In the world of paleo and keto-friendly snacks, there are only a few contenders. One of the most popular snacks out there is the humble pork rind – a glorious combination of crispy-fried goodness and salt. However, you will also come across the culinary term “chicharrones”. A brief inspection shows that they seem pretty similar, but are they? In the realm of snacks, who comes out the winner in the chicharrones vs. pork rinds battle?
Technically, chicharrones can be made from many types of meat, not just pork skin, although pork-based recipes are among the most widely available in the United States. Chicharrones can also be made with beef, mutton, and pork belly.
Chicharrones are traditionally fried in oil and then seasoned using salt, as well as other options, such as parsley, chili, lime juice, and garlic. Once seasoned and cooled, they can be consumed as snacks, certainly, but they can also be added to other home cooked dishes to bring a bit of crunch. Learn more about chicharrones.
Pork rinds are deep-fried pig skins. In the argument of chicharrones vs. pork rinds, these are the only ones that are always made from thin strips of pig skin, as well. They’re first boiled, until much of the fat has rendered and the skin has shrunk. Then the skin is cut into bite size pieces known as “pellets,” which are then chilled to be able to remove the excess fat. Next, the pellets are dried in an oven at low heat and then dried, deep fried in hot oil and seasoned. Salt is the traditional seasoning, but you can find many others, including salt and pepper, hot sauce, and more. They are commonly found in grocery and convenience stores across the US.
Homemade pork rinds or pork cracklins are very popular as a standalone snack, but you can also eat them with dips, and use them in your favorite recipes or other dishes, too.
In a comparison of chicharrones vs. regular pork rinds, it’s easy to assume that they’re the same thing, but the truth is that these are two different foods, at least when they’re made traditionally. The lines have definitely begun to blur in the US when it comes to what food manufacturers are offering, though.
Pork rinds are only made with fried pork skin, but traditional chicharrones can be made with many different types of meat, including pork skins. So, if they’re made from pork, they’re virtually identical to pork rinds, but if they’re made from mutton or beef, they are not very similar at all. Both of those meats bring dramatically different flavors to the party.Having said that, sometimes chicharrones are made with skin that might occasionally have a bit meat attached to it.
Even though they have no fat attached to the skin, pork rinds are often higher in fat because pork contains more fat than beef or mutton. However, pork-based chicharrones would have similar fat content. Note that pork rinds that contain other ingredients may also include more fat than plain chicharrones. For instance, some manufacturers use additional lard or vegetable oil to fry their pork rinds, in addition to the natural pork fat left within the skin.Pork rinds can also be fried in peanut oil, or even lard. During the deep frying process, the moisture that remains in the skin evaporates when it hits the hot oil, causing the skin to puff as it fries.
You’ll also find that chicharrones and pork rinds may have dissimilar tastes, depending on the type of meat they’re made from. On the other hand, pork rinds tend to taste more like bacon with a hint of potato chips thrown into the mix. So, chicharrones made of fried pig skin will have a taste very much like pork rinds, but one made from mutton will be completely different.
While chicharrones and pork rinds are not the same food, they do have some similarities.
The most obvious similarity between the two foods is their crispy texture. Both are fried and crispy and airy. That is most obvious when you compare pork-based chicharrones to pork rinds. However, both beef and mutton-based chicharrones have a crispy, crunchy texture that’s not very different from the pork-based type.
Increasingly, you’ll find that the lines blur between chicharrones and pork rinds. That’s because pork rinds and chicharrones are the same if both are made from pork. The primary difference comes from the type of meat used, so chicharrones are only appreciably different if they’re made from beef or mutton. Since pork is more popular in the US for this type of food, you’ll be hard pressed to find any chicharrones sold here that are not made from pork. Of course, there will always be outliers, but they’re more the exception that proves the rule than anything else.
In the end, most chicharrones sold in the US are indistinguishable from pork rinds. So, the winner in the chicharrones vs. pork rinds argument is really the one that you prefer! And, if you’re looking for a great-tasting crispy snack that’s both keto and paleo-friendly (high in unsaturated fat, low carb), check out the Taste of Mexico Chicharrones Sampler. Deep fried and delicious, they’re also light and airy and never overload you with carbs.