Learn how to cook pork belly slices or strips. Check out our easy recipes for cooking pork belly slices in the oven, on the grill, in the frying pan, or the air fryer; the methods are always easy, and the tender meat is incredibly hearty and delicious!
Cooking crispy pork belly slices could not be easier. Learn several methods for cooking them; they are all quick and straightforward. And if you want to know how to cook a larger piece with crispy skin, look at this easy recipe for Slow-Cooker Pork Belly.
- What are pork belly strips?
- What do you need?
- Methods of cooking sliced pork belly
- Safe internal temperature for pork belly
- Expert Tips
- Recipe FAQ
- How to serve pork belly strips?
- More pork recipes
What are pork belly strips?
Fatty, boneless cuts of meat coming from the pig's underside. It's the part that remains after the loin and the ribs have been removed.
They come from the same cut of pork as bacon. But while the thick slices or strips are fresh meat and usually still have the skin on, the bacon is skinned, thinly sliced, cured, and smoked. Sliced, cured, but not smoked pieces are Italian pancetta.
Where to buy pork belly?
Most larger grocery stores sell it nowadays. However, you will always get the best quality at the butcher's. Although depending on where you live, you might have to order the meat in advance; it might not be an item you can regularly purchase.
How to choose the best cuts?
The slices consist of layers of fat and meat. Try to get some that have at least an even amount of fat to meat ratio; if there is a bit more meat than fat, even better. The fat makes this cut incredibly rich and flavorful, but you don't want to "swim" in it.
If you cannot get an already sliced pork belly, buy a whole slab and cut it into slices yourself. It works very well, provided you have a large sharp knife.
How to store them?
Vacuum-packed slices will have their used-by date written on the package. Well wrapped in plastic foil or kept in an airtight container, they will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. But if you keep them for so long, ensure that the meat looks and smells perfectly ok before cooking it.
You can freeze the belly, the whole piece, or the already cut strips. It will keep very well for up to six months.
What do you need?
A basic list of simple ingredients:
- Pork belly slices or strips.
- You can buy them already cut, if available, or buy a whole slab and cut the meat yourself.
- Spices: you can get away with using only sea salt or Kosher salt and black pepper; the pork belly strips will be delicious. For more flavor, add sweet and smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, or/ and onion powder.
- Alternatives: besides salt and pepper, you can use almost any spices, including your favorite meat seasonings.
Methods of cooking sliced pork belly
How to cook pork belly slices in the oven?
- My go-to method. It's pretty much hands-free; all you have to do is season the meat and shove it in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Dry the pork slices with a paper towel if necessary, and season them on both sides.
- Arrange the strips on the tray and bake until crispy and golden brown, flipping halfway through.
- Roasting will take between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat and your oven.
How to pan-fry pork belly slices?
- Heat a large skillet (a cast-iron skillet is excellent) or another frying pan.
- Don't add fat; this fatty cut will render much fat. Also, if you add fat, you will have more splatter during cooking.
- Place the pork strips in the pan. Cook, flipping the slices often. Use tongs. The slices should be golden brown and crispy on both sides. Cooking will take about 5-7 minutes per side.
- Check the internal temperature to make sure that the meat is properly cooked.
- If there is too much splatter, use a splatter screen. I prefer to use long kitchen mittens or at least wear long sleeves when cooking meat this way. The splatters are not pleasant on the skin.
- If you want to drizzle the meat with sauce before removing it from the pan, discard the rendered fat first, or the dish will be too fatty.
- Add the sauce during the last 2-3 minutes of the cooking time. Lower the temperature and flip the slices frequently to coat them all over.
How to air fry pork belly?
- Preheat the air fryer if necessary; mine needs 3 minutes to preheat.
- Arrange the well-seasoned meat in the basket in a single layer.
- Cook at 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, flipping twice in between. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the slices. Check the internal temperature.
- Glaze the pieces (if desired) with your favorite BBQ or Asian sweet chili sauce before serving.
How to grill pork belly strips?
- When grilling pork belly slices, I always buy already sliced meat. These slices are always thinner, about ¼ - ½ inch/ 6-12 mm thick.
- Rub the meat with your favorite dry rub for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Leave it at room temperature these 30 minutes.
- You can also marinate the meat in your favorite marinade for at least 3 and up to 12 hours. Then, when grilling, let any excess marinade drip off.
- Heat the grill.
- Grill the slices until slightly charred but not burnt; it doesn't take long, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the slice.
- Slather with your favorite bbq sauce and turn it on the grill for another minute or two.
- You can cook the sliced pork belly in the grill pan the same way.
Safe internal temperature for pork belly
The cooking time always depends on the thickness of the sliced pork belly. It doesn't matter too much if the strips are longer or shorter, but it matters how thick they are. It is recommendable to always check the internal temperature before you serve the meat. This is pork; it needs to be cooked through.
The recommended temperature is 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit. A good meat thermometer it's worth it (Amazon affiliate link).
How to check the temperature?
Insert the thermometer's tip into the meat, making sure you stop in the middle and don't go all the way through. This method works best with thicker slices.
If the slices are thin, the best way of checking is to cut one in the middle; it will be obvious to see if the meat is cooked or not.
When cooking meat, it's always best if the cuts are at room temperature. In this case, about 20-30 minutes should be enough.
You can remove the pork skin if you wish. Some people like the crispy crackling, and some prefer to remove it; it's a matter of personal preference.
Use a sturdy, large, sharp knife. It is always best if the meat is chilled before slicing.
If you have a large slab, you can even freeze it for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before slicing, especially if you intend to cut it into very thin slices.
Oven method: I prefer thicker slices, about ¾ - 1 inch/ 2-2 ½ cm thick.
Pan and air fryer method: slightly thinner slices, about ½ inch/ 1 ½ cm.
Grill method: I prefer even thinner slices, about ¼- ½ inch/ 6-12 mm.
Always thaw meat in the refrigerator. Never thaw pork out on the counter. The outer side of the meat will reach a temperature above 4 ½ degrees Celsius/ 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that may lead to bacterial growth. This will happen while the inside of the meat remains frozen.
A large belly slab will need about 5-7 hours per 500 g/ 1 pound. Sliced pieces frozen in a single layer will need about 3-4 hours.
You can thaw the slices in the microwave or cold water as well. In this case, cook the meat immediately after thawing.
If using cold water, fill a large bowl. Make sure that the meat is packed perfectly airtight. Change the water every 30 minutes or so. Make sure the water is cold; it should not be lukewarm.
I don't recommend thawing large pieces of meat in the microwave; it's complicated to see if it is appropriately defrosted inside. The method works better with the strips. Defrost on a low setting and check repeatedly.
Never freeze the meat again after thawing!
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days. Then, reheat in the microwave. I don't recommend eating them cold; they are so fatty it would not be pleasant.
You can also freeze the leftovers for up to 2 months. Then, defrost in the refrigerator and reheat thoroughly before serving.
Use the leftover pieces to make this delicious Sliced Pork Belly Sandwich. Or make some pork belly tacos.
How to serve pork belly strips?
The pork belly slices are best served immediately while still hot.
They are very rich, so they are best served in small portions. For example, 750 g/ 1.7 lb will serve 6 people as a main course and 10 as a starter.
If serving as an appetizer, you can glaze them with BBQ or Asian sweet chili sauce. Serve them as they are on top of a fresh salad, or cut them into smaller pieces and arrange them on a platter with pickles, fresh fruit, or vegetables.
As entrée, serve with Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, Rich Truffle Mashed Potatoes, and pickles or coleslaw. Or with any other kind of potatoes: baked, potato wedges, cast-iron potatoes, and so on. What you can see in the pictures above is Cauliflower and Potato Mash. You can also serve the slices with rice. Try the BBQ Rice or the Nigerian Jollof Rice, for example.
More pork recipes
How to Cook Pork Belly Slices
- 750 g/ 1.7 lb pork belly slices Note1
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt Note 2
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with baking paper or aluminum foil.
- Rub the meat with all the spices.
- Bake 30 - 40 minutes (depending on the thickness of the meat and your oven) until crispy and golden brown, flipping halfway through. Check the internal temperature (74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Heat a large skillet. Don't add fat; the belly will render a lot of fat. Instead, place the seasoned slices in the pan.
- Cook, often flipping with tongs. If there is too much splatter, use a splatter screen. The pieces should be golden brown and crispy on both sides. Cooking will take about 5-7 minutes per side. You can slice the meat thinner for a shorter cooking time. Check the internal temperature (74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Glaze: Should you want to glaze the meat, discard the rendered fat first, or the dish will be too fatty. Add the sauce during the last 2-3 minutes of the cooking time. Lower the temperature and flip the slices frequently to coat them all over.
- Preheat the air fryer if necessary; mine needs 3 minutes preheating.
- Place the seasoned pork in the basket in a single layer.
- Cook at 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, flipping twice in between. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the slices. Check the internal temperature (74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Glaze the pieces (if desired) with your favorite BBQ or Asian sweet chili sauce before serving.
- Slice: When grilling pork belly slices, I prefer to use thinner slices, about ¼ - ½ inch/ 6-12 mm thick.
- Rub the meat with the spices or your favorite dry rub at least 30 minutes before cooking. You can also marinate the meat in your favorite marinade for at least 3 and up to 12 hours. When grilling, let any excess marinade drip off.
- Heat the grill. Grill the meat until slightly charred but not burnt, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Check the internal temperature (74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit) or cut one piece in the middle to see if it's cooked through.
- Grill pan: You can cook the sliced pork belly in the grill pan the same way. It might need a few minutes longer but check.
- For the oven method, the slices should be about ¾ - 1 inch/ 2-2 ½ cm thick. The cuts are slightly thinner for the pan and air fryer method, about ½ inch/ 1 ½ cm. I prefer even thinner slices for the grill method, about ¼- ½ inch/ 6-12 mm thick.
- You can season the strips with only salt and pepper; the other spices are optional. You can also season the pork with any other spices/dry rubs you like.