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Smoked and Seared Pork Belly Slices

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I’m on my third batch of these smoked pork belly slices otherwise known as “pure deliciousness” in order to get the recipe and instructions absolutely perfect and I have to say, you NEED these really bad although your doctor may disagree! These are not entirely healthy and you probably shouldn’t eat these everyday but for a once-in-a-while treat, I say go for it;-)

In my first batch, I only smoked them and they were pretty darn good but I knew they were missing something texture wise. I then decided to give them a good sear in the frying pan after they cooled down and that made all the difference in the world. A good crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.. oh yeah!

Helpful Information
  • Hands-on Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Dry Brine Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Smoker Temp: 240°F (116°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 205°F (96°C)
  • Recommended Wood: Hickory
What You’ll Need
  • 3-4 lbs pork belly slices (¼ inch thick is perfect)
  • Kosher salt (for the dry brine)
  • Jeff’s original rub
About Pork Belly

If you live close to a Costco and perhaps some of the other big club stores, then you are fortunate. Many of them carry pork belly and pork belly slices like the ones I’m using in this recipe.

If you don’t, you’ll have to get a little creative but it still should not be that difficult to find a store that carries it and/or can order it for you. You may also be able to get them to slice it for you into ¼ inch slices.

This is the part of the pig where bacon comes from however, when making bacon, it gets cured, possibly smoked and sliced much thinner. I suggest calling all of the grocery stores, meat markets, etc. in your area and ask to speak to the meat guy. This guy or gal can tell you if they have pork belly or a good place to find it and they’ll be the one to ask about slicing it.

Step 1: Dry Brine the Pork Belly Slices

I like to get some salt into the meat of the pork belly slices to help bring out the flavor. This is especially important when you use my original rub  since it does not have a lot of salt. After some trial and error, I decided that these absolutely needed more salt.

Simply lay the pork belly slices flat on a large pan.

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Sprinkle kosher salt all over at about 10% coverage.  This is very difficult to measure so it’s more of a visual thing– here’s an image that shows the coverage I used.

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Place the pan of pork in the fridge for 1-2 hours. During this time the salt will draw moisture to the surface. Here’s a picture of the pork after only 20 minutes.

See the moisture pooling on the surface and the salt beginning to dissolve?

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The salt will melt and mix with the moisture and absorb back into the meat. You will notice that this does not happen in the fatty areas as the oily fat blocks the moisture from coming to the surface in those areas.

At the end of 1-2 hours (depending on how patient you are), flip the meat over and repeat the dry brining on the other side placing it back in the fridge for at least another hour although overnight is fine.

After the dry brining process, the meat is ready to be seasoned with my original rub .

Step 2: Season with My Original Rub

My rub was originally designed for pork.. pork ribs specifically. It adds that perfect balance of sweet and spice to the outside of the meat and it’s guaranteed to please.

Generously sprinkle the original rub  all over the top side of the pork belly slices.

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Let them sit there for 10-15 minutes or until they get that “wet” look. Sort of like the dry brining process, the small amount of salt in my rub draws moisture to the surface and it mixes with the rub giving it a “wet” look and helping it to stick to the meat.

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Flip the slices over and repeat the rub on the other side once again, wait for the “wet” look before proceeding.

This is a great time to get the smoker ready.

Step 3: Set Up the Smoker

Set up your smoker for indirect cooking at about 225°F (107°C) using hickory wood or whatever good smoking wood you have available.

You can use ANY smoker to cook these.

It’s ok to use the water pan if your smoker is designed for this. I don’t generally use water pans in smokers that do not come with a water pan. Having said that, unless you are drying something such as jerky, it is always ok to place a pan of water below the grate, on the grate or wherever it works best in your smoker to introduce a little humidity to the smoking process.

Once your smoker is preheated and ready to go, you can proceed with the smoking process.

Step 4: Smoke the Slices

I placed my slices on racks to make it easy to transport out to the smoker. I also left the slices on the racks during the cooking process.

My favorite pans/racks can be seen HERE and they are stainless steel, heavy duty and save you hours of cleanup time.

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Place the pork belly slices into the smoker and let the cooking begin.

You can expect these to take about 90 minutes to reach 205°F (96°C) however this greatly depends on how well your smoker maintains the temperature, weather, wind, how often you open the door, etc..

For these slices, it’s not easy to use a leave-in thermometer like the “Smoke” by Thermoworks so I usually just check them with a fast reading Thermapen at about the 60-70 minute mark to see how things are progressing.

These will get more and more tender as you cook them so it’s important to not pull them early.

Once they reach 205°F (96°C), remove them from the smoker and set them on the table or cabinet to cool.

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Step 5: Let Them Cool Down

Feel free to sample one if you like but I can tell you that the last step makes all the difference in the world and I hope you can trust me on that.

Once they are cool to the touch, I usually pile them into a foil pan and place them into the fridge covered.

Wait about an hour or longer before searing them for best results.

Note: because of this cooling process, these are great for making ahead of time and then you can sear them right before your guests arrive.

Step 6: Sear Both Sides

I used a large skillet for this process the first couple of times and an electric griddle the last time. Both of these options worked very well although outside on the griddle is always a better plan since there will be a lot of smoke when searing.

I recommend high heat and you shouldn’t need any oil since the meat tends to have plenty of fat.

Place a few slices of the meat into the pan/griddle for about 30+ seconds each side. You do not want it to be black but just a good sear that really brings out the flavor and the texture.

Note: I cut some of the slices up into smaller pieces and that made it a lot easier to work with in the pan.

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Step 7: Serve

I served these to a crowd of about 10 and they were some happy campers! I highly recommend trying these really soon.. maybe even this weekend!

Print

Smoked Pork Belly Slices

These smoked and seared pork belly slices are just what you need if you are looking for an appetizer that will take your party or get together to the next level. It’s like bacon on steroids and you’ll wonder why you’ve never made these before!

  • Author: Jeff Phillips
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Barbecue, Grilling With Smoke, Hot Smoking

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 34 lbs pork belly slices ((1/4 inch thick is perfect))
  • Kosher salt ((for the dry brine))
  • Jeff’s original rub recipe

Instructions

  1. Lay the strips of pork belly on a flat sheet pan for dry brining.
  2. Sprinkle salt on the top side of the meat at about 10% coverage then place in the fridge for 1 hour.
  3. Flip the meat over, salt the other side in the same way and place it back in the fridge for another hour.
  4. After the 2nd hour, the meat is ready to be seasoned with the original rub.
  5. Season both sides liberally with Jeff’s original rub waiting in between top side and bottom side for the rub to acquire that “wet’ look before flipping them over.
  6. Smoke the pork belly slices at 225°F (107°C) for approximately 90 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 205°F (96°C) as measured by an instant-read hand-held digital thermometer such as the Thermapen or ThermoPop.
  7. When finished, remove them from the smoker and let them cool for about an hour. You can also place them in the fridge to cool for longer if you are making them ahead of time.
  8. Just before serving, heat a skillet or electric griddle to high heat and cook both sides of the pork belly slices until they are well seared but not blackened.
  9. Serve immediately.

Keywords: Pork Belly

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33 Comments

  1. Looks like a great recipe Jeff … definitely going to give it a try soon on the Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill I bought recently. One question, to save a little prep time … any reason why I couldn’t use a cooling rack on a sheet pan to dry brine both sides of the belly at the same time in the fridge?

    1. Bill, dry brining works when the salt draws the moisture to the surface where it mixes with the salt. This salty brine pools on top of the meat and is slowly re-absorbed back into the meat. For this reason it is difficult to do both sides at the same time on a cooling rack.

      To speed things up, and if you’re using a stainless steel pan, you could salt both sides at the same time and lay them flat in the pan. The top side would brine as usual and the bottom side would soak up any salty liquid that is created in the process.

  2. Thanks for enticing me to try pork belly. My first attempt turned out very well and I’ll be heading back to Costco to stock up on more bellies. I was easy on the rub and smoke and added a little bit of sauce a few minutes before I pulled them out of the smoker. Excellent! Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  3. I have been doing these for years. Near the end of the cook. I brush on some Sweet BBQ sauce. Turn up the smoker. When the sauce gets tacky I pull them. Have to be careful. The pork grease and the sugar in the sauce will burn quickly.

  4. “I placed my slices on racks to make it easy to transport out to the smoker.”
    I understand the wire racks for easy transport but why not smoke directly on the smoker grate (Traeger) or cookie sheets (May cook like frying?)?
    I have 4 pans of bacon from my belly but not 4 racks.

    1. I use the racks inside of foil lined pans quite often to reduce cleanup time and I get plenty of smoke flavor that way with no difference in cook time. If you prefer laying it directly on the grate, that is also a great option.

  5. Jeff,

    Made these delicious Pork Belly Strips for Sunday football and yes I did buy my strips from Costco (not sure what prompted the previous comment.). Turned out fantastic. I seared on the grill, watch out for flare ups, but man they were fantastic! I used a high quality sweet and hot rub and they were melt in your mouth. Thanks for the recipe!

    Gene

    1. The meat I get at my local Costco is really good.. it looks good, it tastes good and it’s easy to find stuff that’s grass fed, free of antibiotics, etc. It’s better than any of our local grocery stores but not quite as good as a specialty butcher shop if I wanted to pay the higher prices.

      I speak only from experience and have no financial relationship with Costco other than the fact that they happily take my membership fee every year without blinking an eye ;-)

      Can you elaborate on your statement for those of us who are interested?

  6. “Brine” means salt and water. What you are doing here is curing, more specifically salt-curing. Also, given that there is no step to remove the salt after curing, couldn’t you just add the additional salt to to your rub and save a step ?

    1. Kevin.. soaking meat in salt and water is wet brining, salting meat for a while before you cook it to allow the juices to come to the surface and reabsorb is called dry brining. Curing is when you use pink salt or other curing salts to cure meat such as you do with bacon, ham, etc.

  7. I made these with a costco pork belly. I finished them the next day by searing them in a cast iron skillet with brown sugar and they were amazing. They needed that little extra sweetness, it made them next level good. Chopped them into bits and served them, they were gone in seconds.

  8. I coat them in maple syrup and then put a rub called “maple cane” on them (maple, cane sugar, and salt) prior to smoking. They come pork candy…

  9. I saw the pork belly at Costco. These are 1″ thick strips, 5 or 6 to the pack. Should I slice t h see to 1/4″?

    1. I’ve done this before with excellent results. It’s great to just grab one or two out of the freezer and chop up to throw in a skillet with some eggs or mix in with some mac-n-cheese !!!. Getting ready to to do another batch this weekend !!!

  10. I made this for NYE and it was a huge hit!! I think when I make it again, I will sear the slices on my grill. I followed to the letter

  11. Hi Jeff – I have tried many of your recipes this past six months and everything g
    Has been terrific, thank you!!! Many of your recipes call for meat to be smoked at 240 degrees. I have a Traeger (which is absolutely awesome) but the temperature settings are in 25 degree increments, so I have 225 or 250 as my options. I generally use 225 when you are recommending 240 because when it comes to smoking “slow and low is king.” As a general rule of thumb would you recommend 225 as I am doing currently or 250?

    1. A grill will work just fine. There may be some flare ups but that will just sear the slices faster and should not be a problem as long as you stay close and watch them carefully so they don’t burn.

  12. Happy news Jeff! Turns out this is a great food to eat on a Ketogenic diet! I’ve lost 41 pounds in 9 weeks with no effort or hunger pains due to a low carb (meat), High fat (bacon), moderate protein diet. Sure I throw in an avocado a day and plan to try smoking some with a nice apple wood next week! I saw a recipe for smoked greenleaf lettuce that I might try too! Somked cheese filled, bacon wrapped, peppers…yum! I have pork belly burnt ends, thighs, and boneless beef ribs smoking now!

  13. Did these for Superbowl and wow!!!! They were GREAT!! Had 1/2 of them left and took a few pieces to the guys at work. Broiled them for a bit instead of searing in the pan. HUGE HIT!!!
    Thanks Jeff!!

  14. Jeff, I’m a smoking-meat.com devotee and just made my first attempt at your Smoked and Seared Pork Belly. A couple of comments:

    1) The finished product was REALLY salty. I tried to adhere to your “10% coverage” for the brining process. Should I have rinsed off the brine before applying your rub?

    2) I purchased a 4-lb pork belly from the local farmers market, and it included the skin. The butcher suggested leaving the skin on, so I did. After smoking, the skin became very hard, and I ended up peeling it from the pieces, since it wasn’t really edible. So the suggestion is NOT to buy the pork belly with the skin and have the butcher remove the skin before slicing up the meat.

    Thanks for many, many very fine meals, and your weekly recipes!!

    Steve Corcoran
    Cleveland, OH

    1. Make sure your local market didn’t cure the pork belly ahead of you buying it. I made these this past weekend with a 9lb pork belly and they turned out excellent! Not too salty at all and just right. They were a huge hit!

  15. I have made these for several years. I cut these into small bits with tooth picks. The only thing I do differently is when they reach close to 200 I brush on BBQ sauce and turn up the grill to sear the sauce. Amazing !!!

    1. Jay,
      I have a Traeger. I am wondering if instead of pan searing it would would it work the same if I turn the Traeger up to 450-500 degrees for a quick sear at the end.. This is how we do a lot of our meats?

    2. No worries I get the same quality from Sam’s Club. Used this recipe on the same cut and it was great. Thanks for the ideas.