My favorite way to cook pork belly is to slice it (or buy it pre-sliced), then bake the slices in the oven.
Crispy, fatty, and very flavorful, these tasty strips are perfect as a first course, or you could try them for breakfast instead of bacon.
Pork belly is one of my favorite dishes to order at restaurants. The combination of the crispy fat and the juicy meat is incredible. But it took me a while to try to cook this dish at home.
The first time I bought pork belly slices, I wasn't sure how to cook them. As it turns out, the easiest method is to bake them in the oven. It's kind of like baking bacon in the oven, but you cook them for longer because they are much thicker.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty appetizer. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Pork belly strips: They are about ½-inch thick, and each of them weighs about 4 oz when raw.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Smoked paprika: I love the smoky flavor it adds to this dish. It's easy to find it in the supermarket next to the other spices.
Sometimes I skip the other spices and simply use smoked salt, as shown in the video below.
Since they are thicker than bacon, I find that you need to cook pork belly strips in a 400°F oven for about 50 minutes. In comparison, I cook bacon in the oven for a total of 15-20 minutes.
The detailed instructions for making this recipe are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the slices in the baking sheet, in one layer. Sprinkle them with the seasonings.
Bake them until browned and crispy, 30 minutes on the first side, and 20-30 more minutes on the second side. Carefully drain the pan midway through baking.
If the slices are not browned enough after baking, you can place them 6 inches under the broiler (not directly below) for a few seconds. Keep a close eye on them! They burn easily.
Note that if the strips are thinner than ½-inch, they will need less time in the oven. This recipe was written for thick slices.
Frequently asked questions
This cut literally comes from the animal's belly. It's the boneless cut that remains after the loin and ribs have been removed. It's a wonderfully fatty cut so you definitely want to brown it and crisp it up.
In this diagram, the pork belly is the area labeled as "bacon," which brings us to the next frequently asked question...
Not exactly. While they both come from the animal's abdomen, pork belly is a fresh cut of meat, while bacon is typically smoked, cured, and thinly sliced.
Pork belly is typically sold whole. But even when it's sliced, the slices are typically much thicker than bacon slices. And again, the meat is fresh - not cured, smoked, dried, or salted.
I get them at Costco and sometimes at Whole Foods. Can't find slices at the store? Another option is to buy a whole pork belly and cut it yourself into strips.
You'll need a sharp chef's knife and some patience, but it's quite doable. I've done it several times.
If you get a skin-on belly, you'll need to remove the skin first. That's actually more challenging, but I've done it too and then used the skin to make tasty homemade pork rinds.
These tasty strips are delicious on their own, simply seasoned with salt and pepper. I like to add smoked paprika, which adds a delightful smoky flavor.
You can also brush them with a mixture of soy sauce or a gluten-free alternative (2 tablespoons), honey (1 tablespoon), and garlic powder (1 teaspoon) prior to baking, for an Asian-style dish.
But I rarely bother. Want to know a secret? They are fabulous when seasoned with just salt and pepper, so that's how I usually season them!
Obviously an extremely fatty cut, these tasty slices are suitable (and usually served at restaurants) as a first course. Although I sometimes serve them as our main course for dinner, alongside a small green salad (this arugula salad is good).
If serving them as a first course, one thick slice per person, cut into bite-size pieces, is perfect. For a main course, I find that three strips are plenty.
They are also good for breakfast or brunch as a replacement for bacon. I like to serve them with soft scrambled eggs and with a side of fresh berries.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for about 4 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power. Although I have to say that they are much better when fresh out of the oven.
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Oven-Baked Pork Belly Slices
- 12 thick pork belly strips (½-inch thick, 4 oz each raw weight)
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the pork belly strips in the pan, in a single layer. Sprinkle them with the seasonings.
- Roast until browned and crispy, 30 minutes on the first side, and 20-30 more minutes on the second side. Drain the pan midway through baking, saving the rendered fat in a jar if you wish.