From savoury sausages and succulent spare ribs to seasonal hog roasts and honey-glazed hams, the humble hog can handle it all. 

Pork stands as the ultimate choice for carnivores, omnivores, and flexitarians alike, making it a versatile delight that caters to every palate and suits every season.

But if you can’t tell your chops from your tenderloin, don't worry — we've got you covered.

In this helpful guide, we break down the very best cuts of pork, so you'll know exactly what to pick up at the deli counter. Let’s jump in.

Pork Belly

Pork belly is a boneless cut from the underside of a pig. It's a fatty and well-marbled cut — a mighty combination of meat and fat that makes it an absolute flavour bomb.

Pork belly has a magical fusion of super-tender meat and crispy, crunchy skin. The high fat content gives it a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth quality.

How to cook
Slow-roasting pork belly makes the meat tender and the skin crispy. Perfection.

Iconic dishes
Pork belly finds its way into many beloved dishes worldwide. It stars as slices of streaky bacon for breakfast, sizzles in Asian favourites like Korean BBQ, and enriches Italian cuisine as pancetta.

Pork belly is a firm favourite among chefs and foodies for its versatility and delicious taste. Pair a free-range cut of pork with roast potatoes, root veggies, and apple sauce for a winning meal.

Pork Loin

Pork loin is a versatile cut of meat that comes from the back of the pig, specifically from the area just below the backbone and above the ribs. It’s a long and relatively slender cut that runs along both sides of the spine, and is normally boneless.

Pork loin is cherished for its tender and lean meat. Its texture is relatively fine-grained with minimal marbling, which makes it less fatty compared to cuts like pork belly or shoulder. It's got a mild taste and is known for staying juicy if you roast it just right.

How to cook
Best popped in the oven, seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, and thyme, and allowed to slowly roast.

Iconic dishes 
It shines as a main for special occasions, transforms into chops for quick dinners, becomes medallions with savoury sauces, and can even serve as a substitute for beef in a Wellington.

Pork loin is one of the leanest cuts of pork, making it a healthy choice for those looking to reduce their fat intake. It’s also a good source of protein and B vitamins.

Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder is a flavourful cut of meat that comes from the upper front leg and shoulder region of the pig. Oddly enough, it's sometimes called pork butt or Boston butt, even though it's not from the animal's backside. The name might come from the barrels they used to pack this cut back in the day.

Pork shoulder is renowned for its rich marbling that helps keep the meat moist and flavourful during cooking. If you braise it perfectly, it turns super tender with a slightly grainy texture. Think melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

How to cook
Pork shoulder loves slow and low braising. We recommend giving it a good sear for some flavour, then letting it bathe in broth in a covered pot for several hours until it becomes fork-tender.

Iconic dishes
Pork shoulder is an adaptable cut used globally. It is used to create pulled pork for sandwiches and tacos, adds richness to stews and curries, and is also used to create fiery ‘nduja for pizza and pasta, and carnitas (the Mexican answer to American pulled pork) for burritos.

Our 100% free-range pork shoulder, deboned and rolled by hand, is perfect for slow cooking. Serve with crusty bread or dinner rolls to soak up the delicious braising sauce. 

Pork Fillet

Pork fillet, also called pork tenderloin, is a long, lean cut of pork that comes from the pig's loin area. It’s from the back of the animal, running parallel to the spine, and is found beneath the ribs and above the pork loin.

Pork fillet is the porcine version of a juicy steak. It's tender and not too fatty. The meat is pale and has a smooth texture. When cooked to perfection, it's like cutting through butter — super soft and not chewy at all.

How to cook
Due to its low fat content, pork fillet can become dry if overcooked, so pan-searing is ideal to maintain its tenderness.

Iconic dishes
Pork fillet finds its place in many culinary creations. It's sliced into strips for meals like pork medallions in mushroom sauce, threaded onto skewers for kebabs, and wrapped in bacon or prosciutto for an extra layer of magic.

Don’t confuse pork fillet with pork loin, which is a larger and wider cut of meat. Pork loin is often used for roasts, while fillet is smaller and more tender, suitable for quicker cooking methods.

Pork Rib Chop

You guessed it! Pork rib chops are cut from the ribcage area of the animal, specifically from the loin section. This cut often includes a portion of the rib bone, which adds flavour and helps keep the meat nice and juicy during cooking.

Pork rib chops have just the right amount of fat marbling throughout the meat, keeping them moist when cooked. The meat itself is lean, pale pink, and has a fine grain.

How to cook
Pork rib chops can be made in different ways, but the key is not to overdo it. We recommend seasoning the chops with some salt, pepper, and your favourite spices. Heat up a pan or grill to medium-high, throw in the chops, and sear them for about 3-4 minutes per side.

Iconic dishes
Pork rib chops are culinary chameleons. Grill, fry, or stuff them with herbs, cheese, or apples. In Latin America, they sizzle on the grill with chimichurri.

Some heritage pig breeds, such as Berkshire and Duroc, are known for producing exceptionally flavourful and well-marbled rib chops. These breeds are beloved by chefs and food enthusiasts for their unique tastes.

Pork Chump Chop

The pork chump chop is taken from the loin of the pig, which is a long, tender strip of meat that runs along the back. It's found closer to the hip, towards the rear end of the pig. This cut typically includes a portion of the spine and the surrounding meat.

Pork chump chops are considered one of the more tender cuts of pork due to their location on the loin. The texture is fine-grained, and the consistency is usually moist and juicy.

How to cook
This cut can be prepared using various methods, but the key is not to overcook it to maintain its tenderness and juiciness. We love to slap a few on a grill until they're cooked through but still succulent.

Iconic dishes
Pork chops are incredibly versatile, lending themselves to a range of dinners. Enjoy classic pan-fried pork chops with veggies or go crispy with breaded chops. Finely slice for stir-fries, or try Austrian-style pork schnitzel — thin and fried to perfection.

Tuscan Merlot is a versatile red wine that pairs wonderfully with pork chump chop. Its soft red fruit notes (like plum and blackberry) complement the meat's richness without overwhelming it. 

Pork Leg

The pork leg, also known as ham, comes from the hind leg of the pig. This portion of the pig is relatively large and consists of several different muscles, each with its own special characteristics.

In its raw form, ham is a firm and lean cut of pork, with a low fat content compared to other cuts of pork. The meat can be somewhat fibrous, especially closer to the bone.

How to cook
Pork leg can be smoked for a distinctive palate, often used to create smoked ham. Additionally, curing with salt and spices results in aged hams like prosciutto and serrano, further enriching their flavour and texture through extended hanging.

Iconic dishes
Ham shines in various forms — roasted, smoked, or cured — making it ideal for festive feasts or sandwiches.

Jamón ibérico, also referred to as Iberian ham, is a highly prized type of cured ham that originates from Spain. These posh piggies roam oak groves, known as dehesas, where they forage for acorns, herbs, and other natural treasures.

Pork Cheek

Pork cheek is a tasty cut that comes from the pig's cheek area, right below the eyes.

Pork cheek is fairly fatty, marbled with layers of fat that give it a tender and succulent quality. It's not as lean as some other cuts, which contributes to its rich and moist texture.

How to cook
The best way to prepare pork cheek is slow-cooking or braising. This method helps break down the connective tissues and render the fat, resulting in incredibly mild, melt-on-your-tongue meat.

Iconic dishes
Also known as guanciale in Italian, pork cheek is a key ingredient in meals like carbonara and amatriciana. Across the pond, it goes by the name jowl bacon and makes appearances in soul food recipes.

Like other cuts of pork, pork cheeks are a good source of protein and essential nutrients like vitamin B12, zinc, and iron. However, due to their higher fat content, they are also calorie-dense.

Pork Liver

Pork liver comes from the pig's belly area, not too far from its ribs. It’s part of the animal’s digestive system and plays a crucial role in filtering toxins from the blood.

Pork liver has a unique appearance compared to other cuts of meat. It’s dark reddish-brown in colour and has a smooth, almost-reflective surface.

How to cook
Slicing the liver thinly and quickly pan-frying it with onions and garlic is a popular technique. It should be fried over high heat for a short time to maintain its tenderness and prevent it from becoming tough and overcooked.

Iconic dishes
Pork liver finds its way into a diverse array of cuisines, including German liverwurst sausages, plus Asian stir-fries, soups, and hot pots. Plus, Italy's fegato alla Veneziana and Spain's hígado encebollado both showcase pork liver.

Pork liver has a distinctive taste that is often described as earthy and slightly sweet. Its palate can be quite strong, which makes it a popular choice for those who enjoy the robust taste of organ meats. 

Pork Crackling

Pork crackling comes from the pig's skin, particularly the fat and skin layer covering the meat. It's usually found on pork cuts like pork belly or pork loin that still have the skin attached. When cooked, this skin transforms into the crispy, crunchy treat we know and love.

Pork crackling has a distinctive texture and consistency. When properly baked, it becomes crunchy, and airy, with a satisfying snap when bitten into.

Best method for cooking
There’s an art to making perfect crunchy crackling. You have to score or cut the pork skin, sprinkle it with salt and let it dry out. Then, roast it in a hot oven until it puffs up and becomes crispy

Iconic dishes
People often munch on crackling as a snack — just like chips. It's also used to add some oomph to other meals. You can sprinkle it on salads, soups, or even sandwiches for a gourmet garnish.

Different regions and cuisines have their own variations of pork crackling. For example, in the US, it’s commonly referred to as pork rinds and is available in various flavours, from salt and pepper to smoky jalapeño.
And that wraps up our journey through the different cuts of pork. Whether you're a seasoned chef or just a curious foodie, pork offers something to satisfy every craving. 

If you're all about supporting ethical, free-range produce, Deli Society’s cuts of pork are the way to go. Our happy hogs are raised outdoors, allowing them to farrow and live their best lives al fresco. Discover our selection of free-range pork here

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