Skip to Content

roast pork belly with crispy crackling

Roast pork belly, with a perfectly crisp and crunchy crackling is a real treat. However, despite appearances it’s a lot easier to cook than you might expect.

Roast pork belly with beautifully bubbled crunchy crackling is one of life’s real delights. I love pork, however I really adore properly cooked pork crackling. Proper crackling is like gold, funnily enough nobody ever offers to share around our table!

A close up view showing the layers in slices of pork belly, the extra crisp crackling on top and a bowl of vegetables to the back served on a wooden serving board.

We served this pork belly at one of our Supperclubs and it went down a treat with our diners. Everyone raved about the soft pork, full of flavour, the fat properly rendered down and topped with crackling. That is they key to roasting this delicious cut, you must properly render down the layers of fat. Regardless of how good your crackling is, nobody will thank you for a thick layer of fat underneath.

Pork belly is a cut that requires slow roasting at a low temperature. Take it out too early and the fat will not have rendered and you risk the meat being chewy. Cooked like we have here it is a truly delicious cut of pork.

Juicy pork belly with extra crips crackling portioned and served on a wooden board on top of a dark denim blue napkin with a dish of creamed bacon and cabbage in the back and a pinch pot of smoked salt.

A few of our diners have asked how to cook pork belly, so here it is our perfect pork belly recipe. Key to cooking this roast is to purchase fresh, good quality pork belly from your butcher. We are very lucky to have great quality pork available to us in the UK.

How do you score pork belly?

Firstly ensure you buy your belly pork joint with the skin on. You can get your butcher to score it for you if you would rather. However, it is really easy to do this yourself. 

You will need a really sharp knife, alternatively Michelle uses a Stanley knife which she keeps solely for the purpose of scoring meat. Score the skin almost down to the meat but you don’t want to cut into the meat itself.

It is traditional to score in a diagonal pattern. However, Michelle also likes to score into portion sized sections to make it easier to cut into servings later. The pork belly will shrink a little, so keep that in mind when scoring out your portions.

A four step process images of how to prep pork belly for oven roasting.

How do I achieve crisp crackling?

To obtain the best crackling you need to give the heat of your oven access to the fat underneath the skin. Scoring helps this, but Michelle takes this one step further and use a sharp knife to pierce the skin in a stabbing motion all over the layer of skin. Doing this increases the area the heat has access to and in turn gives the most amazing crackling.

How to cook pork belly

Next start with an extremely hot oven. This high heat seals the meat and also starts the fat melting under the skin. This layer of fat melts into the meat as it cooks, ensuring moist, soft meat. Start with the oven as high as 250C for 25 minutes, then gradually reduce down to 140C for the most amazing tender pork and crunchy crackling.

Cooking at variable temperatures allows for a slow cooked pork belly. This allows the fat to be sealed at a high heat and then slowly melt giving you the best flavour in the meat.

A large piece of boneless pork belly direct from the oven with extra crisp crackling.
Pork belly straight from the oven

Finally, once the pork belly is cook, to ensure the best bubbly, crisp crackling pop it under a high grill. Just ensure that you don’t leave it or take your eyes off it. You don’t want to have gone to all that effort, then burn the skin just before serving because you took your eye off the ball!

How long should I rest the pork for?

In our recipe for roast pork belly we suggest resting the pork for around 20 minutes. Just make sure you don’t cover the pork while it’s resting or you will soften the crackling.

Ac close up view of a pork belly serving with extra crisp crackling, juicy tender pork served on a wooden board and a wooden handle fork to the side.

What can I serve with roast pork belly?

Pork works with a wide range of vegetables, roasted carrots and parsnip with cumin seeds would be delicious. The trick is not to serve something too oily as you want the vegetables to work with the fatty pork.

On the night of our Supperclub we served this roast pork belly with our Savoy Cabbage with Bacon & Cider, the perfect accompaniment, as the cider cut through the pork.

However, it would also work really well with our Creamed Brussel Sprouts or our Braised Red Cabbage, where the light pickle would compliment the pork.

If you love a traditional Sunday dinner like us then you want to ensure you have Proper Yorkshire Puddings too!

Pin the recipe:

Succulent Pork Belly with crispy crackling sliced and served on a wooden board with a bowl of creamed sprouts to the back and a small pinch pot of smoked sea salt.

Additional recipe suggestions for family dinners:

Our thanks to Donald Russell Butchers, who gifted us the pork belly for use in this recipe.

Juicy pork belly with extra crips crackling portioned and served on a wooden board on top of a dark denim blue napkin with a dish of creamed bacon and cabbage in the back and a pinch pot of smoked salt.

Perfect Pork Belly

Roast pork belly, with a perfectly crisp and crunchy crackling is a real treat. However, despite appearances it's a lot easier to cook than you may expect.
4.95 from 20 votes
Print Pin Text Save
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 1342kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg free range pork belly (boneless)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp rock salt
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil

Instructions

  • An hour before cooking, remove the pork from the packaging, wiping the top of the skin with a paper towel to keep it dry. Allow to rest at room temperature so its not cold going into the oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 250C.
  • Start to prepare the pork belly by scoring the skin. Firstly using a very sharp Stanley knife, puncture the skin all over with a stab like motion, taking good care not to allow the knife to penetrate the meat, only the skin and fat. You can also score the skin into 1 inch squares as it usually done by the butcher (or have them do it for you). Then using the same knife, portion the skin into 6 to make it easier to cut later.
  • Once the pork is prepared, wash and rinse the leeks to ensure no grit is left in them. Slice them lengthways and set aside. Slice the onions into thick rounds, you don't need to worry about peeling them as these are only for flavour. Set aside.
  • In a small pestle and mortar, bash up the rock salt and fennel seeds to a course consistency.
  • Now arrange the vegetables in a single layer in the bottom of your roasting tin. Place the pork belly on top of the vegetables. Rub a teaspoon of sunflower oil onto the skin to allow the salt & fennel seeds to stick. Pour over the salt & fennel seeds and smooth to cover all of the skin.
  • Place into the oven at 250C for 20 minutes.
  • Now reduce the oven temperature to 220C and cook the pork for a further 40 minutes.
  • Reduce the oven temperature again down to 180C. Take the pork from the oven and using a spoon or fork crack the salt mixture and remove as much as you can from the belly and push to the side. Put the belly back in the oven and allow to cook another 40 minutes.
  • Finally reduce the oven temperature to 140C and allow the pork to cook for another 60-80 minutes until the internal temperature reaches about 75C, or the pork falls apart when tested.
  • Remove the pork from the oven, place onto another oven proof tray to finish off the crackling. Discard the vegetables as these will be almost burnt by now and full of salt.
  • Turn the oven to grill setting on high, approximately 220C. Once the grill is hot, place the pork under and allow the crackling to finish crisping up. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED at this point! This is a crucial step if you want extra crispy crackling and only takes minutes to ruin. You will see the bubbles start to form on the skin. When its golden brown remove from oven, allow to rest for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Do not cover the meat as you don't want to allow moisture into the crackling as this will soften it.

Notes

A quick tip if you are struggling to portion the belly after its rested is to use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the crackling then use your large knife to cut the meat. 
Nutrition Facts
Perfect Pork Belly
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1342 Calories from Fat 1206
% Daily Value*
Fat 134g206%
Saturated Fat 48g300%
Cholesterol 180mg60%
Sodium 2414mg105%
Potassium 600mg17%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 520IU10%
Vitamin C 8mg10%
Calcium 49mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

• Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only •

Course : Main Course
Cuisine : British
Keyword : dinner party, entertaining, Simple
Tried this recipe? We’d love to see your photos!Mention @lostinf00d or tag #lostinfood!
Share on Facebook
Recipe Rating




John

Sunday 5th of November 2023

Cooked this many times, varied results from my own conditions too cook and different sizes of belly to contend with. My best ones have been with >1kg belly, smaller has been very hit and miss.

When it’s done well, it’s unbelievably good!

Lesley

Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Thank you John, I'm glad you've enjoyed the recipe. I agree, when cooking with smaller joints it can be a bit hit and miss. Pork belly is a bit more forgiving than other cuts as it contains so much fat which helps. I recommend always keep a meat thermometer handy, that way you can check when it's done.

Jenni Back

Monday 31st of July 2023

Until now I’ve never been successful in getting the whole skin to crackle!! Thanku!

Lesley

Monday 31st of July 2023

Thank you Jenni, I know exactly what you mean, it took a lot of experimenting to get the whole skin to crackle like this.

Jess

Saturday 24th of December 2022

Perfect every time!

Lesley

Tuesday 10th of January 2023

Thank you Jess, it really is the most reliable of recipes for pork belly.

Marne Ludick

Saturday 25th of December 2021

Thank you so much for this superb recipe. I made pork belly for Christmas lunch and it was simply perfection! It was - hands down - the best pork belly I had ever made. I have made pork belly a few times before, but I could not quite get the crackling right - it was always a bit leathery and hard. With your method, it was heavenly - bubbly, crumbly and absolutely perfect. I am so glad that I stumbled upon your recipe. The best find of the year!

Michelle

Friday 31st of December 2021

Hi Marne, I am so pleased you enjoyed the pork! Its one of my favourite ways to cook pork belly and my family fight over the crackling every-time! So happy it made your meal a success, make my day to know something was shared:-) Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment to let us know. Michelle

Carolyn Gordon

Sunday 11th of July 2021

This is the recipe that I've been looking for!!! Easy, peasy, and everything you could want for crispy, tender, tasty pork belly. Although I did substitute the seasonings and the veggies, the process was so successful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lesley

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

Thank you Carolyn I'm really glad our process worked for you. We find the best way to cook pork belly is low and slow and this way you get great results every time.