7 Best Substitutes For Pork Shoulder

Pork Shoulder

You wish to surprise your favorite nephew with his favorite dish, the pork pie. You are aghast at the realization that you are out of pork shoulder (insert horror face!!) What can you do so that you don’t disappoint your nephew? Grab substitutes for pork shoulder, right? 

Wondering what the best substitutes for pork shoulder are? Some of the best substitutes for Pork shoulder are pork butt, pork loin roast, ham, and pork escalopes.

Pork shoulder is the portion of meat cut from the shoulder of a pig’s forelimb. It is often used best as braised pork. But prominently, it is used for braising, stews, roasting, stir-fries, and grilling.

Tasting pork shoulder is a heavenly task. But it is not so heavenly if you are out of pork shoulder and clueless about how to proceed. Let us talk pork shoulder and its best substitutes in this article.

What Is Pork Shoulder?

Time to get into a little bit of pig’s morphology, I am afraid. Pork shoulder is the trigonous meat portion cut from the pig’s shoulder just above its legs. Picnic roast or picnic shoulder are its other names.

Often pork shoulder and pork butt are assumed to be the same, but it is not. Both these meat portions come from the shoulder of the pig. Pork shoulder refers to the meat carved from above the pig’s hooves. 

Pork butt, also known as Boston butt, is cut from the shoulder blades. It has a higher fat content than pork shoulder. Pork shoulder is denser with less fat and marbling.

Pork shoulder has a rich, fleshy pork flavor with a dense texture. When cooked slowly, it becomes tender and mouth-watering with added moisture content.

Uses of Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder tastes soft and delicious with long and slow cooking. When subjected to medium-flame, slow cooking, the fat melts, and the meat becomes delicate.

As a matter of fact, the tough meat that pork shoulder comprises necessitates slow cooking; if cooked accurately, it can render a crispy texture which makes it perfect for braising, stewing, roasting, and grilling.

Braised pork, easy roast pork, pulled pork, barbecued pork shoulder, BBQ sandwich, crispy roast pork are a few of the yummy recipes that call for pork shoulder.

Pork shoulder offers an impressive amount of nutrients as well. It is an excellent source of animal proteins and essential amino acids. It is a rich source of potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.

That said, let us now talk about the best substitutes for pork shoulder that can save your day.

7 Best Substitutes For Pork Shoulder

The seven best substitutes for pork shoulder are as follows:

1. Pork Butt

Pork Butt

You know what pork butt is by now. Pork butt and pork shoulder essentially come from different parts of a pig’s shoulder. Regardless of the difference in fat and marbling, pork butt is the number one substitute for pork shoulder.

Pork butt is high in fat, unlike pork shoulder, which saves your time in ensuring moisture. It has enough moisture content on its own and has a meaty flavor similar to pork shoulder.

2. Pork Loin Roast

Pork Loin Roast

Pork loin roast also goes by the center of the name loin roast or a pork center rib roast. Pork loin refers to the part of the pig which comes in between the shoulder and the beginning of the leg.

Pork loin is leaner with less fat, very similar to pork shoulder. The cooking methods are also the same – pork loin has to be slow-cooked for a long time for soft, juicy meat. 

Making sure you add enough moisture so that your meat doesn’t end up all scorched will make pork loin roast one of the best substitutes for pork shoulder.

3. Ham

Ham refers to the upper thighs in the back leg of a pig. This inner leg part of the pig has a structure similar to the pork shoulder. It can be available either bone-in or boneless.  

Ham is best prepared when slow-cooked like pork shoulder. This allows the juices to be fully released, tenderizing the meat. Ensuring moisture content by adding water or any broth will make it a good alternative for Pork shoulder.

4. Pork Escalope

Pork Escalope

Escalope basically refers to a thin slice of boneless meat. Pork escalope is taken from the filet or eye of the loin. It is devoid of fat and hence marbled akin to Pork shoulder.

For a tenderized escalope as a good alternative for Pork shoulder, you can marinate it before cooking for best results.

5. Ham Hocks

Ham Hock
The seven best substitutes for Pork shoulder are as follows: 1. Pork Butt 2. Pork Loin Roast 3. Ham 4. Pork Escalope 5. Ham Hocks 6. Beef Rib eye Steak 7. Chicken Thighs

Ham hocks refer to the meat portion taken from the ankle joint on the leg of a pig. They are also known as pork knuckles. They have an intense, smoky, meaty flavor and can be a viable option for replacing Pork shoulder. 

6. Beef Rib Eye Steak

Beef Rib-eye Steak

If you are completely out of anything related to pigs, let us talk about a few other meat options. 

Beef rib-eye steak is the boneless rib steak from the rib section of beef. It is extremely juicy and with a buttery flavor. It can be the best beef substitute for pork shoulder, provided the variety you choose.

Failing to get a boned rib-eye steak cooked properly can be disastrous in your substitution. If you don’t have prior experience, always go with a boneless rib-eye steak.

7. Chicken Thighs

Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are another perfect meat substitute for pork shoulder. They have a strong chicken flavor, but their texture and tenderness are very close to that of pork shoulder. They are neither too oily nor fatty and can be your last resort as an alternative for pork shoulder.


Now you know the closest ingredients that can work as best substitutes for pork shoulder. Most of them are cut pig meat. They have similar cooking methods mostly, and thus substitutions become an easy task. 

I hope I saved you from embarrassment in front of your little nephew. Thank me later, and be sure to come back for more of my scribbles!

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