This roast pork loin with apples and onions boasts a rustic loveliness from a garlic, thyme, and fennel seed rub and a caramelized sweetness from the side that’s roasted at the same time. And it’s about to become your new favorite one-pan dinner.
This roast pork loin with apples and onions not only sounds spectacular, it tastes spectacular thanks to fall-apart tender pork roast, caramelized onions, and apples that almost (but not quite) collapse into sweet loveliness in the oven. It’s also easy to toss together and, because you basically plop everything on a sheet pan and slide it in the oven, cleanup is a cinch. Spectacular to the nth power.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Roast Pork Loin with Apples and Onions
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin
- 2 medium red onions
- 3 red apples such as Ida Red, Rome, or Pink Lady
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds crushed if desired
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter while the oven heats.
- Cut each onion into quarters. Cut each apple in half from top to bottom. Using a teaspoon-size measuring spoon, a melon baller, or a paring knife, trim the apple core and stem. Place each apple half, cut side down, on the cutting board and cut it in half again.
- Place the onions and apples on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle the onions and apples with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (about 12 turns if you're using freshly cracked pepper from a pepper mill). Toss everything together with your hands and spread in a single layer.
- Mince the garlic and toss it in a small bowl along with the thyme, fennel seeds, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Pat the pork dry. Place it, fat side up, in the middle of the baking sheet, pushing the apples and onions aside. Rub the entire pork loin with the garlic mixture.
- Roast everything until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the pork loin reads 145°F (63°C), 45 to 60 minutes. (You'll probably want to start checking the pork loin after 30 minutes, just to be safe.)
- Transfer the roast pork loin to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve it along with the roasted apples and onions.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting much. I don't particularly like roast pork loin because I find it too tough and dry for my taste. But alas, The One had his mind set on this, so I, being the beneficent being that I am, gave him my blessing.
Annie, my assistant, was kind enough to pick up a bone-in pork loin that had a nice cap of fat on it.
"But it's not boneless," whined The One.
"It'll be tender at the bone. Haven't you read Ruth Reichl's memoir?"
He prepared the roast per the recipe, using Pink Lady apples. The house filled with an amazing aroma from the fennel seeds—most of which we didn't crush. I pulled the roast from the oven when it registered 143° and let it rest for five minutes before carving.
Bottom line: It was impressive. Damn impressive. A few things I'll do differently next time:
1. I'd dispense with tying the roast. (No, this isn't mentioned in the recipe, but ours came tied in several places. Removing the strings after roasting knocked off too much of that wonderful fennel crust that we loved.)
2. I'd yank the roast from the oven at 138°F. The temperature of the roast rose too high for us while it was resting, seeing as we don't mind some pink in the middle. in fact, that's our goal.
3. I'd serve this with a big-ass bowl of buttery mashed potatoes because the roast was screaming for it. (Oh, wait. Maybe that was me....)
4. I would again rely on a bone-in roast. It was so much more tender than I expected.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Honestly, when I first read this roast pork loin recipe, I thought it was going to be too simple and nothing very special. Boy, was I wrong! The pork was perfectly cooked—but more than that, it was exceptionally flavorful.
I loved the rub made of oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic, thyme, and fennel seeds. The texture was lovely, and with each bite of the crusted pork, we tasted a bit of each of those flavors. The onions and Rome apples were perfectly caramelized from the high heat and were exceptionally tender and tasty from being roasted in the pork juices.
In terms of the recipe itself, it was very detailed, so it would be a great recipe for everyone from new cooks to established cooks. I cooked the pork dish for exactly 60 minutes, and it was perfectly cooked and tender as can be. A wonderful early fall recipe!
This is a great way to prepare a pork roast—it’s an extremely simple preparation and you’ll have a complete meal on the table in under 90 minutes, with most of the time spent doing other things while the pork is in the oven. I put a couple of potatoes in the pan along with the pork to round out the meal. All of the aromatics and seasonings work perfectly together, and the final result gives the impression of a much more involved preparation. (This is always a good way to impress your guests.) The onions and apples complement the pork perfectly and impart classic fall flavors to the dish. The pork was moist and tender.
To prepare the pork, the shiny silver skin, if present, should be removed. This will make the meat much more tender.) I think this recipe would also work well with pork tenderloin, although the roasting time may vary. The garlic, thyme, and fennel were a perfect combination, although I could also see an opportunity to change up the spices the next time. For example, chopped fresh rosemary would be a perfect substitute for the thyme.
I love using a melon baller to remove the core of an apple or pear. You can also use it to take out the blossom and stem ends of the apple. I lined my sheet pan with parchment, but the sugar from the apples and the oil spread quite a bit, so the next time I’ll line my pan with foil to make clean-up a bit easier.
I roast a pork loin AT LEAST once week. But this roast pork loin with apples and onions is SO WONDERFUL and is as easy as it gets. There are no surprises in the recipe—other than the astonishing flavor. I love fennel seed but I didn’t expect it to be the single ingredient that would transform one of my favorite dinners into probably the best pork loin that I may have ever tasted.
A couple of simple points. Don’t worry about the skin on the apples, as they’ll soften while roasting and you won’t even notice them. Second, drop the quartered apples and onions in a bowl, add the salt and pepper and a couple tablespoons olive oil, toss them, and then put them on the rimmed baking sheet.
I was hoping to have leftovers for lunch the next day. But who was I kidding…
Sunday dinner takes on a whole new meaning with this recipe, which uses ingredients I always have on hand and takes almost no time to toss together. And after 50 minutes in the oven, it’s done to perfection. You get great flavor from the caramelized onions and roasted apples. Then you taste the well-seasoned pork and it’s a flavor combination you just can’t resist. I also like this recipe because there’s just enough left over for lunch the next day.
This roast pork loin recipe is a weeknight winner! I love a one-pan meal. This dish came together simply: just cut, toss, rub, and roast.
I used Pink Lady apples and they were delightful. They became soft and caramelized as they mingled with the onions. Unfortunately, I could only find pork tenderloin, and I thought this would work as a substitute for the pork loin. It worked, except after 30 minutes in the oven the pork registered 128°F and at 40 minutes it was 165°F, which was well over the recommended 145°F. However, the pork remained juicy and tender, even though it was technically overcooked.
I really enjoyed how the onions and apples complemented one another and the pork. I wasn’t pleased with the thickness of the rub, but once the pork was roasted, I could easily scrape the rub off. I will try this again with a pork loin the next time I can find one. Yum!
What a great and easy recipe, perfect not just for fall but any time of the year. The instructions are very clear. By the time the pork roasted for 45 minutes, it was 160°F. Next time, I’ll check the roast at 30 minutes. My family enjoyed the sweet and savory mix of pork with apples. This homey recipe is so simple and delicious.
This a very easy recipe to make and results in a tasty, juicy, tender roast. I was a little skeptical about the apples and onions, but I decided to be adventurous. I’m glad I did, because the flavors of the rub combined with the apples and onions put this roast pork loin on the next level. A little forkful of caramelized onion and apple and a bite of the pork says it all.
It’s important to not overcook the pork, so check your times and temps. The time stated for the recipe and size is pretty accurate. A little pink is ok. Generally I buy a pork loin to cut into pork chops, but this recipe has converted me. Pork loin cooks fast. And this recipe works well as a weeknight meal because it takes only 20 minutes to prepare seeing as the oven does all the work. I decided to double this recipe because I like to bring leftovers for lunch and this recipe just screams leftovers. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
I loved this one-pan recipe, which is a great one to have on hand for weeknight dinners. The combination of apple, pork, fennel, and pepper is a versatile one and lends itself well to this recipe.
My pork loin was done in 40 minutes, and I let it rest about 10 minutes. I served it with a nice Caesar salad and roast potatoes.
I highly recommend this for an easy weeknight meal. The preparation is straightforward and the recipe has detailed instructions for preparing the vegetables. I used sweet onions, but I’m sure it would be just as good with red onions. The rub gave the pork good flavor and melded well with the roasted apples and onions, which I may need to make again on their own! I took the roast out of the oven at 140°F (55 minutes) and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Oh so simple, oh so delicious. A keeper for the last-minute dish repertoire. I made this for a group of ultrarunners in the middle of a 6-day endurance event.
I was using a Camp Chef propane camping stove at 9500 feet elevation, so my cooking time was WAY off, but I used an instant read thermometer to ensure the pork was cooked to the right temperature. By the time the pork was done, the onions and apples were perfectly soft. It was so tender and juicy, people didn’t even realize it was pork loin. A couple people asked what it was and when I told them they asked how I was able to keep it so moist and not dried out. The apples and onions lent the pork a nice flavor profile with layers of flavor. I threw in some mashed potatoes and the runners were as happy as could be. It really is that simple.
This roast pork dinner makes a delicious family meal, starting with an aroma that fills the home. The apples and pork complement one another nicely, and the licorice flavor of fennel mixed with the thyme is a taste to be tried. The easy-to-follow directions ensure a dish that will please new cooks and experienced cooks alike.
I enjoy a nice mustard to accompany pork roast, and in the future I will make a pan sauce with Dijon mustard stirred into the pan drippings to go with the roast.
The combination of flavors in this roast pork loin recipe with apples and onions was delicious. The use of apple—actual pieces with definition instead of applesauce—was enjoyable and the caramelized onions added another flavor note. This is truly a very good dish.
I would like to try it again but grinding the fennel seeds down to dust, mashing the garlic into a paste, adding the other ingredients to make a rub, spreading it over the pork, and roasting at a lower temperature, maybe 325°F.
Perhaps it’s the summer heat, the high cost of groceries, or just plain lack of time, but I am on the search for easy recipes with few ingredients. Quarter some onions and apples, give a quick rub with fennel and garlic, pop in the oven, and relax. Want it a bit more substantial? Toss some tiny new potatoes on the baking sheet. Dinner is done.
This recipe works. The timing is accurate and the result is a moist, flavorful pork roast. The combination of onion, apples, fennel seeds, and pork is a winner. I enjoyed making this roast.
Originally published September 25, 2020