Salt Pork Substitutes (12 Alternatives You Should Try)

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If you said you didn’t relish in the delicious savory flavor and meaty taste of salted pork…

I’d call you a liar.

It can be used as a seasoning as well as be the centerpiece of your meal.

Salted pork is enjoyed in cuisines across many cultures.

But what happens if you can’t find it at the supermarket or it’s sold out?

Don’t worry I’ve compiled all my favorite alternatives for salted pork below.

My Top Alternatives for Salted Pork

There are so many delicious alternatives for salted pork from regular bacon to the Italian delicacy that is pancetta.

What will your favorite alternative be?


Think of pancetta as gourmet Italian bacon.

It is my top replacement for salt pork.

Especially if you want to impress!

Italian pork belly goes through the curing process and then is either rolled or pulled flat.

Once cured, it is generally cut into small cubes.

Then used to flavor classic dishes as a seasoning ingredient.

Traditionally in Italy, it is also eaten raw and whole in thin strips as part of antipasti or in a sandwich.


Smoked Bacon

Ah, good old-fashioned bacon…

That aroma never gets old and has your mouth watering as soon as it wafts past you from the kitchen.

Another perfect alternative to salt pork…

Not only is it salted pork, but it also tends to be of a higher quality.

This is because there are lots of types of bacon and this means competition.

Bacon taken from the lean meat part of the pork belly will have a rich flavor. If you want to have a crispy smoked pork belly, you need to remove the skin and cook it separately.

Want to make your bacon even better? Why not smoke your own bacon at home? It is better than the shop brought stuff.

Smoked Ham

Ham is a perfect substitute for pork belly. It has that light salty flavor profile

Want to smoke your ham for Christmas? Or maybe you’re using a Pit Boss to smoke your ham?


Cornish Hen

Corners hen is a good substitute for salt pork. It also has a mild flavor.

See how to smoke a cornish hen here.

Beef Jerky

My first non-pork-related substitute! Although cured pretty much the same.

The umami and salty kick are still present but with more of a meaty flavor. Beef tends to be leaner so it is also a healthier option with high protein.

Smoked beef jerky Pit Boss is also likely to be seasoned with other ingredients than just salt. You may find some pepper flakes or black peppercorns.



Are you just after the fat content?

Unsalted butter is a great vegetarian substitute for traditional bacon and salt pork.

If you want to add some seasoning as well then salted butter is an excellent choice.

Butter will also carry whatever ingredients you are using throughout the dish.

Almost every aromatic and spice is soluble in fat.

So it’s a good thing that butter is 100% fat!

Smoked Ham Hock

Pork hock or pork knuckle (depending on where you are from) has a great meaty texture and flavor.

It comes from the shank of the pig at the end of the leg bone.

I think a hock of ham is the perfect ratio of fat and protein.

It is lightly salted and smoked to produce hunky chunky piggy goodness.

The smoking process goes to work penetrating.

Hardwood like mesquite is used for maximum piquancy to give a flavorful taste.

Ideally, you should cook low and slow to enable the fat and connective tissue to break down.

Add it to soup or with star anise for an Asian-style broth!

I can smell the delicious aroma already!

Cured Vegetables

A vegan selection!

Don’t say we didn’t think of you.

With a little love and time, you can infuse the traditional flavors in salt pork with veg.

Just don’t tell my grandad because he won’t believe you.

Veg with thick skins and natural sugars are perfect for salting and smoking.

Try eggplants, peppers, garlic, and onions.

I could go on but you get the point!

Treat the veg how you would a piece of meat…

You could also short-cure them to maintain a crunchy texture.

This is a feasible alternative to salt pork without harming the environment or an animal.

Olive Oil

Olive oil works the same as butter.

It is a pure fat product that can lift your ingredients in harmony and spread love in your recipe.

It also has a very distinctive flavor that changes depending on the olive.

The main reason I am suggesting this though is for health reasons.

It must be said that salt pork and salt pork products alike aren’t always the healthiest.

Watching that cholesterol but still, want extra flavor?

Look no further than some amazingly dark Kalamata oil from Greece.

Or what about nutty and buttery-flavored Sicilian?

Smoked Salmon

Yes, you read it correctly… Smoked salmon.

Now I know what you’re thinking.

“How can fish be an alternative to meat”.

Well, remember, we are focusing on two things.

The fat and salt content is a flavor enhancer.

Smoked salmon has both of these.

Admittedly the overall flavor of the finished dish will alter.

Compared to using salt pork.

But change doesn’t have to be bad.

It can be delicious!

Salmon has a high-fat content that is great for running through a pasta sauce.

Or what if you’re a pescatarian?

Edible Seaweed

Seaweed is a key ingredient and is enjoyed in most Asian countries.

It is naturally salty dried for a snack or even pickled and topped with sesame seeds.

This product is very good for you as it contains many anti-oxidants.

The natural sea salt it contains is perfect for seasoning your recipe.

I have crumbled dry seaweed on top of Japanese ramen.

Or had it pickled with some kimchi.

It is also another vegan option to enjoy.

Admittedly it doesn’t contain any fat but it mixes with olive oil well.

The possibilities and creativity are endless.

What Is Salt Pork?

Salt port is simple.

Pork (mostly the belly) is prepared with salt and cured for an extended period.

Pork belly has a high fat-to-meat ratio.

The salt permeates the proteins and fats.

This preserves and stops them from going rotten.

The pork may also be smoked for a delicious smoky flavor.

This combined with the salt is all you need to elevate your favorite dishes.


What Does Salt Pork Taste Like?

You’ll never guess it…


Salt pork has a delicious flavor. The natural sweetness of the pork is elevated when cured.

The salt brings out a natural umami flavor like soy sauce.

The high-fat content adds a soft texture to meat.

Plus we all know animal fat = flavor!

Where Does Salt Pork Come From?

Salt pork originated during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Back in the days without a refrigerator.

Or eating a carbonara while watching The Simpsons.

At the time of war where it was used for rations due to its long shelf life and source of fat for energy.

Pretty cool huh?

The coolest thing is that salt pork stood the test of time and is now better than ever with loads of variety.

What Is the Best Cooking Process for Salt Pork?

Now, this is always subjective and depends on what dish you are preparing.

I would say that it is always best to render down the fat to avoid a chewy texture.

So whether you fancy a fish chowder or bean soup.

Let those salted pork products render down into crispy bits with an intense flavor.

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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