Scrapple is a breakfast meat traditionally eaten in parts of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic. German immigrants now known as the Pennsylvania Dutch brought this economical dish to the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. Leftover pork cuts are blended with flour or cornmeal to make a cheap, filling source of protein that lets no scrap of meat go to waste.
What Is Scrapple?
True to its name, scrapple makes use of every last bit of pork, from meat to skin to organs like liver and tongue. These off-cuts are ground finely and blended with pork stock and binders like wheat flour, buckwheat flour, or cornmeal, then seasoned with salt and a blend of spices that varies by producer. The result is a loaf that keeps its shape when sliced, becoming crispy and caramelized on the outside and warm and tender on the inside when fried in a pan.
In Pennsylvania, scrapple is a staple at restaurants and grocery stores. You’ll find it on breakfast sandwiches at curbside food carts, accompanying eggs and home fries on diner menus, and cubed, fried, and speared on a deer antler at high-end restaurants like Elwood, a locally-focused BYOB in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood.
How to Cook Scrapple
Cut scrapple into slices one-half inch thick, then dredge both sides in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Shake or brush off the slices to remove any excess flour clinging to the surface.
Heat a little oil or bacon grease in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the slices of scrapple in the pan and cook for three to five minutes per side until browned and crisp. Place finished slices on a plate lined with paper towels to drain, then serve immediately.
Scrapple is best fried in a pan to create a crisp crust, but it can also be baked. Arrange slices on a sheet pan and bake for 40 minutes at 375 F. Halfway through the baking time, use a spatula to flip the slices and crisp up the other side.
What Does Scrapple Taste Like?
Scrapple has a savory, rich pork flavor with a toasty note thanks to the caramelized cornmeal or flour that’s mixed into the meat. Its texture is crunchy on the outside, with a contrasting interior that’s soft and tender. Scrapple will also carry the flavors of any spices used to flavor it by the producer or manufacturer, such as allspice, clove, and nutmeg, or onion, garlic, and black pepper.
Scrapple vs. Goetta vs. Livermush
Scrapple isn’t the only regional breakfast meat developed by German immigrants to stretch meat supplies. In the Cincinnati, Ohio area, similar cuts of pork are mixed and cooked with steel-cut oats, onions, and spices, then formed into loaves and cooled. The meat is then formed into sausage-like patties and fried. Goetta is eaten for breakfast, as well as in sandwiches, or even as a burger or pizza topping.
Livermush, a similar dish, is served in Western North Carolina and nearby states like Virginia and South Carolina. Made from pork liver and other off-cuts ground and mixed with cornmeal, it’s similar to scrapple, with liver as the primary meat ingredient and a higher ratio of cornmeal. Livermush is typically seasoned like breakfast sausage with spices like black pepper and sage. Like scrapple, it’s sliced and fried, typically for breakfast.
In the Netherlands, the traditional dish balkenbrij, made with scraps of pork from the head blended with buckwheat flour and herbs, is similar to scrapple.
Where to Buy Scrapple
Look for blocks of scrapple in the breakfast meats section of well-stocked grocery stores, supermarkets, butcher shops, and food co-ops. It’s typically sold in square or rectangular loaves vacuum-sealed in plastic packaging. Scrapple may also be sold frozen in the freezer aisle and can sometimes be found at farmers’ markets, especially in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.
Store scrapple in your refrigerator in its original packaging. If frozen, store in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator (or according to package directions) the night before you’re ready to use it. After opening, store uncooked scrapple in an airtight plastic bag or container in your refrigerator.
According to the USDA, scrapple can often be stored in the refrigerator for up to 50 days; follow the best-by date on the packaging. Store frozen scrapple in your freezer for up to one year.
Nutrition and Benefits of Scrapple
Scrapple is rich in carbohydrates and protein as well as Vitamin A and iron. It’s also relatively high in fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Nutrition data for scrapple varies by producer.
Adekunle AO, Porto-Fett AC, Call JE, Shoyer B, Gartner K, Tufft L, Luchansky JB. Effect of storage and subsequent reheating on viability of Listeria monocytogenes on pork scrapple. J Food Prot. 2009 Dec;72(12):2530-7. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-72.12.2530. PMID: 20003735.
Scrapple. FoodData central. United States Department of Agriculture