Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends Recipe
Oct 13, 2021, Updated Jan 25, 2024
Pork Belly Burnt Ends are super tender, full of flavor, and so easy to make. This recipe is so delicious and popular that over 24 million people have devoured our viral video and thousands have made this recipe with smashing success! This pork belly recipe is a delicious twist on classic brisket burnt ends. These morsels of goodness have developed the nickname meat candy for good reason.
Vindulge Recipe Highlights
- Cubed Pork Belly is slowly smoked in a brown sugar seasoning, then braised in barbecue sauce, honey, and butter.
- As it finishes the pork belly is rendered into sticky pork cubes that melt in your mouth.
- It doesn’t matter what type of smoker you use, this pork recipe will work on all of them.
- This recipe is a great idea for for a party or large event as it’s always a crowd favorite and scales up or down easily.
Table of Contents
- Vindulge Recipe Highlights
- Pork Belly Burnt Ends Background
- Preparation for Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- How to Smoke Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Expert Tips
- Storage and Reheating
- What To Serve With Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- Wine Pairing for Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- Other Great BBQ Recipe Ideas
- Recommended Products
- Food and Cooking Safety Considerations
- Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Pork Belly Burnt Ends Background
The transformation of pork belly into something resembling the classic perfection of beef burnt ends is a pretty magical experience.
And, shortly after I released our video for our recipe, it had over 2 million views in less than 2 days. People loved this recipe! The video now has over 24 million views and counting, and the recipe is also featured in our critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine.
- Pork Belly – You can buy a full belly, which will run around 5 pounds, or you can buy smaller portions. Adjust the braise if using smaller portions. Buy with the skin removed when possible. You can substitute pork shoulder as well if you can’t find the belly.
- Seasoning – We recommend an olive oil binder and our pork seasoning, which is a mix of brown sugar, kosher salt, and savory spices. You can change the flavor profile with any of our seasonings.
- Braise Sauce – We recommend our Red Wine BBQ Sauce, unsalted butter, and local honey.
This cut will come in many sizes at the grocery store, from small strips to a full slab (10+ pounds). Make sure to ask the butcher for skinless pork belly (this saves some weight when you have to pay by the pound). If the slab with skin is the only option, then look to be sure it isn’t overly fatty and remove the skin before you make this pork belly recipe.
When buying a smaller belly, be sure it’s the center cut of the slab. One side of the belly is thin and not very meaty. Another end tends to be mostly fat, which is difficult to fully render. So the center cut is ideal as it has a ratio of 50% meat and 50% fat.
Preparation for Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Place the pork belly on a large cutting board.
If you still see the skin on the pork belly, or there is a little extra fat, trim that off. Then cut the meat into 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes. Don’t be afraid if at first the cubes seem a bit large. After cooking, your pork belly burnt ends will shrink down to the perfect bite sized piece.
Place the cubed pork belly in a large bowl or on a large baking sheet. Apply olive oil and pork seasoning and toss together until well coated.
Be generous (we use about 1 cup of dry rub for 5 pounds of meat). Feel free to adjust the amount based on your portion size.
Place the belly cubes on a wire cooling rack, rather than a baking sheet. Smoking with the wire rack is more ideal for smoking pork belly bites since it allows for better smoke circulation. Also, it will take much less effort to get the meat cubes on and off the grill.
How to Smoke Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Easy steps for perfect pork belly burnt include smoking for flavor, covering in sauce to baste and render out the fat, and then finishing uncovered to let the sauce firm up.
- Smoke: Place on smoker and smoke for three hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F), or until you like the color of the meat. A nice bark will form starting around the three-hour mark. This can take longer based on so many factors, like wind and how much bark you like. The key is, once you put it into the braising liquid, your bark is done forming.
- Braise: Next, add the pork belly cubes to a pan (we like a disposable aluminum pan or pyrex dish). Then, into the disposable pan, add the braising liquid. We use our rich Pinot Noir BBQ Sauce to really add that extra flavor (about 1 cup), 3-4 tablespoons of butter, which adds richness and acts as a fatty binding agent for bringing the sauce and honey together, and then 2 tablespoons of honey (or agave) to bring a stickiness and sweet characteristic. Then mix them all together.
- Cover and Continue Smoking: Place back into the smoker and braise for another 60 – 90 minutes. You will find that the liquid braises at or near a boil and that the fat renders down in the pork belly burnt ends keeping the pan moist. Braise until the internal temperature of the bites are 200-205 degrees F. We always recommend using a good digital thermometer to check your temp.
- Uncover: Finally, remove the foil cover and cook for another 15 minutes (uncovered) to let the heat tack up that sauce. Remove and enjoy some well-made pork belly burnt ends. It’s that simple. And incredibly delicious!
Frequently Asked Questions
Pork Belly Burnt Ends are cubed pieces of pork belly that are slowly smoked, sauced, and then finished in the same way beef brisket burnt ends are made. Pork Belly is the best cut for this style of cooking with the perfect meat-to-fat ratio. This recipe is inspired by the 3-2-1 method of smoking pork ribs.
We started experimenting with this recipe early in our professional catering days back in 2014. Originally we cut them in long slices, and then realized by making them in cubes we get more surface area for smoke and flavor. This recipe became a sensation after we published it back in 2015.
If you cook them all the way through, then the fat will render out and you’ll be left with a delicate and tasty burnt ends that don’t have noticeable fat.
It’s best to use pork belly. If you can’t find belly use boneless pork shoulder.
Yes. Remove the skin as it won’t render during the cooking process and will be chewy when eating. A more effective way is to buy the pork belly with skin off so you aren’t paying for the extra weight.
Yes. It is possible that over-smoking them will make them dry out. Also cutting the cubes too small will cause them to dry out.
If you have leftovers, be sure to save the sauce and juices it is sitting in and store in the refrigerator. The sauce will harden up.
To reheat, pre-heat an oven or the smoker to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pork belly, and all the juices, into an oven-safe dish and cover in foil. Reheat until warm and the sauce has liquefied (about 20 minutes).
Yes. To modify for the oven follow the same directions of slowly cooking in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, then covering with sauce, and finishing as the recipe suggests.
It will take 5 hours to cook and 15 minutes to finish (uncovered) to let the sauce harden up.
Pork belly is a cut of meat that comes from the belly of the pig and is attached to parts of the loin and ribs. This incredibly marbled and tender cut is the base for bacon or Porchetta and has a lot of intramuscular connective tissue. The best way to cook pork belly is to smoke or render out that fat using indirect heat.
When we cater events we estimate 5 ounces of meat per person for a serving, so you roughly get three servings per pound. Trust us when we say people will want more.
- Be sure your grease traps are clean. Pork belly will render a lot of fat and if they are blocked you run the risk of a grease fire.
- If you see cubes that are all fat, those won’t render. Discard them. If you are buying the pork belly, look to make sure you have a cut that is a balance of fat and meat. Ask the butcher for the center cut of the belly for the best fat-to-meat ratio. We mention this again based on a lot of experience and reader feedback.
Storage and Reheating
You can follow this recipe and make the pork belly in advance up to one week prior to eating them. If you make them in advance be sure to store the pork belly in an airtight container with all of the braising liquid, including the rendered fat.
The fat will harden and that is fine.
To reheat, place in a large baking dish with all the braising liquid and fat and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees F for 30 minutes. The fat will render and the belly will maintain the soft texture and be warmed through.
You can also reheat the same way on a smoker at lower temps. Plan one hour at 250 degrees F for the pan to warm up.
What To Serve With Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Anytime we make these it’s always a good idea to balance the rich flavors of the pork belly with something not as rich. Our no-mayo coleslaw is perfect, especially if you make these into a sandwich. Or go with our grilled romaine Caesar salad.
You can explore our side recipes for more inspiration.
Wine Pairing for Pork Belly Burnt Ends
While I highly recommend a glass of rosé while cooking this delicious recipe (since, well, it takes upwards of 4 hours for the magical meal to come to fruition). But come burnt end time, we’re going big, with Syrah!
The flavors here are big and bold. You’ve got the smoke, some richness, sweetness, possibly spiciness. You need something that can handle that weight. There are several options, but I love a bold Syrah. Syrah from Washington State is my go-to. It has some richness, bold fruit, and some herbal notes. Big and balanced flavors, just like the burnt ends! Malbec and Zinfandel are also good pairings.
Other Great BBQ Recipe Ideas
- Grilled Crispy Pork Belly
- Pellet Grill Ribs
- Brisket Burnt Ends
- 3-2-1 Smoked Ribs
- Classic Smoked Brisket
- You need an instant read thermometer to take the temperature of the pork belly.
- Food safety gloves for preparation.
Food and Cooking Safety Considerations
Pork belly has a considerable amount of fat that will render. This means you need to be sure that you have a CLEAN smoker and a clear path for the fat to drain AWAY from the fire. The grease from the rendering will ignite if it comes into contact with a flame source. If you are cooking a large amount on a small cooking surface be sure that you are changing out the grease tray during the cook.
For consideration, be sure to follow safe food handling practices. You are cooking the pork belly well over the USDA recommended temperature of 145 degrees F so the finished product is safe to eat.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat and consider using gloves when prepping.
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
Within 48 hours of publishing this viral recipe in 2017 we had over 2 million views, and today is one of the original and most popular pork belly burnt ends recipes on the web with over 24 million views.
Now on 2nd edition
Fire + Wine Cookbook
“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
San Francisco Book Review
Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.
Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- 1 nitrile food safety gloves
For the Pork Belly Burnt Ends:
- 5 pounds pork belly, sliced into 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Ultimate Dry Rub, (see notes for our favorite)
For the Sauce:
- 1 cup Pinot Noir BBQ Sauce
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat Smoker: Set smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit using fruit wood (we like cherry for color and sweeter flavor).
- Prepare Pork Belly: Trim excess skin and fat off the pork belly and slice it into 2-inch cubes and place into a large bowl. Add olive oil and dry rub and liberally and mix with your hands. Place cubes onto a wire rack or directly on the smoker.
- Smoke: Smoke uncovered for three hours. Look for a darker red color and a modest bark develop.
- Braise: Remove the pork belly cubes from the smoker and place into a foil pan and then add your BBQ sauce, butter, and honey, and stir. Next, cover the pan with aluminum foil and place back on the smoker.Cook for an additional 90 minutes or until the internal temperature (IT) of the pork belly is roughly 200 – 203 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Finish Smoking Uncovered: Remove foil from the pan, close the lid to the smoker, and smoke for another 15 minutes to let the sauce thicken up.
- Serve: Remove from smoker and serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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