One of the easiest ways to cook pork belly is in the air fryer, thanks to the circulating air that makes crispy skin pork belly, without the need to slow cook for hours. Give this perfectly crispy air fryer pork belly a try and see what I mean.
Pork belly is a fatty cut of meat that comes from the underside of the pig. It’s the bit that remains after the loin and spareribs have been removed. It is commonly used to make crispy pork belly, pork belly strips, or pork belly bites.
You’ve likely had pork belly before at a restaurant, as it was quite popular there for a while. Perhaps you’ve even tried making it at home in the oven. Pork belly requires a longer time to cook because it is very fatty, so the fat needs time to render and become soft.
So the two important bits about cooking pork belly is rendering the fat properly and getting the skin crispy. You can do both in the air fryer.
Ingredients for Air Fryer Pork Belly
Pork Belly makes a great main dish, for which you’ll need a slab of pork belly. Be sure you keep in mind the size of your air fryer when picking out a piece. It needs to fit comfortably inside. A 5″x5″ piece fits great in my air fryer basket and is enough for 2-4 servings.
- Pork belly slab – Try to find a uniformly sized piece that’s at least 2 inches thick with a good ratio of fat.
- Salt – Salt adds tons of flavor and helps dry out the skin so it will crisp up.
- Seasonings for the spice rub – Paprika, cumin, brown sugar, ground black pepper, and garlic salt.
- White vinegar – We use white vinegar though you could use what you have on hand. Brushing vinegar on the skin helps to dry it out to insure it becomes crispy and crunchy.
- Olive oil – The olive oil helps the salt stay on the skin.
- Air fryer: I use this 4-quart basket-style air fryer. It’s large enough to fit a meal for 4-6. But some things need more space in the air fryer basket, so they cook evenly.
- Kitchen tongs: It’s very easy to remove food from your air fryer with kitchen tongs. I use these kitchen tongs that are silicon coated so they don’t scratch the interior.
- Basting brush: You’ll use a basting brush to coat the pork belly in vinegar as it cooks.
- Foil or Parchment paper: This makes for easy clean up with the cooking is done.
- Meat thermometer: The only way to tell if meat is fully cooked to the right temperature is to use a meat thermometer. I use this Instant Read thermometer. It’s so quick to open the basket and check the temp.
What is Pork Belly?
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of cooking with pork belly and you’re wondering what it is. That’s an easy one.
Pork belly is a cut of meat that comes from the fatty portion of a pig’s under belly. It’s a favorite among chefs and home cooks because of its rich flavor and versatility. You can get pork belly most often from the butcher counter. It’s usually sold with the skin-on and has a generous layer of fat on top and throughout the meat that melts as it cooks.
Pork belly can be used in a variety of dishes and there are many ways you can cook it (my favorite is crispy pork belly). The possibilities are endless! So why not give it a try and see which ways you like to eat it.
Why Use an Air Fryer
An air fryer is an incredibly easy way to cook just about anything. You place the food in a fryer-style basket and hot air rapidly circulates all around the food, making the food crisp – much like deep-frying, but without the oil. You can cook anything you’d make in the oven.
- I use a Ninja MaxXL air fryer (pictured left). If you don’t have an air fryer yet, check out these options to find one that fits your needs.
- See reviews and prices for air fryers on Amazon.
- Here’s a printable Air Fryer Cooking Times Cheat Sheet to get you started.
- Click to find more recipes to make in your Air Fryer.
- Learn how to make fun things in the air fryer, like potato wedges, pork belly bites, and chicken wings.
Where to Find Pork Belly
These days almost every grocery butcher carries pork belly. If you don’t see it in the meat section, ask at the counter if they have it or can get it for you.
Pork Belly comes in all kinds of cuts. You can get it as a full slab, which is typically around 6-8 inches long and 5-6″ wide. This is best if you’re planning to serve it as a main dish. It’s quite impressive. You can also get it in strips or in chunks (to use for pork belly bites).
Specialty butchers online, like FarmFoods carries pork belly that you can buy without a subscription.
How to Make Pork Belly in the Air Fryer
Lay the pork belly skin side down on a cutting board. Cut about 1/2” deep into the meat in both directions, making 2”x2” squares (do not cut through to the skin). Mix together the spices in a bowl. Sprinkle the spices on the meat, making sure to get spice in the grooves of the meat.
Cut an 18” piece of foil or parchment paper. Fold it in half. Fold up all four corners to make a box. Place the pork belly, meat side down, in the box. Brush the top of the pork belly with white vinegar.
Place the foil or parchment paper box in the air fryer basket. Cook at 200° F for 30 minutes. This should dry out the skin enough that it will crisp up during cooking.
Sprinkle the skin with salt and brush with olive oil to help crisp the skin. Cook at 375° F for 50 minutes. You might need to monitor the pork as it cooks, because some air fryers cook hotter than others. Check on it a few times during cooking to make sure you avoid burning the skin.
When done remove from air fryer and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Turn the pork belly upside down on the cutting board and cut slices along the lines you already cut.
Tips for Super Crispy Skin
The key to great pork belly is crispy skin that can easily be eaten. If it’s not crispy, it’ll be chewy and stick to your teeth. Yuck. You also need it to get crispy but not to burn. Here are a few tips for getting the perfect crispy skin.
- Don’t marinate the meat in a wet marinade. If the skin gets wet and soaks up liquid, it won’t get crispy.
- Excess moisture will make the skin soggy. Pat it dry with a paper towel and allow it to sit on the counter uncovered for at least 1 hour before cooking.
- Pierce the skin all over. Use a skewer or knife to make a dozen little holes.
- Be sure to only pierce the skin, not the meat, which will allow the juices to escape from the meat and make the skin soggy.
- Keep an eye on it as it cooks, to avoid burning.
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What Side Dishes to Serve?
Storing & Reheating Tips
Once the pork belly has cooled completely, you can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. As leftovers, place the pork belly in an airtight container, then store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat by placing it in the air fryer at 340°F for about 5-8 minutes. To reheat from frozen, let it thaw in the fridge overnight first. Then reheat them in the air fryer at 340°F for about 5-8 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does pork belly take in the air fryer?
In this recipe, after brushing the pork belly with white vinegar, it cooks at 200° F for 30 minutes. This should dry out the skin enough that it will crisp up during cooking. Then the skin is sprinkled with salt and brush with olive oil and cooks at 380° F for an additional 50 minutes.
So, all together the pork belly is in the air fryer for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Is it possible to overcook pork belly?
As much as it looks like you’re just cooking the pork belly to the point of dryness, you’re not. The cooking process is long for pork belly because of the amount of fat in the layers. This fat needs to break down and render so it’s not thick and rubbery when you eat it.
However, there is a point at which you can overcook pork belly and it becomes dry and tough. That point is when the fat layer has completely rendered down into nothing.
Is it better to cook pork belly fast or slow?
It is best to slow cook pork belly. This allows the fat to render down into the meat. The result is moist and tender meat with a crispy exterior.
Before You Go
Since you enjoyed this recipe you may enjoy these related recipes!
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Perfectly Crispy Air Fryer Pork Belly
- 1 1/2 pound pork belly make sure it fits inside your air fryer basket
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Lay the pork belly skin side down on a cutting board. Cut about 1/2” deep into the meat in both directions, making 2”x2” squares (do not cut through to the skin).
- Mix together the spices in a bowl. Sprinkle the spices on the meat, making sure to get spice in the grooves of the meat.
- Cut an 18” piece of foil. Fold it in half. Fold up all four corners to make a box. Place the pork belly, meat side down, in the box. Brush the top of the pork belly with white vinegar.
- Place the foil box in the air fryer basket. Cook at 200° F for 30 minutes. This should dry out the skin enough that it will crisp up during cooking.
- Sprinkle the skin with salt and brush with olive oil to help crisp the skin. Cook at 375° F for 50 minutes. Check on the pork a few times near the end of cooking to make sure the skin isn't burning. If it's getting too dark, place a piece of tin foil over the top to protect the skin from burning.
- When done remove from air fryer and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Turn the pork belly upside down on the cutting board and cut slices along the lines you already cut.
All air fryers have different wattage and may cook at different rates. You may need to adjust the time or temp for the best results.
🥧 If you’re interested in more great recipes, I share all my favorite recipes over at A Food Lover’s Kitchen, and you’ll find Instant Pot recipes at A Pressure Cooker Kitchen, and cocktails and drinks at Savored Sips. Check it out today!
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Laura is a passionate foodie and owner of Air Fry Anytime She is dedicated to sharing delicious recipes and helpful tips for using air fryers at home. With years of experience in the kitchen and a love for healthy, flavorful cooking, Laura has become an expert at using air fryers to create amazing meals that are both nutritious and delicious.