How to cook pork belly from tender to crispy

5 min. reading


Pork belly, a truly versatile cut of meat, offers a world of culinary possibilities. Whether you're aiming for a melt-in-your-mouth texture or a tantalizing crispy exterior, learning how to cook pork belly is a skill worth acquiring. Explore various cooking methods and the process of achieving pork belly perfection.


Discover the secrets to a perfectly cooked pork belly with our comprehensive guide. From achieving crispy skin to tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat, we'll walk you through the techniques and tips that will elevate your pork belly dishes to new heights. Get ready to savour the irresistible flavours that await!

Helpful Tips When Buying Pork Belly

Most supermarkets or grocery stores and butcher shops sell pork belly. It can be purchased already sliced into bacon and pancetta or as a full slab. When purchasing pork belly, the most crucial thing to look for is freshness and the absence of any abnormalities. The following indicators can be used:

Colour: The fat should be a light creamy white if it’s in good condition. Any colour change—whether yellow or grey shading—indicates that this pork belly has aged past its prime.

Smell: There shouldn't be any overtly unpleasant odour that suggests decay.

Texture: The flesh should be pink, firm to the touch, and slime-free.

Fat-to-flesh ratio: An equitable distribution of rendered fat and a 50:50 proportion of the two parts is ideal in this instance.

Deep Fry Crispy Filipino Pork Belly Lechon Kawali


Lechon Kawali is a Filipino delicacy made from pork belly simmered until tender and then deep-fried until golden and crisp. It's often served with a side of pickled papaya and a soy-vinegar dipping sauce. Crunchy on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside, this recipe is a true delight for both local and foreign palates.

Show recipe

How to prepare pork belly

Ask your local butcher for assistance and guidance with boning, trimming, slicing, scoring, and rolling. Pork belly has exceptionally tough skin, so you'll need a sharp knife to make the proper cut if the recipe calls for the skin to be scored. Your butcher will be pleased to score the meat for you if you're unsure, saving you the trouble. Pork belly is also reasonably priced, making it ideal for Sunday roasts on a tight budget. 


Pork Belly Cooking Times

The following times are general guidelines for how long to cook pork belly. Note that cooking times can vary depending on the size and thickness of the pork belly. It's always recommended to use a meat thermometer to ensure the pork belly reaches a safe internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for medium doneness. Adjust the cooking time accordingly and consider specific recipe instructions for more precise guidelines.

Oven roasting: Cook for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the pork belly. You could also cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) and the skin is crispy.

Slow roasting: Slow roast your pork belly for approximately 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is tender and the skin is crispy. For extra crispiness, you can finish under the broiler for a few minutes, watching closely to avoid burning.

Braising: Braise in the oven for approximately 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is tender and the fat has rendered.

Air frying: Cook for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the pork belly is crispy and cooked through. Remember, cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the pork belly and the specific air fryer model, so it's essential to monitor the cooking process closely.

Pan frying: Cook the pork belly, turning occasionally, for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add or subtract time until the meat is cooked to your desired level of doneness.


Time Guidelines by Weight

When preparing pork belly, it's essential to know the precise cooking time to achieve that perfect tenderness and flavor. As a general rule, pork belly requires approximately 40 minutes of cooking time per kilogram. So, if you have a 500g piece of pork belly, it's recommended to cook it for about 20 minutes. However, always keep an eye on the meat during cooking and adjust the time based on its thickness and your preferred level of doneness.

Now, what are the 3 ways that pork belly can be cooked? Well, we actually have more than 3: The air fryer method, pan-frying, in the oven, slow-roasting, and even on the BBQ. Let’s get to it!  

How to Cook Pork Belly in an Air Fryer

A crispy, flavourful pork belly is just a few steps away with the help of an air fryer. The air fryer uses rapid hot air circulation to create a crispy exterior on the pork belly. This method helps achieve a similar texture to that of deep-frying but with less oil. 

Here's how:

Season the pork belly with a few spices and marinades.
Preheat the air fryer to the recommended temperature.
Place the pork belly in the air fryer basket, ensuring it's not overlapping.

Cook for the specified time, flipping halfway for even browning.
Voila! Your air fryer pork belly is ready to be devoured. Enjoy the crispy goodness with some mashed potatoes!

How to Cook Pork Belly Strips and Slices

Pork belly strips and pork belly slices refer to different cuts of pork belly:


Pork Belly Strips:

Pork belly strips are long, rectangular cuts of pork belly. They are usually cut across the layers of fat and meat on the pork belly chunk, resulting in strips that have alternating layers of fat and lean meat. Pork belly strips are commonly used in various dishes, such as stir-fries, grilled skewers, or bacon-like preparations.

Pork Belly Slices:

Pork belly slices are cuts of pork belly that are sliced horizontally, resulting in individual slices of pork belly with a cross-section of both fat and meat layers. These slices are often thicker compared to the strips, and the fat and meat layers are visible in each slice. Pork belly slices are frequently used for braising, roasting, grilling, or frying, as they can retain their shape and moisture during the cooking process.

The choice between pork belly strips and slices depends on the desired cooking method and the recipe you plan to follow. Pork belly strips are versatile and well-suited for quick-cooking methods, while pork belly slices are better for slower cooking methods that allow the fat to render and result in tender, succulent meat.

Pork belly strips and slices lend themselves beautifully to various cooking methods. Let's dive in:

  • Season the pork belly strips or slices with your desired flavours and spices.
  • For the oven method, preheat the oven first. Then, place the pork belly on a baking tray and roast until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender.
  • When pan frying, heat the pan over medium-high heat first. Go on and add a touch of oil and sear the pork belly until both sides are golden brown.
  • Keep in mind the cooking times may vary depending on thickness and desired doneness.

Once cooked to perfection, serve your succulent pork belly strips or slices as a delightful main course or incorporate them into one of our favorite recipes like this steak and bacon salad.

How to cook Pork Belly Slices in a Frying Pan

To achieve irresistible pork belly slices right in your frying pan, start by slicing the pork belly into thin pieces. 

  • Heat your frying pan over medium-high heat. 
  • Add a touch of oil to prevent sticking. 
  • Place the pork belly slices in the pan. Allow them to cook undisturbed until the bottom side is golden and crispy.
  • Flip the slices and continue cooking until the other side reaches the same delectable crispness.

With a sizzle and a pop, you'll have beautifully cooked pork belly slices that are perfect for enjoying on their own or adding to a Brussels sprouts and onion stir-fry or tacos.

How to Cook Pork Belly in the Oven

Do you want to find out how long to cook pork belly bites in the oven? This is for those seeking a traditional approach, or those who generally love a good pork roast. Oven-roasted pork belly is a classic delight. Follow these steps:

  • Preheat the oven and prepare the pork belly by scoring the skin and seasoning it generously.
  • Place the pork belly on a roasting rack and roast until the skin is golden and crackling- about one and a half to two hours.
  • To ensure tender meat, consider the slow cooking method to allow the flavours to develop.

How to Cook Pork Belly on the BBQ

Grilling pork belly on the BBQ unlocks a realm of smoky deliciousness. Here's how to achieve barbecue bliss:

  • Preheat the grill and prepare the pork belly by seasoning it to taste.
  • Grill the pork belly over indirect heat, allowing the fat to render and the skin to crisp up.
  • Baste with marinades or glazes during the cooking process for extra flavour.

Keep an eye on the heat and cooking time to achieve that perfect balance of charred edges and tender meat.

Additional Cooking Considerations

Cooking Time: The cooking time for pork belly varies based on weight, thickness, and the cooking method chosen. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches a safe internal temperature.

Resting: Allow the pork belly to rest before slicing, as it helps retain moisture and ensures a better eating experience.

Serving Suggestions: Serve your cooked pork belly with a side of tangy slaw, steamed vegetables, or fluffy rice to complement its flavors and textures.

How to Serve Pork Belly

Congratulations! You've learned the art of cooking pork belly to crispy perfection. Whether you prefer the convenience of an air fryer, the classic oven-roasting technique, or the smoky allure of the BBQ, there's a method that suits your taste. With our tips and techniques, you'll be able to create tantalising pork belly dishes that will delight family and friends. So, roll up your sleeves, embrace your inner chef, and let the pork belly adventures begin! Here are a few ideas to serve your pork belly:

Rolled pork belly with herby apricot and honey stuffing

This tender pork belly, lovingly rolled with a delectable filling of herby apricot and sweet honey is a true culinary delight. The combination of flavours is pure magic, creating a succulent masterpiece that will have your taste buds dancing with joy. 

Rolled Pork Belly with Herby Apricot and Honey Stuffing


A beautiful centerpiece for any special meal, this rolled pork belly with herby apricot and honey stuffing is the perfect blend of savory and sweet. The stuffing complements the rich, crispy pork belly beautifully, while the honey adds a subtle sweetness that ties everything together perfectly. Serve this dish at your next holiday gathering or dinner party and your guests will be truly impressed.

Show recipe

Crispy crackled pork belly with fennel and apple slaw

Picture this: perfectly crispy crackling atop succulent pork belly, paired with a refreshing and zesty fennel and apple slaw. The contrasting textures and flavours will have you hooked from the first bite. 

Crispy Crackled Pork Belly with Fennel and Apple Slaw


This recipe perfectly combines the succulent and crispy crackled pork belly with a fresh and tangy fennel and apple slaw. Great for a weekend meal, this dish pairs well with a glass of crisp white wine. The blend of various flavors will leave you craving for more!

Show recipe

Ham hock and pork belly pie

Dive into a slice of pure comfort with our sensational ham hock and pork belly pie! Tender ham hock and succulent pork belly are encased in a golden, flaky crust that is so delicious you’ll want it on your weekly dinner plan.

Slow Cooker Ham Hock and Pork Belly Crust Pie


The Ham Hock and Pork Belly pie is a comforting, hearty and full-flavored dish for a special family dinner. Its intense deliciousness comes from slow-cooked ham hocks and juicy pork belly paired with fresh veggies and a decadent pastry crust. The layers of delicious flavours wrapped in a crispy golden pie crust will definitely make your loved ones ask for seconds.

Show recipe

Crisp pork belly with black bean sauce

Create this succulent pork belly with a tantalisingly crispy exterior, generously coated in a savoury and aromatic black bean sauce. It's a symphony of taste and texture that will leave you craving more. 

Roasted Crisp Pork Belly with Black Bean Sauce


Featuring a succulent pork belly with a crispy skin, this dish pairs the rich flavor of pork with a savory black bean sauce. It's a satisfying dish that's perfect for special occasions or just a lavish weeknight dinner. Enjoy this balanced, flavorful dish that will definitely wow your family and friends!

Show recipe

Red-braised pork belly with apple salad

Try our mouthwatering red-braised pork belly paired with a refreshing apple salad! It’s tender and succulent pork belly, slow-cooked in a rich and aromatic sauce, paired with a crisp apple salad bursting with tangy flavours. It's a harmonious marriage of sweet, savoury, and crunchy goodness that will leave you craving seconds!

Easy Red-Braised Pork Belly with Apple Salad


Relish this palate-pleasing fusion of red-braised pork belly matched with the fresh and juicy apple salad. This recipe is an intriguing melange of sweet, salty, tangy, and savory flavors, blending tender pork belly with the sweetness of honey and apples, all balanced with the tangy lime and Dijon mustard dressing.

Show recipe

Crispy Steamed Pork Belly Bao Buns


Looking to try your hands at an authentic Asian delicacy? The Pork Belly Bao, also known as Guangzhou's Gua bao, is a scrumptious sandwich-style dish filled with tender pork belly slices, tangy pickled veggies, and a sweet-and-savoury sauce, bundled in a soft, fluffy bun. It's a balanced combination of flavours and textures - crunchy, juicy, sweet and tangy.

Show recipe

Support for those who love to cook

Great recipes, useful hints and tips and lots of inspiration. Join those who love to cook and find the answer to the question: What will I cook today?