What is Pork Jowl: Your Ultimate Guide to Taste & Recipes

Pork jowls, a Southern favorite, are flavorful cuts from a pig’s cheeks often smoked or salt-cured, used to season dishes like beans and greens.

what are pork jowls

People have been eating various parts of the pig for many years. While pork chops, bacon, and pulled pork ribs are some popular parts of the pig that are eaten, there are other parts of the pig that people eat that you may not even be aware of.

Pork jowls are a part of the pig that people eat. However, some people have no idea what pork jowls are. So…what is pork jowl?

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What Are Pork Jowls?

Pork Breeds

Pork jowls is a cut of meat that is taken from a pig’s cheeks in the head cut. It is usually consumed in the American South, and is often smoked or salt-cured.

Jowls are a popular dish in the American South, and they’re often used to season greens, beans, soups, and stews, as pork jowls often have a great deal of flavor.

Depending on how pork jowls are cut will dictate what it’s called. In the American North, pork jowls are often cut into bacon and called: jowl bacon.

In the South, pork jowls are often called hog jowls. If you spend any time in the south or talking to southern natives, then you will likely hear them raving about how delicious hog jowls are. 

What Do Pork Jowls Taste Like?

Everyone who has eaten pork jowls before has their own opinion regarding how they taste. Some people believe that pork jowls taste like bacon or another pork product called “salt pork.”

Regardless, pork jowls are very popular,  especially in the south. If you like salty bacon or other fried pork products, then you will likely enjoy pork jowls as well. 

What Are Pork Jowls Used For?

People consume pork jowls, which is the number one way they’re used. Eating pork jowls entails frying them up until they’re very crispy and then eating it with other foods or using it to season large pots of foods.

Many people like the crispness and texture of fried pork jowls, which is why it’s often eaten like bacon. 

Are Pork Cheeks and Pork Jowls the Same?

Yes, pork cheeks and pork jowls are essentially the same thing, as pork jowls are simply the cheeks of the pig. It may seem strange to eat a pig’s cheeks, but there are many strange parts of the pig that people eat, including the brain, which is referred to as “hog head cheese,” pig’s feet, pig ears, intestines, necks, skin, and more

Can You Eat Pork Jowls?

Yes, people eat pork jowls all the time. They can be eaten in the same way you would eat bacon or skins, or they could be eaten in soup, beans, greens, or stews. 

Is Pork Jowl the Same As Bacon?

No, pork jowl isn’t the same as bacon, as pork jowl is taken from the cheeks and bacon is derived from the pig’s belly. This results in two completely different tastes and textures. 

Are Pork Jowls Healthy?

Pork jowls are an extremely fatty cut of meat, and it’s saturated fat that we’re talking about, meaning that it’s not a very healthy cut of meat. The tremendous amount of fat is what gives the pork jowl its taste and texture.

So, if you’re trying to follow a healthy eating plan, then you want to either eat as little as possible of this fatty meat, or add in other foods that actually are healthy.  

FAQs about Pork Jowls

Here are the answers to a list of commonly asked questions about pork jowls, which will hopefully help you to better understand what pork jowls are and why they are so popular. 

Are there recipes available for cooking pork jowl?

Yes, there are many recipes available online that can introduce you to pork jowl and some many creative ways to cook with it.

Do people really eat pig’s feet?

Yes, people do really eat pigs’ feet. Eating this part of a pig’s body might seem really strange, but it’s a staple in many people’s diets, especially those in the south.

Do pig’s feet taste like pork jowls?

Most people who have eaten pig’s feet and pork jowl agree that the two parts of the pig taste totally different. While pork jowls are somewhat chewy and similar to bacon, pig’s feet are said to have a tender, delicious flavor.

What foods pair well with pork jowls?

Again, many people use pork jowls to season their large pots of beans, greens, and peas. However, others fry up pork jowl and eat it in the same manner that you do bacon. The sky is the limit when it comes to coming up with ideas of foods to eat with your pork jowls, and even if you prefer macaroni and cheese, or even potato salad, then that is okay as long as you’re enjoying your meal.

Why can’t I find pork jowls at my grocery store?

You will likely find pork jowls at local grocery stores in the south. However, if you check stores in the north, Midwest, or other areas, then you may have a difficult time locating a pack of pork jowls.

What’s the grossest part of the pig to eat?

Some people believe that there are no gross parts of the pig to eat, as some people love every single part of the pig. For people who don’t like eating pig meat or who only eat bacon may find that certain parts of the pig are gross.

Some parts of the pig that many people turn their noses up in the air in revulsion are: chitterlings ( the pig’s intestines), the pig’s brain, often called “hoghead cheese.”

Hog head cheese can often be found at many grocery stores all over. Chitterlings must be cleaned in a sink full of water before consumption, and if they’re not cleaned well enough, then a person could be consuming waste that has been leftover in the pig’s intestines. This is one thing that many people believe is extremely disgusting when it comes to eating parts of the pig. 

What are pork jowls used for?

Pork jowls are commonly utilized in various ways. They can be employed as a seasoning for beans, black-eyed peas, or cooked alongside leafy green vegetables like collard greens or turnip greens in a traditional Southeastern meal. Additionally, jowl meat can be chopped and used as a garnish, resembling bacon bits, or served in sandwich form.

What’s the difference between pork jowl and pork belly?

The difference between pork jowl and pork belly lies in their composition. Pork jowl, similar to bacon, consists of tender meat and white strips of fat that become crispy when cooked on a skillet. However, unlike bacon, jowl is not as uniform in terms of fat and meat distribution. It has larger and fewer layers of fat and meat compared to pork belly, which has thinner and more numerous individual layers.

What does pork jowl taste like?

Pork jowl tastes similar to bacon but has a smoother texture. It is an affordable cut of meat that is often found wrapped in food film at the pork section of the meat case. When cooked, it adds a delicious and rich flavor to dishes like beans, peas, and greens.

What’s another name for pork jowl?

Another name for pork jowl is guanciale, which is an Italian cured meat product made from the cheeks or jowls of a pig. The term guanciale comes from the Italian word “guancia,” meaning ‘cheek’.

Is jowl bacon better than regular bacon?

Jowl bacon is not necessarily better than regular bacon, but it does offer a unique and distinct flavor profile. Being the fattiest among bacons, it has a rich and slightly smoky/sweet taste that sets it apart from traditional pork belly bacon. While it can be enjoyed cooked as is, I personally prefer using jowl bacon in cooking, much like bacon ends.

How do you eat a jowl?

To eat a jowl, start by slicing a whole pork jowl into ½-inch thick slices using a sharp knife. Once sliced, arrange the jowl slices accordingly. After cooking, let the crispy pork jowl cool for approximately 5 minutes. Finally, serve the pork jowls alongside beans, black-eyed peas, and collard greens for a delicious meal.

Does pork jowl have bones?

Pork jowl does have bones. It is a square-shaped cut from the neck (jowl) area that is cured and smoked. It contains an arm bone, a portion of the blade bone, and a variety of muscles.

Can you eat pork jowl skin?

When it comes to pork jowl, the skin or rind is usually still attached. If you prefer, you can choose to leave it on while consuming. However, it is important to note that cutting through the skin may require a sharp knife.

What is salami like meat from pork jowl?

The salami-like meat from pork jowl is called guanciale. It is a triangular cured meat with one or two streaks of lean meat, derived from a pig’s jowl. Unlike pancetta, which is obtained from the pig’s belly, guanciale is aged for at least 3 months after being lightly salted and covered with ground black pepper.

What is Italian pork jowl called?

Italian pork jowl is called Guanciale, which refers to cured unsmoked pig jowls or cheeks. The term Guanciale originates from the Italian word guancia, which means “cheek”. This traditional ingredient hails from the Umbria and Lazio regions in Central Italy and is commonly used in dishes like pasta all’amatriciana and spaghetti alla carbonara.

Are pork jowls like bacon?

Pork jowls are similar to bacon in terms of appearance, texture, and taste. They closely resemble belly bacon, with the main distinctions being a slightly higher ratio of meat to fat compared to traditional back bacon and the presence of a skin rind around the outer layer, similar to pork belly.

Is pork jowl expensive?

Pork jowl is not typically expensive. This cut of meat, derived from the cheek of a hog, has a flavor similar to bacon but is thicker and more affordable.

What is a substitute for hog jowl?

A substitute for hog jowl includes American bacon (also known as streaky bacon), bacon fat, lard, Guanciale, and pancetta.

Is pork jowl mostly fat?

Pork jowl is not mostly fat, unlike the cured products such as Hog Jowl Bacon in North America and Guanciale in Italy. These cured products use the entire thickness of the jowl, which consists mostly of fat.

Is pork jowl meat good?

Pork jowl meat is delicious and versatile, whether it is cured for guanciale or deep-fried for pastas. It is a rich and fatty cut from the chin of the pig, known for its meaty and marbled texture. When cooked, it becomes crispy, dense, and incredibly tasty, making it a delightful treat.

What is another name for hog jowl?

Another name for hog jowl is guanciale in Italy and jowl bacon in Southern American regions. Pork jowl can be cured, smoked, braised, seared, or slow-cooked, similar to bacon or pork belly.

How do you eat smoked hog jowl?

You can eat smoked hog jowl by cutting the bacon into pieces, frying them until crispy, and then removing a few pieces to eat. The remaining jowl bacon can be used as a flavorful fat for cooking dishes like beans, greens, or anything in the cabbage family. Simply cook the dish as you normally would after removing the crispy bacon pieces.

Is pork jowl salty?

The pork jowl is salty and flavorful, as it is a beautifully marbled salt-cured cut of meat done in the old world prosciutto style. It is commonly used to add flavor to dishes like greens, peas, and beans.

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