In this Szechuan spice-rubbed pork, the combination of peppery fresh nutmeg and Szechuan pepper makes a knockout spice rub. The meat is roasted over coals then served on a large communal platter and accompanied by mounds of steamed sticky rice. We adapted this recipe for charcoal-grilled szechuan spice-rubbed pork as a roast in an oven, calling for a little lard to compensate for the leaner pork that is now standard in North America. The roast comes out of the oven with a deliciously salty spiced crust and moist interior. You can also use this Szechuan spice rub on lamb and the toasted peppercorns are perfect as a seasoning for Hunan prawns.–Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Szechuan spice-rubbed pork loin covered with ground Szechuan peppercorns, condiments on the side

Szechuan Spice-Rubbed Pork

5 / 2 votes
This Szechuan spice-rubbed pork has a Chinese-inflected spicy crust made with crushed Szechuan pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, and salt and juicy, tender meat. Here’s how to make it, whether in the oven or on the grill.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories297 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons lard or bacon drippings
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt or loin, no more than 2 inches (5 cm) at it’s thickest
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry roasted Szechuan peppercorns, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Use a little of the lard or bacon drippings to grease the bottom of a roasting pan.
  • Rinse and dry the pork.
  • Place the nutmeg, ground Szechuan and black peppers, and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Using your fingertips, rub the spice blend all over the pork. Place the pork in the roasting pan and, using your fingers or the back of a spoon, dab the remaining lard or drippings over the top of the meat.
  • Roast the pork until cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the thickness.
  • Let the pork stand at room temperature for at least 5 minutes.
  • Thinly slice the roast crosswise and transfer to a platter. If you wish, deglaze the roasting pan with a little water and pour the pan gravy over the slices of pork.


Grilled Szechuan Spice-Rubbed Pork

You can come closer to the original Chinese fire-cooked pork by grilling rather than roasting the meat. Slice the pork crosswise into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick slabs. Rub on both sides with the Szechuan spice blend, then grill slowly over medium heat until it is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness. Turn the pork once partway through and baste it occasionally with a little lard or oil to keep it moist. Let stand for at least 5 minutes. Thinly slice before serving.

Adapted From

Beyond the Great Wall

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 297 kcalCarbohydrates: 2 gProtein: 32 gFat: 17 gSaturated Fat: 6 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 109 mgSodium: 703 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2008 Jeffrey Alford | Naomi Duguid. Photo © 2008 Richard Jung. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

What moist and succulent pork! The spicing was just right, not overpowering but enhancing the flavor of the meat. I basted the pork with the fat from the pan when I checked the internal temperature, and then again after I took it out of the oven. I made a thin pan gravy as well.

This was great with a side dish of rice cooked in apple cider and toasted pecans. I’ll definitely make this recipe again—it produced the moistest pork I’ve served in quite some time.

This simple, juicy roast pork took the full 60 minutes to reach the well-done stage in my oven. The attractive, rustic coating not only held in the moisture, but it also wasn’t overwhelming in spices. I was a bit concerned about the amount of nutmeg, but the spice didn’t mask the other flavors.

NOTE: You may not need all of the spice rub, as I had a good teaspoon leftover. With the spice rub not being too hot, and the roast tasting so good out of the oven, I can’t wait to try it off the grill!

This spice-rubbed pork was extremely easy and so delicious! While the oven was preheating (it was too cold for grilling), I toasted the peppercorns and mixed the spices. I used a 1 1/4-pound pork loin, which is the perfect size for the spice mix, and it took about 45 minutes to cook. The pork was tender, perfectly seasoned, and the Sichuan peppercorn flavor was at the forefront. (I’m not sure where the nutmeg flavor went, however.) I served the loin over rice with buttered carrots, and this meal fed 4 people, with no leftovers.

I thought it would take too long to prepare during a weeknight, but by the time the rice was done and I had prepped the veggies, the pork was almost ready. I bet if we grilled it, it would’ve been even quicker.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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    1. Steve, thanks for asking. Great question. You want to roast pork until the internal temperature reaches 145 to 150°F (60 to 70°C), bearing in mind you want to let the pork rest for several minutes during which the temperature will rise.

  1. It would be nice to hear whether a cook used lean pork loin or fatty butt (shoulder). I think country-style ribs would also be delicious with this rub.

    I’d like to try grill-roasting a pork loin roast over indirect heat, perhaps first brining it in a flavored brine that also contains the Szechuan peppercorns, nutmeg, and some garlic. Same for grilling the slices, a nice variation.

    These authors continue to produce beautiful and authentic books after many years.