Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends

4.75 from 8 votes
4.75 from 8 votes

Sweet and sticky pork belly bites smoked over pecan wood and coated in BBQ sauce.

smoked pork belly burnt ends

These melt-in-the-mouth pork belly burnt ends are buttery-tender bites of pork with a touch of crispy caramelized edge that’s like nothing else.

Barbecue might (sometimes) be guilty of over-indulging in huge slabs of meat, but this spin on traditional brisket burnt ends gives you pop-in-your-mouth meat candy that’ll be impossible to put down.

From smoking woods to meat prep, discover how to make the best smoked pork belly burnt ends today.

smoked pork belly burnt ends

Pork Belly Burnt Ends Explained

Pork belly burnt ends are sweet, sticky cubes of pork slathered in BBQ sauce and slow-smoked to produce little bites of meat that are unlike anything else you might have tried on your smoker before. These 1-inch cubes have a beautiful deep red color and caramelized coating that makes them as close to meat candy as you can get.

Pork belly is the perfect meat cut for this recipe: Its rich marbling means that we can get just the right amount of tenderness from each bite, while the belly’s thick layer of fat means that the cubes hold their shape remarkably well during the smoke. And because pork belly is about 50:50 fat-to-meat, there’s a lot of flavor in every single piece.

These are a spin on the original brisket burnt ends, which uses the fatty point end of a brisket to produce similarly delicious pieces of beef. But I’ve always thought of the pork belly version as better for less experienced BBQ fans, as it’s a more affordable cut of meat and much easier to handle—plus, their sweet flavor shows what is really possible with barbecue. If this is your first time delving into the world of burnt ends, this is a great place to start.

smoked pork belly burnt ends

Tips for Buying Pork Belly

When you’re buying pork belly, you want to get a piece that has plenty of meat for the most fulfilling dish. You do want it to have layers of fat, though, because that keeps the meat moist when you’re smoking it. You’ll want to check out the marbling like you would on bacon.

You can find pork belly in strips or slabs. Some places leave the skin on, which you can remove yourself, but it’s easier to ask the butcher to do it for you. It’ll also save you some money since you’re paying by the pound.

The center of the pork belly is the best to buy if you have a choice. One end is pretty thin, and the other is mostly fat. You want an even mix of meat and fat for the tastiest burnt ends.

smoked pork belly burnt ends

How to Smoke Pork Belly Burnt Ends

The broad overview of smoking pork belly burnt ends is to first smoke the meat for the flavor. Then you baste the meat with sauce to keep it moist and return it to the smoker. The sauce carmelizes for a rich coating with the juicy meat inside.

Meat Trimming

If the butcher left the skin, you’ll have to remove it because it won’t render in the smoker. You can also trim any excess fat so that your cut looks like a 50-50 mix of meat and fat.

Cut the pork belly into cubes, tossing away any cube that is entirely fat. The best size for the cubes is about 1.5” to 2”. If they look large, don’t worry – they shrink down during the smoking process, so they’ll be bite-sized by the end.

Dry Rub Seasoning

Apply your favorite dry rub or seasoning all over pork belly cubes (our favorite is in the recipe below). Cover every side of the meat evenly for the best flavor. Once they’re coated, place them on a wire rack with enough room for the smoke to circulate between them.

Smoke the Pork Belly

You can keep an eye on the meat at this point to get the bark exactly right. Once you add the sauce, you can’t get more bark on the meat. If you like a lot of bark for flavor, let the pork belly smoke for closer to three hours with just the dry rub on it.

Add the Sauce

When your meat is dark, take it off the wire rack and put it in a disposable pan. Mix the meat with BBQ sauce and stir it to ensure it’s all coated. Put foil over the pan and put it back on the smoker.

Cook to Finish

It takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes to finish smoking the meat once it’s sauced. You can check the temperature with a meat thermometer — once it hits 205℉ (96°C), you’re good to go.

Take off the foil and leave the pan on the grill. The sauce will firm up and stick to the meat for more flavorful bites.

smoked pork belly burnt ends

Best Wood for Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Most types of fruit wood work well for smoking pork belly burnt ends because their sweet notes combine well with pork belly as it renders. We’ve used pecan wood for this recipe since it has a rich sweet flavor that we find works well. However, if you want to really ramp up the color on this dish then give cherry wood a try. Over the course of a couple of hours, it’ll enhance the burnt ends with a deep red hue that’ll really make a statement!

Times & Temperatures

The total cooking time for these pork belly burnt ends is just under 4 hours. The entire process can be broken down into three distinct stages: The first smoke, the foil packet, and the final saucing.

Smoke pork belly burnt ends at 250°F (120°C) for two hours. At this point, you’ll have a beautiful color on the meat and can add sauce. After adding the sauce, you’ll cover the pork in foil and cook it for a further hour to help the burnt ends turn tender, before we glaze them in BBQ sauce for one final 10-minute sprint on the smoker.

Quick Tips

  1. Use a Water Pan: To help keep your smoker’s temperature consistent and your pork moist, I recommend using a water pan. Simply fill an aluminum pan or tray with some ice cubes and some water, and place it on your smoker grates underneath your pork belly.
  2. Fat is Your Friend: It’s important that each cube of pork has a layer of fat on top. Not just for flavor, but also to help it keep its shape on the smoker, and when you mix in the BBQ sauce. If you come across any cubes without this fat layer as you prepare the pork belly, I recommend not using them.
smoked pork belly burnt ends

Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends

4.75 from 8 votes
Pork belly burnt ends slow smoked over pecan wood and coated in barbecue sauce. These sweet pork belly cubes are addictive and will go down a treat at your next backyard cook-off.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 6



  • 3 lb pork belly no skin and uncured
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce

Dry Rub Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp dried onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper


  • Fire up your smoker to 250°F (120°C). If you are using a charcoal grill, set it up for 2-zone indirect cooking
  • Cut the pork belly into cubes at about 1 ½-inch thick
  • Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork to remove or crush any lumps that may have formed.
  • Evenly coat your pork belly cubes in the dry rub. Arrange cubes on a wire rack fat-side up, and place on smoker grates. Smoke for 2 hours.
  • Transfer pork belly cubes to an aluminum pan. Coat with brown sugar and honey.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil and return it to the smoker. Smoke for 60-90 minutes until tender.
  • Remove the foil and add barbecue sauce, stirring in well. Smoke for 10 minutes to allow the sauce to harden.
  • Remove from smoker and serve immediately

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

Still hungry? Check out more BBQ posts

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating