How to cook

Neck Bones: A Classic Southern Delight

This Southern-style Neck Bones (neckbones) recipe showcases tender, fall-off-the-bone pork necks enveloped in a light gravy. With its robust flavors and deep-rooted tradition, neck bones have become a beloved staple in Southern cuisine. Whether they evoke fond memories of cherished family gatherings or pique your curiosity to explore new culinary horizons, my neck bones recipe will guide you towards a truly satisfying meal.

Neck bones may not immediately come to mind when considering meat cuts, but with the right cooking technique and a little patience, you’ll soon discover the immense flavor they offer. Served with a light gravy and accompanied by delectable sides, this dish is a true Southern classic that won’t disappoint.

What Are Neck Bones?

Neck bones (or neckbones) are exactly what they sound like—the neck portion of various animals such as pork, turkey, or beef. However, pork is the preferred choice for Southern-style cooking. Despite being a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, neck bones deliver an explosion of taste. While they may not contain a significant amount of meat, slow-cooking them until the meat easily falls off the bone is the key to unlocking their full potential.

In this recipe, I use a dry rub consisting of sage, garlic, and paprika. The neck bones are then slow-cooked with onions and a light gravy, resulting in tender, succulent pork necks.

How to Choose the Perfect Neck Bones

Given the varying amounts of meat attached to the bones, it’s essential to select the best ones for this recipe. Butchers often cut and package neck bones randomly, meaning some may have more bone than meat. Take the time to carefully pick out the meatiest pieces to ensure a satisfying dining experience.

Why You’ll Love This Neck Bones Recipe

  • Deeply Flavorful: Each bite bursts with rich and savory goodness, thanks to the combination of seasoned salt, paprika, and sage.
  • Tender Results: Slow-cooking in the oven guarantees beautifully tender neck bones, with meat that effortlessly pulls away from the bone.
  • Homemade Gravy: Our gravy, infused with chicken bouillon and a hint of onion, elevates the dish to mouthwatering heights, complementing the neck bones perfectly.
  • Versatile Serving: These neck bones pair well with a variety of sides, including classic mashed potatoes, greens, or cornbread.
  • Hearty and Satisfying: This meal is the epitome of comfort, filling you up, warming you from the inside, and evoking a sense of home-cooked delight.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Southern-Style Neck Bones

  • Seasonings: To season the neck bones, we’ll use sage, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. The combination of these hearty, earthy flavors is irresistible. Remember to season the neck bones before searing to lock in the flavor.
  • Bacon Fat: I prefer using bacon fat to sear the neck bones for that extra touch of indulgence. However, you can opt for a lighter version by using olive oil or another vegetable oil.
  • Neckbones: You can find them at your local store, and pork collars are also a great choice. Neck bones are versatile, making them perfect for stocks, broths, and flavorful recipes like this one.
  • Onion: Layering sliced white onions on top of the neck bones before baking adds a scrumptious savory dimension to the dish.
  • Chicken Bouillon Powder: Mixed with all-purpose flour and water, this ingredient creates a savory gravy. You can also use beef or vegetable bouillon if you prefer.
  • All-Purpose Flour: We’ll use all-purpose flour to thicken the gravy. If you need a gluten-free option, you can replace it with cornstarch.

Ingredients to make roasted pork necks in small bowls on the counter.

How to Make Neck Bones

  1. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and clean the neck bones.
  2. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and sage. Use this mixture to season the neck bones.
  3. Add bacon fat (or oil) to a large pot and brown the neck bones on all sides for about 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Drain the neck bones and place them in a large casserole dish. Add sliced onions on top, cover with foil, and bake for an hour in the preheated oven.
  5. In a large pot, add 2 cups of lukewarm water and stir in the chicken bouillon powder. Gradually whisk in all-purpose flour until the mixture is smooth and thickened. If the gravy becomes too thick, add a little more water to achieve the desired consistency.
  6. Pour the thickened mixture over the neck bones. Cover and cook for another hour or until the meat easily separates from the bone.

Chicken gravy being poured over neck bones and onions in a baking dish.

What to Serve with this Southern Neck Bone Recipe

For a complete meal, serve your neck bones with side dishes like Collard Greens, Rice, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, or Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

Recipe Variations

  • Use a slow cooker: For a more hands-off approach, you can make this recipe in a slow cooker, saving time and effort.
  • Mix up the spices: Feel free to experiment with different spice combinations such as onion powder, parsley, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, chili flakes, Italian seasoning, Creole seasoning, or bay leaves.
  • Swap out the meat: If pork neck bones aren’t readily available, you can use beef, turkey, or chicken instead. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the type and size of meat you choose.
  • Add some spice: If you prefer a spicier version, incorporate fresh jalapeños, habaneros, or Scotch bonnet peppers into the roasting process.

Tips for Making the Best Neck Bones

  • Thaw before prepping: Ensure that the neck bones are fully thawed before starting the recipe. This allows the seasoning to adhere better and ensures even cooking.
  • Don’t forget to sear them: Searing the neck bones not only enhances the flavors but also seals in moisture and prevents the juices from leaking out.
  • Be patient: To achieve fall-off-the-bone tenderness, avoid rushing the cooking process. Tender neck bones require at least 2 hours of slow cooking.
  • Keep an Eye on Liquid Levels: While baking, make sure there’s enough liquid to keep the neck bones moist and tender. If the liquid reduces too quickly, you can add more stock or water as needed.
  • Rest Before Serving: Once cooked, allow the neck bones to rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring every bite is succulent.

Roasted pork necks with onion in au jus.

What to Do With Leftovers

Once cooled to room temperature, transfer the leftovers to an airtight container for storage. They can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for 2-3 months.


When ready to enjoy your leftovers, transfer the desired portion to a casserole dish and cover it with foil. Reheat in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes or until warmed through. If reheating a single serving, you can also use the microwave in 60-second intervals until hot.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I purchase neckbones?: Neckbones are usually available at most grocery stores. If not, you can check butcher shops or specialty stores like Asian markets.
  • Do I have to clean my neckbones?: Yes, it’s important to clean the neckbones by rinsing them with water to remove any impurities like dirt or blood.
  • Are neckbones healthy?: Neckbones are a healthy food to eat in moderation, as they are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Why are my neck bones tough and not tender?: If your neck bones are tough, it’s likely that they haven’t been cooked long enough. These cuts benefit from slow cooking to allow the connective tissues to break down and the meat to become tender.
  • My gravy is too thick. How can I fix it?: If your gravy is too thick, gradually whisk in additional chicken stock or water until you achieve the desired consistency. Make sure to heat the added liquid to ensure an even consistency.
  • My gravy is too thin. What should I do?: You can create a slurry with equal parts cold water and flour. Gradually whisk this into your gravy and simmer until it thickens.
  • There are lumps in my gravy. How can I smooth it out?: If lumps form in your gravy, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve or use an immersion blender to obtain a smooth consistency.
  • The seasoning doesn’t stand out. How can I enhance the flavor?: If you feel the seasoning is not prominent enough, adjust with a bit more seasoned salt, black pepper, or garlic powder. Always taste as you adjust to ensure a balanced flavor.
  • Can I use beef or vegetable stock instead of chicken stock for the gravy?: Yes, you can substitute with beef or vegetable stock, but be aware that the flavor profile may slightly change. Use whichever you prefer or have on hand.

Roasted pork neckbones over rice next to green beans on a plate.

There’s something special about revisiting classic recipes like neck bones—it’s a chance to savor tradition blended with flavor. When preparing this dish, you’re not just cooking; you’re crafting memories infused with authenticity. Whether it’s for a family gathering, a nostalgic meal, or the sheer joy of cooking, this neck bones recipe is your go-to. It offers tenderness, flavor, and a sense of home. So, when the craving strikes or you find yourself wondering how to perfect those neck bones, remember that this guide has got your back.

Additional Recipes:

If you enjoyed making these neck bones, be sure to explore more of Grandbaby Cakes’ delightful pork recipes such as BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Smothered Pork Chops, Honey Glazed Ham, Baked Turkey Wings, and the Best Meatloaf Recipe.

To learn more about BDK Restaurant and discover exciting culinary experiences, visit BDK Restaurant.

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