German Pork Hock, also known as roasted ham hock or Schweinshaxe, is a traditional Bavarian dish that’s popular not only during the Oktoberfest but all year round. This easy pork knuckle recipe takes a few hours but cooks without too much effort on your part and rewards you with delicious pork crackling and tender meat. Hands down one of my favorite German recipes!
This roasted pork hock has been a favorite of my husband for a while now. When I think of a German Schweinshaxe this is exactly how I want it to be: super crispy pork rind and tender, flavorful meat. If you’ve ever been to Munich you know what I’m talking about!
You can make Schweinshaxen two different ways: roast it or put it in water and then roast it. My preferred way, because it always makes perfect roasted pork knuckles at home, is to let the knuckle simmer in water first and then roast it in the oven to perfection. This cooking method ensures that you have a crispy skin, tender meat, and great flavor.
What is a pork hock?
A pork hock is also known as ham hock, pig knuckle, or pork knuckle. It’s the joint at the bottom of the shank of the pig between the tibia/fibula and the ankle where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg but it’s not part of the ham. The pork knuckle contains a lot of connective tissue which when it melts add great flavor and texture to the meat. It’s a relatively cheap cut of meat.
To make authentic German Schweinshaxen (Schwein = pig, Haxe = hock) you need a fresh, uncured, unsmoked pork knuckle. Schweinshaxen are usually made from the rear legs because they have a thicker layer of fat, but pork hocks from the front legs can also be used. One knuckle serves about two adults depending on the size. (photo 1)
How to cook ham hocks – Step by Step
Bring water in a big pot to a boil, add salt, onions, peppercorns, bay leaves, and juniper berries. Then submerge the pork hock in the water and let simmer at a low temperature for 90 minutes. (photo 2)
After 90 minutes use tongs to remove the pork knuckle from the water and use a sharp knife to incise the skin in a diamond pattern. This allows the skin to crisp up better and makes it easier to eat it after roasting. (photo 3 and 4)
How long to cook ham hocks in the oven
Rub the pork knuckle with caraway seeds and salt while preheating the oven to 390°F (200°C). Place the hock on a rack in a roasting pan and bake for 90 minutes. (photo 5)
How to make pork knuckle skin crispy
To crisp up the skin turn on the broiler for the last 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it because it can get burned pretty quickly. The skin will crackle and get super crispy. (photo 6)
What to serve with Schweinshaxe
Traditionally Schweinshaxen (Roasted German Pork Knuckles) are served with potato salad (Try my recipe for Authentic German Potato Salad), potato dumplings, or mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Sometimes they are also served with a gravy or red cabbage.
Can I double this recipe?
Yes, you can double this recipe if you have a large enough pot or use two pots. The pork knuckles should be submerged in the water.
Is a pork hock the same as a ham hock?
A pork hock and a ham hock are the same. They can come from the rear or the front legs of a pig. Sometimes the hock that comes from the rear legs is referred to as a ham hock but you treat them the same.
Can I give my dog a pork hock?
No, you can’t give the bone from the pork hock to your dog because they easily splinter and are even softer after cooking.
Other German Recipes you might like to try:
- German Cucumber Salad Recipe
- Bavarian Beer Cheese Spread (Obatzda)
- German Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)
- Easy German Spaetzle Recipe
- Bavarian Pretzels
Tools used to make this recipe:
Roasting Pan with Rack: You want to use a roasting with a rack so that the ham hock gets crispy on all sides. The pan catches the dripping and makes clean up easier.
Caraway Seeds: You need whole caraway seeds for this recipe.
Chef’s Knife: To cut the skin into a diamond pattern it’s best to use a sharp knife. The skin is much easier to cut after it has been submerged in water for 90 minutes but you make it easier for you if you use a good knife.
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German Pork Hock (Schweinshaxe Recipe)
- 2 pork knuckles, fresh, uncured, unsmoked
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 juniper berries
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- Bring water in a big pot to a boil, add 2 tsp salt, quartered onions, peppercorns, bay leaves, and juniper berries. Turn down the temperature so that the water is still hot but not simmering and submerge the pork hocks. They should be covered with water. Let them cook at a low temperature for 90 minutes. The water should not boil or simmer.
- After 90 minutes use tongs to remove the pork knuckles from the water and use a sharp knife to incise the skin in a diamond pattern.
- Preheat oven to 390°F (200°C) and rub the pork knuckles with caraway seeds and salt. Place the hocks on a rack in a roasting pan and bake for about 90 minutes in the middle of the oven. Turn the pork hocks after 45 minutes.
- To crisp up the skin turn on the broiler for the last 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them because the skin can get burned pretty quickly. It will crackle and get super crispy.
- Serve immediately!
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Farouk Baxter says
Perfect Shweinshaxe every time. I always add 1/4 cup vinegar to the boil as it enhances tenderness. Thank you Julia.
Love how these turned out.
One question though, about the one thing my partner dislikes is caraway seed. Is there something I can used to replace it. I used cracked black pepper, but was wondering if there was a different alternative.
Julia Foerster says
There isn’t really an alternative that I know of. Cracked black pepper sounds like a good idea. I’m also not the biggest caraway seed fan myself but I don’t mind it in this recipe.
Emil Jonasson says
What a great recipe! I’ve tried to cook a few schweinhaxe over the years and they haven’t been all that successful.
The simmering in the seasoned water was the key for me. No worrying about different kinds of simmer or boiling – just leave it in hot water for long enough and it’s gonna cook. Bit like poaching a chicken.
Struggled a little to get the salt and caraway to stick to the rind, mainly due to only having salt flakes I think but I wonder if just a touch of oil would help?
Roasted for the recommended time in fan oven and there was no need to use broiler/ grill – skin was perfect and crispy. The initial “poach” helps a lot of the fat render out of the skin so you aren’t left with a mouthful of grease when you bite in. Still no health food but a lot more pleasant to eat. Maybe this technique could work with other pork roast cuts as well?
A tip for roasting – if you can get the hock to stand on end (bone pointing up/down) you will get even crisping of the skin. I used a little roll of foil to help mine stand up as it was cut a bit unevenly.
I ate this while visiting Munich with delicious gravy. Do you have an authentic gravy recipe to go with this?
Julian Green says
Hallo , really enjoyed he Schweinhaxe recipe . I spent 10 years in Stuttgart Germany and met the love of my life Heidi that I lost in 2016 ! I love this dish the problem that I have found in Colorado Springs is getting the right cut of the Haxe ,
Apparently most American butches ( if you can find it fresh ) do not know how to cut it ! Some stores have it frozen and I have trouble making it properly . Perhaps you can help me . Thank you
Julia Foerster says
Hi Julian, I would try to find a German butcher. I’ve googled and Wimberger’s Old World Bakery and Delicatessen in Colorado Springs looks like a great place to start your search. Perhaps they know of a butcher that knows their stuff! Hope this helps!
I can’t believe we got crackle after it had been soaking in liquid for so long. This was so tender and crispy and amazingly delicious. We cooked the potatoes in the brine for additional flavour and used some of the fat from the pan to make gravy, served with a salad. This will be my go to for pork knuckle!
Rebecca Husband says
I am very interested in making this recipe. Can the pork be simmered the night before? I would like to re-heat it and crisp it the following day. Would it work as well?
Julia Foerster says
I have never tried it that way so I’m not sure but I think it would work.
Lionel Michaud says
I would like to know how to reheat refrigerate pork knuckle? Should stop to bake before to broil, then reheat in oven?
What is your advice?
I thank to you for taking time
Is this different from Berlin’s Eisbein or Poland’s Golonka?
Also does Schweinshaxe refers to German pork hocks in general, or only the version from Bavaria?
I ask this because from where I am (Asia), all German restaurants offer the crispy Bavarian version of schweinshaxe. It gives the impression that the Bavarian version is the official version for the whole of Germany.
Julia Foerster says
Yes, they are different. Eisbein is not crispy, Schweinshaxe is. Schweinshaxe is always roasted and Eisbein is pickled but they are made from the same part of the pig.
I bought smoked hocks by mistake – can i still use these for this recipe?
Julia Foerster says
I’m afraid smoked hocks won’t work for this recipe.
Throw those smoked hocks in a kettle with a 1 to 1.5 gallons of water, 2-4 tablespoons of vinegar, 2-3 tablespoons of garlic powder, peeled potatoes, thickly sliced carrots, thick-sliced onions, and cook over medium heat slowly for 3.5 hour to 4 hours…Delish!
Plated Cravings this recipe is incredible! Wow. I cooked my knuckles in the water for a bit longer (I was watching a movie and lost track of time) but they were perfect! Super moist meat with delicious crackle. Thank you for sharing, I will definitely make this again!
Elaine Lopez says
Hi! This looks so good! May I ask how deep the diamond cuts should be? Should it go all the way thru the skin? Thank you!
Julia Foerster says
You want to cut through the layer of skin and fat but not into the meat. This way the fat will crisp up but the meat juices will stay inside.
Farouk Baxter says
After many attempts which always came out to be a waste of good porkhock, your recipe was perfect with the following changes. I varied the final oven temperature between 300ºF and 350ºF, and the time to 60 minutes, this is because I have a convectional oven which cooks much faster, otherwise the meat would have been overcooked and the skin burnt. No broiling neccessary with this type oven.
Rob from Canada says
Followed directions to a ‘T’. Only part that I modified was the final broil which I turned off after 3 1/2 minutes. You really need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Gotta say it turned out as well as those I’ve had in Bayern (and I’ve had a few). Thank you for sharing.
I tried this for the first time and it came out great with tender meat and crispy skin. I had trouble finding raw, unsmoked pork hocks, and I finally found them at Whole Foods. During the simmering stage, I used a thermometer to keep the water between 160F and 180F the entire time. Watch the meat as it broils to avoid burning. Highly recommended!
Hilary Johnston says
Having prepared this dish, I don’t think I had the water hot enough. Perhaps I interpreted the word “simmer” differently than you do. The marrow and meat closest to the bones had not cooked through after the hocks had spent their 90 minutes in the hot water over the lowest flame on my “true simmer” burner.
Next time, I will let the water get warm enough for me to see the warm water rising and rolling over, without breaking into the low boil I think you want us to avoid.
This recipe was really great! easy to follow. Im just surprised that its pretty hard to find a pork hock but found it eventually at 99Ranch , need to show them the picture. Pork came out juicy from the inside and crispy skin. Loved it! Wish I can show the picture of it. Made it last night .
Just got a pork hock from my meat CSA and can’t wait to try this recipe. Quick question…should I cover the pot while the pork is cooking on the stove?