Smokey, sweet, and amazingly tender, these bites of pork belly goodness are an awesome alternative to traditional brisket burnt ends. Imagine the amazing taste of bacon, but even juicier and covered in a combination of honey and your favorite BBQ sauce – these are truly meat candy! And the bite-sized pieces make this recipe a perfect finger food for any party or gameday get-together. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips
- You’ll (obviously) need some pork belly, and you’ll want the skin removed. I find it’s typically sold without the skin, but you can double-check with your butcher. And if you can only find it with the skin, no worries – it’s not too much trouble to remove it. Just make sure it’s off, as it won’t break down while cooking like the rest of the belly.
- These burnt ends are smoked, but you don’t need a fancy smoker to make them. You can set up a simple kettle charcoal grill like a smoker – here’s a guide. And I’m sure these would still be delicious even if you made them in an oven, but you would miss out on that deliciously smokey bark.
- A cookie cooling rack or similar wire rack makes this recipe a lot easier. The pieces are large enough that they won’t fall through grill grates, but removing them one-by-one off of a hot smoker is a pain.
- If you’re feeling inspired, get creative with your braising liquid and finishing sauce. Typically sweet stuff works nicely with pork, but I’ve seen a lot of pork belly recipes that use beer as a braising liquid. Here’s a recipe that incorporates sesame oil, soy sauce, and other Asian ingredients.
- If you want to try another simple alternative to brisket burnt ends, check out my recipe for poor man’s burnt ends made from chuck roast. I often cook them alongside pork belly burnt ends for some added variety.
Here’s what you’ll need to make pork belly burnt ends:
- ~5 pounds pork belly (without skin)
- 1/2 cup dry rub of your choice
For the Braise
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
For the Glaze
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- Chop the pork belly into roughly 1.5″ square pieces and season liberally with your dry rub.
- Smoke uncovered at ~250° F for three hours, allowing a reddish bark to form.
- Remove pork belly pieces and place them on two layers of foil. Add apple juice and brown sugar and tightly wrap the foil.
- Cook in foil for an additional hour, until pork belly is very tender.
- Remove pieces from foil and toss them in barbecue sauce and honey.
- Finish by cooking uncovered for 20 minutes until sauce thickens and adheres nicely to the pieces.
I really hope you’ll give these pork belly burnt ends a try next time you fire up the barbecue! They’re so unique and an absolute crowd pleaser. I’ve never come across someone who didn’t love them. If you’ve got any questions about this recipe, please let me know below. And if you’re looking for another recipe, maybe try smoking short ribs!