In reference to a recipe for ham hocks and beans, can I use smoked pork shoulder instead of ham hocks and still get a good result? What will be the difference in end product, if any?

  • Um... one is from the leg/feet and the other is from the shoulder. Are you asking if they can be used interchangeably?
    – talon8
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 21:25
  • Yes. I saw a recipe for ham hocks and beans I'd like to make.
    – Herb
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 21:36
  • 1
    I modified the question to be a little clearer with what I think you're asking, feel free to edit it again if it doesn't match.
    – talon8
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 23:02

2 Answers 2


Ham hocks are used to add a variety of properties to beans as well as other vegetable dishes like greens and stews. Ham hocks predominantly add smoky flavor and salt. In dishes where the ham is cooked for a prolonged period with water you also get an improved mouth-feel from gelatin that dissolves into the stew. Aged hams also add the distinct flavors that accumulate from the curing salts and the aging process.

Using a smoked shoulder will provide the smoky flavor as well as some gelatin (provided you use a prolonged cooking method) but you may need to increase the amount of salt you use and you will be missing some of the "ham-y" flavor that you get from using a real aged ham hock.

Other options include bacon (especially dry-cured), ham base, or bouillon. I have gotten a few free prosciutto hocks from the local deli (they were just going to throw it away) that added great ham flavor but no smokiness.


Yes, you can, and you should get pretty good results.

You won't get as much gelatin effect from collagen (read that unctuousness), but you'll get some. The flavor will be fine. Bacon is a very common substitution as well, but with that you'd get no collagen.

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