By Christie Vanover | Published September 28, 2017 | Last Updated February 14, 2023
Every pitmaster needs to have a good pork belly recipe up their sleeve. It’s one of those dishes that are fairly easy to make, but leave people craving your barbecue.
What are pork belly burnt ends?
Burnt ends are a tradition in the beef world. They are cubes of beef brisket cut from the point end (the fattier part). After cooking slow and low, they’re tossed in sauce and caramelized.
But pork lovers have decided they want a piece of the burnt end action. Pork belly burnt ends are everywhere on Instagram. They’re actually easy to make, and take less time than their beef counterparts.
Unlike the brisket, which a cut of meat that comes from the chest of the cow, pork belly burnt ends are made from the belly of the pig, which is where bacon comes from.
Bacon however is cured and then smoked. With pork belly burnt ends, there is no curing involved, so you can make this recipe in just a few hours.
How to set your grill up to smoke pork belly burnt ends
Before you prepare the pork belly, you’ll want to setup your grill or smoker to 225F degrees with an indirect heat zone.
Charcoal Grill: With a kettle grill, only add hot coals to one side of the grill. With a ceramic cooker, add the diffuser plate. Add a wood chunk to the coals just before adding the pork belly.
Pellet Grill: Add wood pellets and set the temperature to 225F degrees. The grill has a diffuser, so the heat is already indirect.
Gas Grill: Turn one burner onto medium. Leave the other burners off. Adjust the burner temp until the grill reaches 225F degrees. Place a Foil Pouch filled with wood chips over the hot burner for smoky flavor.
WOOD TYPE: My favorite types of wood for smoking pork belly burnt ends are pecan wood, cherry wood or apple wood.
How to smoke pork belly burnt ends
- STEP ONE: Start with a trimmed slab of skinless pork belly. With a sharp knife, cut it into one-inch cubes.
- STEP TWO: Toss the pork belly cubes in your favorite BBQ rub. You can either do this in a large bowl or on a sheet pan.
- STEP THREE: To save time, place the cubes in a single layer on a baking rack, and then place the baking rack on the preheated grill. This way you don’t have to leave your grill open as you place each one on the grate, allowing you to maintain a steady temp. Smoke for 3 hours at 225F degrees.
- STEP FOUR: After about 3 hours, the pork belly cubes will have a nice bark. Remove them from the grill and place them in an aluminum pan.
Toss the cubes of pork belly in some sauce, butter and honey and cover with aluminum foil. Return to the smoker for 1 more hour. You want them to get nice and soft. I look for a temperature around 203F degrees.
I use a digital meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the pork belly.
- STEP FIVE: Once they reach 203F degrees, you want the sauce to get nice and tacky. Remove the foil and let them smoke for another 15 minutes uncovered.
How to serve pork belly burnt ends
Allow the cubed pork belly to cool slightly and then serve right away.
Smoked pork belly burnt ends are great as appetizers served with toothpicks. You can also pile them into tacos or onto a bun to make sandwiches. Or serve them over a bowl of white rice with some fresh pickled vegetables. Or on a Loaded Baked Potato with Smoked Mac and Cheese.
Some competitive barbecue contests have “hog wild” categories where they allow you to turn in your best bite of pork. Pork belly burnt ends make a great entry. People I compete against also do well with jalapeno poppers stuffed with pork.
Since judges are fans of cream cheese and jalapenos, I topped these burnt ends with with smoked garlic cream cheese, candied jalapeno and a pinch of sea salt to make them even more delectable. They earned me 2nd place at a Las Vegas competition.
Leftover smoked pork belly burnt ends can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze them for up to 4 months.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Smoking pork belly burnt ends is a two-step process that takes about 4 hours. First, you’ll smoke the cubes at 225F degrees for about 3 hours. Then, you’ll braise them in a sweet sauce for another hour.
Yes. When you cut the pork belly into one-inch cubes, it takes about 4 hours to smoke pork belly burnt ends, but if you make smaller cubes, like you’ll find in my Pork Belly Candy (Baby Pork Belly Burnt Ends) recipe, you can reduce the cook time. You can also reduce the time by increasing the grill temperature to 250-275F degrees.
I recommend making at least the first half of this recipe on a the smoker, so you get the smoky flavor. However, once you move to the stage where they braise in a pan, you can finish the recipe in a 225-F degree oven.
If you don’t have a smoker, season pork belly and bake on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet in a 225-F degree oven for 3 hours. Then, braise in the sauce in a disposable pan and add in a little liquid smoke to create the smoky flavor.
I have the best luck finding pork belly at club stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. You usually have to buy the full slab of pork belly, which is a lot of meat. Therefore, I break it down into three sections and freeze two sections to smoke later. You can also find pork belly at Asian markets.
When the pork belly’s internal temperature reaches around 203F degrees, it should be very soft and tender. This is how you know the meat is ready.
What goes with pork belly burnt ends?
Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- 3 lb pork belly
- 1/4 cup pork rub
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp honey
- Heat Smoker: Heat your smoker to 225F degrees with an indirect heat zone. See instructions above for different types of grills.
- Prepare: Slice the pork belly into one-inch cubes. Rub the pork belly with your favorite pork rub. Place on a single layer on a wire rack and place the rack on the smoker.
- Smoke: Smoke at 225F degrees for 3 hours.
- Braise: Place the smoked pork belly in a disposable aluminum pan. Toss with barbecue sauce, butter and honey. Cover and smoke for 1 hour or until the meat registers at around 203F degrees.
- Finish: Uncover the pan and smoke for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is sticky.
This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator
Looks good. Really wanted to try , but saw the nutritional values.
Dude, it’s a fatty hunk of pork, there is no nutritional value. It’s all about the yum.
I’ve made this recipe twice now and each time it disappears too fast. I doubled the recipe the second time and filled my smoker up. At least there was enough to go around that time. Maybe I need a bigger smoker!! I will definitely be making this again… and again.
Cool! So glad they were a hit.
I LOVE TO TRY THIS I HAVE A PORK BELLY
This is an amazing recipe!! Thank you so much for sharing it. We are making these as appetizers to share with Thanksgiving Dinner gathering tomorrow.
We do have one question: Currently we are at the point in the recipe where its covered and waiting for the desired 203 degrees. We have had it covered at 225 degrees for just over 2 hrs and the pork temp is hanging at 165 degrees. We have decided to raise the temp to 300 degrees to see if that will help reach the desired temp the recipe recommends. Can you help us understand where we might have gone wrong trying to reach the desired temp in the recipe?
Besides that the pork is at a safe eating temp so we did a quick taste test and OMG! That bite was OUT OF THIS WORLD!! Thank you again so much for sharing, we look forward to many more times making this for friends and family!