Tips to get the perfect results every time.
Pork rinds are a great keto/carnivore snack but depending on where you live they might be hard to come by, expensive, have unhealthy added ingredients like vegetable oil, or all of the above. However pig skin is super cheap, so making them myself seemed like the best option, and it is, but it took some time and experimentation.
There are many recipes online, some are really complicated and time-consuming, requiring days to dry out the skin, others simply say you must score and salt the skin, put it in the oven and that’s all. I tried so many different methods but the results were inconsistent. But now after about six months of trial and error I can say I’ve figured it out. So here are some tips that might help you make your own pork rinds.
I’ve discovered this is the most important part of the process. First you want to lay the skin flat and skin side up on a plate or tray in the fridge uncovered for about 6-12 hours before cooking. Up to 24 hours is fine, but any longer than that and it tends to get too dry. I used to just pull the skin out of the bag and into the oven, the results were often rubbery. Skip this stage and there’s no real way to save it later in the process.
Some recipes suggest boiling the skin before drying out in the fridge, I personally didn’t notice this made a difference, but it is something worth keeping in mind as a technique to try.
2. Cut and score
Some people cook the rind as one big piece, others cut them into smaller pieces, personally I cut the skin to about the size of 20x20cm. It’s just more manageable in my small convection oven. I have found the larger the piece the more chance of inconsistencies and the smaller the pieces the more likely they are to curl up and become overcooked in some areas and undercooked in others.
Score the skin in a diamond pattern, the lines shouldn’t be too close or too far apart, about an inch works. And don’t cut too deeply, you don’t want to cut right through. I find a serrated knife works best because it can actually grip into the skin where other knives just slip or tear.
3. Salt and oil
This is what determines how much the skin bubbles up. I have experimented with different oils and I find lard/tallow is the absolute best. For one, they are animal fats, so ideal for carnivores, and they are solid fats, so unlike liquid oils which just sit on the surface and roll off the skin, the lard can be properly worked into it. It also helps the salt stick to the skin too. I don’t have any particular preference for salt, any will do.
And finally the skin is ready to be cooked, this stage is going to take some trial and error on your part because every oven is different. I used to use an old gas oven but it was a nightmare to work with, the temperature was never consistent. But now I have a convection oven which makes it so much easier. I bake rinds at 200c (392f), cooking the top for 20 minutes, then flipping it over for another 20 minutes. And the results are the same every time, crunchy, light, and even preserving a bit of moistness on the underside. I find it helpful to place something like a heatproof cooling rack on top of the rind to prevent it from curling up. The flatter it is, the more even the heat with distribute. I have never baked rinds on a tray, I think it needs airflow underneath, so I put a wire rack underneath too.
A good way to test if the pork rind is ready is by testing its flexibility, using tongs I bend it and if it still feels rubbery, it needs more time. When it is ready it should be firm but not too hard. The top should have lots of bubbles. Pork rind is quite fussy, it’s easy to over or undercook it and then it’s completely inedible.
Once it is done, let it cool and snap it into smaller pieces. They don’t store very well, so I only make a single serving at a time. Because they are dehydrated they can be stored in the pantry for a day or two, never in the fridge, they become soggy.
Something I have noticed is that oven baked pork rinds are nothing like the prepackaged ones, and that’s because they tend to deep fry them. Oven baked rinds are always going to be heavier, where deep fried ones have a kind of Cheetos texture. I have made rinds in a deep fryer and the results are great, and closer to the commercial version, however I tend not to use this method because it’s just time-consuming and messy and more expensive. You can deep fry in lard but it doesn’t have a high smoke point and rinds need to be at about 200c. Olive oil (not extra virgin) is a fine alternative with a high smoke point. Deep frying can be easier in some ways because you don’t need to do any of the prep work, just cut the skin into small pieces and fry them until they float to the surface.
Hopefully this will simplify the process for you, and as always feel free to leave feedback or your own pork rind methods.