Cubed pieces of seasoned pork belly are slow-smoked to build a nice outer bark, then cooked in a sweet sauce to braise and render into melt-in-your-mouth meat nugget.
Modeled after the cooking method for brisket burnt ends, these pork belly burnt ends are almost impossible to mess up.
These are good for almost any occasion as a finger-food appetizer or with slider buns or tacos for more of a meal.
What are pork belly burnt ends?
These burnt ends are made from the pork belly, which is the same cut of meat from which most bacon is made.
The high-fat content of pork belly acts similarly to the fat in a brisket point which is where burnt ends tradtionally came from.
What makes burnt ends so special is the succulent fat content and how it renders throughout the meat during the low and slow cooking process. The crunch and texture of the outside pair well with the moist, buttery inside.
Tips for buying pork belly
For pork belly burnt ends, you want 4 to 5 lbs of pork belly with the skin off and a balanced meat-to-fat ratio. The center cut of pork belly has the best meat-to-fat ratio and makes excellent pork belly burnt ends.
Big box stores like Costco or Sam’s Club package pork belly commercially. The vacuum packs come in larger sizes and often multi-packs. These stores also allow you to buy wholesale by the case. This is most economical as it’s priced at the wholesale price, and you can freeze the portions you don’t cook immediately.
You don’t even have to use pork belly, we have made amazing burnt ends with pork butt!
Pork Belly Burnt Ends FAQs
Should I buy a skin-on or skin-off pork belly?
For smoked pork belly it’s important to remove the skin as it won’t taste nice and will stop the rub from penetrating into the meat.
If you can buy skin-off that will save you some time, but it’s also easy to remove the skin yourself.
What temperature should I smoke the pork belly at?
You should keep your smoker between 225 – 250°F while cooking these burnt ends. You could easily go up to 300°F once you have wrapped.
Smoked pork belly burnt ends are incredibly forgiving, so if your smoker runs a little hot or you don’t dial in your temperature you really don’t need to stress.
How long does it typically take to smoke the pork belly?
The cook time for this pork belly burnt ends recipe was five hours. This will go up or down depending on the temperature of your smoker, how big you cut your pork cubes, and when you decide to wrap.
Rather than time, I like to cook until the pork has an internal temperature of between 200-205°F when measured with a meat thermometer.
What type of wood should I use for smoking pork belly?
I like to use fruit wood when smoking pork. You can use cherry, apple and pecan and get great results.
If you want a little stronger smoke flavor, you could also try hickory or oak, or use a blend.
Can I make this recipe on a regular grill
You can easily use a charcoal grill to smoke these burnt ends. There are a few methods but essentially you need to create two zones so you have a hot area where your charcoal and wood is, and cool area for the burnt ends.
If you only have a gas grill it’s still possible. You can make a foil packet of wood chips and place them on a burner. Check out our guide on how to smoke on a gas grill for more info.
How to make Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Ingredients you’ll need
- 4-5 lbs Pork belly
- All purpose bbq rub
- Unsalted butter
- Brown sugar
- BBQ sauce – Use our Sweet BBQ or make your own
Equipment you’ll need
- A smoker
- Sharp knife – Smoke Kitchen Boning Knife
- A good meat thermometer
- Aluminum pan and foil
- Smoking wood – Any fruit wood is a safe bet for this recipe
- Lump Charcoal – If using a charcoal smoker
How to make Pork Belly Burnt Ends
1. Fire up the Smoker
Preheat your smoker to 250°F.
I used my PK360 with pecan wood for this cook but I’ve made these on a pellet grill before and they’ve turned out great.
2. Prep the pork
Cube your skinless pork belly into 1” – 2” cubes. A nice sharp boning knife makes easy work of this.
You can use a binder like olive oil or mustard, but I find the rub sticks to the pork just fine without.
One tip I recommend is to use a wire rack to make it easy to transfer your burnt ends on and off the smoker.
3. The Cook
Place the pork cubes on the smoker leaving space around each piece for smoke and airflow.
With the pork belly pieces on the grates, it’s time to put wood on the hot coals. You want enough wood to give you even smoke for at least the first 3 hours of the cook.
Using tongs or grill gloves, push the wood chunks down into the hot coals and close the firebox door – or close the lid, depending on what kind of smoker you’re using.
Smoke the pork belly pieces for three hours, or until a dark mahogany bark has formed on the outside of each piece.
If the cubes start to look dry you can hit them with a spritz of water or apple cider vinegar to stop them drying out.
4. Time to sauce
At this point, the pork belly has started to form a dark, even bark on the surface, and the fat has just started to render. They should be pliable, but feel firm if gently squeezed.
Transfer the pork belly to an aluminum foil pan. Place pats of butter, brown sugar, honey, and bbq sauce in the tray and lightly toss.
Cover the pan with foil and place back onto your smoker.
Once the pork belly reaches an internal temp of 205°F, remove the foil pan from the smoker and rest for 15 minutes before serving.
That’s it! If you followed this recipe, your pork belly burnt ends should be glorious chunks of caramelized meat candy.
Plate them on a platter and serve with toothpicks, or serve them with slider buns for people to make their own sliders.
The possibilities of pork belly burnt ends are really up to your imagination.
Try these other burnt ends recipes
- Hot Honey Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends
- Smoked Salmon Burnt Ends With Hot Honey Glaze
- Poor Man’s Burnt Ends: Smoked Beef Chuck Roast
Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- Preheat the smoker to 250°F.
- Cut your pork belly into 1-2" cubes.
- Season the pork belly cubes on each side with the bbq rub and place on wire rack.
- Place pork belly on your smoker and smoke for three hours. Spritz with water anytime the pork looks dried out and to help build bark.
- After the pork belly has reached an internal temp of 175 °F place into a foil pan with pats of butter, brown sugar, honey and bbq sauce. Cover the pan with foil and place back onto your smoker.
- Once the pork belly reaches an internal temp of 205°F remove the foil pan from the smoker and rest for 15 minutes before serving.