The 10 Best Substitutes for Salt Pork

Salt pork is a popular ingredient in soups and stews. If you don’t have salt pork on hand, you can use beef jerky, country ham, beef or turkey bacon, pancetta, or guanciale.

Here’s our list of the 10 best substitutes for salt pork:

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky purchased after chef learned about salt pork substitutes

If you’re looking for good alternatives to salt pork, you can try either beef or chicken jerky. Jerky is salt-cured and air-dried, giving it a very rich flavor. It’s also easy to find.

Country Ham or Sandwich Ham

A lot of ham is either cured or smoked, which makes it the perfect salt pork substitute. You might have to add a little more salt to your recipe, depending on what type of ham you use, but this should be the only adjustment you’ll need to make. Plus, sandwich ham is inexpensive and is easily found in most grocery stores and delis.

Beef or Turkey Bacon

Bacon is usually salty, so it goes great in lots of dishes that normally consist of salt pork. Turkey tends to be the better option when you need something similar to salt pork. The saltiness and smoky flavor are very similar to salt pork. Make sure you taste your dish as you’re cooking it in case the spices need to be adjusted.


Pancetta that can be used as a salt pork substitute

Pancetta is a type of Italian bacon and tastes very similar to salt pork. In fact, the taste of pancetta is almost exactly like that of salt pork, and it comes in both rolled up and flattened forms. If you buy the roll, let it sit out for 30 minutes before cutting it up and adding it to your dish. You don’t even have to cook it before adding it to your recipe.

Plain Butter and Olive Oil

If you’re health-conscious, this is a great salt pork alternative. Simply add a tablespoon of plain butter and a tablespoon of olive oil to your dish, and you’ll be amazed at how delicious it becomes. Using butter and olive oil instead of salt pork is a potentially healthier option if you’re trying to reduce your salt intake.

Duck Ham or Duck Fat

Here’s another excellent option you likely didn’t think of. As a general rule, all duck products are good options when you don’t have any salt pork. Extra salt will need to be added if you’re using duck ham. If you use duck fat, it’s best if you render it down in chicken fat first to give it that savory flavor that makes salt pork so popular.

Smoked Turkey Wings

In general, smoked meat products do a great job when you’re looking for something that will flavor your dish like salt pork would. If possible, keep the wings on the bone because the bone will add even more flavor to your dish. When the dish is finished, you’ll have a little extra meat and a little extra flavor.


Guanciale that can be used as a salt pork substitute

Guanciale is an Italian delicacy that may be difficult to find, but it is absolutely delicious. It is essentially cured meat that has been extracted from pig cheeks, which is why it is also called jowl bacon or pork jowl. It is very similar to pancetta and tastes so much like salt pork that you likely won’t be able to taste the difference. You won’t even need to add any additional salt or other spices.

Dehydrated or Cured Vegetables

You might have to prepare these yourself because it’s difficult to find dehydrated or cured vegetables, but they’re perfect when you need a replacement for salt pork. The best veggies to use include onions or cabbage, and they aren’t difficult to cure yourself. That being said, keep in mind that curing veggies usually takes two to three weeks, so this isn’t something you can use in a pinch.

Smoked Ham Hock

This option is also something you can’t use in a pinch because it has to be salt-brined and smoked before you use it. You’ll have to soak the ham hock for one hour and then simmer it for one hour. Nevertheless, a smoked ham hock is a great substitute for salt pork. If you buy it from the store, make sure it’s smoked for the best flavor.

You can even make your own salt pork, and while it is time-consuming, it comes out tastier than you can imagine. Salt pork is made with pork belly, and you’ll want to add other ingredients to it, such as Kosher salt and spices like clove powder, bay leaves, black peppercorn, juniper berries, and a few other things. It usually takes four or five days of soaking in these salt and spices to get the taste just right.