Ham Hock vs. Ham Shank — 35 Comments

  1. Check a site I found called —- according to that site, the hock and shank are one in the same. Having grown up in the south (E. Tenn. & Western N.C.) — I actually thought they were a little different. Hocks are always unique — I cooked a pot of beans tonight with a lovely, huge smoked hock and it yielded hardly any of that yummy meat. Other times, I’ll buy them and they are loaded! Either way, they season very well.

    • They are different cuts. The shank always has more meat. Closer to the foot is the hock (between the foot and shank). The shank is between the hock and the Ham, and much meatier. They are similar, but not the same. From bottom up: Foot > hock> shank> ham.

  2. Please, please tell us where in Seattle you found ham shanks!!! I have been looking for them for a long, long time to make Scweinshaxe”, a German dish.

  3. They have them at the Whole Foods in Ravenna (in Seattle). I just got one the other day to use in an African sweet potato soup, and it was excellent.

    Anatomically, the hock is roughly equivalent to the ankle and foot, whereas the shank is the pig’s calf, so it’s meatier. The shank I got at Whole Foods was smoked as well, so it made the whole house smell like delicious.

  4. To us there is a huge flavor difference between “smoked ham hocks” and “smoked pork hocks”. The pork hock is much more bland and does not flavor soup like the ham hock. They are very hard to find here in South Texas. Time was they were in all the stores, now just pork hocks and most by Tyson?

    Good luck

  5. Thank you for these contributions.

    I was looking around on this subject since yesterday, at Derby (UK) Market Hall, I picked up a ‘Gammon Shank’ which looked for all the world the exact same thing as what we usually know as a ‘Hock’. I note that it was packed in Greater Manchester and that elsewhere on the Web I have seen that somebody from the North-East of England also knows a ‘Hock’ as a ‘Shank’, so it may be a case of regional taste in vocabulary over here as well as on your side of the Atlantic. We’re on more or less the borderline between the English Midlands and the North of England here so we may be at the very northern edge of the area where the word ‘Hock’ is used.

    Being something of a Soul Music fan I of course am aware that Ham Hock is a staple thereof.

  6. I worked previously at a ham processing plant. I think the “official” definition is that a whole ham has two parts, the ‘butt’ portion and the shank portion. The shank portion is the lower part of the leg. It can include the ham hock which is the joint connecting the foot and leg. Sometimes the hock is cut off and sold seperately. But it can be included in the shank portion of a ham. Having said that it appears that some recipes use them interchangeably.

  7. I agree with Randy. Just from experience, the ham shanks I buy generaly have MUCH more meat than the hock. I have wondered the same thing for years, so buying both at the same time several times has given this result.

  8. I live in Maryland and have NEVER seen “ham shanks” in any store; hocks – yes. For a healthier dish, however, I have switched from smoked ham hocks to smoked turkey drums. They have so much more meat to flavor those beans and you really can’t tell that much of a difference in taste!

  9. I bought a meaty ham shank at Shoreline Central Market. It is in the pot now and will be followed by cannelini, dark greens and squash for the last of the slow cooked soup.

  10. Legs/hams – Although any cut of pork can be cured, technically speaking only the back leg is entitled to be called a ham. Legs and shoulders, when used fresh, are usually cut bone-in for roasting, or leg steaks can be cut from the bone. Three common cuts of the leg include the rump (upper portion), centre, and shank (lower portion).

  11. I have been using ham shanks for some time now, thinking that they were just REALLY GOOD ham hocks…..I buy them at Kroger (I live in Virginia) and we have decided that they are SO MUCH BETTER than ham hocks….ESPECIALLY for someone who actually likes to eat them (not just use them for flavoring)…they actually have quite a bit of meat on them, so they make for much better eating, very tender, and still very flavorful. I have only used them for soups but they sure are yummy after simmering for a few hours. Try it, you’ll LIKE IT!!!

  12. My mother used salt pork to cook her pinto beans with. I was told to use a ham hock. I did and found it to be ok, but not flavorful. I used a ham shank and LO! WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Very tasty and delicious with pinto beans.
    I will never use anything else. Goodbye ham hock! Salt pork just seems like it would be really greasy. It was probably the half-runner beans my mother used the salt pork for. She was a southern gal from Tennessee!

  13. Randy hit the nail on the head with his response. The hock is lower on the leg, followed by the shank, then the shank end of the ham and, finally, the butt end. Only the rear leg is called a ham. The hock is almost completely fatty and used for flavoring only (unless you like pork fat) and the shank is almost all meat and can be used for flavoring and be eaten (yum).

  14. Ham shanks are meatier than hocks… But here in Colorado… Hocks cost more at both King Sippers (Kroger) and Safeway. I haven’t figured out why. I have cooked with both and don’t really see a difference in taste. The hock meat seems more tender but I’d rather have more meat in my recipe. You decide. Both give off GREAT flavor. Happy New Year.

  15. Pingback:Cooking Time For Smoked Ham Shank | I Make Good Food

  16. I bought ham shanks today for bean soup. They had both hocks and shanks. They look quite a bit different, and the shanks were smaller, but looked more meaty. Before the soup was done, I pulled out the shanks, cubed the meat and discarded the bone. The soup is really, really good.

  17. I just bought a ham shank today at Albertson’s/Savon. It appears to be leaner than the hock and a little more expensive and cosmetically prettier. I am going to make a soup with this with white, dry Lima beans (like I do with hocks) and buttermilk cornbread…a very Savannah, Georgia style recipe my grandma taught me. Can’t wait!

  18. Think of your own leg…..a ham hock is your ankle bone with minimum meat, a Ham shank is the leg bone between your knee and ankle (marrow bone and more meat). Either will flavor any dish like beans, greens etc. By default ham hock and ham shank are smoked and pork hock and pork shank would be fresh not smoked, however, some labeling regs are a little lacks…..

  19. I just want to thank you all for imput because a google search of ham shank ofers no clairity really. Im trying to replicate the salish lodges ham shank hash that is to die for but its tricky to make when i dont know what the ingredients are.

  20. Ham hock vs Ham shank: Technically The ham hock is derived from the front leg between the foot and the knee. The ham shank is derived from the rear leg between the foot and knee. After cutting meat for 35 years this is the best way I can explain it. Happy eaten

  21. I use the hock when the shank isn’t available. The shank is much meatier with less fat. the hock is mostly skin and fat but it will definitely liven up the dish taste wise but there won’t be any meat afterwards to add back to the dish where the shank will provide a lot of rich meaty pieces.

  22. I always use ham shanks as opposed to hocks.They are much meatier. Also, I have been using my sousvide cooker to prepare them.24 hours at 150 degrees works perfectly for me. It’s important to soak the shanks in water for an hour or so to remove excess salt. You can always adjust the seasoning in the final dish.For my money,hocks aren’t worth the money.

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