If you’re a pork lover, then you probably know that the best part of the pig is the belly. It’s tender and fatty with a perfect texture that melts in your mouth. You can eat it as-is or cook it up to make bacon.
Pork belly is great, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re allergic to pork or simply trying to watch your weight or it’s too expensive, there are plenty of other delicious alternatives that will give you the same flavor and texture without all the extra fat and calories.
Here are 11 of the best pork belly substitutes you must try.
Table of Contents
- What is Pork Belly?
- 11 Best Pork Belly Substitutes
- Vegetarian Substitutes for Pork Belly
- What Does Pork Belly Taste Like?
- What Cut of Meat Is the Pork Belly?
- What is the Difference Between Pork Belly and Bacon?
- How Much Does Pork Belly Cost?
What is Pork Belly?
Pork belly is a cut of pork that consists of both fat and muscle. It’s taken from the underside of the pig where most of its body fat is located.
The meat itself can either be cooked by braising, canning, roasting, baking, or frying (and the list goes on).
Once it becomes tender it can be eaten on its own, or it can be combined with other types of meat and spices to create delicious sausages and bacon.
Just because you can’t eat pork belly doesn’t mean that you won’t get to enjoy all the other great cuts of meat from the pig. So don’t fret! Just keep reading for some great substitutes.
11 Best Pork Belly Substitutes
1. Pork Bacon
Pork belly is used to make bacon, so why not just use pork bacon? Tasty and lean, pork bacon is a delicious alternative to regular pork belly.
It has the same texture and flavor without all the extra fat. Plus, it’s healthier than both traditional pork belly AND beef bacon.
It’s lower in fat, but it has the same great taste and crunchy texture as traditional bacon. It can be pan-seared and used as a meat or side dish, or it can be baked to make an impressive addition to salads.
2. Pork Fatback
This cut of meat is taken from directly under the pig’s back where there are large deposits of fat. You can usually find it at your local butcher, but be sure to ask about the thickness of the cut and how fatty it is. This is a great substitute for those who want pork belly without all the extra calories.
It has a good amount of protein and less fat than pork belly, but make sure to always buy organic or pasture-raised pork if you want to avoid antibiotics, pesticides or GMOs.
This cut of meat can be used as a substitute for bacon and is also great when cooked with beans and greens.
3. Pork Shoulder Cut
This cut of pork has a light, pinkish color and it’s very versatile. It’s the perfect combination of the other two cuts listed above. It’s fattier than pork belly, but still has a good amount of protein and less fat than traditional pork belly.
It can be easy to find at your local butcher or grocery store, and it’s also very affordable. Plus, it can be used in all the same ways as pork belly!
It can be used as chops and roasts or even ground up to make sausage or burgers. Because it’s leaner than pork belly, it’s healthier and more manageable for those who are watching their weight. It can also be used as a substitute for bacon.
Related: How to Tell When Pork Chops Are Done?
4. Beef Bacon
As an alternative for those who are allergic to pork, you can try beef bacon instead. It may not have the same texture as pork bacon because it doesn’t contain any sugar or smoke flavoring, but it still has that crispy crunch and smoky essence.
It’s also lower in fat and calories than pork bacon or regular beef. It’s great when used in salads because of its hearty, meaty flavor. If you grill it with the right spices, it can taste very similar to traditional bacon.
Beef bacon can be pan-seared or baked. It can also be covered with brown sugar and baked to make a healthier version of traditional bacon. Try grilling it with thyme, oregano, and black pepper for a delicious meal.
5. Turkey Bacon
In order to avoid pork when you have a pork allergy, you can try turkey bacon instead. Made from leaner meat than beef bacon, it isn’t as flavorful or chewy but still has a crunchy texture and smoky essence.
It is also less likely to make your blood sugar spike, which means you’ll feel full longer.
Turkey bacon can be cooked and eaten as meat on its own, or it can be used as a substitute for pork bacon. It’s also great sliced up and added to salads or sandwiches.
6. Duck Meat
Duck meat is another good substitute for pork belly because the meat has a similar texture and flavor if it’s cooked correctly. It can be seared on high heat to achieve that crispy exterior while keeping the meat tender and juicy.
It’s also very high in omega-3 fatty acids, making it a healthier alternative. Duck meat is fantastic when served with vegetables and fruit because of its savory taste.
It can be served as a main dish or an appetizer. It makes great tacos, soups, salads, egg dishes, and more.
Duck meat has a similar texture to pork belly, but it can be a bit chewier. You may have to marinate the meat before cooking in order to soften it up.
7. Goose Meat
Goose meat is less fatty than duck meat, but it’s just as flavorful. It has more protein than pork belly and contains absolutely no carbohydrates.
It can be cooked up on its own or used as a substitute for traditional bacon. It also tastes delicious when served with vegetables, fruit, and bread along with some olive oil to enhance the flavor.
Vegetarian Substitutes for Pork Belly
Soy is a legume from Asia that is frequently used in vegetarian cuisine. Soy is frequently used instead of pork belly by vegetarians who follow a vegan lifestyle. It’s also a good option for those who want to avoid pork and beef.
Soy is rich in protein and contains no cholesterol, plus it has a great chewy texture that mimics the taste of real meat. It can be used instead of ground turkey or beef when making burgers or meatballs.
It can also be grilled or seared like beef bacon. Because it is a plant, soy does not contain any animal fat or cholesterol.
Tofu is a firm white substance that is made out of soy milk that has been compressed and molded into solid white blocks, making it resemble cheese. It was originally cultivated in China.
Tofu is a great pork belly substitute for those who are following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
It has a similar texture to pork belly and can be used as a replacement for bacon strips in recipes, but it is different from bacon because it doesn’t have any smoky flavor.
It’s also high in protein and contains no cholesterol or fat, and it’s great when grilled or seared and served on its own.
Tempeh is another healthy pork belly substitute that’s low in fat and cholesterol. It’s made from fermented soybeans pressed into a cake-like patty that gets firmer as it ages.
It has a very hearty flavor and texture making it an excellent replacement for bacon or pork belly if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
Tempeh can be cooked in a variety of different ways. It can be grilled, seared, baked, fried, broiled, sauteed, or even microwaved.
It’s best when used as a substitute for bacon in sandwiches and salads because it has a stronger flavor than tofu or soy.
There are several different types of beans that make a great pork belly substitute. Beans provide you with plenty of protein and nutrients, and they can be used as a substitute for bacon in recipes because they have a similar texture.
Beans can be cooked in any number of ways, including steamed, baked, fried, broiled, sauteed, or boiled, and they can be seasoned in a variety of different ways.
The great thing about beans is that you can eat them on their own without adding anything which means you don’t have to worry about your pork belly substitute being underseasoned.
They’re also filled with protein and nutrients so they can serve as a healthy breakfast option or a hearty snack.
Beans can be used to make bacon and egg salad, in baked beans recipes, or in soups and stews. They can also be fried with chopped-up onion and garlic until they’re crispy just like bacon.
If you want to add more flavor, try marinating the beans in balsamic vinegar for added sweetness.
These are 11 of the best pork belly substitutes you can use in your cooking if you’re trying to avoid meat, or if you want to enjoy some tasty bacon without feeling guilty afterward. All of these products are available at supermarkets, or online.
What Does Pork Belly Taste Like?
Pork belly is incredibly flavorful because it’s filled with fat, so when you cut into a slice of pork belly the oils from the fat immediately start to sizzle and release a bold aroma.
It has a very strong flavor so it pairs well with other foods that have equally bold flavors. When cooking pork belly it should be seared or grilled to bring out the best flavor and texture.
It tastes similar to bacon but it has a smokier flavor that is more noticeable, so if you want to add the flavor of pork belly to your dish, don’t use bacon because it’s too similar. Also, try marinating the pork belly in soy sauce or olive oil before cooking it because it will add extra flavor.
Related question: How to know if ground pork is bad?
What Cut of Meat Is the Pork Belly?
Pork belly is part of the pig’s belly, behind its ribs. It is located halfway between the front legs and the rear legs.
It is considered to be a highly valued cut of meat because it has lots of fat and is flavorful, especially when you eat it seared or grilled.
What is the Difference Between Pork Belly and Bacon?
Pork belly and bacon are made from different parts of the body, and they have differences in texture, seasoning, and flavor.
Bacon is cut from the pig’s belly, but it doesn’t contain as much fat as pork belly because it’s leaner. Pork belly has a higher fat content so when you cook it the oils sizzle and the pork belly releases a strong aroma that’s similar to bacon.
Bacon and pork belly taste slightly different too because they’re made from different parts of the body. Pork belly is more flavorful than bacon because it has more fat, and it tastes smokier because it’s seared or grilled at high temperatures. Bacon has a saltier and sweeter flavor because it’s cured in salt and maple syrup.
How Much Does Pork Belly Cost?
Depending on where you live, pork belly might be fairly inexpensive or quite expensive. In Asian countries like China and Japan, pork belly is considered a delicacy and it can be very expensive to buy in bulk at a supermarket. In the United States, you can buy pork belly at an affordable price.
Pork belly has become more popular in the United States over the past few years because people are starting to understand its incredible flavor and health benefits, which is why it’s now available at most supermarkets. It’s usually priced affordably unless you live in an area where prices for all meats are very high.