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What Is It Wednesday {Hog Jowls}

Most of you knew that last week’s What Is It Wednesday was some sort of pork. Many of you guesses backfat, some of you guessed pork belly, and a few said salt pork, but those of you that guessed jowls were right. They were hog jowls.

Jowls are the cheek/jaw area of the hog. They are cured and cut similar to bacon and in some areas they are known as jowl bacon, but they are not bacon.

Jowls are not actually new to my family, we have been eating them for a while, in fact my in-laws have been eating them for years. For this Oregon raised girl though jowls are a pretty new food and one I had never heard of until moving to Oklahoma, so I thought they would make a good post for What Is It Wednesday.

My whole family loves jowls, except me.

My son and husband like them better than bacon. My son thinks that a hog should have more, or larger jowls, just so that we have more of them to eat. Since we raise hogs, we only get so many jowls a year and according to my son it is not enough.

But here is where I will admit that I do not like jowls. I dislike them so much that I do not even like to cook them. They may look a lot like bacon, but that is where their similarities end as far as I am concerned. They are fatty and gristly, so the texture is odd. And although cured and smoked like bacon, they do not taste like bacon.

Yes, I know many people consider them a treat, especially in the south, but for me they are just odd both in texture and taste.

It has not mattered how I cooked or ate them, I have not liked them. My in-laws first served me jowls about 15 years ago and I do not like them any better today than I did then. Once again this Northwestern raised girl, has not adapted to a Southern loved food.

My thought is that some parts of the hog just should not be eaten. Or at least grind it into sausage so I can’t tell what I am eating. 🙂

But now that so many of you talked about backfat and pork belly in the comments last week, I might have to try them sometime, maybe I would like them better than jowls……..

What are your thoughts on jowls? And you are free to disagree with me and express your love of jowls. 🙂

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. I have not eaten them before. But I work in the pork and beef business and I know that the jowls are somewhat popular for our sales department. I’m just not sure I would like them.
    Have you had pork cutlets? I think in the stores they go under Pork Temples or something like that. I fry them up and they are soooo good. A total comfort food.

  2. I was raised and live in Oklahoma and have never tried them. Do just don’t look appealing.

  3. They are good to cook with, like in bean soup or field peas. But to eat them as the meat portion of a meal, no thanks!

  4. This is a perfectly timed post. We bought our first pig this year, and going through everything, we have 3 packages of hog jowls. No one in my family has ever eaten them before and I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I thought they were put in there by mistake.

  5. I’m from Minnesota and am not a big fan of Southern food. I’ve never tried hog jowls, but they sound unappetizing to me.

  6. Look up any italian recipe that uses “guanciale.” This is the cured version of hog jowls, which are usually just smoked in the States. There are also lots of good recipes for pasta (bucatini usually, but spaghetti is ok too) all’amatriciana, which is hog jowls, tomatoes, onions, red pepper flakes… pretty basic, but a real winner! Basically the hog jowl should always be used more for its flavor and its fat than as an ingredient on its own… though the little bits of it in pasta or beans or peas or whatever are like little delightful porky surprises, esp. if they’re crisped up first.

    • I will have to try them in recipes like that. In the south many people just eat them like bacon, but you are right, they would probably work much better if used mainly for the flavor. Thanks for the information.

  7. Jowl bacon is much better that belly bacon. For those of you who have traveled overseas and had bacon for breakfast it’s 90% chance it was jowl and not belly bacon.

  8. I lived in Michigan until I graduated from high school. It wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina that I encountered hog jowls. My husband’s grandma makes them every New Year’s Day. I think they taste similar to bacon, but bacon is much better. I do not enjoy the toughness and sometimes grisliness of the jowl, but I can deal with them one day a year. I just try not to think about what I’m eating. Haha!

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