8 Best Substitutes For Pork Belly

Pork Belly

No matter what diet you are on, there is no turning away from an occasional relish of bacon in a sandwich, burger, or even mac and cheese. If you are an ardent foodie, you probably know how bacon is related to pork belly.

If you are out of pork belly, you definitely need these substitutes to satisfy your craving for a piece of bacon. Wondering, “what are the best substitutes for pork belly?” Some of the best substitutes are pork bacon, pork fatback, pork shoulder, and beef bacon.

Pork belly is a meat portion cut from the belly of a pig. It is a popular ingredient in Chinese, Filipino, Korean and Danish cuisine. In American cuisine, bacon is usually carved from pork belly.

This article is all about pork belly, its amazing culinary uses, and the list of its best substitutes. Let us explore, shall we?

What Is Pork Belly?

Pork belly is the rich, fleshy, fatty, boneless portion of meat that is cut from a pig’s belly. It is what you have once the loin and spareribs are removed. 

It has a rich, profound flavor due to the presence of fat. If the outer fatty layer is removed, it has a salty flavor with a meaty texture.

Often pork belly is assumed to be bacon. All bacon is pork belly, but all pork belly isn’t bacon. Bacon comprises those specific cuts of pork belly which come to us after curing.

Uses of Pork Belly

Pork belly is a versatile ingredient much loved and appreciated by chefs and meat-lovers for its umami flavor, meaty texture, and versatility. It tastes best with slow cooking – braised pork is even a popular menu item in many restaurants.

Rolled pork belly, slow roast pork belly, char siu, Mu Ping grilled pork skewers, and pork belly tacos are some of the mouth-watering recipes which make use of pork belly. 

Pork belly also offers significant health benefits as well. It is a rich source of protein. It also contains essential micronutrients comprising fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. It has monounsaturated fats, which are healthy fatty acids.

So much about pork belly and its uses. But what can you do if you are out of time to go and buy pork belly? You need the help of a bunch of substitutes so that your cooking proceeds uninterrupted. Let us look at them now.

8 Best Substitutes For Pork Belly

The eight best substitutes for pork belly are as follows:

1. Pork Bacon

Pork bacon is essentially a slab of meat portion taken from pork belly. This makes it the best-recommended substitute for pork belly. Pork bacon is very similar to pork belly in terms of taste and texture.

However, bacon has an umami flavor as it undergoes a curing process after it is cut from the pork belly. You can add seasonings to bacon while replacing pork belly but be cautious with salt.

2. Pork Fatback

Pork fatback is literally the fatty meat portion cut from the back of a pig. It also goes by the names salt pork, fat meat, fat pork, and many more. Fatback adds a distinctive flavor to soups, sausages, ham, or bacon.

It is the next best alternative for pork belly for those who crave fat over meat. With its solid texture and fatty layer, it can easily replace pork belly in any recipe. Add the right seasonings, and you will enjoy pork fatback even more than pork belly.

3. Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder, picnic roast, or picnic shoulder refers to the triangular meat portion taken from the pig’s shoulder. It has an intense porky, juicy flavor with a meaty texture. 

Pork shoulder can be used to substitute for pork belly, considering the high-fat content they comprise. For the same reason, both of them share a similar texture.

Pork shoulder can replace pork belly in roasting, grilling, or frying recipes. For best results, you can marinate pork shoulder in a sauce of your choice before cooking. The downside here is that it might not be easily available at times.

4. Beef Bacon

Beef Bacon

If you are out of all substitutes related to pork, let us try other types of meat, starting with beef bacon.

Beef bacon is the meat portion of beef’s belly which is cured, smoked, and sliced. It is darker in color with a chewy texture. It has an absolutely delicious salty, beefy flavor. 

Beef bacon is a popular dish that is simply enjoyed on its own. You can use it as an alternative for pork belly in any recipe. With the right pork seasoning, beef bacon surely will not disappoint you.

5. Duck Bacon

Duck meat can be used as an alternative for pork belly for its fatty, strong flavor. But, the best option for substitution would be duck bacon. 

Duck bacon, made from duck’s breast, has a less fat, chewy texture and a sweet, juicy flavor very similar to pork bacon. You can cook it in a similar way to pork belly. 

You will have to add the right seasonings to duck bacon if you aspire for the flavor of pork belly in your recipes.

6. Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon

Turkey bacon can be your last meat alternative for pork belly for many reasons. It is a healthier alternative as well due to its low fat and low-calorie content.

It has a mild, meaty flavor with a texture that is different from pork belly. However, if you are out of all possible options, trying out turkey bacon in lieu of pork belly in your salads or sandwiches will not be a total loss. 

7. Soy

Hello, vegans and vegetarians! Behold soy as the best vegan substitute for pork belly. 

This easily available, less costly, healthy alternative is a good alternative for pork belly, considering its fluffy, meaty texture and salty flavor. Soak soy in hot water before cooking for a great flavor.

There is no comparison to the flavor of soy with pork belly because they are obviously and essentially different from each other. Use soy for a different unique flavor and rich protein intake in place of pork belly.

8. Tofu

Tofu

Tofu, also known to many as bean curd, is a healthy derivative of soy. It is made by pressing curdled soy milk into thick, solid slabs. It doesn’t have a taste of its own which we have to take advantage of.

Being bland, tofu easily blends in with other ingredients and absorbs the flavor. Varieties of tofu-like mixed tofu and wheat gluten have a meaty texture. They can be used to substitute for pork belly.

If you are aspiring for a unique flavor with a bunch of seasoning agents, using tofu might be a very good choice.

Conclusion

The list of the best substitutes for pork belly is now ready for you to explore. You can either go for substitutes made of pork or of any other meat. You still have options to consider if you are a vegetarian. 

Depending on your recipe, choose a substitute that works well and let me know how it turned out. Is that the smell of pork bacon? Well, I guess you are already into it. Happy roasting, foodies!

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