15 Juicy Pork Shoulder Taco or Stew Substitute

The soft enchantment of tacos, stews, and slow-cooked pork comes from the melt-in-your-mouth hog shoulder. Pigs’ shoulders do not tremble, but they do spread out and sit over their front leg.

The hog shoulder region is famous for its meaty and rich texture that practically slides off the bone. It is available with or without the bone and contains less marbling and intramuscular fat than other portions. The bone adds taste, but the boneless version is simpler to cut. Depending on the recipe, pork shoulder may be purchased whole, diced, or ground.

Cooking time for pork shoulder is often longer, but the end product is amazing. Slow-cooked pork shoulder adds sweetness and tenderness to pulled pork, chili, and stew. Not all hog components are suitable substitutes, but here are 15 to consider:

  1. Pork Butt (Boston Butt)
  2. A Different Shoulder Cut
  3. Center Cut Pork Loin Roast
  4. Boneless Pork Leg
  5. Top Loin Roast
  6. Top Leg Ham
  7. Lamb Shoulder
  8. Beef Brisket
  9. Ribeye Steak

15 Best Substitute For Pork Shoulder

Pork Butt (Boston Butt)


We begin the list by revealing the number one replacement, pig butt. To be clear, this does not originate from the pig’s real behind. The pork butt, also known as Boston butt, comes from the same shoulder area as the pig shoulder, but a little higher up.

Because of its orientation, the pig butt looks equally rectangular with deep fat marbling. You may get it boneless or with the bone.

Because of its form and fat content, swine butt is an ideal option for slow-cooked stew, roasted, or braised pork. Because the composition of hog butt is similar to that of pork shoulder, you may accomplish the meat-falls-apart effect and satisfy your need for pulled pork.

A Different Shoulder Cut

The Boston butt teaches us that the pig’s shoulder may have several wounds. As a result, pork shoulder may be substituted for other lower shoulder cuts. When compared to the Boston butts marbling, other cuts may be thinner.

You have the option of getting a conventional shoulder cut, a butterflied picnic, or various smaller pieces. The smaller bits may be utilized in stews or roasting. Because they are from the same location, the tastes and textures will be similar. Only the cooking time depends on the size of your cut.

Center Cut Pork Loin Roast


We advance from the shoulder to a central cut that is basically in between the shoulder and the rear leg. The center cut pig loin roast, or pork roast for short, is a cheap and lean cut of pork.

It’s common at butcher shops and may be purchased without the bone. When the bone is removed, the fat typically follows, leaving a lean slice of pig that is ideal for carving.

See also  Can You Freeze Potato Salad? You Won’t Believe The Answer

Seasoning gives flavor to pork roast, which may be grilled or roasted. Pork roast may be used in lieu of pork shoulder for pork steaks or roasting. However, since it has less fat and muscle, it cooks quicker and cannot provide the soft pulled pork impression.

Boneless Pork Leg

We proceed to the boneless pork leg. Because the joint is greater in size, it takes significantly longer to cook. Because the pig actively uses this region, it contains a lot of muscle and joints (therefore the slimmer cut).

When cooked or roasted for an extended period of time, boneless pork may give the expected rich taste and softness. Using a spice or marinade while cooking can help maintain the moisture in the leg. The boneless pig leg is another acceptable option for hog shoulder in anything from stews to pork roast. It’s also a little pricey, so keep that in mind if money is an issue.

Top Loin Roast

This log-shaped chunk has a lot of promise as a pork shoulder substitute. Top loin roast is made with the whole pig loin plus a distinct section of the shoulder. It is a leaner shoulder cut that roasts well.

Because of its log form, it is ideal for steaks and roasts, but it may also be stewed or crushed into ground pork. Another culinary asset that creates texture contrast is the skin.

A high temperature will result in crisp skin, whilst a prolonged cooking period will result in very soft meat. The lean cut will not be an issue since you can boost the moisture with additional fats and marinades to bring out the soft meat.

Top Leg Ham

To describe the upper leg, some pig anatomy is required. Leg refers to the pig’s rear legs, whereas shoulder refers to the pig’s front legs. Because of its closeness to the shoulder, top leg ham is an ideal substitute for pork shoulder. It’s also the preferred cut for smoked ham.

If you want to be more particular, pick the inner top leg that is closest to the rear. This component is flawless in terms of producing that ultra-soft feel.

A good tip for cooking top leg ham, whether with or without the bone, is to check it regularly since it likes to dry up. A lower fat level results in drier meat, but if cooked lovingly, top leg ham may also produce pulled pork. Preparing a sauce to accompany this will preserve the taste and moisture.

See also  15 Best Escarole Substitute For Soup Or Healthy Salads

Lamb (or Beef) Shoulder

Pork slices aren’t the only options for replacing pork shoulder. Non-pork alternatives such as beef or lamb shoulder provide more options for folks who do not consume pig.

Lamb shoulder has a comparable cut and certain features to pork shoulder, making it an excellent replacement. Lamb contains less fat, but it may be increased using cream and butter.

What distinguishes lamb shoulder is its gamey taste. We describe the sweet and crisp grass-fed lamb taste as gamey. It’s an acquired taste, but it’s unquestionably delicious.

Beef Brisket

Another option to pig shoulder is beef shoulder or beef brisket, however many people prefer lamb shoulder for its distinct taste.

Beef brisket isn’t all that bland; it simply has an unclear taste. The beauty of beef is that it absorbs the flavor of marinades and spices, so you can imitate the flavor of a pork shoulder meal if you get inventive.

You can undoubtedly understand that a beef shoulder is considerably bigger than a pig shoulder, therefore use smaller slices to meet the soft and juicy meat requirements of your recipe.

Beef brisket is also noted for its tough flesh. Slow roasting softens the flesh and yields the renowned brisket shreds. It tastes like pulled meat!

Beef brisket may also be prepared in the same manner as pig shoulder, including ground meat, blades, and steaks.

Ribeye Steak


Ribeye steak is a fan favorite on its own. If we’re talking about taste, it’s a fantastic substitute for pork shoulder.

Ribeye steak has a thick covering of fat. When cooked with the meat, the fat imparts a fragrant and buttery flavor. When you combine that fat taste with the sweet meat, you have a sure-fire beef winner.

You may also prepare your ribeye steak in a variety of methods, including grilling, roasting, or baking. When preparing the meat, preserve the bone because it adds taste and keeps the meat juicy.

Loin Steak

The loin steak, also known as sirloin and porterhouse, is another example of beef on this list. This meat is both lean and tender. The line of fat that maintains the steak melt-in-your-mouth rich while being grilled, fried, or baked is the trick to keeping it moist and chewy.

Depending on your recipe, you may determine the thickness of the loin steak slices. This modification allows you to substitute loin steak for hog shoulder. Keeping the steak thin and with a fatty layer allows you to replicate the taste and softness of pork shoulder.

Quick tip:

Cooks love to sauté the steak in butter to enhance the aromatic and fatty taste (as if the meat wasn’t already mouthwatering).

Pork Escalopes

Pork escalopes make the list because they are a lean pork shoulder replacement for individuals who prefer a leaner cut of pork. Pork escalopes are thin and delicate slices of pounded pork. They’re thin but not mean, thanks to their quicker cooking time.

See also  13 Fantastic Kombu Substitute For Your Favorite Soup

Breadcrumbs and creamy sauces may be used to enhance the thin slices of pork escalopes. They are excellent and would be ideal for anyone on a diet or looking to reduce their fat consumption.

Quick tip:

Marinate your pork escalopes to retain the meat’s taste and moisture.

Beef Stew Meat

Beef stew meat or cut may be used in place of pork shoulder in your stew recipe. The beef stew cut is cubed and ready to cook. To tenderize and flavor the meat, the cooking time may be extended.

Using beef stew meat with zesty herbs and spices may achieve the same powerful taste and unique flavor of pork shoulder. You may also make it tender and chewy.

Ground beef


Ground pork is one of the uses for pig shoulder, thus it stands to reason that ground beef may also be used in place of pork shoulder.

Cooking and seasoning ground beef results in softer flesh and a delicious combination. Because ground pork and beef have the same texture, it is up to the recipe to give them the same flavor as chopped meat.

Ham Hocks

Aside from the tendons and fat, ham hocks are also known as pig knuckles and contain a minor quantity of meat. It would be an eerie substitute for pork shoulder but a fantastic pork taste enhancer.

Ham hocks have a rich, smokey taste that complements soups and sauces. While it cannot be roasted or grilled and eaten like a pork shoulder, it may be used as a great flavor source or stock for pork shoulder replacements that taste pale or sad.

Chicken Thighs

Finally, for those who want a non-red meat option, we have chicken thighs on the list. When you evaluate the texture and stringiness of chicken thigh, you understand that it might be a healthier meat option for pulled pig.

Thighs of chicken are inherently soft and simple to shred. They may taste odd, but nothing a dash of pepper can’t solve. They’re also easier to make, more readily accessible, and tasty on their own.


What is a good substitute for pork shoulder in tacos?

Ham Top Leg

Pig’s leg meat is also available in a variety of cuts. The inner upper leg is the greatest alternative for practically all pork shoulder. It’s remarkably similar to the pig’s back and has a comparable structure. It is also available with or without bone.

What can I use instead of pork shoulder for carnitas?

Pork butt may be used in any dish that calls for fall-apart soft flesh and a rich, porky taste, such as pulled pork, carnitas, or stew. Pork butt may also be grilled, ground, or cooked into sausages.

What is the beef version of pork shoulder?

Chuck roast is often regarded as the finest cut for making pulled beef. Chuck roasts, like the front shoulder of pork (or the pig “butt”), are high in fat, collagen, and marbling since they come from the front shoulder of the cow. This is what we’ll need to prepare tender, juicy pulled beef.

What is pork shoulder best for?

It’s a flexible and cost-effective cut that lends itself well to roasting, braising, stewing, and slow cooking. Low, wet heat renders the flesh so delicate and luscious that it literally falls away from the bone and melts in the tongue. Pork shoulder is a popular choice for pulled pork in the United States.

What is the best substitute for pork shoulder?

The 5 Best Pork Shoulder Substitutes
1 – Roasted beef chuck.
Lamb Shoulder No. 2.
3 – Chicken thighs.
(4) Pork Butt.
5 – Boneless pork leg.

What is pork shoulder similar to?

pig butt and pig shoulder are commonly mistaken and mislabeled meat parts. Both originate from the pig’s shoulder, however pork butt is higher on the foreleg while pork shoulder is lower.

What is pork shoulder called in grocery store?

The whole front leg and shoulder of a hog is made up of pork shoulder. If you go to your local grocery store, you may expect to see pork shoulder separated into two slices. These are the pig butt and pork shoulder, often known as the “Boston roast” and “picnic roast.”

Can I use pork loin instead of pork shoulder for carnitas?

Because of the fat content, most people utilize pork shoulder to prepare carnitas. pig loin is substantially leaner than pig shoulder since it originates from the side of the rib. I like roasting pork loin, but I prefer it for carnitas since it has a meatier texture.

Can you use pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder for carnitas?


Pork tenderloin – Pork shoulder or butt may also be used. I used tenderloin to keep the fat content minimal. Orange – The fresh, sweet juices provide fantastic taste to the carnitas while also crisping them up! Lime – To provide complexity and sharpness to the taste.

What is a good substitute for beef shoulder?

A sirloin tip or top-sirloin roast would be a more cost-effective substitute. Because they are leaner than chuck, a generous coating of oil before roasting may help keep the meat delicious.

Rate this post