What is Head Cheese?- Where to Find?

What is head cheese

What is Head Cheese? also known as brawn or souse. It is a great meal made with flesh from a pig or calf head that is nourishing and flavorsome.

It is a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a pig or a calf. It is not a dairy cheese. It tastes like a combination of rich sweetbreads and pâté, and it is more appetizing than bologna or salami. It is made from real heads precisely from the heads of a pig or calf.

What is head cheese?

Head cheese is also known as brawn or souse. It is a great meal made with flesh from a pig (majorly) or calf head. It is very nourishing and flavorsome. It originates from Europe. You are most likely to find prepared head cheese in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Italy. Some parts of Europe utilize flesh from the head of a sheep or cow as a substitute for the pig, but this is less common. In an already prepared dish, it is a cold-cut terrine or meat jelly that is served cold or warm.

A lot of people conclude a bad rap based on food names.  By name, the dish is called cheese, but there is no cheese involved in its making. The word ‘cheese’ was presumably assigned because referring to a name such as ‘head loaf’ is quite unpalatable.

It is made up of pork head meat, ears, heart, tongue, jowls, and snout. It is interesting that each cut has a different texture and different flavor. Trust me, there’s a lot of great meat covering the head and immediately separated from the bones, you have one of the porkiest flavors in a pig. Also, not every part of the head is used in preparing this. Parts that are not used in preparing ahead cheese include the animal’s brain, eyes, and ears. The feet, tongue, and heart of the animal may be added. Trimmings cuts of pork and veal may be added too with gelatin.

How to Make it

You might want to think, Oh, it’s delicious, but I still can’t make it. Well, making this as easy as pie. It cooking procedure does not require any rigorous process. When you began stewing the animal’s head in the pot, you will be completely blown away by its taste and aroma (they are out of this world).

Here’s how to make it and where you start from. You begin by boiling a full pig head (yes, everything) in a big stockpot filled with seasoning, aromatics, herbs, and vegetables. Allow it to cook for six hours. It takes so long to cook because the tongue is a tough part to cook. Hence, you cook it until the tongue becomes fork-tender. When it becomes fork-tender, strain the head, pluck the meat off, and then cut into pieces and stuff into sausage casings. After this, chill the end product over the night. Finally, you end up with what everyone can’t take their mind and eyes off as they crave for a bite (they will, definitely). 

You’d be surprised how many people (me too) have made ahead cheese without actually realizing they did. It is not about if you’ve cooked pork head meat or not. It is about the process. Anytime you cook meat stock, and the bones become weaker, you’ve indirectly made a weakened head cheese version. A major reason why the soup does not become a meat jelly-like that of head cheese is that it is filled with too much water.


People come across different types yet still conclude and term it as the regular head cheese. You don’t want to make this mistake too. To clarify, there are five different types of cheese. Note the difference.

Regular Head Cheese: A regular head cheese consists of pork head meat, jowls, skins, snouts, pigs’ feet, and gelatin.

Tongue Head Cheese: This includes everything mentioned above plus a pork tongue. Salt and nitrite are usually used to cure the tongue.

Blood Head Cheese: Don’t be surprised. It is usually in form of a sliced rectangular loaf. As the name implies, it is a type made with blood and at the end of the cooking process, it becomes darker.

Sulz: It consists of the regular head cheese recipe and pigs’ feet.

Souse: This also comprises all of the regular head cheese recipe plus vinegar or lemon juice and pigs’ feet.

It Varies by Country

In different places around the world, head cheese is prepared differently. It varies from country to country. Each country either has fewer or more ingredients added to the head cheese recipe. Many germans add some pickles, vinegar, and beef tongue with the regular head cheese recipe to bring out extra flavoring. Southern Louisiana makes head cheese by including vinegar and hot sauce. The Pennsylvania Dutch have their cooking style by adding other animal parts to the regular head cheese recipe.

The Bulgarian prepares theirs with pig head and broth, which is heavily seasoned with garlic before chilling. In Estonia, it is less seasoned, and sometimes carrots or greens are added. Almost every country in Europe has its own special head cheese cooking style, and they enjoy having it among their top food list, you should too.

Where to Find or Buy

Buying a whole pig head to make the head cheese delicacy is easy to get if you live in a large city. The tongues or hearts are frequently available in the supermarkets, although substitute parts might not be found. I advise not to use any substitute product such as fatty cuts as they contain insufficient collagen. Instead of using fatty cuts, go for a substitute of meats and make sure you add some gelatin.


A head cheese might be made from one of the weirdest ingredients; however, it is considered one of the best meals ever. You can never run out of meat options as it comprises a variety of meat cuts. You’d definitely have your dining table filled up after the cooking. It actually good, and I recommend you follow the phrase “try it, you’ll like it.”

What is Head Cheese?- Where to Find?

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