21 Palate-Pleasing Pork Recipes For Every Occasion

Chicken may get the most play at mealtime in your home, but according to the United States Department of Agriculture, pork is the most commonly consumed meat globally, beating out the birds by 3%. Even if you are a fan of all things pork, chances are good you've fallen into the familiar rut of chops, ground pork, and tenderloin — with maybe the occasional change in spices and sauces.

Don't let it happen to you. Pork is versatile and nutritious, with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and protein. It's most commonly available as cured products, but it's possible to get uncured pork with limited additives. As with all animal products, moderation is key, and leaner cuts will be more heart-healthy.

When you're ready to shake up your pork-based meals, here are 21 recipes to get you started. They range in complexity and flavor, with something for every meal. The gamut of cuts is represented here, too, with bacon, roasts, and ham showing up for dinner.

Barbecued Pork Belly

The beauty of this recipe is that much of it is hands-off; pork belly is cooked low and slow to tenderize it, and then a quick sear caramelizes the sweet glaze into a crispy, chewy, crackly crust. There's no store-bought sauce here, either. Plenty of brown sugar and dry mustard provide the sharp sweetness that barbecue fans love.

Plan ahead here — the pork belly should be dry-brined for at least 12 hours (overnight is perfect), and cook time can take a few hours to reach that fall-apart tenderness that is the barbecue gold standard. Save any leftovers for quick pork sandwiches.

Recipe: Barbecued Pork Belly

1-Skillet French Onion Pork Chops

Comfort and convenience are the hallmarks of this pork dish. Bone-in pork chops bring tons of flavor, and copious caramelization of the onions means the final product is deeply satisfying. Even better? It's made from start to finish in one cast iron pan, which means clean-up is a breeze.

Finish the dish with tons of melted Gruyère cheese to bring the French onion soup nod home. If Gruyère is in short supply, Swiss makes a good substitution. Top the chops with plenty of onions, and serve with a rib-sticking mash and lightly steamed carrots or broccoli rabe.

Recipe: 1-Skillet French Onion Pork Chops

Spiedini Di Maiale (Italian Pork Skewers)

Italian street food is some of the tastiest around, and these pork skewers are a great example of how delicious simple food can be. When the weather is so hot that turning on the oven seems an exercise in torture, fire up the grill and thread chunks of marinated pork and onions onto bamboo skewers. In a pinch (or on a cooler day), your stove's broiler works just as well.

Finished the pork with a bright, lemony gremolata. This distinctly Italian condiment lightens up the skewers with a touch of acid and herbaceous chopped parsley. A pinch of red pepper keeps things interesting, but it's just as delicious without it.

Recipe: Spiedini Di Maiale (Italian Pork Skewers)

Stuffed Pumpkin With Aromatic Rice

If you've only ever experienced pumpkins as festive Halloween décor, get ready to have a new experience with these hardy fall and winter squashes. Select a medium pumpkin that's designed to be eaten — sugar pumpkins and pie pumpkins are flavorful choices. As rice cooks to fluffy perfection, ground pork is cooked with herbs and aromatics before both are combined and stuffed into a hollowed-out pumpkin. 

The secret ingredient here is coconut milk and ginger, both of which lift the pork and add richness to the dish. An hour's roasting time fills your home with mouth-watering fragrance, perfect for a chilly weekend dinner.

Recipe: Stuffed Pumpkin With Aromatic Rice

Melty Cuban Sandwich

If you're looking for a sandwich with slices of juicy roasted pork, crunchy pickles, and luscious melted Swiss cheese piled high atop crusty bread and grilled to perfection, look no further. A Cuban sandwich (more commonly referred to as a Cubano) highlights everything brilliant about pork.

While it is possible to swap in deli ham, do yourself a favor and use roast pork. It's a great way to use leftover pork tenderloin, and the sandwich is infinitely better when the true flavor of pork shines through (instead of the additional ingredients often found in lunchmeat). Yellow mustard is the traditional condiment, but if you like things on the spicy side, feel free to swap in Dijon or another rustic mustard.

Recipe: Melty Cuban Sandwich

Meatball Marinara-Ish Stuffed Zucchini Boats

When harvest season finds you with excessive amounts of zucchini and a family that's tired of the typical preparations, slice those veggies into boats and stuff them with Italian-inspired flavors. Using ground pork for the meatballs instead of just beef provides a tender juiciness and flavor that's highlighted by the mild flesh of the zucchini. Marinara sauce and melted cheese round out the dish and make it filling and satisfying.

A standout ingredient in these crushable meatballs is sundried tomatoes. They add a tart-sweet flavor that springs into action in the oven. The result is a dish that has more surprises and is more complex than a simple meatball/marinara combo.

Recipe: Meatball Marinara-Ish Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Pork and Pineapple Kebabs

You might balk at skewering the tenderest part of the pig onto a kebab and firing it on the grill, but don't sleep on these kebabs. Pork tenderloin is a delicate cut, tender and luscious, perfectly complemented by sweet pineapple and sharp onion. The honey glaze adds an extra note of flavor.

These can technically be cooked under the broiler on those days you want to sample the flavors of the tropics but bad weather ruins those plans. Make sure to cut the tenderloin into chunks that are of equal size so that everything cooks in the same amount of time.

Recipe: Pork and Pineapple Kebabs

Sweet and Savory Brie and Apple Butter Grilled Cheese

If you've never ventured beyond the boundaries of your standard American cheese and white bread grilled cheese sandwich, it's time to expand your culinary horizons. Brie and apple are a natural pair; add the spices in apple butter, chopped green apple, and small-diced ham, and you've entered an entirely new eating experience.

The prep time can be a little tedious, as apples and ham both need to be diced, but you can save some time by keeping the skin on the apple. The rind of Brie is also edible, so there's no need for any fussy trimming.

Recipe: Sweet and Savory Brie and Apple Butter Grilled Cheese

Classic Bacony Succotash

Succotash has a bad rap, but it's so much more than mushy canned lima beans and canned corn. Using fresh ingredients really elevates this humble southern dish, but one addition takes it even further: bacon. This classic recipe uses bacon to add more flavor and gives the veggie side of things a boost with fresh corn, cherry tomatoes, and even diced zucchini. It's the perfect use for a bountiful harvest and way more satisfying than you remember.

Struggling to slice kernels off a fresh ear of corn? Prop one end of the cob in the center of a Bundt pan and slice down the cob with your knife. The center column holds the cob steady, and the kernels are contained in the pan.

Recipe: Classic Bacony Succotash

Bacon-Cheddar Drop Biscuit

When is a biscuit more than just a biscuit? When it's a time-saving drop biscuit, and it's packed with bacon and cheddar cheese. There's no complicated folding or fussy cutting here; the mixing technique retains chunks of butter that create steam in the oven for a fluffy, flaky biscuit. Bacon is cooked in the oven before it's crumbled and added to biscuit dough along with shredded cheddar and chopped chives.

This recipe is perfect as-is, but if you like a little spicy flair, consider adding diced jalapeños to the biscuit dough. Balance out the flavor and serve these with a healthy slathering of apple butter.

Recipe: Bacon-Cheddar Drop Biscuit

Cajun-Style Corn Chowder

Corn chowder is velvety brilliance all on its own, but the addition of Cajun spice and the use of both bacon and andouille sausage kicks it up a notch. This recipe also uses both fresh kernels of corn shaved off the cob and the cob itself to make a thick, creamy broth. If fresh corn isn't in season, a can each of creamed corn and regular corn make a fine substitute. 

Along those same lines, creating your own Cajun seasoning blend lets you customize the final dish, but if that's not something you are interested in, a prepackaged Cajun spice blend works. Just be mindful of the level of salt in those blends and adjust your seasoning accordingly.

Recipe: Cajun-Style Corn Chowder

Hangtown Fry

The Hangtown Fry originated in California during the Gold Rush era when a local prospector was feeling flush and wanted a fancy meal. He headed towards the fanciest spot in Hangtown in search of a place to spend his money. Bacon and eggs were among the most expensive items on offer, but this hotel dining room went one further with the addition of oysters to the meal. 

This Hangtown Fry recipe tops creamy, soft-scrambled eggs with thick-cut bacon and buttermilk-brined fried oysters. Serve this up with toast, a wedge of lemon, and a hair of the dog if that's your situation.

Recipe: Hangtown Fry

Classic Croque Monsieur Sandwich

This is a fancy version of the humble grilled cheese, a beautiful sandwich that's made extraordinary with the addition of thinly sliced ham and a classic béchamel sauce. Béchamel is a rich cheese sauce that starts by cooking flour in an equal amount of fat before whisking in milk and cooking until the sauce begins to thicken. Cheese, nutmeg, and Dijon mustard are stirred in off the heat until the sauce is smooth and pourable.

These sandwiches are baked, not fried, and the end result is a rich, salty, creamy dish that's delicious any time of day. Serve with a simply dressed green salad to counteract the heaviness of the sauce and cheese, and the salty goodness of the ham.

Recipe: Classic Croque Monsieur Sandwich

Honey-Glazed Ham

It's a classic at the Christmas and Easter table: honey-glazed ham. The ham in this recipe — a 14-pound Virginia ham — is already fully cured, so the focus is on developing the flavor and texture of this sticky, sweet, and slightly spicy glaze.

The key to this preparation is slicing the outside of the ham properly so that the glaze can penetrate the outer layer. You'll score a diamond pattern about a half-inch deep across the surface before brushing on the glaze and baking until the ham is heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Recipe: Honey-Glazed Ham

Pecan, Bourbon, and Cane Syrup Ham

If your family appreciates a little twist on traditional recipes, check out this pork butt that's roasted with sage for three hours until tender and then crusted with a mixture of bourbon, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, and pecans.

Most of the cooking time is hands-off, and because this recipe makes 16 servings, you'll have plenty of leftovers. Add leftovers to a breakfast biscuit, make it another meal with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots, or eat it with a side of fried eggs and cheese grits.

Recipe: Pecan, Bourbon, and Cane Syrup Ham

Open-Faced Deviled Glazed Ham Sandwich

Though few people would classify leftover ham as an actual problem, it can be challenging to put a spin on the same tired uses for excess pork products. When you want a ham sandwich but are craving something different, try these instead. 

Cooked leftover ham is combined with cream cheese, mustard, mayo, hot sauce, onion, and chopped herbs, then mixed together and balanced on a perfectly toasted piece of bread. Add a sweet pickle (or any kind of pickle you like, really) to make the whole sandwich come alive. You can also grill this (with pickles or without), scoop it up in celery, enjoy it on crackers, or just eat it over the kitchen sink with a spoon.

Recipe: Open-Faced Deviled Glazed Ham Sandwich

Ham and Cheese Strata

Ham and cheese strata is the perfect solution to the problem of what to make for a slightly elevated breakfast when you don't have the desire to do anything more complicated than pour your own coffee in the morning. It's like a savory bread pudding, with pillowy, custard-soaked bread studded with chopped ham. The whole thing is topped with a layer of melted cheese that browns and bubbles in the oven.

The best part of this dish? It can be entirely assembled the night before and popped into the oven while your coffee is brewing. Just as you're really beginning to wake up an hour later, breakfast is ready.

Recipe: Ham and Cheese Strata

Country Ham and Cheese Biscuit Bread

Yeasted bread is intimidating, but biscuits are accessible to even inexperienced home bakers. What happens when you make a biscuit dough and layer it with ham and cheese in a loaf pan? Magic. 

This cheesy biscuit bread features ribbons of ham and cheese swirled between flaky layers of biscuit — only it's baked in a pan that makes it possible to slice like bread. Imagine doubling down on your ham sandwich by making it on this biscuit bread, or layering toast with thinly sliced apples and cream cheese. Fry up a beautiful grilled cheese, or just eat this when a fried egg on top.

Recipe: Country Ham and Cheese Biscuit Bread

Spicy Candied Bacon

There is absolutely nothing wrong with bacon just as it is. The smoky, salty delirium of this pork product doesn't need to be tarted up. But if you're looking for an unbelievably tasty spin on something that's already perfect, grab some maple syrup, brown sugar, and bourbon and give this recipe a try. 

The balance of spicy, salty, and sweet makes for a versatile final product that can be eaten on its own, crumbled into waffles or cornbread, or used as a porky swizzle stick in cocktails. The whole process takes about 35 minutes in the oven — plenty of time to assemble the rest of the meal or whip up a batch of cocktails.

Recipe: Spicy Candied Bacon

Bacon and Sausage Soufflé

Don't be intimidated by the title of this recipe. In the South, traditional breakfast egg casseroles are all called soufflés. And in reality, soufflés are very simple dishes made with few ingredients. 

For this recipe, bacon and sausage are the stars of the show; they cozy up to chunks of white bread in a buttered casserole dish before being topped with custard and baked. There's no egg separating, no egg white folding, and no threat of a deflated dish — just a hearty, cozy breakfast that is quick and easy to throw together.

Recipe: Bacon and Sausage Soufflé

Bacon and Goat Cheese Orzo

Orzo is one of those pastas that is frequently overlooked. It's tiny and rice-shaped, a favorite of children but often passed over by adults as a legit pasta option. This recipe is set to change that. It's perfect warm or cold, which makes it simple to cook ahead of time and take to potlucks or picnics. 

The creamy goat cheese and salty bacon complement each other and give the dish a flavor that's more complex than you might expect, especially with so few ingredients. Top this with fresh chopped parsley, serve with a bright green salad dressed in a sharp vinaigrette, and pass the crusty bread.

Recipe: Bacon and Goat Cheese Orzo