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Smoked pork belly is an irresistible combination of smoky, sweet flavors with a hint of spiciness. You can enjoy it by crisping it up and serving it in sandwiches, tacos, or salads!
What is pork Belly?
Pork belly is a low-cost and fatty meat cut located on the pig’s underside, near the loin, the same area as spareribs. For instance, you can get pork belly spare ribs, a cut of spare ribs with the pork belly still intact.
A whole pork belly cut is one large piece of meat, typically with the skin on, weighing up to 12 pounds. To make bacon, you salt, cure, and smoke the meat after removing the skin. If only salted and cured without smoking, it becomes pancetta.
For the best results, cook pork belly using moist heat. This method will make the meat tender and easy to pull apart with a fork.
Ingredients Needed to Smoke Pork Belly
Sweet Pork Dry Rub
This is our all time favorite dry rub for smoking pork, it’s what we use for making ribs and our Texas Style Smoked Pork Butt.
- Light Brown Sugar: adds a wonderful layer of sweetness that complements the pork and pairs with the spices.
- Paprika, Cayenne and Chili Powder: a blend of mild, lightly sweet, and a hint of spice from using a variety of chile powders.
- Granulated Garlic & Onion: use a granulated version instead of a powder version.
- Salt & Pepper: when smoking or grilling we prefer to use coarse kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper.
When buying pork belly you will find either a whole cut, which is a large piece of pork belly with the skin on, or thick slices. I find that Costco sells pork belly in the large strips which is what is shown in the images on this post. If you’re using a whole cut you will want to remove the skin and score the fat. The cook time might be longer depending on the thickness of the cut.
Best Wood To Use
We recommend using hickory, pecan, maple, or fruit woods like apple or peach for smoking pork belly.
How to Smoke Pork Belly
- Sweet Pork Dry Rub: The sweet brown sugar mingled with the spicy chili powder gives the best of both worlds and is perfect for smoking pork belly. Simply combine all of the ingredients together. The amount is enough for smoking 2-3 pounds of meat.
- Season the pork: if you are using thick slices, then you can simply season the slices on all sides with the rub.
- Smoke: lay the slices of pork directly on the grates of the smoker. Smoke at 225 degrees F for 2.5-3 hours.
Pork belly is best cooked low at 225 degrees F for approximately 2 and 1/2 -3 hours, depending on thickness. While pork is safe to eat at an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, pork belly is best when cooked to 200 degrees F, allowing the fat to render, creating a tender bite.
Ways to serve Pork Belly
- Ramen: add slices of the smoked pork belly on top of a bowl of warm ramen next to a soft-boiled egg.
- Pork Belly Sandwich: make the ultimate BLT or chop it up for a BBQ-style sandwich.
- Pork Belly Tacos: layer pork belly on top of a tangy slaw, a drizzle of crema and some crumbled cheese all inside a soft warm, corn tortilla.
- Sliced: serve slices of the smoked pork belly with your favorite BBQ sauce and a fresh side to pair with the rich meat. Some ideas include our favorite Coleslaw, this green Mexican Salad, or some Elotes (Mexican Grilled Corn).
Bacon goes through a curing process and has a different flavoring than the pork belly does.
Crisp the skin after smoking, this can be done on a hot grill or skillet.
If you are cooking a whole cut of pork belly with a fat cap you want to place the fat side up, this allows the fat to render into the meat while it cooks.
- Storage: Store leftover smoked pork belly in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- Freezer: allow the pork to cool down after cooking. Then wrap in plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Store in a sealed freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Freeze for 3-6 months. To thaw, remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Reheating: cover the meat with some foil and bake in the oven at 275 degrees F until warm, approximately 30 minutes.
Smoked Pork Belly
- 2.5-3 pounds pork belly
Sweet Pork Dry Rub
- ¼ cup light brown sug
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat smoker to 225 using apple, cherry, hickory, pecan or maple wood.
- Prepare the dry rub by adding all of the ingredients into a small bowl and stirring together to combine.
- Pat the pork belly dry and lay on a large baking sheet or cutting board.
- Evenly sprinkle the dry rub on all sides of the pork belly, using your hands to gently press into the meat to help it stick.
- Lay the pork belly directly on the grates of the smoker.
- Smoke for 2.5-3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.
- Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Eat immediately or pan-fry it for a few minutes on each side to make it crispy before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.