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Pork Belly Substitute – 11 Ideas To Replace With The Best Taste

Are you in need of a pork belly substitute? This article will walk you through all of the best substitutions out there and guide you on how to cook them!


Pork belly is famous for its tenderness, juicy texture, and sweet flavor. The meat cut is versatile; it’s suitable for many different dishes such as homemade bacon, glazed, fried, braised, roasted, rolled, and stuffed abdomen, Chinese culinary, etc. The unique taste of this cut lies in its distinctive fatty texture.

With such an impressive profile, the belly is always in high demand. That’s why sometimes it’s difficult to find. Therefore, we will provide you with a range of substitutes to add to your finger-licking recipes.

When you find a pork belly substitute, go for other similar parts of the hog, then beef, duck, turkey, etc. The replacement should meet some or all criteria such as being fatty, tender, juicy, boneless, and protein-rich to reach the most identical taste.

In order to get a suitable stand-in, go for other cuts of the hog that have similar fatty texture and flavor. If you say no to an animal-based diet, vegetarian substitutions are available as well. Depending on how you prepare them, you can have something pretty comparable. Let’s have a look at the list now!

The pork belly

Best Pork Belly Substitutes

1. Pork Bacon

The first and best replacement that we can think of is the bacon due to its texture and flavor. Its fatty layers make the dish as soft and moist as the belly. Bacon cut is ideal for Chinese culinary, stir-fry, stews, etc.

The similar light sweetness allows you to use bacon in soup, ramen, and noodles recipes. By replacing the same amount of the belly with bacon and following the cooking steps, you can swap the two ingredients to have the closest results. Notice that the fat will melt if you fry the bacon, and the piece will be shrunk. 

Bacon Vs. Pork Belly Differences?

Belly meat is a large slab cut from the belly, and bacon is a cut from that. Bacon has higher salt and sodium content, so you should be careful when you season it. 

2. Pork Fatback

Fatback comes from the back of a pig and contains a lot of fat. The meat mixed with a fat layer makes it similar to the belly in texture and flavor. 

Grilling or oven-baking fatback with vegetables is a yummy recipe that you may want to try. This part of meat can also be used to prepare salt pork. The lard in fatback goes well with spices, so add some chili or spicy sauce for a flavor bomb. This part has less meat; if you don’t mind the thick fat layers, you should give it a try.

How To Substitute Pork Belly With Fatback Meat?

Interestingly enough, you can cook the two ingredients exactly the same way, such as in roast or braised dishes. Use them interchangeably with equal amounts and seasoning in every recipe. Although the fatback has more fat, you may not notice the difference if you cook correctly.

Braised Dish Pork Belly

3. Pork Shoulder Cut Or Boston Butt (Pork Butt)

The shoulder cut is not as popular as other substitutes, and it’s not really easy to find; you still can consider it an alternative in pulled hog meat recipes. The cut comes with or without bones, but the boneless version is preferable for time-saving purposes. Its tough and fatty texture can become soft and juicy when done in slow cooking.

The shoulder delivers more fat than the belly, but it has an equal amount of meat, lending it a position in this substitution list. Marinate it in your favorite sauce for around one hour for better results. Grilling or frying is a tasty way to cook it.

As the shoulder part is a large slab, cut it into chops and cook with any recipes you like. Then, substitute the shoulder cut for the hog’s belly in a 1:1 portion and add the same seasoning. The taste might be a little bit different but worth trying.

Shoulder Chops, Boston Butt, And Pork Shoulder – How Do They Differ?

Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or Boston butt, is located on the shoulder of the pig. They actually come from one place. However, in the market, you usually see the shoulder labeled as a thinner end of the shoulder and in a triangle shape. Meanwhile, the butt comes with a thicker and fatter profile.

4. Duck Meat

Duck meat is fattier and sweeter than chicken, so it can be a pork belly substitute meat if you turn it into bacon. Duck bacon, which looks reddish, juicy, and tender as the hog’s stomach, is made from duck’s breast filets. You can find it available in the market.

Despite the similar appearance, duck bacon may bring a quite different taste. To resemble the flavor, you might need more condiments than just salt and pepper. This meat is good for baking, sauteing, broiling, grilling, etc. If you are having problems cooking duck fat serving dishes, you can try to find a substitute for duck fat. 

Duck bacon smoked meat duck

5. Goose Meat

Goose meat is darker than other meat but akin to duck meat and can be an alternative pork belly substitute. It’s recommended to use young goose meat as it’s more tender and tastes better.

To reach the ideal flavor and soften the hard goose cut, you’d better leave it in the oil and pork seasoning mixture for one hour before cooking. The result might blow your mind with is tastiness.

Which Goose Meat Cut Is The Best To Replace Pork Belly?

You can choose any goose cut with the most similar quality to replace the pork’s part. It could be a fatty meat cut, boneless breast, boneless thighs, goose bacon, etc. The most important thing is making it tender and adding pork seasoning to create the closest taste.

6. Beef Bacon Or Kosher Bacon

Beef bacon is derived from the cow’s belly muscles and has a similar taste and texture to the hog’s. It is leaner, which means it’s not as juicy as the belly cut. Because of the higher melting point, the beef bacon will not be crispy.

How To Replace Pork Belly With Beef Bacon?

There are still differences in the taste of both ingredients. However, it’s hard to feel it if we know how to season the beef bacon. Instead of the hog’s stomach, cook the same amount of bacon and add some pork seasonings to it. 

You’d better choose “grass-fed” meat for better quality dishes. If your recipe doesn’t require a thick meat cut, kosher bacon is an ideal pork belly substitute.  

7. Turkey Bacon

Compared to other meat, turkey bacon is the less common substitute. It’s lighter and contains less fat with different flesh textures. However, you can still swap it for the abdomen if you don’t have other options. 

Turkey bacon is packed with fewer calories than the hog’s stomach, which allows it to be a right fit of substitution. This meat cut is suitable for burgers, sandwiches, wraps, or salads with grilled meat.

Turkey bacon cooking substitute for pork belly

Best Pork Belly Vegetarian Substitutes

1. Soy (Dried Soy)

Because soy has an almost identical structure to meat, it’s used to replace all types of meat. Soy is versatile and pliable, so it’s suitable for any recipe. You can buy this ingredient in any market and add it to the stew, soup, or other dishes.

Boil the chunks of soy with a lot of water before using them in any kind of dish. It requires a long boil to absorb sufficient water to be softer. Soy has no taste, but you can fix it by adding the right seasonings to the water. It then has the flavors you add. 

Take the soy chunks out of the water and cook it like you cook the belly. Although it can not mimic the flavor perfectly, it still works in a pinch.

2. Tofu

Tofu is a product made from soybean, tastes bland, and turns out as a perfect pork belly substitute vegetarian. It’s versatile and adaptable in boiling, frying, and baking recipes.

Some tofu is made to taste like meat, for example, wheat gluten, soy protein isolates, etc. To make the best resemblance to the abdomen, you’d better soak it with seasonings before cooking. 

Grilled Tofu Bars subsitute for pork belly

3. Tempeh

Here comes a healthy alternative. Tempeh is made from soybeans and grains that are slightly fermented and is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. The sub has a meaty texture and rich umami flavor, making it the all-rounded vegetarian substitute for all kinds of meat. 

There is seasoned tempeh available in grocery stores, so just choose the flavor that is suitable for your dish. It’s good for frying or barbecuing. Seitan and wheat gluten are a variety of tempeh that can replace meat in sandwiches.

4. Beans

What makes beans become a veggie sub for pork belly is their protein index, though they don’t have taste and texture like hog meat. Add beans in chili, sauces, or soups to have a tasty meal.

There are various types of beans; experience them all to find what you prefer. The bean’s cooking time should be less than one hour. 

This vegetarian substitute for the hog’s belly is a good option if you want to have a healthy and balanced diet. It allows you to consume less saturated fat and cholesterol and provides you with more vitamin E and C, folic acid, dietary fiber, etc. 

beans veggie substitute for pork belly

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Use Salt Pork Instead Of Pork Belly?

Salt pork is actually the abdomen; it looks like bacon without being smoked. Fatback is cured to prepare salt pork as well. So, you can cook this part the same way you cook the stomach.

What Are Parts Of Hog That Are The Closest To Pork Belly?

It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish the abdomen from the other three cuts. The first one is ham. Ham is cheap and easy to find, but it’s not suitable to substitute belly as it’s lean and usually dry when cooked. That’s why it can not produce juicy and succulent food.

A fresh picnic shoulder can be mistaken for the abdomen because it also has a lot of fat. However, if you notice, it’s not as well-marbled as others. 

The last type of meat cut imitating pork belly is pork bacon. Bacon and belly are actually carved from the same part of the hog. They have a similar texture that delights your mouth with a juicy feeling. If you want to substitute bacon for the hog’s stomach, manage the salt carefully, as bacon contains more salt and fat content.

Slow roasted belly pork with fennel salad

How To Cook Pork Belly Less Chewy? 

You can braise small pieces of meat with soy broth and seasonings in an oven. 300°F is the ideal heat to make the unctuous cut reach its internal temperature of 165° F to be tender and tasty. 

Slow roasted pork belly is also a delicious and mouthwatering dish. Try  Gordon Ramsey’s tutorial to cook and enjoy the tender and juicy meat cut when it’s hot.

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Choosing a pork belly substitute is not really difficult as you have quite a variety of replacements. The best sub is bacon and other mentioned hog meat cuts. They are all parts from the same animal, which ensures the closest flavor to the abdomen.

In general, you just need to replace the belly with the same amount of bacon and follow the cooking steps. Season the bacon with less salt to avoid overly salty results. Their identical features allow the dish to offer the same juicy and tender taste. 

If you don’t have hog’s meat, you can replace the hog’s stomach with other meat cuts such as goose, duck, and turkey. Marinate them well and leave them at least one hour before cooking to achieve as similar flavors as possible. 

Besides, vegan substitutions are another option. As they are versatile, if you season them correctly, they can be a good alternative in case you don’t want to consume much meat and fat.


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Anya Kaats

Hi! I’m Anya, a San Diego-based Holistic Health Coach and Marketing Consultant on a mission to share good food, health & happiness with as many people as possible. I am a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and have worked in the natural & organic products industry for my entire professional career with companies such as Suja Juice, Brad’s Raw Foods, and Mamma Chia. While my life may be totally consumed with healthy food now, nutrition wasn’t always a passion of mine.