Bacon lovers rejoice! Pork belly burnt ends are rich, tasty, and sure to be a crowd favorite at any barbecue. Typically, burnt ends are made from brisket. These pork belly cubes of goodness are serious competition.
We love making these when we’re having little dinner parties at the house with a handful of people. They take some time to make, but they are always a crowd favorite. These work as a main dish, but we typically serve them as an appetizer or snack during a barbecue. Typically, burnt ends are made from brisket. Pork belly actually does a fantastic job as a burnt end because of the high fat content in each piece. As the fat renders down, you’re left with these juicy little bites that are packed full of flavor.
Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to find pork belly at your local grocery store. Try heading to a butcher or even try asking the butcher at your grocery store; oftentimes they can order it for you or they may have some frozen pork belly in the back for you. That will work just fine if you aren’t able to find it fresh. In our experience, we’ve been able to find fresh pork belly from our local specialty butcher and from our local grocery stores as frozen, pre-cut slabs. You don’t want the skin on your pork belly so if you have the option, choose without! You’ll need to trim this off before preparing.
When you start preparing these, don’t trim too much. If you see a little piece here or there that’s dried out, trim. Otherwise, leave the fat. These pieces will shrink up as the fat renders down over the course of 4-5 hours. When we barbecue, we typically use our Traeger Renegade Elite Smoker. We really love using the Traeger because it is compact, uses real wood, and takes some of the hassle out of BBQing because it keeps the fire going for you. If you’re all about tending the fire yourself, we have had plenty of great days using the Oklahoma Joe. As far as pellets go, we’ve been using a combination of cherry and pecan while smoking (Chef Tom also recommends this combination). We’ve been very happy with the BBQr’s Delight Wood Pellets. Try out Candy’s Contest Mix — we use even parts of cherry and pecan in the smoker.
We gave you the information for our homemade rub. If you’re looking for something quick and easy a few great options include Bad Byron’s Butt Rub Barbeque Seasoning BBQ Rubs, Butcher BBQ The Premium Rub, Plowboys Yardbird Rub, Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub, and Plowboys BBQ Bovine Bold.
Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- 5 Ilbs pork belly skinless
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup honey
- 4 tbsp dark or light brown sugar
- Favorite sweet barbecue sauce
- 4 tbsp honey
For Homemade Rub (You may not need all of this for this recipe!)
- 1/4 cup dark or light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flaky sea salt
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- Preheat smoker to 250ºF
- Cut pork belly into 1/2 inch cubes. You want to use skinless pork belly. If the skin is still on, remove. Remove any dry bits, but you want to leave all the fat on these.
- Lightly coat your pork belly cubes with olive oil and season generously with your homemade rub or another favorite barbecue rub
- Evenly space pork belly cubes on a jerky rack (fat side down), leaving about 1/2 and inch between each cube so air can fully circulate between each piece. (You can also use a wire cooling rack for cookies, but beware you may have fatty reside leftover after the cook! It’s going to need a deep clean!)
- Spritz burnt ends 45 minutes to an hour with apple juice. If you check them and they’re looking a bit dry, go ahead and spritz.
- Smoke pork belly cubes at 250ºF for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until outside has taken on a rich brown hue and have developed a nice, thick bark on the outside
- After about 3 hours, remove pork belly cubes from smoker and arrange in tightly packed rows on a sheet of aluminum foil. Do not stack the cubes, keep them in a single layer.
- Create a packet with the aluminum foil so liquid does not spill out. Pour your apple juice, brown sugar, and honey over the top of the burnt ends and wrap tightly so that there are no air pockets left inside
- Increase heat to 300ºF and return your burnt ends to the smoker in the aluminum packet. Cook for another 40-50 minutes until the burnt ends are tender and falling apart.
- Once the burnt ends have become very tender and are looking like they are close to done, pull open the top of the aluminum foil packet and pour your favorite sweet barbecue sauce and (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup) over the top and 4 tbsp of honey. Coat all sides of your burnt ends in sauce.
- Return burnt ends to the grill for another 15-20 minutes until sauce has created a tacky layer on the top of your burnt ends.
- Remove from heat and allow them to cool for 15-20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!