Home Articles What Are Pork Rinds? (+ How Are They Made?)

What Are Pork Rinds? (+ How Are They Made?)

You may think, “What are pork rinds?” is a silly question. But do you really know what they are? I didn’t!

Luckily, the answer is simple: pork rinds are bite-sized crunchy snacks made from dehydrated pig skins.

Crispy Homemade Pork Rinds with Lime

They’re deep-fried or baked until puffy and crisp and make excellent chip alternatives for those on low-carb diets.

Though they are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium. So they shouldn’t be consumed every day.

What Are Pork Rinds?

Pork rinds are pretty popular all over the world. They may even be some of the most popular salty snacks around.

But if you ask most people, they probably don’t know what part of the pig they come from or how they’re made.

So let’s dive deeper:

Pork rinds are a type of crispy cooked pig skin, not too dissimilar from pork crackling or pork scratchings.

The skin is simmered in water to render out the fat, then chilled so the leftover fat can be removed.

From there, it’s dehydrated and deep-fried until crispy. They taste meaty, like bacon chips.

They’re crispy, salty, and sometimes spicy snacks usually found on the chip aisle.

Typically, most manufacturers deep-fry their pork rinds. However, you can occasionally find baked ones as a healthier alternative. 

Known as chicharrones outside of America, pork rinds are light, airy, and super crunchy. 

Pork Rinds on a Wooden Bowl

How Are Pork Rinds Made?

As mentioned, pork rinds are made from pork skin. When manufacturers are processing pork meat, they save and freeze the skins. 

Those frozen skins are used to make pork rinds. The process goes something like this: 

  1. The skins are boiled in large vats of water. This helps soften the skin and separate it from any lingering fat. 
  1. Next, the fat is removed. This leaves only the skin’s outer layer for cooking. 
  1. The skins are cut into small pieces. Sometimes, they’re diced into tiny pieces. Other times, they’re sliced into strips. 
  1. After the skin is cut into pieces, it’s dehydrated. This slow process can take up to 12 or even 18 hours. The temperature is kept low to not dry the skins out too quickly and sap the flavor.
  1. Finally, the skin is dehydrated. Typically, they do this by deep-frying it at extremely high temperatures. Though some companies bake theirs instead. Either way, this last step is what makes the rinds so crispy and light. 

At this point, one of two things can happen. First, some rinds are bagged and shipped for sale immediately.

Others are seasoned for added flavor, such as:

  • BBQ
  • Salted butter
  • Dill pickle
  • Sour cream and onion
  • Cinnamon sugar

If the rinds are going to be seasoned, it happens while they’re still hot and somewhat greasy.

Otherwise, they cool down and become dry. Seasonings won’t stick to them at that point.

Crispy Pork Rinds on a Wooden Bowl

Pork Rinds Vs. Chicharrones Vs. Cracklins (What’s the Difference?) 

Pork rinds, chicharrones, and cracklins are all used to describe cooked pork skins.

Many people use the terms interchangeably, thinking they’re all the same thing. And in a way, they are. They’re all forms of pork rinds.

And honestly, no one will get too upset with you if you call a pork rind a chicharrone or vice versa. 

However, strictly speaking, there are a few differences between each one. 

  • Pork rinds – true pork rinds – contain only pig skin.
  • Chicharrones sometimes also include leftover fat and meat
  • Cracklins can sometimes contain fat and meat, and they’re usually harder and crunchier.

For the most part, though, the biggest “difference” between the three is location.

  • People in the Deep South – Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, etc. – call them cracklins.
  • The rest of America sticks to pork rinds or pork skins.
  • Chicharrones is the preferred term in Mexico, Spain, and Latin American countries.

Are Pork Rinds Keto? 

Many websites claim that pork rinds are the “ultimate keto snack food.” But are they actually keto-friendly, or is that just a myth?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as cut and dry as most of us would like it to be.

The short answer is yes, plain pork rinds are keto-friendly.

They have zero carbs and plenty of protein. That is, unless they’re seasoned with something that has carbs.

But they also have a high fat and sodium content, and are highly processed, so they’re not healthy.

Ketogenic diets love high-fat, no-carb foods. But you can’t overlook the calorie content in pork rinds.

As All Recipes points out, a “standard bag of pork rinds” is “about the caloric equivalent of a Big Mac.”

Most people wouldn’t call snacking on Big Macs every day very healthy. 

Pork rinds on a platter with guacamole

How to Eat Pork Rinds

Obviously, the easiest way to enjoy pork rinds is straight from the bag.

They’re the ideal crunchy snack replacement for chips – especially if you’re on a carb-restricted diet. 

You can even enjoy dipping them in your favorite dips and salsas.

But did you know you could cook with them, too? Here’s how:

  • Crush them and use them instead of breadcrumbs. Fried chicken, country-fried steak, and meatloaf can all benefit from pork rinds. 
  • Add them to salads for that bit of extra crunch. They have far fewer carbs than croutons and fried onions.

Oh! And don’t get me started on what they can do for tacos, soups, and grilled cheese sandwiches! 

Finally, you can even use them to make pizza crusts! See! They’re much more versatile than you probably imagined.

What Are Pork Rinds?

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author avatar
NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Insanely Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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