Pork Rind: The Most Common Questions Answered
Pork rinds are by no means a new culinary invention, but the resurgence of this food in recent years has definitely raised some questions. What exactly are pork rinds, where did they originate, and why are we just hearing about them now?
Just like weather and fashion, food trends go in cycles, and pork rinds were long overdue for a comeback. If you’ve ever tried them yourself, you’ll know how delicious they are!
But there are more factors at play this time around, and now some people consider pork rinds to be a healthy snack that can help us achieve fitness goals like weight loss and muscle gain. Is it even possible that a traditionally “unhealthy” snack can make a 180-degree turn like that?
We’re dedicating this article to the modern mystery of the pork rind, hoping to reveal some of its secrets and explain why the food is currently more popular than ever before. We’ll even offer some plant-based, gluten-free alternatives you’ll learn to love. Here we go!
Pork Rind Definition and Varieties
Whether you’ve been enjoying pork rinds for a while or you’re new to the concept, you may want to know a bit more. It’s a straightforward idea – bite-sized pieces of pig skin that are prepared to deliver a perfect combo of flavor and crunch.
You’ll see a ton of different pork rind options when you stroll through the store, but they’re all made in pretty much the same way. Pork skin is simmered in boiling water to remove all impurities and smooth out the texture, then divided up into individual “pellets.”
After the pellets are chilled and the fat solidifies on the surface, excess fat is removed and tossed so that the skin-to-fat ratio is perfect for cooking. The pellets are slow-baked in an oven for up to eight hours, ensuring that all moisture is removed.
From there, the frying process begins, typically with peanut or vegetable oil. The high heat and lack of moisture within the pellets cause them to expand and crackle with that signature puff. The rinds can grow to several times their original size during this step, just like popcorn.
Finally, the freshly-fried rinds are hit with some salt and seasoning while they’re still hot. This is where you get your favorite flavors, such as tangy barbeque, spicy chili, and white cheddar cheese. Sometimes, regular old sea salt is all you need for a tasty pork rind snack.
Like any snack food, you can find pork rinds with different degrees of processing and natural ingredients. Some companies build reputations for using the highest quality pork and minimal additives, while others aim to give you the best bang for your buck with huge bags of rinds that may have some unwanted extras.
You’ll also see some variations on the classic pork rind recipe since every culture does things a bit differently. Cracklins, for example, contain a bit of extra fat on the pellet, delivering some chew to contrast the crunch of the pork rind. Some say that there’s more flavor to be found in the fat, and it’s an overall more satiating snack experience.
Fatbacks are another variant of the same idea, this time with even more fat left on the pellets. These are harder to find in stores since they taste best fresh out of the fryer. Keep an eye open at your local barbeque restaurant to try them yourself.
Best Pork Rind Recipes
Just picked up a few bags of pork rinds and ready to get snacking? You can rip open the bag and dig in – that’s the most popular way to eat these crunchy, salty morsels of goodness. Pork rinds taste great on their own, or you can dip them in a variety of sauces and condiments for more flavor and a contrast in texture.
Chunky salsa offers a spicy mix of fresh veggie and fruit flavors, while guacamole cools things down with creamy avocado, garlic, and lemon juice. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, you can unload a jar of melty queso dip that coats the crunchy rinds with cheesy flavor.
Let’s say you’re in the mood for something healthier – hummus is a great alternative made from chickpeas and tahini. Strained yogurt makes for a light and bright condiment that works great with pork rinds, as well.
The classic chip-and-dip combo never fails. But if you have a culinary streak and want to use pork rinds as an ingredient for bigger, better dishes, they have a surprising amount of versatility in the kitchen.
Sometimes you need a crunchy topping to sprinkle on salads or coat the top of a casserole before it goes into the over. Just smash a small bag of pork rinds on the counter, and you’ve got the perfect garnish for any dish in your repertoire.
Grind those rinds down a bit more, and you’ve got a reliable breading that works on old-school favorites like mozzarella sticks, onion rings, or chicken fingers. The salty, fatty exterior works great, and you don’t need a single carb.
Pork rinds are right at home in soups of all kinds, absorbing broth or cream-based liquid and offering an occasional crunchy interlude as you sip. The soup can be hot or cold, spicy or mild – there is a pork rind that fits the bill.
A bag of plain pork rinds can also be transformed into a unique breakfast with some sprinkled cinnamon and sugar. Don’t knock it before you try it! This snack will remind you of a tasty bowl of cereal and give you some quality energy for your day.
Pork Rind Health and Nutrition
You might have encountered pork rinds in the wild (at the grocery store) and glanced at the nutrition label only to be put off. Pork rinds tend to be high in fat – a red flag for many.
However, pork rinds offer the exact preferred nutritional profile for many modern dieters, particularly those who follow the Keto, Paleo, or Low-Carb lifestyle.
That’s right, the majority of pork rind products have absolutely no carbs in the entire bag, plus a healthy portion of protein to accompany the fat. Compare the macronutrients of pork rinds to your typical bag of chips or cheese puffs, and you’ll see what all the hype is about.
It all started when the health and fitness community started to change their tune about fat. If you remember, fat was the enemy back in the day, and low-fat snacks were all the rage. It makes sense to most people that fat makes you fat, right? Recent research says otherwise, as long as you choose the right types of healthy fat found in many pork rinds.
Not only does this type of fat give us a big boost of lasting energy, but it also makes us feel full for a long time, which is always appreciated when trying to lose weight and combat cravings. The reason you feel hungry immediately after a bag of pretzels is those quick-burning carbs.
We won’t get into the details of the Keto diet here, but if you’re wondering why pork rinds are now being billed as a health food, that’s the reason why. The process of ketosis causes the body to run mainly on fat, meaning pork rinds are one of the best keto snacks available.
Finally, you’ve got to give some props to protein, the nutrient that helps us build muscle and keeps our metabolism running hot. Very few snacks have any protein content to write home about, so pork rinds are definitely out of the ordinary – in a good way.
You may be convinced that pork rinds are the ultimate snack for your next low-carb mission, but be warned that this food does come with some downsides. For starters, there’s quite a bit of sodium in a bag of pork rinds, sometimes well over our daily value.
Many pork rind products are also unimpressive in terms of extra vitamins and minerals, meaning you can’t rely on them for complete nutrition. Finally, there’s the vegetarian and vegan dilemma. Pork rinds are obviously from pigs, which is a no-no for many modern eaters.
As fans of pork rinds ourselves, we wanted to create a product that brought these glorious crunchy textures and savory flavors to the masses, no matter their dietary restrictions. After a lot of hard work and dedication, we made our dream come true with Pig Out Pigless Pork Rinds.
Made from 100% plant-based ingredients, these snacks are free of animal products but don’t fall short on flavor. Plus, you get 25g of protein in each bag, with way less fat and salt. Our rinds are also gluten-free and dairy-free, so virtually anyone can enjoy them.
You can buy our Pigless Pork Rinds online or find a store near you to pick them up in person.
Pork rinds rule, but they’re not for everyone. We made it our mission to bring plant-based pork rind snacks to the world and provide health and flavor for all!