Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Master the art of smoking pork belly burnt ends with our comprehensive guide. Get tips, techniques, and a mouth-watering recipe for the ultimate BBQ experience.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Pork Belly Burnt Ends finished product image

What are Pork Belly Burnt Ends?

Burnt ends are a coveted and classic BBQ delicacy, traditionally associated with Kansas City-style BBQ and brisket. The long smoking process melts and renders the fat in the point of the brisket, basting the meat to create an extremely tender and flavorful experience. Typically, pieces of the point are cubed after cooking and returned to the smoker or grill, often in a sauce that caramelizes, melding savory and sweet flavors.

You might be curious, are there other burnt ends recipes besides brisket burnt ends? Can I make pork burnt ends? Burnt ends pork belly?

Yes, absolutely! Below is our favorite pork belly recipe for smoked pork belly burnt ends.

Pork belly burnt ends capture this essence with their own unique twist. Rich in fat, pork belly benefits from a similar long smoking process, resulting in extremely tender and flavorful bites. These caramelized pork belly bites or 'meat candy' pieces are a perfect addition to any BBQ, game day, or potluck gathering.

How I prepare pork belly for cooking and storage

What Is The Best Wood or Pellets For Pork Belly Burnt Ends?

Pork pairs magically with various woods or pellets - a boon for pellet grill enthusiasts. We recommend using oak, hickory, pecan, or cherry. For a creative twist, try a combination; our favorite is a mix of pecan and cherry, which imparts a rich mahogany color and a brilliant flavor profile. Many folks have recommendations on how to smoke pork belly, we recommend keeping it simple in the beginning.

For those of you running an offset smoker, we would recommend you use a hardwood like post oak, white oak, or hickory for longer cooks. Fruit woods and pecan wood tends to burn faster and isn't ideal for longer cooks. If you're using a smoker that uses a combination of charcoal and wood chunks or wood chips, try the mix of pecan and cherry.

Best Woods for Smoking Food:Types, Profiles, and Where to Buy
This guide will help you select and pair the right woods - or pellets - for smoking food.
Heath Riles Pecan and Cherry rubs are a favorite with pork

Ingredients for Pork Belly Burnt Ends

A delicious pork belly burnt ends recipe isn't complex and you don't need a ton of ingredients to make them amazing. Here's what you'll need for smoked pork belly recipes:

  • 2 pounds pork belly
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ rub (we use Heath Riles Pecan and Cherry rubs for this cook), or try our signature Sweet Pork BBQ Rub
  • Olive oil or canola oil
  • A 9x13” disposable aluminum tray (or a 12” cast iron skillet)
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of sweet BBQ Sauce (or make your own in 15 minutes)

For an extraordinary BBQ pork belly burnt end experience, pair them with the right sauce during the basting process.

Check out our signature Sweet Pork Rub and our Everyday Sweet BBQ Sauce
Cubed pork belly covered with our signature Sweet Pork BBQ Rub

How to Make Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Prepare the pork. Cube the pork belly into 1.5-inch pieces and evenly coat with the rub.

Marinate for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight. If you don't have time to marinate the pork belly, add yellow mustard as a binder to ensure the rub sticks to the pork belly. Don't be shy! Coat the pork belly with the rub.

Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees (120°C) with your chosen wood or pellets.

Place the cubed pork belly cubes fat-side up on the smoker rack, ensuring they are not touching.

Pork Belly on our MGrills M36

While the pork belly is smoking, make the bbq sauce. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Check the internal temperature of the pork belly, you're shooting for an internal temperature of 150° to 160° before moving on to the next step. Don't have an instant read thermometer? ThermoWorks makes the best in the industry.

Pork belly removed from smoker and ready for butter and BBQ sauce

Transfer the smoked pork belly to a disposable aluminum tray. Coat well with BBQ sauce and add the 4 tablespoons of butter and cover with aluminum foil.

Place butter throughout the burnt ends

Increase smoker temperature to 300°F (150°C).

Return the tray to the smoker for an additional 1 to 1.5 hours, until the sauce caramelizes.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends covered in foil during the braising process

Rest the finished product for 10-15 minutes before serving.

How Long Do I Smoke Pork Belly Burnt Ends?

Incredible barbecue comes down to patience and alchemy. How long to smoke pork belly depends on the recipe you're following. The perfect pork ends are the right amount of smoke and smoking pork belly burnt ends is an easy two-step process that takes about 5 hours. Start with 3 hours of initial smoking, followed by 1 to 1.5 hours post-glaze smoking. For best results:

  • Cut the pork belly into even 1.5-inch cubes.
  • Arrange them fat-side up during the initial smoking, ensuring they don’t touch.
  • Cover the aluminum pan or cast iron skillet tightly with foil during the glazing process.

Following these steps closely will help you create an incredible BBQ dish, perfectly timed, every time.

Finished image of Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Can I Cook Pork Belly Burnt Ends in the Oven?

Absolutely. While most like their burnt ends smoked, you may follow this recipe and experience delicious smoked pork belly from your oven. However, when preparing the recipe, we recommend using smoked paprika and extra brown sugar for the seasoning and using our recommended sauce above. Our Everyday Sweet BBQ Sauce is incredible with anything, pulled pork, pulled beef, brisket, pork chops, and classic smoked chicken.

What To Serve With Pork Belly Burnt Ends?

Rich, savory, and sweet pork belly burnt ends pair well with a variety of foods. As a shameless plug, we would highly recommend you check out recipes for Grilled Pineapple or Fresh Cucumber and Tomato Salad.

Serving smoked pork belly burnt ends over creamy mashed potatoes or with a piece of cornbread is also a winning combination.

Where Can I Buy Pork Belly?

Pork belly is available at most local grocers, butcher shops, and membership warehouse club stores like Costco or Sam's Club. I buy pork belly from my local Costco because they sell the whole pork belly in 4 to 5 pound packages with the skin removed. 

When I buy pork belly at that quantity, I cut the meat into thirds. Some of my favorite recipes include pork belly as the staple protein so there is never a concern about using it. My kids loved smoked pork belly burnt ends and are obsessed with crispy pork. I love smoking pork belly like a brisket. It makes the best tacos, sandwiches, and salads.

Check out more fun pork belly recipes on our page:

Smoked Texas-Style Pork Belly Brisket

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