By Christie Vanover | Published August 3, 2018 | Last Updated June 13, 2022
These little nuggets of pork are both crispy and juicy, and they’re packed with smoky bacon flavor. They’re delicious in tacos or on salads, but I seriously won’t judge you if you just eat them like candy.
As a matter of fact, Grandma, can you ditch the mints in your candy bowl for pork belly candy?
We all love pork belly burnt ends, the cubed, smoked pork is pretty irresistible.
I was eating a few one day, when I had a flashback to my time in France. Every trip to the grocery included a package of lardons, which are small cubes of bacon fat.
I used to fry them up and toss them in pastas and salads. That’s when I realized, if we can do that with bacon, why not with pork belly burnt ends?
Burnt ends are traditionally made by slicing pork belly into one-inch cubes. To make pork belly candy, just trim them down a bit more.
This smaller size gives you a greater crispy, caramelization ratio in every bite.
Cut the belly into half-inch strips. Cut those strips in half vertically. Then, cut those strips into half-inch cubes.
Prep the smoker
Heat the smoker to 225F. For this recipe, I like using sweeter woods like apple or peach with a couple chunks of hickory. If you don’t have a smoker, you can also set up a gas grill with an indirect heat zone and a wood chip box or pellet tube.
Most importantly, make sure you have a mesh grill mat. Because pork belly candy is small, without the mat, they can slip right through the grate. The mat still allows the smoke to come through without any runaways.
Smoke the pork belly candy for about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Take a peek at the two-hour mark. You want the edges to start to crisp up. How long this takes will depend on how large or small you cut your cubes.
Hit it with some sauce
Once you see those crispy edges and mahogany color, place the pork belly in a pan and toss with your favorite barbecue sauce, butter and honey.
Here’s your chance to mix up the flavor profile. You can use traditional barbecue sauce, or you can try an Asian sauce or even buffalo sauce. If you like your burnt ends sweeter, toss in a handful of brown sugar or molasses.
Cover the pan with foil, and braise for one more hour. All the flavors will work their way into the pork belly and tenderize the meat.
Uncover the pan, and let the batch of pork belly candy smoke for 30 more minutes. This step ensures the sauce is nice and sticky.
The best part of the grill master’s job is taste testing. You’re going to want to grab a few pieces of pork belly candy straight from the pan. After all, you’ve gotta make sure they’re acceptable for your family. Right? Careful, they’re hot, but once you get started, you won’t want to stop. You may not even want to share :)
Pork Belly Candy
- 4 lb pork belly
- 1/4 cup Loot N Booty Everything Rub
- 2 tbsp Meat Church Honey Hog
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- Slice the pork belly into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine the rubs, and toss on the cubes.
- Heat your smoker to 225F degrees. Place a mesh mat on the grill grates. Add the seasoned pork belly cubes in a single layer.
- Smoke for 2 hours and 15 minutes. The meat should start to caramelize on the edges.
- Place in an aluminum pan. Add the sauce, butter and honey and toss.
- Cover with foil and return to the smoker for 1 hour.
- Remove the foil and continue to smoke for 30 minutes.