Crispy, fatty, very flavorful pork belly 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 pork cut 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.
What are pork belly strips?
They are like very thick-cut bacon and come from the same cut of pork (the belly, obviously). But pork belly slices are fresh meat - uncured, not smoked, dried or salted. I get them at Costco, and think they are a delicacy!
Can't find slices at the store? Another option is to buy a whole pork belly and cut it yourself. 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 pork 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.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty recipe. 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.
How to cook pork belly slices?
Since they are thicker than bacon, I find that you need to cook them 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:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Arrange the pork belly strips in the baking sheet, in one layer. Sprinkle them with the seasonings.
3. 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 your slices are thinner than ½-inch, they will need less time in the oven. This recipe was written for thick slices.
How to serve pork belly slices
Obviously an extremely fatty cut, they 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 strip 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.
How to season pork belly strips
They 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!
Reviews of this recipe
Pinterest reviewers seem to like this recipe very much. Here are a few of their comments:
- Turned out so well. I had a whole pork belly so I just sliced that myself. Used smoked paprika. Kept it simple this time but I have plans to spice it up. Will make again, thanks!
- Went very well, no mess. I used two foil-lined baking pans and swapped one out for the other halfway through. I would season halfway through as well.
- Turned out great. I shortened the baking time by about 10 minutes. I also used some rib and brisket rub on them. Delicious!
What about leftovers?
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 Strips
- 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.