Air Fryer Pork Belly Strips are seasoned in paprika, garlic salt and brown sugar for a dish that’s filled with savory and sweet flavors.
Traditional pork belly is lovely and fatty, but by cooking it in the air fryer, each bite becomes wonderfully crispy and tender. It’s an awesome combination of textures that is only amplified by the mix of spices used to season the pork belly. The air fryer cooks these pork belly bites and pork belly skewers perfectly crisp and delicious.
The garlic salt adds aromatic flavors, while the paprika gives the pork an enticing smokiness, and the brown sugar rounds out all of these savory flavors. There are plenty of ways to switch up the spices, so let us know in the comments how you switched it up!
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, not to be confused with bacon. 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, as you’ll see from our list below. There are also 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.
- 2 independent XL air fryer baskets
- Integrated Foodi® Smart Thermometer
- Cook 2 foods 2 ways that finish at the same time
Ingredients You Need
- Pork Belly Strips: Cut the pork belly strips so that they fit in the air fryer flat without bending.
- Olive Oil: will prevent the pork from sticking to the air fryer and help crisp up the pork belly.
- Salt & Ground Black Pepper: brings out the other flavors, and feel free to adjust the amount used to fit your tastes.
- Paprika: adds a nice smoky flavor to the pork belly strips without making it spicy.
- Brown Sugar: a bit of sugar helps balance all the savory flavors of the pork and spices.
- Garlic Salt: you can use garlic powder if you’re trying to cut down on sodium.
- 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.
- 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.
Where to Get Pork Belly Strips
You can purchase pork belly strips that have already been cut. I prefer a thickness of around 1 inch. Any thicker and it takes longer for the fat to render.
Look for strips that have an even amount of fat to meat ratio. That way, they won’t end up too fatty or too dry.
If you can’t find pork belly strips in your grocery, you can purchase a full slab and cut the strips yourself. You could also ask the butcher to cut strips for you. Nearly every butchers counter will have a slab of pork belly they can cut, if you ask.
If all you can find is pork belly cut into squares, that’s fine too. Depending on their size, they may take more or less time to cook.
How to Make Air Fryer Pork Belly Strips
Pat dry the pork belly strips to remove excess moisture before cooking. Brush or spray the pork with olive oil.
Mix the spices together in a bowl and sprinkle the seasoning mix on both sides of the strips.
Place the pork belly strips in the air fryer basket. Try not to overlap them. Cook at 400° F for 12-15 minutes, flipping once or twice to ensure even cooking.
The cook time will vary based on the thickness of the strips. Cook until the internal temperature is 190° F. The safe internal cooking temperature for pork is 145° F, but we continue to cook these strips longer because the fat needs to properly render and we like the meat to be more tender.
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.
Questions About the Recipe
Can I use this recipe for pork belly bites?
Yes! Simply cut the strips into smaller bites before adding them into the air fryer. Since the pork will be smaller, the cook time may differ, so keep an eye on them while they cook. Try this recipe for perfect pork belly bites.
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.
Should I boil the pork belly first?
There is no need to boil the pork first in this recipe. Your pork belly will be just as crispy and tender without boiling it first.
Are pork belly slices good to cook with?
Yes, pork belly slices are super cheap (usually about $3-$5) and really simple to cook while being packed full of flavor. They go well in bowls and salads, tacos, and just by themselves.
What can I do with leftover pork belly strips?
There are numerous ways you can use leftover pork belly strips other than reheating them. Dice the strips into small pieces and sprinkle them over a salad or pasta to add a nice bit of meaty crunchiness to the dish. Or, leave them as strips and add them to a sandwich! We love these pork belly tacos with crunchy slaw! Anywhere you can use bacon, you can use these pork belly strips.
Substitutions & Variations
- Sugar: instead of brown sugar, feel free to use maple syrup. It will give the same caramel-like flavor of brown sugar.
- Garlic salt: for those watching their sodium intake, replace the garlic salt with a combination of garlic powder and onion powder.
- International: take these air fryer pork belly strips on a trip by using spices from other countries! Some great international spices to use are Chinese Five Spice (China), gochugaru (Korea), curry powder (India), etc.
- Overcooking the strips will lead to dry and tough meat, so be careful not to overcook it.
- The outside should be crispy and golden, and slightly browned, but not charred. The meat should not start to look dry on top.
- Each air fryer cooks differently, so keep an eye on the pork and adjust the cooking time as needed.
Storing & Reheating Information
Let the pork belly strips cool completely, then put the strips in an airtight container with a paper towel over the pork. They’ll last in the fridge for 3 days. To heat up the pork belly strips, reheat them in the air fryer for a few minutes.
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Crispy Air Fryer Pork Belly Strips
- 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) pork belly strips
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) garlic salt
- Pat dry the pork belly strips. Brush or spray on olive oil.
- Mix together the spices in a bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning on both sides of the strips.
- Place the strips in the air fryer basket. Try not to overlap them. Cook at 400° F for 12-15 minutes, flipping once or twice during to ensure even cooking.
- The cook time will vary based on the thickness of the strips. Cook to 190° F internal temperature.
- Overcooking the strips will lead to dry and tough meat, so be careful not to overcook it.
- The outside should be crispy and golden, but not browned.
- The meat should not start to look dry on top.
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.