Throw down some delicious keto friendly pork belly for the melt in your mouth combination of bacon like goodness mixed with that signature crispy, flavor packed skin for the perfect bite.
Keto smoked pork belly is possibly my new favorite addiction. I’m not sure why it took me this long to start smoking just a simple slab of pork belly (instead of smoked pork belly burnt ends for instance which I’ve done a handful of times as well) by itself on the grill, but I’m hooked.
I think the combination of smoke flavor mixed with everything you could love about bacon and multiply that by 100, gives you the pork belly of your dreams.
If you have never smoked pork belly for slicing and eating or to incorporate into other recipes (like this grilled cauliflower mac and cheese for instance), then be sure to check out all the tips and grill techniques I’ve outlined below. Though I find this to be an easy cook, there are things to note ahead of time to get the perfect crispy pork belly every time!
- Sharp Knife & Cutting Board
- Cooling Rack
- Foil Pan/ Baking Sheet
Let’s dive into the different parts of this cook that are important to note. While non of this is very difficult or overly technical, it does take a few specific strategies to achieve a juicy, semi rendered pork belly with a successful crispy skin!
What is pork belly? Where can I purchase it?
Pork belly is commonly known as the meat used to make bacon. When your purchase a whole slab of belly, you can cure your own or use it for cooking like I do here. The pork belly is a cut of meat that comes from the underside of a pig, and can be found near the loin and spare ribs.
Pork belly is typically equal parts of fat to meat and is probably the most fattening cut of protein you can find (which means flavor and I don’t hate it). I have purchased pork belly from my local butcher, the p[pieces pictured were from whole foods, or you can typically find large slabs from Costco.
The preparation for this recipe is the most important because what you do here is going to determine how crispy your skin gets for this cook. Here are some critical tips to guiding you before throwing this belly onto the grill.
How do I get crispy skin?
- When you get your pork belly, pat it very dry with paper towels. Moist skin is going to equally soggy skin.
2. Cut 1/4-1/2 inch grid into the skin. I use a sharp boning knife for this because I like the angle on the tip of the knife. Cut only into the layer of skin and at, scoring it.
3. Give yourself a minimum of four hours to salt and dry the skin. I prefer to do this overnight if possible. Sprinkle the top with kosher salt, get it into all the nooks and crannies of the skin and into the cut areas as well.
4. Place it on a small baking sheet or in a foil pan and put it in the fridge to dry out the top. Do this for at least 4-24 hours.
5. Remove and wipe off the excess salt. Use a small amount of oil to coat the pork belly and season with my favorite sugar free and keto friendly all purpose BBQ dry rub! Avoid heavy sugar based rubs (no honey, no brown sugar etc, you don’t want that to caramelize on the skin and burn). Keep the rub as simple as salt and pepper too.
I smoked this on my Big Green Egg. Set your grill for indirect heat and get it rolling steady at 350 F. I prefer to place my prepped pork belly on a cooling rack over an aluminum foil lined baking sheet or a smaller foil pan I can toss at the end. This helps prevent all that rendered fat from dripping off and into your grill.
Use your favorite wood for that delicious smoke flavor. I like a cherry and pecan combination with pork typically. But other flavors like apple, peach, or even oak would be a good way to go.
Be sure to smoke pork belly fat side up. This is what helps render the fat and get that outside crispy and golden brown. Let it cook at 350 F for at least two hours. Your looking for the skin to set up and to start at this temperature to help render the fat, keep the pork moist, and break down the muscle.
After that two hour mark (give or take depending on the thickness of your pork), I prefer to crank the heat to 425 F for the last 30-45 minutes to add that last layer of crispiness to the skin. The pork is technically already cooked once it hits an internal temp of 145 F according to the USDA, but needs to go to around 165 F for more of the fat to render enough and the belly to be tender.
I prefer pork belly in this manner to be free of barbecue sauce personally. If you’re feeling BBQ sauce is the way to go for you, sauce it the last 10-15 minutes or so. Remove it carefully off the grill, tent it with foil, and let it rest another 15 minutes before slicing.
Use the grooves from the grid you made earlier in the skin to cut nice slices of pork belly. Serve it up straight and pair it with a side of the perfect cauliflower mash or with a good keto cornbread muffin. Re-purpose leftovers (if there are any) and make tacos with these keto tortillas or throw it into a breakfast hash! So many uses and so darn delicious!
Hot and Fast Smoked Pork Belly
- 1 Slab of Pork Belly
- 2-4 tbsp. Kosher Salt
- [4 tbsp. All Purpose Keto BBQ Rub]
- 2 tsp. Olive Oil
- Start by patting the pork belly dry. The dryer the better! Using a knife, score the fat cap and skin on an angle to create a grid 1/2 inch wide.
- Salt the outside of the skin generously with the kosher salt, being sure to get it into the cracks and grooves. Place it on a baking sheet and leave it unwrapped and in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or over night to dry the skin out.
- Remove from the fridge and wipe of the excess salt. Lightly oil the entire piece of pork belly and coat on all sides with the all purpose BBQ rub. Place on a cooling rack over a baking sheet or foil pan to catch the fat drippings.
- Place on a 350 F indirect grill and smoke for 2 hours. Around that 2 hour mark, bump up the heat to around 425-450 F to finish of the skin. Let it cook another 30-45 minutes and remove from the grill.
- Rest, tented in foil for 10-15 minutes and use the scored grooves to slice into pieces.