With that juicy, tender pork meat and the crunch, crunch, crunchy crackling, this oven roasted pork belly recipe is the only one you’ll ever need.
- The meat stays succulent and soft.
- It has a perfect layer of incredibly crunchy crackling on top.
- It’s so easy to make.
- Only 3 ingredients.
Pork belly is delicious on it’s own but it’s real crowning glory is the super crunchy crackled skin. The two textures together are a marriage made in heaven and my super simple method makes it so achievable at home.
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Ingredients you’ll need
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
With just 3 ingredients, roasting pork belly really is simplicity at it’s best. Just a slab of pork belly, a little oil and sea salt are all the ingredients you need.
What is pork belly?
Pork belly is a fatty cut of meat from, you guessed it, the belly of the pig and it’s actually the cut used for making bacon! In its whole form, it looks like a slab of meat with skin on top. There is a layer of fat between the skin and the meat and then running straight through the middle of the meat too so that it’s broken up into 5 very distinct layers. It is often sold as pork belly strips too, normally cut between ½ up to 1 inch thick.
How does it taste?
Pork belly is rich and full of umami. While the layers of fat add amazing flavour to the meat, they also add juiciness making pork belly a very succulent cut. The skin also is full of flavour and is often cooked until shatteringly crunchy. Because of the flavour intensity of the pork belly, not a lot of salt is required however adding some salt to the skin takes it to a whole new level.
What to look for?
For oven baked pork belly, look out for a slab of meat that;
- is quite even in thickness throughout. A good 1 ½ inches or close to is great.
- has two good layers of meat running through. I tend to prefer meatier over fattier cuts though some like a good thick layer of fat.
- Has even, flat skin (not wrinkly) that isn’t covered in juices – from your butcher is the best way. If you get the vacuum-packed type you can get from the supermarket, definitely do not skip drying the skin overnight in the fridge or the boiling water steps.
Another good reason to purchase from your butcher is you can be sure you’re getting a higher quality meat. Some supermarkets have been known to inject water into meat products, increasing the weight but doing nothing good for the meat itself. As it cooks, that water will turn to steam making the skin near-on impossible to get evenly crispy.
How to roast pork belly in the oven (step-by-step)
Roasting pork belly in the oven couldn’t be simpler though there are a few tips to make it spectacular.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Dry out the skin: The first step is to dry the skin out by, first, patting it with paper towel, then chilling it uncovered in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Score the skin: Scoring the skin is a great way to get salt into the fat and skin, helping it to crisp up. You don’t need deep cuts and you must be careful not to cut through to the meat only to the fat. Use a very sharp knife and carefully score shallow lines about 1cm apart across the top.
- Scald the skin with boiling water: While in my images I haven’t shown this step, and it is optional, I always seem to get the best result after tipping a kettle full of boiling water over the skin, then drying it off with paper towel.
- Oil and season: Pour just a little oil over the skin then sprinkle over sea salt. You can also add some freshly cracked black pepper if you like. Rub it all over the skin making sure to work it into all those score lines. With just the residue on your hands, rub over the meat section.
- Prepare to bake: Line a large roasting tray with foil (3 layers and you likely won’t need to clean the tray afterward). Place a flat roasting rack inside the tray – you can do it without if you don’t have a rack – then sit the pork flat onto the roasting tray. It’s important the pork is flat so use small pieces of rolled up aluminium foil to prop up any parts where the meat is thinner so the skin is flat.
- Roast: Roast the pork belly for around 2 – 2 ½ hours until that skin is crunchy all over.
- Rest: Make sure to rest the roasted pork belly for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
- Slicing the pork belly roast: I find a serrated knife is great to saw through the crackling but can tear the delicate meat apart so easily. So here’s my trick – two knives are best. I go over the whole piece, sawing through at about 1 – 1 ½ cm intervals with the serrated knife just until I get through the skin. I then go back over it with a smooth bladed chefs knife to cut the slices apart.
What temperature for roast pork belly?
The trick to getting the shatteringly crispy skin whilst keeping that meat moist and tender is in the changing of the oven temperature. You’ll start at a high temperature (230C / 450F) for 1 hour, then turn the oven down (to 180C / 350F) for another 1 – 1 ½ hours. Just keep cooking until that skin is crunchy all over.
If you follow all these steps, and they’re very simple steps, you’ll achieve perfect porky results EVERY SINGLE TIME. The skin is crunchy, and the layer of fat that was beneath it has all but rendered away. The meat will be succulent with a small layer of fat between the two layers of meat. Most of the fat will melt and seep down through the meat keeping it unbelievably juicy and tender while the excess will drip into the tray below.
Tips and tricks
Aside from the steps I’ve outlined above I have only one tip to elaborate on. When scoring the skin you must use a sharp knife and you must not cut through to the meat. This is really, really important as the natural moisture that is in the meat can then steam upwards and make it very difficult to get that skin crispy all over.
You can score just lightly, that’s fine or cut just through the skin. Start with very light pressure until you get a feel for how much pressure you need just to break the skin.
What to serve with crispy roast pork belly
As for sides, classics include mashed potato or roast potatoes then something nice and green. I served this one with my rocket salad (minus the parmesan) but this apple coleslaw or Asian coleslaw would be wonderful too. Some lovely steamed green beans and peas or broccoli are great if you want a hot vegetable side. To make this extra indulgent why not serve it with my stovetop mac n cheese. For something extra special, make sure to add these tender roasted shallots.
This pickled red cabbage is a great condiment to balance the richness of the fatty pork.
I love a good gravy with any roast and this one is no different. For this one, I did something a little different though and added a sage butter sauce – delicious! You can also try one of these options depending on your mood.
- Chimichurri sauce – this South American sauce is herby and vibrant and a great lift for the fatty, meaty flavoured pork.
- Mojo verde – similar to chimichurri, mojo verde is a Spanish tangy herb sauce.
- Apple sauce – an absolute classic with pork, apple sauce and gravy is my go to.
- BBQ sauce – give your pork belly an American vibe with BBQ sauce. Use the sauce section of the recipe card at that link.
- Asian – turn you roast pork belly into an Asian delight using the sauce from these honey soy wings or the spicy sauce from these Korean wings. You could even try serving it in bao buns!
- Peppercorn sauce – try the peppercorn sauce from this chicken.
- Creamy mushroom sauce is amazing with this roast pork.
Yield and storage
This recipe can be scaled easily. While this amount of pork is good for 8-10 serves, you can easily roast a larger piece or a smaller piece depending on what you need.
Leftover crispy pork belly should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. It can be reheated in the microwave or in the oven.
Did you try this recipe for roasted pork belly?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
- 1.2 kg pork belly (roughly 2 1/2 lb)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 3 teaspoons fine sea salt
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- flat roasting rack
- serrated knife and smooth chefs knife
- Take the pork belly out of it’s packaging and pat dry all over with paper towel. Sit on a plate uncovered in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight (notes).
- Preheat the oven to 230C / 450F. Line a roasting pan with aluminium foil.
- Take the pork out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
- Score just the skin of the pork at 1cm intervals with a sharp knife making sure not to cut through to the meat. Use light cuts until you get a feel for how much pressure you need to cut through the skin but not all the way to the meat.
- Optional: Place the pork belly on a rack in the sink and pour over a kettle full of boiling water. Dry the pork skin well with paper towel so that it’s completely dry again.
- Place the pork on a chopping board. Rub the oil and salt all over the skin, making sure to get right into the scores in the skin. Now, with just the residue on your hands, rub the meat all over so that it also gets a bit of that salt and oil too.
- Place it back onto the rack and into your roasting pan, skin side up. Make sure the skin is totally level – prop up any thinner pieces of the meat by placing small pieces of scrunched up foil underneath.
- Roast for 1 hour or until skin is beginning to look crackly around the edges but not yet crunchy all over.
- Turn the oven down to 180C and roast for a further 1 or up to 1 ½ hours until the skin is crunchy all over and the meat tender.
- Remove from the oven and let the pork rest in the pan for 10 minutes before carving into 1 – 1 ½ cm slices. Use a serrated knife to saw through the crackling, then a sharp chefs knife to slice through the meat portion.
- See the post for sides and sauce ideas.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Choose a piece of pork that has a fairly even thickness all over and one with nice flat skin (not wrinkled).
- Butcher quality is best. If using vacuum-packed pork, don’t skip steps 1 and 5.
- Drying out is best overnight.
- Line the roasting pan with up to 3 layers of foil and you may not even need to wash the pan.
- Pork belly slices shown served here with rocket salad and mashed potatoes.
- You can flavour the pork meat with spices too like garlic powder, ground fennel, paprika or even taco seasoning.
- See the blog post for sauce ideas.
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