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.
Want to try this roasted Pork Hock Recipe?
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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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I made this, but I did not have onion or juniper seeds. The results were still excellent. Nice crispy skin after broiling on low-broil for about 10 minutes.
Cooking this as I type. Easy. Will post more comments after we eat it
Best ever we really enjoyed it. Perth Western Australia
Came out perfect with the simmer method. Cooking again tonight!
I tried this! It was my first attempt at anything like it – I have to say it was very helpful thank you.
Adrian Choong says
Can i replace the boiling in the pot with boiling in a pressure cooker?
and if i can choose to air fry instead of roasting in the oven? Thinking of how i can save time better
Thank you for the recipe. Makes me confident to try it out
Hi Julia, This looks amazing and I am going to try it today!! Do you think it would be OK if I simmered it and then left it to cool either on a dry rack or covered?? before putting it in the oven?
I will let you know how it goes.
Julia Foerster says
I haven’t tried that so I’m not sure, sorry. I think it depends on how long you let it cool before putting it in the oven.
I have a very old oven that only has one function which I think is similar to fan forced. If I can’t turn the broiler one is there another way I can make the hock crispy?
Hi.. i have a hard time to find caraway seed. Any substitute for this???
Julia Foerster says
Cumin seeds make a good substitute.
Really great recipe, don’t toss the liquid from the pre-cooking, it is also good. I cooked some fennel bulb and potatoes in to get out some of the salt and as a side dish. The rest of the liquid will be made into a soup with last bits of ham hock.
Thank you for a SUPER DELICIOUS recipe, Julia. I have chosen to bake it. That’s Marvellous!
Can the juniper berries be left out? Or substituted? I’m trying not to leave the house due to the virus, and I dont have them in my pantry. Thank you
Julia Foerster says
You can leave them out, Mackenzie!
I was always struggling to get the nice crispy skin on the pork knee. With this recipe it was parfect, just like in the proper bavarian restaurant. thanks!
Sandra Werner says
Made this recipe yesterday very easy to follow, I made it exactly to your recipe turned out great. We had it with potatoes with garlic and speck, and I made a gravy from the broth which I added some stock powder to to give it more taste, and thickened it a little.to serve along side the meal. will be making it again. This is the first time I made Schweinshaxe, I make Schaufele often, we love the German cooking, we live in Australia but visit Germany a lot, as my husband is from Bavaria. We get to eat all this good food when we are there, but we have all of the good stuff at home as well, I cook a lot of German cuisine. Thank you for sharing your recipe on Pinterest it is a winner. Regards Sandra
Betsie Fourie says
So easy to make. Thank you so much for sharing your photos and awesome 👌 recipes.
Cooked exactly as described above. YUM! Definitely a keeper. Need to be a fan of meat for this one!!
Carl Schlemmer says
I just completed boiling and baking my Ham Hocks, they came out with a crispy skin yet extremely soft skin and meat, like butter. I had boiled my Ham Hocks for two hours, four in all so i had a lot of soup, I tossed three hocks in a casserole pot a along with some onions and garlic along with a four cups of the hock soup and two cups of beef broth, baked it in the oven for one hour covered and rotating the the meat three times and then I uncovered it and put it on the broiler for 15 minutes, flipped it one time. The other hock I chopped it up and made a bean soup.
I’ve been to Germany many times and probable had a dozen pork knuckles throughout my travels.
I followed the recipe and I found that the meat was a little tough compared to ham hocks that I have had.
The ham hock that I purchased was 2.83 pounds, which I thought was pretty large.
Can you please tell me if I should have cooked it for longer, maybe 2.5-3 hrs at 200 degrees? Should I have covered it?
Can you please tell me why you score the skin?
Overall, I thought that the recipe was good and would cook it again.
Hi Paul, A good rule of thumb on making it tender would be to stick a meat fork all the way into it when its in the water… If it slides off easily you are good. And make sure you do NOT boil the water… it needs to be slow cooked or its going to be tough.
Dan Schaefer says
My first time buying or cooking a pork hock, but the recipe was delicious. Since pork hocks are reasonably priced, the hock which had enough meat for at least 3 people was also an economical meal. The pork skin or crackle as we called it growing up was a nice treat. Looking forward to more German recipes.
Thank you Julia
this is a 10/10 recipe. Will definitely be making it again and this time for the whole family.
If i double up the amount of pork knuckles, do i need to double up the ingredients in the broth as well? or use the same amount of ingredients but just ensure that the knuckles are well covered?
Just make sure they are well covered.