Pork belly is the king of bacon. If you love that crisp, salty, smoky breakfast treat you need to try this Smoked Pork Belly! It is an amazing side dish, appetizer, or main course.
The first time we had pork belly was in a fancy restaurant for our anniversary. It was advertised as 'million dollar bacon' and it was amazing. Thick, tender bacon with just enough salt and a spicy-sweet maple glaze. I don't think I saw it in a grocery store until years later. Now that pork belly is more readily available (we get it from Costco) it is a great choice to change up our typical weekly meal plan.
Pork Belly - Of course! When shopping for pork belly, you might find it as a whole large slab either form your butcher or from Costco. You might also find it presliced. Some recipes will prepare pork belly cubes for pork belly burnt ends, or smoke a whole pork belly for a long smoke and then slice it like beef brisket. For our preparation today, we are making it similar to what you would eat when you order thick bacon from a steak house. We are using almost a one-inch thick slice. Each slice is a little over 8 oz.
Sweet Rub - This is a flavorful mixture of smoked paprika, onion powder, brown sugar, and black pepper. The paprika and onion are a great compliment to the smoke and pork flavors. The brown sugar is there for sweetness and texture with the caramelized bark it creates. The black pepper adds a little kick of earthy spice. I love black pepper with my bacon and pork belly. We salt the pork belly to taste after cooking but if you prefer you can add salt to the rub. This really is our favorite pork belly rub for smoking.
How to smoke Pork Belly
Step One: Mix the dry ingredients for your sweet rub in a small bowl. Then, over a cooking pan or cutting board, sprinkle it over all sides of the strips of pork belly. Be sure to coat every side. Then as you turn each piece, rub it in the rub that is remaining on the tray to really get it to rub in well and ensure it is thoroughly covered.
Once the pork belly is covered with the rub, fire up and preheat your smoker to 225 degrees f. I recommend using either cherry wood or hickory for this smoke. If you are using wood chips on charcoal, or on your pellet grill, a combination of cherry and hickory pellets or woodchips creates a great smoky flavor for smoking pork belly.
Step Two: Once the smoker is preheated to 225°F, place the pork belly directly onto the smoker rack. Use a meat thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of the pork belly. Be sure the thermometer probe is in the middle of the slice so that we get an accurate measurement.
We are cooking this low and slow with indirect heat to allow the fat to render and melt away. Once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, the pork is safe to eat. Since we want this to be super tender with a good bark, we are going to cook this for close to three hours at 225°F until the internal temp of the pork belly reaches 200°F. Once it reaches 200 remove it from the smoker, season as desired, and serve.
Pork Belly Burnt Ends aka Pork Belly Bites - You can smoke smaller bite-sized pieces of pork belly. Just make sure to place them on a piece of foil or on a skewer so they don't fall through the grates.
Spicy - If you want some heat on these just mix cayenne pepper, chipotle pepper powder, or extra black pepper into the rub.
What is pork belly?
Pork belly is the leftover piece of meat, after the pork loin and spare ribs are cut apart. It is the fatty piece that is left from the belly of the hog. It is fatty, flavorful, and very versatile. If you were to cure the pork belly, you would have bacon. Who doesn't love bacon? Because of the amount of fat, the uncured pork belly needs to be cooked slowly to fully render all of that fat. You can roast it, braise it, or as we will do, smoke it.
How to serve smoked pork belly strips?
I like to serve this like thick bacon at a steak house. Once it is done, remove it from the grill and place it on a plate to rest. Then drizzle it with a little maple syrup and serve.
You can also use pork belly to make sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, onion, and garlic aioli. Think of it as an upscale BLT!
This is also great as the protein salad topper for your favorite salad.
You can also cube it and serve it with toothpicks which allows your guests to dip it into their favorite bbq sauce.
Smoked Pork Belly
- Traeger Grill or other smoker
- 1-1.5 lb pork belly
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½-1 teaspoon salt
- Make the rub. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.
- Take 1-inch thick strips of pork belly, and coat all sides with the dry rub. Ensure all sides are thoroughly coated.
- Preheat your smoker or pellet grill to 225°F
- Place the pork belly strips directly onto the smoker grate and cook for approximately three hours or until the internal temperature reaches 200°F.
- Remove the strips from the smoker and serve. We salt the pork belly to taste after cooking but if you prefer you can add salt to the rub.