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The 5 Best Substitutes for Pork Belly

Pork belly is a very popular and widely used ingredient in cooking.

It is used in many Asian, European, and American dishes.

Because of its popularity and widespread use, it can be bought from a local butcher or even supermarket, not only by cooks but also by home chefs.

Pork belly’s main appeal is that this cut of meat is very flavorful.

It has a high-fat content, making for a great flavor when slow roasted.

Depending on the dish being cooked, the method of cooking, and the spices used to enhance flavor, pork belly can be replaced with other types of meat.

Knowing which one will best suit your dish is important for anyone looking at alternative ingredients to use when no pork belly is available.

This article will share the best substitutes for pork belly when cooking.

What is Pork Belly?

what is pork belly

One of the most delicious and flavorful parts of the pig is the pork belly.

Pork belly refers to a cut of meat from a pig that includes both their stomach and adjoining fat.

It comes from the same place as bacon so that it will have a similar taste but with more fat.

For centuries, pork belly has been enjoyed in certain cultures, including Japan and China.

It is frequently used in Chinese cuisine and is often the main ingredient in Chinese-style braised pork belly, where it is cooked slowly with soy sauce and sugar until it reaches a savory-sweet flavor.

People worldwide enjoy cooking with pork belly because it has such an extremely high amount of flavor.

It is a very versatile meat that can be used in Asian and American cooking.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pork Belly

Although pork belly is delicious and easy to cook, it is also very fatty.

It is not the healthiest meat for people looking to stay fit and healthy.

Luckily, pork belly tends to be inexpensive, so you don’t have to give up its amazing flavor if you try to avoid fat in your diet.

Many other types of meat will give you the same flavor as pork belly, but that is much healthier for your diet.

These meats can be used in place of pork belly in almost any recipe.

1 – Bacon


Bacon is a staple breakfast food for many people.

Bacon usually refers to the meat from the belly of a pig or hog.

However, it can also refer to back bacon.

In addition, bacon does not have to come from pork at all.

This is one of the best substitutes for pork belly due to its strong richness that many people enjoy.

It’s not too different from pork belly, but it is much less fatty.

When it comes to bacon, there are two types: wet cured and dry-cured.

Dry curing is more popular in the United States, but both styles are popular worldwide.

Bacon can be cooked in many ways, but it is most popular boiled and then fried until crispy.

However, bacon can also season other meat products such as sausage and pastrami.

2 – Prosciutto Ham

prosciutto ham

Prosciutto ham may not come from pork belly at all.

It is a traditional Italian process where the pig’s leg is salted and then hung to dry for a long time.

It can be served cold or heated.

Prosciutto ham is similar to bacon because it has a strong, rich flavor that stands out in most dishes.

In addition, it is not too different from pork belly in its appearance and texture.

It is not tough like other meats that substitute for pork belly.

The saltiness of the ham comes from its dryness, which means it tends to be more tender than bacon or pork belly.

3 – Turkey Bacon

turkey bacon

Turkey bacon is entirely different from normal bacon.

Many popular brands are available at grocery stores like Healthy Choice, Costco, and Trader Joe’s.

This bacon is extremely leaner than normal bacon because it comes from turkey instead of pork.

It can be found everywhere in food and has a very different flavor than regular bacon.

Turkey bacon is often much healthier than pork belly because it’s so lean, but it can also have the same texture as normal bacon.

Many people enjoy using turkey bacon as a healthy replacement for regular bacon.

4 – Pork Shoulder Cutlets

pork shoulder cutlets

Pork shoulder cutlets are found in the same section as pork chops and other lean cuts of meat.

However, they are often much more affordable than other lean meats.

They can be grilled, pan-fried, and very juicy.

Simply put, pork shoulder cutlets are like normal pork chops without the extra fat.

They taste slightly different and provide the same number of calories as pork belly does.

Cutlets come from the top part of the shoulder and usually have an extremely thin layer of fat on them.

Pork shoulder cutlets are another popular alternative to pork belly because they can be served in place of bacon or chops with little extra effort.

5 – Tofu or Tempeh

tofu or tempeh

If you are vegan or do not like any meat for ethical reasons, then tofu is a great substitute.

It does not have to be grilled or fried, and it takes on the flavor that you cook it with.

In addition, tofu can also be very healthy as long as you don’t deep fry it.

And if you’re looking for something even healthier than tofu that tastes almost exactly like pork belly, try tempeh.

It is made from fermented soybeans and has a unique flavor.

Tempeh is often used in vegan dishes because it can be flavored in many ways to mimic meats.


The pork belly is a very fatty part of the pig that can cause many health problems.

Some people cannot eat pork belly for dietary or ethical reasons, and this is why these five substitutes are some of the best out there.

Each of these substitutes varies slightly in its appearance and flavor.

However, they all provide a healthier way for people with dietary restrictions to enjoy the rich taste of pork belly.

Which one do you recommend? Let us know in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the beef equivalent to pork belly?

The beef equivalent to pork belly is beef navel. This cut of beef is taken from the lower belly of the cow, similar to where pork belly is sourced.

It has a thick layer of fat surrounding it and plenty of marbling throughout for flavour.

When cooked correctly, it can be just as succulent and juicy as pork belly.

What ingredients can be used to flavor pork belly?

Pork belly can be seasoned with a wide variety of ingredients, such as garlic, ginger, rosemary, thyme, juniper berries and black pepper.

The fat content of pork belly helps to absorb the flavourings and bring out their taste when cooked.

For a sweet glaze or crust on pork belly, honey and maple syrup can be used.

The five most popular cuts of pork are loin, shoulder, ribs, belly and ham. Loin is a lean cut of meat that is great for roasting or grilling.

Shoulder can be slow-cooked to make pulled pork, while ribs are ideal for BBQs. Pork belly is versatile and can be served in many different ways.

Ham is typically cured in salt and other spices, then smoked to bring out its flavour.

What is a halal substitute for pork belly?

A halal substitute for pork belly is lamb belly. This cut of meat is taken from the lower abdomen of a sheep or goat and has a similar texture to pork belly.

It also contains a good amount of fat, which helps to lock in moisture and flavour when cooked.

Lamb belly can be cooked in many of the same ways as pork belly and offers a halal alternative for those who need it.

Is pork brisket same as pork belly?

No, pork brisket and pork belly are two different cuts of meat.

Pork brisket is taken from the chest area of the pig, while pork belly comes from the lower abdomen.

Pork brisket has a much leaner texture than pork belly, which contains more fat and marbling throughout.

The flavour profile also differs between the two, as brisket has a stronger taste than pork belly.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pork Belly

The 5 Best Substitutes for Pork Belly
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Bacon
  • Prosciutto Ham
  • Turkey Bacon
  • Pork Shoulder Cutlets
  • Tofu or Tempeh


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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