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Pork Steak vs Pork Chop: The 4 Differences You Need To Know

Almost all the countries around the world have some delicious pork recipe, but have you ever wondered what part of this animal is most popular and which one is preferred by master chefs?

If you love to eat pork and incorporate it into your recipes you need to know the difference between pork steak and pork chop. Although many people will tell you it’s the same thing, don’t be fooled.

Knowing small and big differences can help you choose the best piece of meat, and this is exactly what we are going to do today. So, join us for another culinary journey and discover the beauty of cooking with the best ingredients.

What is a pork steak?

Pork steak might be one of the most popular names for one piece of meat, but do you know where it’s coming from and why it’s so unique?

Pork steak comes from the shoulder part of the pig or hog, also known as Boston butt or Boston shoulder among butchers. It’s a delicious piece of meat because there is so much intramuscular fat that gives it moisture and additional flavor during the cooking process.

It’s also easy to recognize this marbled-looking meat, as this fat will form intricate lines all over the muscle.

Famous chef Anthony Bourdain made this piece of pork the most popular ingredient in his sandwiches. Because the meat is so tender it’s amazing for making pulled pork and so many different recipes.

Cooking with pork steak

You don’t have to be a famous cook to fully appreciate this piece of the hog. Although pork is used all around the world, it can be one of the hardest ingredients to get just right. But, if you choose pork steak chances are you are going to have one amazing dish.

It usually takes less time to prepare than any other part of the pig, because there are no bones or skin. On the other hand, because of the fat content, it’s soft and moist, so you will not end up with dry meat in the end.

Keep in mind that pork needs to have an inner temperature of at least 145 ºF to be completely safe to eat. In addition, dishes prepared with pork steak always need a 2-3 minutes resting period before serving.

This allows all of the delicious juices from the meat and the fat to combine and leave you with one amazing piece of meat that needs just a bit of spice to achieve its full potential in any dish.

What is a pork chop?

Pork chop is another delicious piece of meat you can find on the pig, but unlike pork steak, it’s cut from the loin section. This part of the hog is lean and barely has any intramuscular fat, so the meat is considered a bit more on the dry side.

This part of the animal is very expensive and depending on which part you’re buying, the texture and taste may actually be very different.

In fact, there are many varieties of pork chop like rib, loin, blade, and boneless chops, depending on the part of the hog where the piece came from.

To better understand what a pork chop is, think of it as the equivalent of beef steak because they’re indeed cut and priced in a very similar way.

Cooking with pork chops

Pork chop is one of the most popular types of meat to cook within many cultures, but it’s actually quite demanding and you need to practice to make it just right.

Since the fat content is low, this meat dries out easily, so you need to prepare it carefully. It’s easy to overcook and you have to monitor the temperature all the time. Once the thermometer shows 145°F your pork chop is done.

One more thing to think about when you prepare pork chop is the lack of flavor due to less fat content. You can easily make up for this by adding more seasoning and a bit of fat to the dish. If you choose to grill it a bit of salt and pepper will do wonders.

What’s the difference between pork steak and pork chop?

Now that we are familiar with the basic characteristics of steak and chops we can go into details and see what is different between these two pieces of the same animal.

It’s important to know the difference between pork chops and pork steak because recipes sometimes call for just pork without additional explanation. When you learn about what makes each piece of meat unique you will be able to choose the best one for your dish.

1. Different parts of the animal

Pork steaks and pork chops come from the same animal, but that there is a difference in the location where the meat is cut from.

We already mentioned these parts, but it’s very important to remember this difference because it defines the texture of the meat and all of the other characteristics that can turn out to be fundamental for cooking.

Pork steaks are from the shoulders of the pig, so there are four regions for getting them. A lot of people prefer the so-called “butt” pork steak as it will have more fat, collagen, and marbled meat making it the most delicious piece for all recipes.

On the other hand, the pork chop usually comes from the loin of the pig. While this piece of meat can be quite delicious it doesn’t have a lot of fat, just a cap that is usually removed before cooking. 

This initial difference will define everything else, as you might notice in the cooking methods below.

2. Cooking

When a recipe calls for pork, would you use pork steaks or pork chops? This depends on the recipe and what you plan to prepare.

Pork steak is tender and has a lot of fat, so it’s the perfect meat for pulled pork sandwiches, sausages, and other dishes that need that juice to make them perfect. If you want to grill a piece of meat then you should go for the pork chop, as it will have the best taste this way.

In addition, keep in mind that pork needs to be cooked at 145°F inner temperature to be safe for consumption, but this can lead to overly dried pork chops. So, monitor the temperature carefully and avoid overcooking the meat.

It’s also good to know that steak is served as one piece, while pork chops usually come in pairs on the plate. This is if the recipe calls for an entire piece of meat and it’s not chopped up to make a stew or something similar.

3. Cost

One more difference that might surprise you is the cost. 

In general, pork steaks are cheaper than pork chops. This is mainly because there is less meat on the pig to produce pork chops, thus they are harder to find.

Depending on the country you live in and your local butcher shop, pork chop can be twice as expensive as pork steak.

This is not all bad news, considering that steak is easier to cook with, has more flavor and it’s a good addition to any recipe you can imagine. So, if you find that pork chop is too expensive feel free to replace it with a good piece of pork steak.

4. Appearance

As a result of our previously mentioned differences, you can now determine what part of the pig it is just by looking at pork chop vs pork steak

One of the main things to look for is that marbled look steaks will have due to the high amount of intramuscular fat. On the other hand, pork chops will be lean, without any fat or just with a fat cap.

If you see rib chops, they will have a distinctive bone on one end that is actually a part of the rib section. Keep in mind that pork chops will usually have a slightly darker color due to the meat density.

Are pork steaks and pork chops the same?

Although many people will look at pork steaks and pork chops and say that they are the same, as you have just learned, this is not true.

Some differences can sometimes be overlooked, but some important facts distinguish these two pieces of meat. Knowing what’s the difference will make your dishes even better in the future.

If you are looking for delicious meat that will go well with almost every recipe you need pork steak. But, keep in mind that this piece of the hog is not the healthiest option due to its high-fat content. 

On the other hand, if you want some meat for the grill you can go for a pork chop. It will blend perfectly with many dishes just be careful not to overcook it. It’s also the healthier version that you can eat even while you are on a diet.

At the end of the day, when a recipe calls for pork you can use the steak as it will most likely be an amazing addition to any dish, it’s easier to find and a lot more affordable.

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Passionate chef, in love with everything related to food and cooking it to perfection!
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