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Flavorful Choices: 5 BEST Substitutes for Ham Hock

Ham hock is a timeless classic.

It is a homely and comforting ingredient that has been enjoyed across cultures for centuries.

But it also can be a bit of an enigma – how do you cook it and what are the best alternatives when you don’t have access to this unique ingredient?

Fortunately, there are plenty of great substitutes available to add the smoky depth and hearty flavor of ham hock to any dish without having to worry about tracking down this specialty item.

Let’s take a look at the five best ways to make your recipe shine without ham hock.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ham Hock

If you’re looking for a substitute for ham hocks for whatever reason, you’ve come to the right place.

Although ham hock can add amazing flavor to your dish, there are times when a substitute is needed.

And luckily, there are many great alternatives to choose from.

Here are five of the best substitutes for ham hock:

1 – Chopped Bacon

chopped bacon

Chopped bacon makes a great substitute for ham hocks in many recipes.

The flavor will be quite different, as bacon tend to be much smokier and saltier than ham, but the crunch and texture will be similar.

When using chopped bacon as a substitution, use cooking oil to sauté it before adding it to the dish.

This will help mellow out the smoky, salty flavor of the bacon and make it more palatable with other ingredients.

Make sure to cook it with some vegetables or spices, like onions or garlic, to add additional flavor that can stand up against the bolder bacon taste.

2 – Guanciale


Guanciale is another pork product made from the jowls of the pig, which are cured and smoked for flavor.

It is also referred to as pork jowls and can be used as a substitute for ham hock.

It has a very distinctive flavor and when cooked properly, the flavors take on a nutty and smoky flavor.

This cured meat is popular in Italian cuisine, but it’s gaining traction in other cuisines around the world as well.

Guanciale has a higher fat content than bacon or ham hock, so use it sparingly to add flavor without weighing down your dish with too much fat.

It’s important that you take care while cooking guanciale because its high fat content tends to burn easily if cooked too long over too high of heat.

Consider starting at lower heat then finishing off at higher heat to make sure your guanciale reaches its ideal crispy crunch without burning in the process.

3 – Cubed Ham

cubed ham

Cubed ham might not have the smoky flavor of ham hock, but it offers a more budget-friendly option to give your recipes that classic porky flavor.

Just like choosing smoked bacon over regular, look for smoked cubed ham to help bring in that classic flavor profile.

Although there is still some prep required (dicing the cubes into strips or small pieces), it takes much less time than curing and breaking down a ham hock.

Cubed ham is extremely versatile and can be used in soup or stew, fried or grilled as an entrée, tossed into pasta dishes, or even added to sandwiches and burgers.

Look for cubed ham from pre-mixes such as breakfast bowls; these are often offered with bell peppers, cheese, and other ingredients that make for a delicious one-pan meal.

4 – Chopped Salt Pork

chopped salt pork

Salt pork is usually sold with other pork products at the grocery store and comes in both pre-sliced and bulk forms.

It is a much fattier product than ham hocks, so it may require adding some grain-based stuffing or a starch to reduce the fat content.

Chopping it into small pieces will help give you more of a ham hock-like consistency, while still providing the salty flavor that makes salt pork so desirable.

The level of saltiness can be easily adjusted by soaking the raw pork cubes in water for 30 minutes prior to cooking.

5 – Smoked Sausage

smoked sausage

Smoked sausage is a great substitute for ham hock in many recipes.

It has a similar robust flavor to ham hock, and is also smoked for full-flavored, tender meat.

When substituting smoked sausage for ham hock, you’ll want to reduce the amount of seasoning in your recipe – since the sausage likely contains its own spices and flavorings.

This can help prevent the dish from becoming too salty – as both ham hocks and smoked sausages are salt-cured meats.

Make sure you read the label and use precooked smoked sausage for any sautéing or stir-frying recipes that call for cooked ham hocks.

In dishes like soups and stews, you can use either pre-cooked or uncooked version of smoked sausage depending on your preference.

substitutes for ham hock

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Ham Hock

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • 1 – Chopped Bacon
  • 2 – Guanciale
  • 3 – Cubed Ham
  • 4 – Chopped Salt Pork
  • 5 – Smoked Sausage


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
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