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How to Cook Pork Belly Slices

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Learn how to cook pork belly slices or strips. Either in the oven, on the grill, pan-fried, or air-fried, they are always easy to make and incredibly hearty and delicious!

Cooking crispy pork belly slices could not be easier. Learn several methods for cooking them, all quick and straightforward. And if you would like to know how to cook a larger piece, have a look at this recipe for Slow-Cooker Pork Belly.

close up of a staple of pork belly strips sprinkled with parsley.

What are pork belly strips?

Fatty, boneless cuts 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 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 it in advance; it might not be an item you can regularly purchase. Asian stores usually sell it as well.

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. It’s the fat that makes this cut incredibly rich and flavorful, but you don’t want to “swim” in it either.

If you cannot get 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, make sure that the meat looks and smells perfectly ok before cooking it.

You can always freeze the belly, either the whole piece or the already cut strips. It will keep very well for up to six months.

collage of two pictures of pork strips on the baking tray and then served with cauliflower mash.

What do you need?

A basic list of ingredients:

  • Pork belly slices or strips: You can buy them already cut, if available, or you can buy a whole slab and cut the meat yourself.
  • Spices: You can get away with using only salt and pepper; the pork belly strips will be delicious. For more flavor, add sweet and smoked paprika and some garlic powder.
  • Alternatives: besides salt and pepper, you can use pretty much any spices you like, including your favorite seasonings.
collage of three pictures of raw pork meat in a piece and then cut into slices.

Methods of cooking sliced pork belly

Oven-baked:

  • My go-to method. It’s pretty much hands-free; all you have to do is season the pieces and shove them in the oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with baking paper or aluminum foil.
  • Arrange the seasoned 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 strips and your oven.

four slices of baked meat on white baking paper, fat dripping around it.

Pan-fried:

  • Heat a large thick-bottomed skillet (a cast-iron skillet is excellent).
  • Don’t add any fat at all; the belly will render a lot of fat. Also, if you add fat, you will have more splatter during cooking.
  • Place the pork in the pan.
  • Cook, flipping the meat often. Use tongs. 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.
  • The slices should be golden brown and crispy on both sides. Check the internal temperature to make sure that the meat is properly cooked. Cooking will take about 5-7 minutes per side.
  • If you want to drizzle the meat with sauce before removing it from the pan, I recommend discarding 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.

pan frying meat strips close up.

Air-fried:

  • Preheat the air fryer if necessary; mine needs 3 minutes preheating.
  • Arrange the well-seasoned pieces 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 (if desired) with your favorite BBQ or Asian sweet chili sauce before serving.

a bunch of golden brown cooked belly strips.

Grill:

  • When grilling pork belly slices, I always buy already sliced meat. These slices are always thinner; they are about ¼ – ½ inch/ 6-12 mm thick.
  • Rub the meat with your favorite dry rub at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  • You can also marinate it 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 meat until slightly charred but not burnt; it doesn’t take long, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the slice.

golden, charred pork slices on the grill outside.
  • You can cook the sliced pork belly in the grill pan the same way.

long belly strips being cooked in a grill pan.

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 always to check the internal temperature before serving. 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.

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.

close up cut piece of meat served on cauliflower puree.

FAQ

How to cut the slices?

  • 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.

How thick to cut the 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.

How to thaw frozen meat?

  • 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 while the inside of the meat will remain frozen.
  • A large slab of belly 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 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 in the microwave; it’s complicated to see if the meat 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!

What to do with leftovers?

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.

pork with cauliflower puree on a plate.

How to serve pork belly strips?

They 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 into smaller pieces and arranged on a platter with pickles, fresh fruit, or vegetables.

As entrée serve with 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.

For a low-carb meal, serve with roasted vegetables, vegetable salads, or a green salad with yogurt dressing.

one golden brown piece of baked pork meat.

More pork recipes:

one golden brown piece of baked pork meat.

How to Cook Pork Belly Slices

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Learn different methods of cooking pork belly slices or strips. You can bake them, pan or air fry them or you can grill them.

Ingredients

  • 750 g/ 1.7 lb pork belly slices (Note1 )
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (Note 2)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

Oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with baking paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Rub the meat with all the spices.
  3. 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).


Pan-fried:

  1. Heat a large skillet. Don't add fat; the belly will render a lot of fat. Instead, place the seasoned slices in the pan.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.


Air-fried:

  1. Preheat the air fryer if necessary; mine needs 3 minutes preheating.
  2. Place the seasoned pork in the basket in a single layer.
  3. 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).
  4. Glaze the pieces (if desired) with your favorite BBQ or Asian sweet chili sauce before serving.


Grill:

  1. When grilling pork belly slices, I prefer to use thinner slices, about ¼ - ½ inch/ 6-12 mm thick.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. You can cook the sliced pork belly in the grill pan the same way. It might need a few minutes longer but check.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1/6 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 294mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 29g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

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