Pork belly is a unique cut that is full of flavor; pork belly meat has a fat texture which makes it tastier than other types of meat. It is also very versatile, so it can be used in different dishes.
Pork belly, however, is an expensive meat cut and may be challenging to find sometimes, but you can achieve similar savory flavor and tastiness by using the best pork belly substitutes.
Some of the best substitutes for pork belly are Pork Bacon, Pork Shoulder Cut, Goose Meat, Pork Fatback, Duck Meat, Beef Bacon, Turkey Bacon, etc. You can even make it healthy by using non-meat or non-dairy options.
Best Pork Belly Substitutes
Here are some delicious pork belly substitutes that resemble the taste and texture of pork belly, and when added to a dish that calls for pork belly, there are no notable differences
1. Pork Bacon
This is the closest substitute for pork belly; in fact, it is the most recommended substitute in all dishes that call for pork belly.
You achieve the same taste regardless of how you cook it. All you need to do is replace the pork belly with pork bacon and follow the recipe as you would with pork belly.
The quantity should be maintained as well. Use the same amount of pork bacon as you would use pork belly, but keep in mind that most of its fat will be rendered out during the frying process of the bacon, and you might not need to add any additional oil.
Add enough season to the pork bacon as you would season the pork belly, but you might want to hold back on the salt. This is because bacon tends to be saltier, so adding too much salt can make your dish too salty.
2. Pork Fatback
Pork fatback is also very similar to pork belly. As the name already implies, it’s a meat cut from the back of the pig. It usually has a high-fat content which makes it extremely tasty when cooked right.
Fatback meat can be cured to prepare salt pork as well. Cook the pork fatback as you would cook the pork belly and even use the same seasonings.
When cured with salt, fatback tends to be much more delicious than pork belly, and because it has less meat, it is ideal for people who prefer a fatty layer.
Pork fatback can be grilled or baked alongside some veggies. To achieve a better flavor, you can add a spicy sauce or a pinch of chilly to the meat.
With the right spices and seasonings, your recipes may turn out better with fatback as they blend well with the fat layer.
3. Pork Shoulder Cut
This is not a so-much popular substitute for pork belly, but it is delicious nevertheless. Pork shoulder, however, might be more challenging to find, but if you have it, then it can make a suitable replacement for pork belly.
Pork shoulder contains more fat than other types of pork cut, but they also have just the right amount of meat, so they can be substituted for pork belly successfully.
When using pork shoulder chops, marinating them in your favorite sauce for at least one hour before cooking will make them turn out tastier and more flavorful; you can cook them on the grill, in the oven, or fry them in the pan.
You can follow the original recipe and use the same type of seasonings when substituting pork shoulders for pork belly. You may not notice a significant taste change in your dish.
4. Duck Meat
Duck meat, although similar to chicken, they are fatter and tastier, just like pork belly. To use duck meat as a substitute for pork belly, it needs to be converted into bacon first. Luckily, you can purchase premade duck meat bacon already available on the market.
When you get your duck meat bacon, cook it as you would cook the pork belly. Keep in mind that you might need to use extra seasonings to achieve a similar pork belly taste.
Do not limit your seasoning to only salt and pepper; you need to add the correct seasonings that will give your duck meat the taste of pork belly.
5. Goose Meat
Goose meat is also an excellent alternative for pork belly. To achieve a similar pork belly taste, you need to use the goose part that is fatter.
Just like when you are using duck meat, your goose meat needs to be turned into bacon so it can taste a lot more like pork belly.
This ensures that you achieve the perfect balance between the sweet taste of meat and a tasty fatty texture.
However, you might find goose meat to be harder than other types of meat. To soften it, you should let it soak in a mix of oil and seasonings at least one hour before cooking.
You can use any type of oil you desire and add in seasonings that you would typically use for pork belly, and then allow the goose meat to soak in the juicy brine. Goose meat offers lots of different cooking options, so you can cook it any way you want.
6. Beef Bacon
Beef bacon is one of the best substitutes for pork belly. They are commonly used in a variety of dishes, and they taste so much like pork belly that you might not even be able to tell any difference.
When substituting beef bacon for pork belly, you want to accentuate the pork taste using pork seasoning instead of beef seasonings.
Beef bacon can be fried just as you would fry pork belly. It can also incorporate it into baked dishes and even traditional ones. There are endless options for this type of meat. To get a richer taste, opt for beef bacon obtained from a grass-fed cow.
7. Turkey Bacon
Turkey bacon can be used in place of pork belly, but this should be done as a last resort.
Turkey bacon has lighter colored flesh and has a lower fat content compared to pork belly, its meat also has a different texture, but it makes a fantastic substitute for those who cannot consume pork belly or any other pork cut.
Turkey bacon is healthy and contains fewer calories than pork, making it the right fit, especially for those trying to eat healthily and watch their calories.
You can use turkey bacon in several ways; it can be added to burgers, sandwiches, to make wraps and grilled meat salads, etc.
8. Beef Belly
The beef belly is also known as navel end brisket, and it is basically the same cut as pork belly, but it is gotten from a cow.
Other boneless cuts like beef bacon and pastrami are cut out of beef belly; that explains why you may not see beef products labeled as beef belly instead as beef navel or navel end brisket.
So, if you find any beef belly cut that looks and taste similar to pork belly, it can be used as a substitute for soups, stews, and other meals.
Vegetarian Substitutes For Pork Belly
The substitutes mentioned above aren’t of any use to vegans or vegetarians! There are non-meat substitutes for pork belly but keep in mind that they can’t have the pork belly-like texture and may not appear the same.
But these vegan substitutes can provide a similar high protein content like pork belly.
Soya chunks are a cheap and popular vegan substitute for pork belly; they also have wide-ranging uses.
You can add chunks of soy to stews, soup, and other pork belly recipes to get a good protein intake. But remember to use adequate seasonings to achieve a good flavor.
Tofu is also a soybeans-based product that is often used as a meat replacement in any recipe.
Tofu has a quite bland taste, but this gives you a blank canvas to work with, so you can season it with all sorts of spices and seasoning and cook in various ways to substitute pork belly.
Tofu chunks can be added to soups, stews, and curries; you can also cut tofu into slices or cubes, coat, and fry to make a great snack.
Tempeh is a Javanese product made out of fermented soybeans. It has high protein content, so it can be used to replace pork belly in many dishes.
Beans may not be close to the taste and texture of pork belly, but their high protein content makes them a great vegan substitute for pork belly in recipes. You can add canned or boiled beans to chili, soups, and curries.
Pork belly adds a unique flavor to any dish, but you may need a pork belly substitute if you cannot find pork belly or don’t want to consume pork.
Pork belly substitute also packs needed flavors, and you may not be able to tell the difference; you can also use non-meat substitutes in order to make the dish vegan.