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Ham vs. Pork: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 27, 2023
Ham is a specific cut from a pig's hind leg; pork is the general term for meat from a pig.

Key Differences

Ham refers to a particular cut of meat that comes from the hind leg of a pig. Pork, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses all meat that is derived from a pig.
While ham is often cured or smoked and then cooked, pork can be presented in a variety of ways, from chops to roasts to ribs. This distinction between ham and pork highlights the specific nature of ham compared to the generality of pork.
Many people recognize ham for its distinct taste, often influenced by the curing or smoking process it undergoes. Pork, being a more general term, can be associated with a variety of flavors and preparations, depending on the specific cut and cooking method.
If you're shopping for meat, and you see ham, you're looking at the cured, smoked, or fresh meat from the hind leg of the pig. When you see pork labeled in a store, it can be any cut of meat from the pig, whether that's the belly, loin, or any other part.
A traditional dish like a ham sandwich utilizes the specific cut, whereas a pork stir-fry might utilize any range of pork cuts, emphasizing the distinction between the specialized nature of ham and the diverse range of pork.

Comparison Chart


Meat from the hind leg of a pig
General term for meat from a pig


Often cured or smoked
Can be fresh, cured, smoked, or processed

Flavor Profile

Influenced by curing/smoking
Varies depending on the cut and preparation

Usage in Cuisine

Specific dishes (e.g., ham sandwiches)
Wide variety (e.g., pork chops, pulled pork)


Known for distinct taste from curing/smoking
Known for its versatility in cooking

Ham and Pork Definitions


It often undergoes a curing process.
The cured ham had a deliciously salty flavor.


Pork is meat obtained from a pig.
She marinated the pork in a mixture of herbs and spices.


Ham is the meat from a pig's hind leg.
For dinner, she baked a ham glazed with honey and mustard.


Pork can be grilled, roasted, or fried.
The crispy pork belly was a crowd favorite.


Ham can also be smoked for added flavor.
The smoky aroma of the ham permeated the room.


Pork is known for its versatility in recipes.
From pulled pork to pork dumplings, the options are endless.


This meat is a popular choice for holiday meals.
Every Christmas, their family enjoyed a large ham roast.


It encompasses various cuts, from belly to loin.
The chef demonstrated how to properly sear a pork chop.


Ham is often enjoyed in sandwiches.
He made a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch.


It serves as the primary ingredient in many dishes.
The pork stew was simmered to perfection.


The thigh of the hind leg of certain animals, especially a hog.


The flesh of a pig or hog used as food.


Why is ham often associated with holidays?

Traditions and cultural practices have made ham a popular choice for festive occasions.

Can you get ham that isn't cured or smoked?

Yes, there's fresh ham which is not cured or smoked.

Which is more flavorful, ham or pork?

It's subjective; ham has a distinct flavor from curing/smoking, while pork's flavor varies by cut and preparation.

Is pork just another name for ham?

No, pork is the general term for meat from a pig, while ham is a specific cut from the hind leg.

Why is some ham pink?

The pink color in many hams comes from the curing process, often involving nitrates.

How long can I store pork in the refrigerator?

Fresh pork can be stored for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

Is bacon a type of ham?

No, bacon is a separate cut, typically from the pork belly.

Why is pork sometimes called "the other white meat"?

It's a marketing slogan emphasizing pork as a healthy alternative to poultry.

Can I use ham and pork interchangeably in recipes?

Not always, as they have different flavors and textures, depending on the preparation.

What dishes are commonly made with pork?

Dishes like pork chops, pork roast, and pulled pork are popular.

Which is saltier, ham or pork?

Typically, ham is saltier due to the curing process.

Which has more fat, ham or pork belly?

Pork belly generally has more fat than ham.

Can you eat ham raw?

Only if it's been cured or smoked to be consumed without cooking.

Are there religious restrictions on consuming pork and ham?

Yes, religions like Islam and Judaism prohibit the consumption of pork, including ham.

Is ham a type of pork?

Yes, ham is a specific cut of meat from a pig, so it is a type of pork.

What animal does ham come from?

Ham comes from a pig.

What's the difference between pork loin and ham?

Pork loin is from the back of the pig, while ham is from the hind leg.

Is all ham from pigs?

Traditionally, yes. However, there are "ham" products made from other meats, like turkey ham.

Are pork ribs and ham from the same part of the pig?

No, ribs come from the rib region, while ham is from the hind leg.

Are pork sausages made from ham?

Not necessarily; they can be made from various cuts of pork.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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