Smoked pork belly burnt ends are easy to make and absolutely delicious. Smoke them low and slow and then finish them with your favorite BBQ sauce for a delicious appetizer.
What are Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends?
Pork belly burnt ends are cubes of pork belly that are tossed in a dry rub, smoked low and slow, then slathered in barbecue sauce and finished in a hot barbecue. They are easier to make than beef brisket burnt ends and are a real crowd pleaser.
How to Select a Pork Belly
A whole pork belly is one big slab of meat that can weigh 10 – 12 pounds. Most markets and butcher shops now carry smaller vacuum sealed pork belly portions that range from four to six pounds. I purchased a 4.6 pound pork belly, cut it in half, and used the thinner portion to make the smoked pork belly burnt ends. A typical pork belly is thicker on one end (about 1.5″) and thinner on the other end (about 1″). Cubes cut from the thicker end are just too big. Therefore, cut the cubes from the thinner 1″ section and make make bacon out of the thicker portion. See my recipe and video on making homemade bacon.
Remove the Skin
Pork belly can have skin on the fatty side that has to be removed before cooking. Score the skin with a sharp knife in 1″ strips. Use a paring knife to pry up the skin on one end of each strip and pull it up and away from the fat.
Make a Dry Rub
Great BBQ gets a lot of flavor from a good dry rub. Most recipes will make more dry rub than you need for that recipe. Extra dry rub will store in an airtight container in the pantry for several months.
Cook Low and Slow
The collagen in pork belly takes time to break down. Therefore, its best to cook these at a low temperature for a long time. Setup your smoker for indirect heat at 250˚ F. Use charcoal and wood chips or chunks in a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe .
I used an offset smoker fueled by kiln dried oak with a little bit of apple wood. An offset smoker is hotter at the end closest to the firebox by as much as 40˚ F. Place the larger pieces of pork closer to the firebox and place the smaller pieces at the other end. Rotate them once or twice during the first two hours of cooking time.
Choose the Wood Carefully
The type of wood that you use is very important. Stay away from the woods that produce more intense smoke like hickory and mesquite. The smoke from those woods is just too strong for this dish. Stick with fruit woods, like apple or cherry.
Less is More
Setup a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe with a few chunks of wood arranged around the center of the hot coals. Place some pieces several inches away from the hot coals. This allows the chunks to burn at different times providing a longer smoke time.
Use only a few chunks of fruitwood in an offset smoker. An offset smoker is fueled by wood, not charcoal, and is already getting a lot of smoke.
Cover and Braise
After two hours, transfer the pork belly piece to an aluminum pan. Add a little liquid and four tablespoons of butter. Seal it up tight with foil and place it back on the smoker for another two hours.
Add BBQ Sauce
Remove the foil, stir in your favorite BBQ sauce, bring the smoker up to 350˚ – 375˚ F and cook uncovered for 10 – 15 minutes. Bet you can’t eat just one.
Favorite Side Dishes
Some of our other favorite side dishes are:
- Homemade Canadian Bacon
- Corn Ribs
- Texas Style Creamed Corn with Poblano Peppers
- Creamed Corn Without Cream
- Barbecue Baked Beans
- Kosher Dill Pickles
- Easy Pork Recipes
Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- 3 lbs pork belly skin removed
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1 tbs chili powder
- 1 tbs onion powder
- 1 tbs garlic powder
- 1 tbs black pepper freshly ground
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tbs butter
- 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbs lemon juice fresh
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Dry Rub & Mop Sauce
- Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. Mix together all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Simmer over very low heat until the butter melts. Set aside.
Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- Remove any skin from the pork belly. Cut the pork belly into 1" cubes.
- Toss the pork belly cubes with some of the dry rub. Add enough to make sure the pork belly pieces are well coated. Save the extra dry rub for another time.
- Setup the smoker for indirect heat and preheat to 250˚ F. Add the pork belly pieces and spread them out. Smoke for two hours at 250˚ F, basting them every 20 minutes.
- After two hours, place the pork belly pieces in an aluminum pan. Add 1/2 of water and 4 tbs of butter. Cover with aluminum foil and seal tightly. Place the pan back in the smoker and cook for another two hours.
- Remove the foil, add some of the BBQ sauce and toss to coat. Increase the temperature to 350 – 375˚ F and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove and serve.