Few people can resist juicy, tender pork belly with extra-crispy crackling – it’s a match made in heaven! You’ll need to plan ahead and put in some overnight prep if you want to achieve the ultimate crunch, but I promise it’ll be worth it. If you’re after a roast pork to wow the crowds over the holiday season (Christmas roast pork is JUST as good as turkey in my book), while entertaining or for a weekend lunch with loved ones, read on. Or watch on – I’ve got a video on my crispy roast pork below if you’re a more visual person.
All the crackling tips you need await in this pork belly recipe!
Head to your supermarket or butcher to buy pork belly. I like to buy a piece that has a decent amount of meat on it and isn’t too fatty. But you will of course need that all-important skin on top, so that’s the non-negotiable part! The strip of fat underneath the skin shouldn’t be too thick either, as you want to ensure it has time to really render down.
Roast pork with crispy crackling begins with selecting the perfect piece of pork belly.
Start the day before you want to serve your pork. If you have a Chinese hole puncher or pork skin pricker, you can use that to puncture holes all over the pork skin. Alternatively, you could use toothpicks to poke as many holes as possible into the skin of the pork belly. As they go blunt, replace and use new ones. It’s definitely worth this step, but if you’re in a rush, just progress to the next phase.
The best knife for scoring pork rind? A utility or stanley knife. Together with a metal ruler, use it score the pork skin at about 1 centimetre (around 3/8”) intervals. You want to cut through the skin and a little of the fat, but not go into the meat underneath (otherwise all those juices are going to bubble up and scupper your crispy goals). When you’re done, pat the skin dry with paper towel – moisture is your enemy here, so you want things as dry as possible.
Now rub the skin with about a tablespoon of sea salt flakes, making sure you get it nice and covered and into those grooves. Sit your pork belly on a baking tray and chill in the fridge (uncovered) for at least 2 hours – although overnight is even better.
Once ready, take your pork belly out of the fridge and wipe it dry with some more paper towel. To make sure the pork skin is super dry, you could even use a hairdryer to blow hot air over it!
Drizzle a little oil over the skin, and an extra sprinkling of salt for flavour. Now transfer it, skin-side down, to a baking dish, and cover with baking paper. Place a heavy oven-proof dish on top to weigh things down and keep the skin nice and flat, then transfer to a hot, 200°C/390°F oven for an hour. Then remove the weight and baking paper and turn pork belly over so it is skin-side up. Roast for a further 10 minutes.
More time up your sleeve? Let’s slow roast! Going low and slow is going to turn all that collagen into gelatin, so it’ll be soft and glorious and perfectly rendered.
I like to do a crosshatch scoring pattern to maximise those grooves, then follow the same steps as before to dry it overnight. Wipe it with paper towels again the next day. This time, you want the oven at 150°C/300°F.
Place an oven-proof wire rack onto a baking tray and brush the rack with a little oil. Place the pork on top, skin side up and roast in the oven for 90 minutes. Then turn the heat up to 240°C/460°F and roast for a further 30-40 minutes or until the skin is super crispy.
And that’s all there is to getting perfect cracking! You’ll also be pleased to know I have a pork belly air fryer recipe too to further rock your world.
Serve your crispy pork belly with traditional trimmings, such as roast potatoes and veggies, or go for a light and bright accompaniment, such as Asian slaw or a delicious salad.