Crispy Pork Knuckle – known in Germany and Austria as Schweinehaxe – is one of my favorite things to roast. It turns out crispy, tender, and so full of flavor. Try this pork knuckle recipe and you’ll see why it’s so amazing!
» You might also like these 9 Delicious Pork Belly Recipe to Try.
I can’t help but think about Oktoberfest when I see a crispy pork knuckle. At the annual celebration in Germany, these knuckles are being slow roasted on a spit by the hundreds. It’s the long awaited meal you eat in between drinking a few liters worth of beer.
Knowing that I can only occasionally eat a delicious crispy pork knuckle like that when I visit Germany or a neighboring country, I can now make it at home!
What Others are Saying
This pork has the perfect crisp and is so delicious! I love how easy it was to make too!
What a detailed post and such a simple recipe for a popular dish. It was very crispy. I enjoyed it.
What is Pork Knuckle?
If you’ve been to Germany, Austria or pretty much anywhere in that general area of the world, you’ve seen pork knuckle (or Scheinshaxe) on the menu. The image above was taken in Austria. And the image below was taken in Munich.
The roasted pork knuckles always look a bit different, depending on how much skin is left on and how it was cut, but it always turns out to be a tender piece of meat nestled under crispy skin. And almost always served with potato dumplings on the side!
The pork knuckle is located at the end of the leg, before it becomes the ankle. It contains a lot of connective tissue and collagen, which adds all the wonderful flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture of slow-roasted pork.
It can be a bit difficult to find pork knuckle in the grocery store, so you most likely will have to ask for it from the butcher.
If you don’t have a specialty butcher nearby, try asking at the grocery meat counter to see if they ever stock it, or know where you can get it. Be sure to look for it under different names like ham hock and pork hock. Hocks come with pork skin still on or taken off.
Ingredients You Need
- Pork Knuckle – This is also sometimes called a ham hock or pork hock. I usually cook ones that are around 1 1/2 to 2 pounds with skin on.
- Salt and ground black pepper – This is all the seasoning you need! Keep it simple and let the pork shine.
- Beer – I always use beer in this recipe. It’s a traditional way to keep the pork moist. It will slowly evaporate as the knuckle cooks and can also be used as a beer gravy to pour over the top. Extra points for using a German beer!
- Potatoes and onions – You can cook any veggies under the pork that you like. In Germany, it’s always served with potatoes, so I usually stick with that.
- Start by slow roasting the pork knuckle in the oven, then broil to crisp up the skin.
- Keep a close eye on it as it broils so parts of the skin don’t burn.
- If you’d rather not have the skin on, you can remove it before cooking.
How to Make Crispy Pork Knuckle
You can find more involved recipes for pork knuckle that include many more ingredients and techniques, but I keep mine simple.
I’ve seen a lot of recipes that involve brining or simmering the pork knuckle in water for an hour or so before roasting it, but I personally don’t think that extra step is necessary.
Step 1: Prepare the Pork
Rinse and pat dry the knuckle, then lightly score the skin, taking care not to pierce through to the meat. Then rub salt and pepper into the groves.
I use a 1.5qt Pyrex glass loaf dish. Put the chopped veggies in the bottom of the dish, pour in the beer, about halfway up, then set the pork knuckle on top, skin side up.
Step 2: Slow Roast in the Oven
Place the dish in the oven at 325F for 3-4 hours.
Cooking time will vary depending on the weight of your pork knuckle. You’ll want to check it every 10 minutes near the end to see how it’s progressing.
Once the meat has pulled back from the bone and can be jiggled free easily, it’s nearly ready. The internal temperature should be around 190 to 195 degrees F.
Step 3: Broil for Crispy Crackling
Unless you cook the knuckle at a really high heat, the skin will not turn into crackling as it cooks. For this reason, we have to put it under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp the skin.
If you don’t intend to eat the skin, you can skip this step and just remove the skin from the meat before eating. It will look like this.
To crisp the skin, place the pork knuckle on a baking sheet and put it under the broiler on high for a few minutes.
Don’t put it too close to the heating element, and watch it like a hawk once you put it in, so it doesn’t burn. It only takes a few minutes to start to puff up.
Unfortunately, it can be a bit of a pain to get perfectly crispy crackling. The skin has a tendency to crisp unevenly, so there may be parts of the skin that don’t get as crispy, but that’s okay. As long as you get around 50% of it crispy, it won’t matter. It’s better to remove it earlier, so it doesn’t burn.
The meat should easily come off the bone with a fork. It can be served as is over the roasted vegetables, like green beans & mushrooms or roasted cauliflower steaks, or with mashed potatoes. You can make a quick gravy from the roasting liquid to pour over the top.
» If you like this recipe, you’ll also like our short rib recipe.
Where to Find Pork Knuckle or Pork Hock
Most pork knuckles you’ll find at the grocery are around 2-3 pounds, sometimes more. This size will easily feed two people. It’s great to have leftovers too, though!
When possible, I like to purchase organic, farm raised pork knuckle so I can use the bones to make bone broth. It’s a great bone for this purpose, because of all the collagen.
You can get Pork Knuckle from FarmFoods, which is an online distributor of high-quality meat from local farmers, with 100% transparency as to where the meat comes from and what the animals were fed. It’s not a subscription program. You can pick what meats you want, from whichever farms you wish.
Side Dishes to Try
Questions About the Recipe
Is Pork Knuckle German?
Yes, pork knuckle, also known as Schweinshaxe in German, is a traditional German dish. It is a popular and iconic dish in German cuisine, particularly in Bavaria. The knuckle is typically roasted or braised until the skin becomes crispy and the meat is tender and flavorful. It is often served with sauerkraut, potato dumplings, or mashed potatoes, and is a staple in many German beer gardens and restaurants.
Can I cook pork knuckle in the air fryer?
Yes, you can cook pork knuckle in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to around 350°F (175°C). Season the knuckle with a dry rub of salt and pepper. Place the pork knuckle in the air fryer basket or tray. Cook the pork knuckle for 50 minutes, then check its internal temperature. The knuckle should reach at least 190°F so that it falls off the bone. You can continue cooking to 202°F to make it even more tender. If the skin is not crispy enough, you can increase the temperature and continue cooking for an additional 10-15 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to prevent burning.
What’s the best way to store and reheat pork knuckles?
If you have pork left over, allow it to fully cool down before placing it in a resealable container and storing it in the refrigerator. You can keep it on the bone, or pull the remaining meat off the bone. In order to reheat it, you can place it back in the oven on 350°F for about 5-10 minutes, or air fry it for 3-5 minutes. It will reheat faster if the meat is off the bone.
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Crispy Pork Knuckle
- 1 1/2 lb pork knuckle Find one with skin covering at least half the knuckle.
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 small onion
- Pre-heat your oven to 325F.
- Poke the skin of the pork knuckle a dozen times with a sharp knife. Rub salt and pepper into the skin.
- Cut the potato and onion into chunks and put them into a roasting dish. Place the pork knuckle with skin side up on top of the vegetables.
- Put the roasting dish in the oven and cook at 325F for 4 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the meat can easily be separated from the bone.
- To crisp up the skin, turn the oven to broil and place the roasting pan within 1 ½ inches from the heating element. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Remove from the oven when the skin looks blistered.
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Laura is a home cook, with 25 years experience behind the stove, who spends an extraordinary amount of time in the kitchen cooking. She loves making new recipes and finding wonderful new things to eat, both at home or abroad. She spends a lot of time researching, crafting, and perfecting her recipes and currently has a cookbook in development.