Pork Shoulder Vs Pork Leg (Key Differences)

Posted on

Pork Shoulder Vs Pork Leg



Prep time

Cooking time

Total time


This article may contain affiliate links and if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

What is the difference between pork shoulder vs pork leg? 

First things first, let’s state the obvious:

Pork shoulder and pork leg are cuts from a pig but different parts, which tells all the difference. 

While you may think they are both the same, pork leg is leaner, and the meat is firmer, while pork shoulder is layered with fat, giving it more flavor, and the meat tends to have a softer texture.

And as you know, we’ll focus meanly on pork shoulders and legs in this article, but before that, let’s clear the urge for those crackling roasting lovers.

Pork Shoulder Vs Pork Leg: Which Is The Best Cut For Crackling Roast Pork?

The boneless pork shoulder (or butt) is the perfect pork roast with crackling that will hit any dinner table, whether at parties or dinner night.

The reason is that the finished product is undeniably crispy — tender and juicy on the inside. Although, for the best crackling, you can’t just use any pork shoulder. 

It MUST be a fresh cut by butcher instead of the purchased vac-packed from the grocery store, mostly rolled and netted or tied. Secondly, it should have dry flat skin. And it is not necessary to score the skin. 

However, if it has been scored already, it is still fine. But have it at the back of your mind; the crackle can’t come out quite as perfect. You can also use rolled/netted or pre-scored pork. It still works fine. 

I know by now you must have been thinking about what makes the fresh pork shoulder so important for crackling. That is because the cut with flesh can sustain the 3-hour cook time required for the perfect crackling. 

The meat becomes tender and juicy since it is a slow cooking cut. Supposed it was a leaner cut like the leg or loin, it will dry out even before the crackling becomes crispy.

What is Pork Leg Used For?

If you want to enjoy every bit of the leg, roast it whole. Cooking it on the bone helps lock in moisture, producing juices you can use for your gravy. 

Most chefs prefer it for escalopes, too — like they thinly slice it for steaks. Also, it can be boned and cut into smaller roasting joints. Since the cut is relatively low in fat, it is easy to dry when slow-roasted. You can also cure it to make ham.

However, most experts ensure they flash-fried or grilled their pork escalopes immediately to prevent them from drying out. You should marinate or bash the pork leg out a rolling pin to tenderize it.

What is Pork Shoulder Used For?

The pork shoulder is one of the most forgiving parts of the pig. It is a versatile cut that can be used for almost all recipes. 

Pork should be a great choice if you want a mouth-watering dinner party showstopper. You can either slow roast it on the bone until tender and falling apart, or better still, dice or mince it for cooking slowly in a stew. 

You can cut the tender fillet from its top into steaks for barbecuing or grilling. To get the most out of this meat is to cook it slow and low.

To make it retain its moisture, wrap it twice with tin foil. Then throw it in the oven at 150ºC/300ºF/gas 2.

Be patient for 4 to 5 hours until the meat is tender. 

Can You Use Pork Leg Instead Of Pork Shoulder?

Yes, you can swap pork leg for pork shoulder, only if it’s a boneless pork leg. Even a pork arm can go as well. These cuts can be used in place of the pork shoulder in many recipes as they can be cooked slowly.

Besides, the texture and flavor are similar to pork shoulder because it is a muscle with connective tissues. 

So you can prepare it the same way as you would for the shoulder in many recipes. The leg pork ALWAYS goes well when you cook pulled pork recipes. But note that pork leg is a large joint, so endeavor to divide the bone when roasting. 

Although roasted pork leg could be daunting to make the perfect crackling, so properly cook it. On top of that, this cut is more expensive than the other options.


I know by now you must have gotten a thing or two about the difference between the Pork shoulder vs pork leg that will help you save your recipe. 

There are many cuts from pork that are quite confusing to both chefs and home cooks to date, one of many is the pork lion vs the tenderloin. 

Luckily, we have prepared a nice little debate for that, so ensure you check it out. It promises to be an engaging one that unravels the misconception about both cuts.

Recommended Posts:


You might also like these recipes