How To Butcher a Whole Pig - Every Pork Cut Explained

Steaks, butts, bacon, ham and ribs. Every single part of a pig is delicious! Here’s a guide on how to butcher a whole pig from the guys at Bon Apetit. There are so many different cuts that come out of a pig (over 30!), therefore we won’t go into how to cut every single one of them. Watch the video below for some great tips on butchering and trimming pork.

Whether you are a butcher, you raise our own animals, or just got a great deal at the local meat market, here’s how to butcher a whole pig step by step.

How To Butcher A Whole Pig (Every Pork Cut Explained)

When you have your halved pig in front of you, you can immediately separate it into the 4 major sections, a.k.a. the 4 Primal Cuts. These are larger cuts, which can then be divided into smaller, more manageable cuts. The 4 Primals are: the Shoulder, the Loin, the Belly, and the Ham. Some people consider the Head a 5th primal, if your pig comes with one.

The Shoulder of the Pig

There are a lot of great cuts in the shoulder! Many of them are roasts, there’s a lot of lean meat in there for you to enjoy. Here’s a list of the cuts that come out of the shoulder.

  • Pork Butt
  • Shoulder Roast
  • Picnic Roast
  • Coppa Roast
  • Coppa Steaks
  • Pork Brisket
  • Pork Denver (Presa)
  • Spare Ribs
  • Hock
  • Trotter
  • Skin and Fat

The Belly of the Hog

The belly is another great primal cut. Although there is not much meat on this cut, there’s still some great flavor, including everyone’s favorite: bacon.

One thing you have to take care of before cutting into the meat, is removing the gland from the flank section. Unfortunately, because it has such a bitter taste, it’s one of the few parts of a pig you can’t use.

Having done that, here are the cuts coming from the belly of your pig:

  • Pork Belly
  • Secreto
  • Pork Ribs (various types)
  • Kidney
  • Leaf Lard
  • Trim, Skin and Fat

The Loin Section

There’s some great meat in the loin as well. A lot of muscle equals a lot of meat, and on a pig this does not come at the cost of fat and flavor. More meat also means there’s more room to trim your cuts into visually appealing masterpieces that will make some jaws drop at the next BBQ.

  • Boneless Pork Loin Roast
  • Frenched Pork Loin Roast
  • Pork Chops (bone-in or bone-out)
  • Tenderloin
  • Back Fat
  • Skin & Fat

The Ham Section

The final out of the Four Primal Cuts, the ham includes a wide range of tastes and textures. From pork cutlets, to the femur bone (great for pork broth!), here are the cuts you can expect to find in a pork ham:

  • Cutlets
  • Sirloin Steaks
  • Sirloin Tip Roast
  • Bottom Round Roast
  • Eye Round Roast
  • Stew Meat
  • Top Cap
  • Hock
  • Trotter
  • Femur Bone

The Pig Head

As mentioned before, almost nothing on a pig has to go to waste. This includes the head. Even though many people are reluctant to use it (it does have a face, after all) there are some great meals in the head and you shouldn’t underestimate its value:

  • Porchetta di Testa
  • Ears
  • Skull

Hopefully you got a few pointers on how to butcher a whole pig! have fun!

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