Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends are irresistible, juicy bites of mouthwatering meat (the same kind used to make bacon) that is rubbed in spices, infused with smoky flavor, and tossed in a fabulous barbecue sauce. Eat them as an appetizer by spearing with toothpicks, or throw them into tacos or salads, onto buns for pork belly sandwiches, or over nachos. Be sure to watch the video in the recipe card to see how I make these!
Love your smoker like we do? Be sure not to miss our Brown Sugar & Honey Smoked Baby Back Ribs, Texas Smoked Beef Brisket, and Smoked Pulled Pork!
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If you've ever been to a barbecue joint before, chances are you've seen classic brisket burnt ends on the menu, along with a note about how the supply is limited and they run out quickly. That's because burnt ends are the most flavorful, incredible piece of meat you can think of.
These succulent pork belly bites are basically meat candy and they have this unique quality of having bark (the crusty exterior you get from a long, slow smoke) with a caramelized sauce that makes for sticky, salty, deliciously rich smokey bites.
Pork belly burnt ends are a little different, but similar to brisket burnt ends in a lot of ways. The important part being that they are incredibly tender and full of flavor. They practically melt in your mouth. We love serving these with a cool and crunchy broccoli salad for excellent contrast in textures and flavors.
We make our smoked pork belly recipe using our Traeger grill and it's incredibly easy to do. Like most smoked meats I can think of, the key is to cook them low and slow. It gives time for the fat to melt and render down and for each morsel of cubed pork belly to absorb the amazing smoky flavor from the wood pellets.
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Pork belly
- Olive oil
- Dry rub - You can make the one in the recipe below using brown sugar, Kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Or just use your favorite pork rub!
- BBQ sauce - Use your favorite bbq sauce. We really like Kinder or Sweet Baby Ray's.
- Salted butter
What is pork belly?
If you aren't familiar with pork belly, it's the same cut of meat that bacon is made from. Pork belly is basically just uncured, non-smoked, unsliced bacon. It comes from the belly of the pig (not the stomach, but rather the piece of flesh on the underside of the pig), and it is made from layers of fat and meat.
Even if your local grocery store doesn't have pork belly on display, I have found that they often have it in the back if you ask the butcher. Look for a piece of pork belly with as much meat as possible.
Pork belly is unique because it is one of the only proteins that can be cut into small bites and smoked like this. The layers of fat in the pork belly allow it to stay moist and not dry out during the long, slow smoke.
House of Nash MEATS
For several years now, Paul and I have enjoyed smoking meats on our Traeger smoker. A few months ago, Paul had a great idea and recommended I do a series devoted to the meats we smoke, called House of Nash MEATS!
So far I've shared Texas smoked brisket, hot smoked salmon, brown sugar & honey baby back ribs, and smoked pulled pork, but it's possible I've saved the best for last with these smoked pork belly burnt ends.
We've made these pork belly burnt ends dozens of times now, but Paul was originally inspired by this post from Vindulge, along with tips from a number of other sources, when he was learning how to make pork belly burnt ends.
How to Make Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Trim off the skin and top layer of fat. You can ask the butcher to trim the skin for you, but you run the risk of them taking off quite a lot of the top layer of fat. We do like to trim off the fat on top when it is pretty thick, but some people love the fat and like to leave most of it on. A lot of it will render off anyway. You don't want to trim it all away, but our preference is to trim some, if not most, of the areas of pure fat away. To do this, just use a very sharp knife to make gashes horizontally across the top of the piece of pork belly, peeling away the top layer of skin and fat as you go.
Cut the meat into cubes. Aim for 1 ½ inch cubes of pork belly. They might seem large, but they will shrink quite a bit as they cook, just like bacon. By the time they are done, your pork belly burnt ends will be perfectly bite-size. If the pork belly is too slippery to slice easily, try sticking it in the freezer for 30 minutes so the fat can firm up a bit, then slice it.
Rub the meat with dry rub. Drizzle the cubed pork belly with a little olive oil, then sprinkle generously with your favorite pork rub. Try to cover every piece of pork belly evenly with the rub, then arrange them on a wire rack. This makes it easy to get the cubes of meat on and off the grill and it also allows better smoke circulation than putting the pork belly in a pan for the initial smoke.
Smoke. Set the wire rack directly onto the grill grates and smoke between 225°F and 250°F for 2 ½ to 3 hours until dark red and a nice bark starts to form.
Sauce the meat. Transfer the pork belly cubes to a disposable pan and add BBQ sauce, butter, and honey, stirring to evenly coat the cubes of pork belly. This will create a braising liquid that will give the sticky sweetness that is characteristic of smoked pork belly burnt ends.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil, then return the sauced pork belly to the smoker and cook for another 60 to 90 minutes, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 200°F to 205°F when a digital meat thermometer (affiliate link) is inserted into the middle of one of the burnt ends. Really though, the easiest way to really tell if the pork belly burnt ends are done is to test them with a toothpick. If it goes in and comes out easily, the burnt ends are done.
Remove the foil and cook for another 15 minutes to let the sauce thicken up a bit, then remove the pork belly burnt ends from the smoker and serve.
Leftovers warm up really well the next day. You can even freeze the finished burnt ends, then reheat in the oven and they will still taste delicious!
How to Store & Reheat
Leftover pork belly burnt ends can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. They reheat really well in a 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes or you could always throw them back on the smoker.
Yes, if you just want the rub without making them saucy, you can leave off the sauce and have sauce-less burnt ends.
We like to use cherry wood for smoking our pork belly burnt ends. I've also read that hickory, pecan, maple, and pretty much any of the fruit woods like apple or peach are good choices for this cut of meat, but we haven't tried them yet.
Yes, you can use a gas or charcoal grill and turn it into a smoker by soaking wood chips and then placing the meat over indirect heat. The soaked wood chips will create the smoke needed to get that deep smoky flavor in the pork belly cubes.
More Appetizer Recipes
- Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
- Jalapeno Popper Dip with Bacon
- Bacon Green Onion Deviled Eggs
- Slow Cooker Little Smokies in Honey Garlic BBQ Sauce
Smoked Prime Rib Roast
Beef & Lamb
Smoked Brisket Burnt Ends
Smoked St. Louis-Style Ribs
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- 4-5 pounds pork belly
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons coarse Kosher salt (be sure to use the right kind of salt!)
- 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ to 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 4 Tablespoon salted butter
- ⅓ cup honey
- Trim off the skin and top layer of pure fat of the pork belly. Cut the meat into 1 ½-inch cubes.
- Rub the meat with a drizzle of olive oil, then combine the rub ingredients and sprinkle generously over the meat, rubbing it in to cover each piece.
- Arrange the pork belly cubes on a wire cooling and baking rack, then place on the smoker and smoke between 225°F and 250°F for 2 ½ to 3 hours until dark red and a nice bark starts to form.
- Transfer the pork belly cubes to a disposable aluminum pan and add BBQ sauce, butter, and honey, stirring to evenly coat the cubes of pork belly.
- Cover with foil, then return the sauced pork belly to the smoker and cook for another 60 to 90 minutes, until the meat reaches 200°F to 205°F when a digital meat thermometer is inserted into the middle of one of the burnt ends or until a toothpick inserted into the burnt ends goes in and comes out easily.
- Remove the foil and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes to let the sauce thicken up a bit, then remove the pork belly burnt ends from the smoker and serve.
- Wood pellets: We like to use cherry wood for smoking our pork belly burnt ends. I've also read that hickory, pecan, maple, and pretty much any of the fruit woods like apple or peach are good choices for this cut of meat, but we haven't tried them yet.
- Storage: Leftover pork belly burnt ends can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. They reheat really well in a 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes or you could always throw them back on the smoker.
This post was originally published in June, 2019. The photos and content were updated in September, 2022.
Reader questions and reviews
The dry rub recipe is way to salty!!
Just curious--Did you use table salt or Kosher salt. Big difference.
Brutal. You could cut the salt in half and then again in half and it would be too salty. What a waste of time, money and quality heritage pork belly. Was going to try your hot smoked salmon tomorrow but thinking twice about it now.
I don't know, I always taste my rubs before using and adjust accordingly instead of going and bitching and whining it wasn't to my liking. But maybe that's just me.
This the comment 🙌🤣 who doesn't taste something before adding to meat?
Tried the smoked pork belly burnt ends and they turned out awsome! People went crazy over them, doing another batch today
I guarantee the negative commenters used table salt instead of kosher! No way two tablespoons of kosher salt is too much for 5 lbs of meat.
Agreed, most inexperienced cooks do not know the significant difference between Kosher and table salt. Kosher salt also will pull more moisture from your meat (it is why it’s used to Kosher Meat) .
First run at pork belly. Rave reviews from the crowd. I think next I’d like to remove from pan and toss back on the racks for 15 min to dry out a bit. Pan drippings were a little greasy. If you can use that word with pork belly 🤠
The recipe was great I assume the others used table salt or sea salt
Great recipe, but cut the salt content in half. Really nice flavour, bit it is way too salty for my kids.
Fully agree, do NOT use any salt but Kosher. And it gets a bit more complex than that: Morton Kosher salt is almost twice as salty as Diamond Crystals. Everybody just needs to learn how much salt things need.
Fully agree, do NOT use any salt but Kosher. And it even gets a bit more complicated than that: Morton Kosher salt is almost twice as salty as Diamond Crystals Kosher Salt. Everybody just needs to know how much salt things need I think.
Next level salting is to apply it the night before and let the belly sit uncovered in the fridge overnight. Itll absorb into the meat and make it all candy like. Then apply the rub (without the salt cause you already used it) before smoking.
Make sure to use the flaky stuff - Morton course kosher. 1/2 tsp per pound is perfect for any kind of dry brining.
This changes everything!
I've made these twice already and they are amazing! Going for third time lucky on 4th July smoke.
We tried this recipe tonight. It was awesome! I substituted chilli flakes for the chili powder. We will definitely be making this again! I smoked it on a treagar ironwood 850.
I have made these several times, followed the recipe religiously and never had them come out to salty. Others must be using the wrong type of salt. Morton Kosher is perfect!
I've seen some comments that mentioned the saltiness. You have to use regular pork belly, not salt pork belly, otherwise the total saltiness will make it inedible. In fact, if you are using salt pork belly, you should probably rinse and soak it several times before using it. The recipe is perfect when you use regular pork belly. I still cut the salt in half only because I like less salt but the recipe is fine as is.
Do you use a salted or non salted pork belly?
Non-salted pork belly
This was excellent. Whoever is saying too salty is not using kosher salt. I used 3/4 cup of a pineapple spiced rum BBQ sauce and 1/4 cup of a hickory BBQ sauce and didn't add the honey. I agree I would have liked them a little drier but even with that they were still delicious. Will definitely make again. Thanks for the recipe.
I have tried to make pork belly burnt ends with other recipes that were not good at all. This is the one I love...perfect!
Tried these the first time and I have to tell you. Honestly this was the best pork belly recipe I have tried and I have tried quite a few. Simple and simply delicious. Will make these again for sure. Thanks
Added some cayenne to the rub (we like spicy) and then just a little more honey to the glaze to offset the spice a bit. OH MY!! Sweet and spicy and delish!! We never tried to do this cut of meat and will definitely be making it for a crowd next football party 😃
This is the second time I have made this burnt ends recipe. WOW!!! I followed this to the letter and both times it has turned out awesome.
My family can’t get enough of these delicious little cubes.
Can’t wait for the summer to serve up to my families near and far at our reunion.
So glad these are such a hit for you!
I have tried MULTIPLE burnt ends recipes....this, BY FAR, has been the best! Admittedly, I have my own dry rub blend that I like to use; however, the wet sauce and the temp &timing is SPOT ON! This recipe is great for beginner and advance smokers!
This recipe was great, I made it low carb by using Swerve brown sugar and low carb honey. Served in iceberg lettuce, was just like the pork belly I had at a very nice restaurant in Vancouver. Delicious!!!
Awesome! New favorite thing to do with pork belly.. I also like to use a char siu (Chinese bbq sauce), which has a similar base. honey with hoisin, soy, mirin, rice vinegar and Chinese 5 spice blend.
New pellet grill, way to break it in! Great tasting, easy to follow recipe, added a little ginger and ground mustard to your rub. Ate leftovers for breakfast.
A BBQ sauce that is worth trying with these is...
Hickory bbq, whoreshishire, ketchup, syrup, tapatio, whiskey preferably crown royal.
Be careful with the tapatio. It's a spicy sweet or sweet spicy flavor in your mouth.
Any suggestions on how to make this if you don't have a smoker??
You could do these on a grill as well. They just won't have the same flavor that they get with the smoke, but pork belly is such a flavorful piece of meat that with the rub and sauce they would still be delicious.
you can do in bbq and put chips in a foil pouch with holes over the gas flame
Hi, i only have an oven. can i apply the same temperature and duration setting in my oven? thanks.
I haven't tried it and the pork belly won't have the same smoky flavor, which is definitely part of the key to the success, but technically you could cook the meat in the oven, so yes.
That’s not a smoker. If it has a control board it’s not a smoker
I know there are some people who feel that way, but it still does a fantastic job of adding wonderful smoky flavor while also making it accessible for the average person.
Actually my vertical pellet smoker is digitalized, computerized, and psychedelicized and every time I use it I kick myself for not embracing the pellet tech years ago. Beat heck out of non control panel Luddite smokers.
Is 2 table spoons of salt correct? The result was great except that it was so salty that we threw it out.
Sounds like you possibly used table salt instead of coarse kosher salt.
Is it absolutely necessary to remove the skin? I've braised, roasted, and fried a lot of pork belly, and I typically to leave the skin on, but I've never smoked it before so I don't have a good feel for what the end result would be like
One of the best foods I have ever cooked,I made this 3 weeks and the hardest part was getting the skin off. And I have some good knives. The only changes I would make would be to cut the meat a bit smaller, like an inch and a quarter or so. We also like it better the day after skimming the hardened fat off. Very rich but oh so good
I use a bbq sauce called Minorican datil pepper I fell in love with this sauce a couple years ago and it is great with this recipe.
Not sure why some think its to salty
This is my second go at it and this will be my go to burnt ends
Ready to try it on beef
What did you do with that lovely pork skin?
Ummmmmmmmm....I'm open to suggestions? 🙂
This recipe was easy to follow and amazing.. Will be making another batch soon!
Going to try this recipe over the holiday weekend. Very excited and first time smoking/working with pork belly. Can I apply the rub overnight or 12-24 hrs before in the fridge and then start my smoking process after that? Any objections? Thanks Amy!
No objections at all. Go for it!