I sometimes substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the pork. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
After my dad and I had dinner at the legendary Rendezvous restaurant, I was inspired to create my own version of tasty dry-rub Memphis ribs. Smoked paprika in the rub mimics the flavor the ribs would get from grilling over hot coals. —Matthew Hass, Franklin, Wisconsin