Pork Belly Substitute: Top 10+ Alternatives You Should Know!


Pork belly is a unique cut everyone loves for its rich flavor.

It has that fat texture, making it even tastier than other meats. Plus, it’s such a versatile cut, which we love using in so many dishes.

The only thing we hate about pork belly is its price!

It’s a pricier meat cut, and there are times we can’t find it in grocery stores. (*)

Not to worry, as there are numerous pork belly substitutes you can rely on! (*)

Read on as we share the ultimate list of pork belly substitutes you can use to achieve that incredible pork taste, whether you need a more affordable or healthier alternative.

What is a Good Substitute for Pork Belly?

Quality pork belly would have a balanced ratio of meat-to-fat.

You’ll be able to tell if it’s fresh by how the fat appears.

Fresh pork must-have creamy white fat. If it’s too gray or yellow, it isn’t fresh. This meat is usually sold in strips or slabs, fulfilling different purposes.

Fun fact: Since this meat comes from the hog’s belly, it’s naturally rich in fat, giving it an intense flavor.

You can find pork belly in local supermarkets, but there are times they run out. Furthermore, more people are looking for less fat or vegetarian options.

Whether you’re out of pork belly or want healthier replacements, consider any of these best pork belly substitutes:

1. Pork Bacon

Before using any other substitute, go for pork bacon first.

It’s the best substitute in any dish that requires pork belly!

When using pork bacon, you get to achieve the same flavor no matter how you cook it.

Simply replace pork belly with bacon, following the recipe without hassle.

You must use the same amount but note that most of the fat from pork bacon will be rendered out when frying, so you won’t have to use additional oil.

Besides using a similar amount, add the same seasonings in pork bacon. The only thing we recommend is to lessen the salt, as bacon is saltier.

Plus, pork bacon is an excellent substitute because it is easy to find in supermarkets.

You won’t catch it running out soon because it’s a Western favorite, so it will always be well-stocked in stores.

2. Beef Bacon

Besides pork bacon, beef bacon is a fantastic substitute for pork belly.

You can use beef bacon in different dishes, tasting so much like pork belly that some people won’t tell the difference.

However, use pork seasoning over beef seasonings to accentuate that pork flavor.

You can fry beef bacon as you would with pork belly. Moreover, you can use it for baking or making traditional dishes, with endless options to choose from.

You can try using other raw beef meat parts, though bacon is your best bet.

3. Pork Fatback Meat

Pork fatback meat is very similar to pork belly. As the name implies, this is a type of meat from the pig’s back.

This is typically meat mixed with more fat, making it very tasty when cooked well.

Like pork belly, pork fatback has a high-fat content, making it tasty when cooked well.

You can grill or bake pork fatback to serve with vegetables.

Fun fact: You can cure fatback meat to prepare salt pork! If you cure it with salt, fatback can be even more delicious than pork belly and is perfect for those who want fattier layers. If you use the right seasonings and spices, your recipe can turn out even better.

4. Pork Shoulder Cut (Pork Butt)

The pork shoulder cut isn’t the most popular substitute for pork belly, but it’s still a delicious one. However, pork shoulder might be more difficult to find than most of the replacements here.

But hey, if you already have pork shoulder at home, it’s a suitable alternative.

Pork shoulder has more fat than other pork meat cuts, but they have the right amount of fat and meat.

When using this cut, marinate them in your preferred sauce (we love spicy sauce) for an hour before cooking for a more flavorful and tastier result from the thick fat layer.

You can cook this pork meat in the oven, grill, or fry in a pan.

Bottom line: Can I use pork shoulder instead of pork belly?

Pork shoulder can be a good substitute for pork belly, although it will be a little less fatty and may not have the same rich flavor. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference and what you are looking to achieve with your dish.

5. Duck Meat

While duck meat is similar to chicken, they have more fat and is extremely tasty, similar to pork belly. Duck meat, unlike chicken, tastes sweeter! (*)

Before using duck meat to replace pork belly, you must convert it into bacon.

Make things easier by getting premade duck bacon in your local supermarket!

Once you have your duck bacon, use it as you would cook pork belly.

To get a more accurate pork taste, you may have to add more seasonings to your duck meat bacon.

6. Goose Meat

Goose meat is another exciting and adequate substitute.

We recommend getting goose meat cut with more fat to get a similar pork belly flavor.

You need to turn goose meat into bacon for a more authentic pork belly taste like duck meat.

That way, you strike the perfect balance between the fatty texture and sweet, meaty flavor.

If you need to soften goose meat, allow it to soak in oil and seasonings an hour before cooking.

Use any oil and seasonings you want and would use for pork belly, and cook it with any recipe!

Unfortunately, goose bacon or meat may be more challenging to find than the other substitutes mentioned here.

7. Turkey Bacon

Turkey bacon is a healthier replacement for pork belly, though it’s best used as a last resort.

It doesn’t have the same taste or texture as pork belly since it has a lighter-colored flesh and lower fat content.

But if you can’t consume pork, then turkey meat is the way to go.

Plus, turkey bacon is healthier and contains less fat and calories.

Add turkey bacon to your sandwiches, burgers, salads, wraps, and other recipes you use pork belly in.

Use the same seasonings as you would with pork belly to achieve a more similar flavor.

8. Beef Belly

The beef belly cut is popularly known as the navel end brisket.

It comes from the same cut as pork belly, but instead of a hog, it comes from cows.

Other boneless meat cuts like pastrami and beef bacon come from need belly.

That’s why you might not find beef products labeled as beef belly. Instead, you’ll find it labeled as beef navel or the navel end brisket.

Use this ingredient in any meal requiring pork belly, adding the exact amount needed.

Fun fact: We recommend getting beef belly from grass-fed cows for more vitamins and minerals!

Vegetarian Substitutes for Pork

We also want to ensure we cater to all cooks and diners.

You might need to replace pork belly because you are vegan or vegetarian.

Or, maybe you want to lessen your pork consumption and consume fewer calories.

Whatever the case may be, we’ve got you covered with suitable vegetarian substitutes for pork:

9. Soy

If you don’t want to eat pork, soy is the best pork belly substitute. Soy soya chunks are cheap and popular vegan replacements for meats. Furthermore, they have so many different uses!

Soy is our first choice as a meat substitute as it resembles a similar texture to meat than other replacements.

You can add soy to soups stews for a higher protein intake, among other pork belly-based recipes. But since soy is a bit bland, we recommend adding more seasonings to achieve better flavor.

Fun fact: As you cook soy, be aware of how long you boil it. Unlike meat, soy must absorb enough water to use it in your recipes properly. Soy acts like a sponge once placed in boiling water, so add seasonings to the water, too.

10. Tofu

Tofu is a soybean-based product. It’s also one of the most popular meat replacements in many recipes. Because of that, you can rely on it as one of the best substitutes for pork belly when you’re cutting down the meat consumption.

Admittedly, tofu has a bland flavor.

But think of it this way: You have a blank canvas to cook with, so you can add the same seasonings and spices you would with pork belly.

You can also add pork seasonings to achieve a more similar flavor.

You can use tofu in curries, stews, and soups. It’s also possible to cut tofu into cubes and slices to coat and fry.

11. Tempeh

Tempeh is a Japanese product made from fermented soybeans. This vegan-friendly ingredient offers a high protein content, making it a suitable pork belly substitute.

12. Beans

Beans don’t come close to pork belly’s taste and texture. However, they are an excellent pork belly substitute for vegetarians and vegans with high protein content.

You can use canned or boiled beans for soups, curries, and chili.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question?

We’ve got more answers for you!

Here are the frequently asked questions our readers have wondered about with pork belly. (*)

1. How do you cook pork belly?

There are so many different ways you can enjoy pork belly.

Our favorite thing to do is to fry pork belly and pair it with delicious side dishes, like rice.

Another cooking method we highly recommend is to slow cook pork belly to render the meat tender and very moist.

You can also bake pork belly for more complex recipes or barbecue it when enjoying a nice day outdoors.

There are other dishes to use pork belly in, such as grilled meat salads, braised pork meat, Chinese roast pork, and much more!

Fun fact: When using the best substitutes for pork belly for your recipe, adjust the cooking time to cater to the replacement. For example, beef bacon will need less time to cook than pork belly, or using soy will require boiling prior to using it in your recipe.

2. What’s the difference between bacon and pork belly meat?

Yes, there is! Bacon and pork belly are two different kinds of meats. However, you can use bacon as an excellent substitute for pork belly recipes.

Pork belly is a type of pork cut from the hog’s belly, while bacon can be made of various meats.

Bacon will be salted for a week or so, and once the bringing process is completed, it will be dried. Sometimes, bacon will be smoked for more flavor.

As such, bacon is processed meat than pork belly, which is raw meat.

3. Can I use bacon instead of pork belly?

Yes, you can use bacon instead of pork belly, but you’ll likely need to adjust the cooking time, meat’s salt content, and temperature since bacon is usually thinner than pork belly.

You may also want to add some extra fat to the dish if using leaner bacon.

4. Is pork belly the same as salt pork?

Salt pork may be made from fatback or meat or pork belly. But unlike bacon, you don’t smoke it, and it will always be the fattest part of the fatback or belly.

Salt pork is salted for a few days after cutting, so you can cook it however you want. Furthermore, unlike bacon, you prepare salt pork without drying it.

5. What’s the cut of pork belly?

As the name suggests, pork belly comes from the hog’s belly. It can come from any part of the animal’s stomach, but the fat proportions would differ.

There are some pork bellies with more fat than meat and vice versa. Since this greatly differs based on the part of the belly cut, there aren’t any identical pork bellies!

The closest cuts of pork closest to pork belly are the following:

  • Fresh ham: The cheapest and easiest pork to find. However, ham is usually lean and won’t have enough fat for a succulent dish.
  • Fresh Picnic (Shoulder): It contains. a lot of fat but isn’t as well-marbled. It might also be tough to find as it isn’t as popular.
  • Bacon: This can be easily mistaken for the belly! However, they have slightly different tastes, with bacon being saltier and having more fat.

In Conclusion

Pork belly will give your dishes unique flavors and indulgent fattiness. However, you may require a substitute for pork belly if you can’t find that specific cut or want a healthier option.

Did you find the best substitutes for pork belly from our list?

Let us know what you think of these ingredients! We’d love to hear your experiences and extra tips.

Up Next: Pork Shoulder Substitutes

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top