Barbecued Pork Belly Recipe

Pork belly isn't quite as quick and easy to cook as bacon, but it's still worth the effort. While one of the quickest ways to cook it might involve an Instant Pot, sometimes fastest isn't always the best. Here, instead, we're going for the more time-consuming, but far more flavorful, method of barbecuing it. 

As recipe developer Julianne De Witt explains, "I'm using the reverse sear technique in this recipe where the meat is cooked low and slow over indirect heat, then seared over high heat for a few minutes to create a dark crisp crust."

While this recipe makes a large amount of meat, don't be afraid to try it even if you don't have a whole crowd to feed. De Witt assures us, "Pork belly tastes even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to settle into the meat." The cooked meat will keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator and can quickly be reheated in a frying pan, but you can also freeze a good-sized portion of it to eat at a later date or re-purpose it in recipes such as pork belly onigiri or pork belly tacos.

Assemble the ingredients for the barbecued pork belly

In addition to the pork belly, the only ingredients you'll need for this recipe are some seasonings to make a rub or dry brine: brown sugar, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. You will also need wood chips to create the smoke for the barbecue. As De Witt suggests apple or cherry wood, telling us "They provide a subtly sweet but mild flavor."

Dry-brine the pork

First cut about ½-inch deep into the top layer of fat on the pork belly, scoring it in 2-inch squares. Mix the sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic and rub this all over the pork. Make sure you push some seasoning down into the lines you just cut.

Put the pork into the refrigerator uncovered and leave it alone for at least 2 hours. De Witt does say, though, that "longer is better," as this makes the meat more flavorful and juicy, so up to 12 hours (overnight) will work. She advises that the pork be put on a wire rack over a pan to let the air circulate if you'll be leaving it for a longer amount of time.

Prepare the pork and the grill

Before you can cook the pork, you'll need to take it out of the fridge and let it sit until it cools to room temperature. While you do this, you can soak the wood chips in water.

When the meat is ready to go, drain the wood chips and put them into the grill's smoker box. "If your grill lacks a smoker box," De Witt advises, "you can simply wrap a handful of wood chips in foil, then poke some holes on top of the packet and stick it on the hot side of the grill." What hot side of the grill, you may ask? It's the one you'll create by tuning on both burners and setting the temperature to 250 F. Once it gets hot enough that the wood starts smoking, turn one of the burners off, thus creating a cool(er) side to the grill.

Cook the pork over indirect heat

Put the pork over the burner that is turned off and leave it there for 3 to 4 hours so it can cook in the indirect heat. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness and don't take it off the grill until its internal temperature hits 165 F. Once the pork is cooked through, take it off the grill, then crank the heat to 450 F.

Reverse sear the pork

Return the pork to the grill, this time over the burner that's still on. Cook it on one side for 2 minutes to get a nice sear, then turn it over to sear the other side for 2 minutes. "Keep an eye on the pork," De Witt cautions, explaining "The fat will drip and may cause flare-ups."

Once the pork is done cooking, let it sit for 10 minutes, then cut it into cubes or slices. If you wish, you may season it with a bit more salt. Smoked pork belly goes well with typical barbecue sides such as cornbread, corn on the cob, or potato salad, although De Witt tells us she also likes it with tomato salad, rice, or roast potatoes.

Barbecued Pork Belly Recipe
5 from 45 ratings
Reverse searing pork belly before searing it over high heat for a few minutes to create a dark crisp crust is well worth the effort in this recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
chopped pork belly on board
Total time: 6 hours, 14 minutes
  • 4 ½ pounds pork belly, skin removed
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 cups apple or cherry wood chips
  1. Score the top layer of fat on the pork belly in 2-inch squares approximately ½-inch deep.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.
  3. Coat all sides of the pork with the dry rub, making sure that it gets down into the grooves.
  4. Refrigerate the uncovered pork for 2 to 12 hours.
  5. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature.
  6. Soak the wood chips in water.
  7. Drain the wood chips and add them to the grill's smoker box.
  8. Heat both sides of the grill to 250 F.
  9. When the chips begin to smoke, turn off one burner.
  10. Put the pork belly on the cool side of the grill.
  11. Cook the pork over indirect heat for 3 to 4 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
  12. Remove the pork and increase the grill temperature to 450 F.
  13. Put the pork belly over the direct heat and grill for it 2 minutes on each side.
  14. Take the pork belly off the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  15. Cut the pork into cubes or long slices, seasoning it with additional salt if desired.
Calories per Serving 1,838
Total Fat 180.6 g
Saturated Fat 65.7 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 244.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 19.1 g
Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
Total Sugars 13.7 g
Sodium 949.4 mg
Protein 32.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe