Looking for a festive roast for a special dinner or a holiday celebration? This cranberry apple stuffed pork loin presents beautifully, and is easier to pull off than it looks. Really!
I first made a version of this roast a decade ago with my father. The original recipe we had came from a grocery circular, but the instructions fell a little short on the how to actually stuff the roast part. It also included croutons, which frankly, are hard to use for this type of stuffing. (Panko or breadcrumbs work much better.) So our roast back then wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty.
But this one is.
And the reason? Because we are properly butterflying the roast.
It can be tricky to butterfly a pork roast (see our tips below) if you are attempting it for the first time, but all you need is patience (a sharp knife helps too). Even if your pork cutting skills aren’t perfect, you can still make it work. You’re going to cut the roast so that it rolls out flat, which you can then stuff and roll back up.
The stuffing ingredients are classic for the holiday season—apple, walnuts, cranberries, breadcrumbs, shallots, maple syrup, and rosemary—and work wonderfully with the roast.
When the roast is done, make sure to save any pan drippings! Drizzle them over the cut roast slices, or use them to make gravy.
Tips for butterflying the pork roast
- Chill the roast: Chilling the roast in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes will make it easier to cut.
- Use a sharp knife with a long blade: A sharp knife that can make smooth long cuts makes all the difference!
- Make slow, shallow cuts: Making shallow cuts will give you more control as you cut the roast.
- Keep the knife parallel to the board: After the first angled cut, keep the knife parallel to the board as you cut the roast. Eventually you’ll be able to open the roast out like a book!
- Pound to an even thickness: After you’ve cut the roast open, put it between two pieces of plastic wrap and use a meat pounder to pound the roast to a more even thickness, which will make it easier to stuff and roll.
Recipe and photos updated, first published 2006.
Cranberry Apple Stuffed Pork Loin Recipe
Chilling the pork roast before cutting will make the roast easier to cut.
- 1 boneless pork loin (about 3 to 4 pounds)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup panko or homemade breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup peeled, chopped tart green apples
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
- Kitchen string
1 Preheat oven to 450°F.
2 How to butterfly the pork loin: Place the pork loin roast fat side down on a cutting board. Note that one long side of the pork loin roast will be thicker, and one side thinner.
Using a sharp knife, make a long cut an inch or so from the edge from the thinner long side of the roast at about a 45° degree angle, stopping a half inch from reaching the bottom of the roast.
Then angle the knife so that it is flat, parallel to the cutting board, and make slow, shallow cuts into the roast, along the same line.
As you cut, you can open up the top part of the roast like a book. Keep making slow, even cuts until you have “rolled” the roast out completely.
3 Pound the butterflied roast to an even thickness: With the pork roast unfolded, cover with 2 layers of of plastic wrap.
Pound with a meat mallet to flatten to a somewhat even thickness. Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper and set aside.
4 Make the filling: Place the panko and stock in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Stir in the apples, walnuts, cranberries, shallots, maple syrup and rosemary.
5 Roll up pork roast with filling: Spread the filling over surface of the pork, leaving an inch margin around all sides except for the fat layer side—with that side leave a 2-inch margin.
Starting with the end of the roast rectangle that does not have the fat layer on the bottom, roll up the roast.
6 Secure with kitchen string. Tie the roast in 1 to 2 inch intervals with cotton kitchen string.
At this point you can wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate if you are making ahead.
7 Bake: Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with cooking spray or a little olive oil. Place the roast in the pan and cook at 450°F for 15 minutes to brown the top, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Cook uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140°F.
8 Rest and serve: Tent the roast with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Remove the kitchen string and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices to serve.
Save the pan drippings! Serve with pan drippings or use the pan drippings to make gravy. See How to Make Gravy.