Fatback, as the name suggests, is a strip of fat along the back of a pig. Fatback is not cured or smoked and is used to make lard. It has a long history and is still used today in many ways. Mario Batali, the famous chef, uses fatback in recipes ranging from pasta to pizza. The French use it in pate, and if you have ever eaten pork rinds you have tasted fried fatback. So what if a recipe calls for fatback and you have none? Below are some possible substitutions.


You can use unsmoked bacon as a substitute for fatback. Be sure to blanch (submerge in boiling water for a short time) before adding to recipes.

Vegetable Shortening

Some recipes may call for fatback to be mashed into a paste. In this case, use lard or a vegetable shortening instead.

Caul Fat

This is a membrane of fatty tissue that surrounds the organs of some animals, like cows, sheep and pigs. It can replace fatback in pate and mousse, and can be used to wrap lean meats.

Salt Pork

Though it may be used as a fatback substitute, salt pork is salt cured and often has sugar added. If used, make sure to cut down on the salt added to the recipe. Blanch before using it in a recipe.


Often found at the deli counter of the grocery or in with the pre-packaged deli meats, this is an Italian style of bacon.

References and Resources

Offal of the Week: Fatback
Caul Fat