Berliner Eisbein (Simmered Pig Knuckles)

Eisbein (salted pig knuckles) with peas on a plate

The Spruce / Nita West 

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Brine: 24 hrs
Total: 27 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 2 hocks
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
212 Calories
7g Fat
22g Carbs
16g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 212
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 46mg 15%
Sodium 16826mg 732%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 16g
Vitamin C 10mg 50%
Calcium 116mg 9%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 559mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Eisbein is a salt-cured pig knuckle that is simmered for several hours in broth and then served with ​sauerkraut and puréed peas or potatoes. It is a specialty in Berlin and is a favorite for locals and tourists. With our recipe, you can enjoy this succulent pork dish at home with some easy-to-find ingredients and a little patience. Even though it's time consuming, don't miss out on the chance to make this spectacular dish.

When looking for the right pork cut to make eisbein, you're buying the part of the pig's leg that's neither the ham nor the ankle, but the cut in between, known in butchery as the knuckle. This stubby piece of meat is covered in a generous layer of fat, and although it doesn't have a lot of meat, it has enough to make for one happy customer. Plus, the crunchy skin compensates for the lack of meat itself.

If you find fresh pig knuckles, they must be cured with a combination of kosher salt and pink curing salt before eating. Salt-curing them infuses the meat with salt and removes some of the moisture, concentrating the flavor of the meat. A specialty grocery store with on-site butcher services or a German store might have fresh knuckles, otherwise use already salt-cured knuckles, skipping ahead to the cooking steps in our method.


​For the Brine:

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, for each quart of water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pink curing salt, for each quart of water

  • 1 to 2 quarts chilled water

  • 2 large pig knuckles, or hocks, with rind and skin still attached

For the Broth:

  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon allspice

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon coriander

  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries

  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

  • 1 to 2 onions, sliced

  • 1 to 2 carrots, sliced

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Steps to Make It

Note: Although there are multiple steps to this recipe, this pork dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for cooking.

Cure the Pork

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pig knuckles
    The Spruce / Nita West 
  2. A 12 percent salt solution by weight is needed for the brine. Depending on the size of the knuckles and container you're using, you might need more or less than the aforementioned quantity of water. Dissolve 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pink salt per quart of water.

    Pork knuckles in a large bowl with a measuring cup of brine
    The Spruce / Nita West 
  3. Cover the knuckles with the chilled brine in a nonreactive bowl or resealable plastic bags. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to five days. The longer the pork sits in the brine, the saltier it will be. If using bags, turn them over occasionally.

    Adding the brine to the pork knuckles
    The Spruce / Nita West

Cook the Eisbein in Broth

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for eisbein broth
    The Spruce / Nita West 
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

    Water boiling for eisbein broth
    The Spruce / Nita West
  3. Rinse the cured pork under running water and place it in the boiling water.

    Cured pork submerged in boiling water
    The Spruce / Nita West
  4. Bring it back to a boil, skimming the fat from the surface. Turn the heat to low.

    A spoon skimming the fat off the top of the water
    The Spruce / Nita West
  5. Add the spices, vegetables, and sugar. Do not add salt.

    Spices added to pork knuckles for simmering
    The Spruce / Nita West 
  6. Simmer the pork on low for 2 to 3 hours. When the rind starts separating from the meat, the pork is done.

    Pork knuckles simmering in spices
    The Spruce / Nita West
  7. Remove the knuckles from the water and place them on a cooling rack to briefly air-dry. Alternatively, crisp the skin by placing it under the broiler for 20 minutes without overcooking it, as it can become too tough to chew.

    Finished pork on a metal rack
    The Spruce / Nita West
  8. Serve with your favorite sides.

    Eisbein served with peas, carrots, and sauerkraut on a white plate
    The Spruce / Nita West
  9. Enjoy.

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls for adding liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.

Curing Meat

Curing meat requires specific expertise, and failure to cure meat properly may result in severe sickness. If you have no experience in this area, we advise you to consult an expert to teach you proper techniques and applications.

Recipe Tags: