12 Best Pork Belly Substitutes For You

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Looking for the best pork belly substitutes? You are at the right place. 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.

Pork Belly

If you are out of pork belly, you 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 pork belly 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 about pork belly, its amazing culinary uses, and the list of its best substitutes. Let us explore, shall we?

Quick Peek: Pork Belly

The following scribbles tell you what it is, its flavor, texture, culinary uses, and health benefits.

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. Fresh ham, picnic shoulder, and bacon are usually mistaken for pork belly. However, there are considerable differences between them.

Describing Pork Belly: Flavor and Texture

Pork belly 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. To enjoy the delicious flavor of pork belly, you might have to slow-cook it for an hour or so. Nevertheless, it is flavorful even when stewed or braised.

Pork Belly Vs. Bacon

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 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 that use pork belly. 

Pork Belly On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Pork belly also offers significant health benefits. 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.

Why Should We Substitute Pork Belly?

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 your cooking proceeds uninterrupted. 

Pork belly is also one of the expensive meat cuts. Its flavor is highly demanded, and thus you may not easily find it available. That is why the best substitutes for pork belly can help you enjoy its flavor even in its absence. Let us look at them now.

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

12 Best Pork Belly Substitutes

Now that you know everything you need to know about pork belly let us discuss the twelve best substitutes for pork belly.

1. Pork Bacon

Pork bacon is essentially a slab of meat portion taken from pork belly. This makes pork bacon 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 being 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 the fatty meat portion cut from the back of a pig. It also goes by salt pork, fat meat, fat pork, and many more. Fatback adds a distinctive flavor to soups, sausages, ham, or bacon.

Pork fatback is the next best alternative for pork belly for those who crave fat over meat. Its solid texture and fatty layer 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 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 a delicious salty, beefy flavor. 

Beef bacon is a popular dish that is enjoyed on its own and can be used as a substitute 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 to 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 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. Goose Meat

Goose Meat

Goose meat is one of the white meat varieties even though it has a dark color. It has a high-fat content under the skin, and the meat can be cured and smoked, similar to chicken. It has a rich meaty flavor and a dense texture. It is a very good source of riboflavin and vitamin B-6.

Goose meat can considerably substitute for pork belly due to its flavor and textural profile. It is best to use young goose meat after mixing it with the pork seasoning mixture. This is guaranteed to give you tasty results.

7. Beef Belly

Beef Belly

Beef belly is also known as navel or a plate in the US. This refers to the meat cut from the underside of the cow at the back of the front legs. Beef belly has a rich, savory, beefy flavor and a dense texture. Beef belly is essentially a cut of meat similar to pork belly and thus is a worthy substitute for pork belly. It can be used in soups, stews, and other dishes. Did you know beef bacon and pastrami are taken from the beef belly?

8. Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon

For many reasons, turkey bacon can be your last meat alternative for pork belly. It is also a healthier alternative due to its low fat and low-calorie content. It has a mild, meaty flavor with a texture different from pork belly. However, if you are out of all possible options, trying out turkey bacon instead of pork belly in your salads or sandwiches will not be a total loss. 

9. Soy

Hello, vegans and vegetarians! Behold soy as the best vegan substitute for pork belly. Soy is an easily available, less costly, healthy substitute 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 unique flavor and rich protein intake in place of pork belly.

10. Tofu


Tofu, also known to many as bean curd, is a healthy soy derivative. 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 and 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 good choice.

11. Tempeh


Tempeh is a vegetarian substitute for pork belly made using fermented soybeans. It has a nutty flavor similar to mushrooms and a dense, chunky texture. Consumption of tempeh can keep your heart healthy and maintain your blood pressure level. 

Tempeh is a good pork belly substitute, considering the umami flavor and chunky texture it has. Seasoned tempeh is available in the stores, which gives you the advantage of choosing according to your preferences.

12. Beans


Beans belong to the category of legumes, one of the most nutritious food groups. Beans are edible seeds that are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K and folic acid and fiber. They have a mild, earthy flavor and a grainy texture. 

Beans don’t have any similarity to pork belly in texture or flavor. But they are worthy pork belly substitutes considering their high protein content. There are many types of beans available for you to choose from. They can be added to soups, sauces, and other dishes.

Short Recap Of Best Pork Belly Substitutes

That must have been an exhaustive read on the best pork belly substitutes, right? Let me make it easy for you to remember the details with the help of some points.

Best Pork Belly Substitutes In Terms Of Flavor and Texture-

  1. Pork Bacon
  2. Pork Fatback
  3. Pork Shoulder
  4. Beef Belly
  5. Soy
  6. Tofu

Best Vegetarian Pork Belly Substitutes –

  1. Soy
  2. Tofu
  3. Tempeh
  4. Beans

Best Pork-Based Pork Belly Substitutes-

  1. Pork Bacon
  2. Pork Fatback
  3. Pork Shoulder

Best Meat-Based Pork Belly Substitutes-

  1. Beef Bacon
  2. Beef Belly
  3. Duck Bacon
  4. Turkey Bacon

Final Musings

The list of the best substitutes for pork belly is now ready for you to explore. You can go for substitutes made of pork or any other meat or go vegetarian! You still have options to consider if you are a vegetarian. Choose a substitute that works well depending on your recipe, 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!

How To Use Pork Belly Substitutes In A Recipe

Pork Belly

Pork Belly Substitutes

Who can resist an occasional pizza made of pork belly? But if you are out of pork belly you can use these substitutes. Some of the best pork belly substitutes are pork bacon, pork fatback, pork shoulder, and beef bacon.
5 from 1 vote


  • Pork Bacon
  • Pork Fatback
  • Pork Shoulder
  • Beef Bacon
  • Duck Bacon
  • Goose Meat
  • Beef Belly
  • Turkey Bacon
  • Soy
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Beans


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I sub bacon for pork belly?

Bacon and pork belly can be substituted with each other in recipes.

Is pork belly the same as pork shoulder?

Pork belly is not the same as pork shoulder. Pork belly is the meat cut from the underside of the pig. Pork shoulder is meat cut from the central part of the foreleg.

What does pork belly taste like?

Pork belly has a salty, meaty flavor.

Is pork Chashu the same as pork belly?

Chashu is a Japanese type of meat cut from pork belly. In fact, tender pork belly is called chashu.

What is the vegetarian substitute for pork belly?

Soy, tofu, tempeh and beans are the vegetarian substitutes for pork belly.

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