Smoked Pork Belly

Smoked Pork Belly is the only thing better than bacon! Seasoned with an easy dry rub, the pork is cooked low and slow until it’s tender, juicy, and melts in your mouth. It’s a smoky and deeply flavored cut of meat that must make an appearance at your next barbecue.

Look out, pork lovers. This Smoked Pork Belly may just take the “better than bacon” prize! And once you take a bite of this melt-in-your-mouth meat, you’ll understand why.

These easy-to-follow instructions will show you how to make the best dry rub for pork before rubbing it all over a slab of sliced pork belly. The pork is cooked low and slow in a smoker until it’s fall-apart tender and deliciously juicy.

Smoking pork belly takes a few hours from start to finish, but the process is mostly hands-off and the finished result is well worth the wait. Enjoy it in almost any way you can imagine! Pork belly makes for a fantastic appetizer, topping on nachos, taco stuffing, main dish, and so much more.

Bacon vs. pork belly

Both bacon and pork belly come from the underside or bottom of the pig. The major difference between the two lies in the preparation. Bacon is usually smoked, cured, and sliced, whereas pork belly is minimally processed and neither smoked nor cured.

This allows pork belly to be more flexible in its preparation. It can be seasoned, cooked, and sliced any way you like. It also doesn’t contain any added nitrates or preservatives, meaning it’s slightly better for you.

What do you need to make smoked pork belly?

  • Pork belly – Look for bright pink pork belly without brown or gray discoloration when you’re shopping. The slab should have a firm white layer of fat on the top. 
  • Brown sugar – When cooked, brown sugar develops those classic sweet and smoky barbecue flavors you know and love. It also caramelizes around the pork, creating a gorgeous and slightly crispy crust on the surface. 
  • Pork rub spices – A mixture of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and pepper balances the brown sugar with a smoky, savory, and mildly spicy flavor. 

How to smoke pork belly

Start by preheating a smoker or pellet grill. While you wait, mix the brown sugar and dry spices together in a bowl to make the pork dry rub.

Use your hands to coat all sides of the pork belly with the spices.

Now you’re ready to begin smoking the pork. Place the pork belly strips directly onto the smoker grate and cook until the internal temperature reaches 200ºF (about 3 hours).

Once the strips are cooked, remove the pork belly from the smoker. Shred, cut, or serve the pork as-is and enjoy.

Tips and tricks

  • Room temperature pork belly will always cook more evenly than chilled pork. To bring the pork belly down to room temperature, place the slices on the kitchen counter for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check that the pork belly is cooked to 200ºF. You can pull it from the smoker when the internal temp is between 165ºF to 170ºF, tent it with foil, and let the residual heat finish bringing it up to 200ºF. 
  • After smoking, let the pork rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This will help every bit of flavor absorb back into the meat. 

Customize it

Get creative and customize your smoked pork belly with different seasonings, dry rubs, and sauces:

  • Swap the dry spices in this recipe for a Cajun seasoning blend.
  • Make it extra smoky by swapping the spices for my chili seasoning.
  • Add a pinch of cayenne or chili flakes to the dry rub for extra heat.
  • To make pork belly burnt ends, coat the bites of pork in barbecue sauce or white BBQ sauce. Place them in a skillet over high heat to quickly sear the sauce, creating “burnt ends”.
Pork belly on smoker.

Recipe FAQs

How long does a pork belly take to smoke?

My 2-pound pork belly only took 3 hours to cook at 250ºF. However, the time it takes will depend on the size of the cut of meat, as well as the functionality of your smoker. 

Do you have to have a smoker to make this?

If you don’t have a smoker, you can modify the recipe to make pork belly on the grill and finish it in the oven. After coating the pork in the dry rub, place it on a grill over high heat and sear to achieve a char on all sides. Transfer the pork to a large baking dish and place it in a 250ºF oven. Roast until it’s cooked through.

How do you store leftover pork belly?

Let the leftovers cool before placing them in an airtight container. Store them in the refridgerator for 3 to 4 days.

Can you freeze cooked pork belly?

I don’t recommend freezing smoked pork belly because it won’t have quite the same texture and flavor as when it was originally cooked.

Serving suggestions

Pork belly makes for a show-stopping main course with sides like mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and baked beans. But that’s not all! Serve it any way you can imagine, such as:

Wine pairings for smoked pork belly

  • Opt for a dry, acidic Reisling to compliment the rich layer of fat. 
  • A fruity red with smoky undertones like Pinot Noir or Malbec also pairs nicely with pork.
Overhead close up of three smoked pork belly slices with grill marks.

Did you try this Smoked Pork Belly?

If you loved this smoked pork belly I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.

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More how-to guides for meat

Overhead close up of three smoked pork belly slices with grill marks.

Smoked Pork Belly Recipe

Smoked Pork Belly is the only thing better than bacon! Seasoned with an easy dry rub, the pork is cooked low and slow until it’s tender, juicy, and melts in your mouth. It’s a smoky and deeply flavored cut of meat that must make an appearance at your next barbecue.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork belly (cut into 1-inch strips)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat a smoker or pellet grill to 250-degrees.
  • Mix spices and brown sugar and rub into all sides of the pork belly.
  • Place the pork belly strips directly onto the smoker grate and cook for about three hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 200-degrees.
  • Remove the strips from the smoker and serve.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Smoker or Pellet Grill

Nutrition

Calories: 605kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 28g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 333mg | Potassium: 249mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 518IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Cooked pork belly sliced into bite sized pieces.

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