Discover the Mouth-watering Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time

​What’s the secret to perfect pork belly every time? Use this perfect pork belly recipe to make it soft and tender inside with a delicious crunch on the outside!

The Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time

Pork belly is the only part of the pig that gives you everything: fat, crunch and flesh. It’s salty, meaty and hearty with an incredibly rich flavour thanks to the thick layer of fat that runs along the top. Perfect pork belly has a crunchy rind on top and soft, unctuous meat underneath.

I like this perfect pork belly recipe from chef Miguel Maestre which shows you the secret to perfect pork belly every time and also includes some candied walnuts and a crisp Waldorf salad to serve with the pork.

Roast pork is one of my family’s favourite dishes, and I’ve perfected crackling so good they fight over it.  Check out how to do it here. Do try the Miso Caramel Sauce too – it’s amazing!

Perfect Pork Belly sliced
Perfect pork belly recipe
Miguel Maestre at Kingaroy's Baconfest

There’s no curing a love of bacon!

​A talented Spaniard with perpetual pizazz and an Aussie food legend with an Irish twang as endearing as his personality, Miguel Maestre knows a thing or two about pork.  His tips and recipe below include the secret to perfect pork belly every time will set the food hall on fire at Australia’s only swine-inspired culinary festival. Kingaroy’s BaconFest.

Miguel’s Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time

One of the most common mistakes when cooking pork belly is not scoring the skin. Scoring the skin helps the fat render out and makes for a crispy crust. Another mistake is not cooking it long enough. Pork belly needs to be cooked low and slow to break down the fat and connective tissue.

Here are Miguel’s tips for Perfect Pork Belly

  1. The secret is to score the skin and allow it to dry out overnight in the fridge to make the crackle nice and crisp.
  2. Pre-frying the skin helps, but the game changer is very carefully adding the stock to the tray without allowing it to touch the skin. Otherwise, you’ll undo all your good work.
  3. This perfect pork belly recipe makes excellent pork in sandwiches, wraps and tacos, so don’t be afraid to cook a big portion for maximum leftover goodness.
The Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time
Yield: 6 serves

The Secret to Perfect Pork Belly Every Time

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Pork belly’s magic lies in its perfect balance of flavours and textures. It’s rich, fatty, and oh-so-tender, while the skin crisps up to create that irresistible crackling. It’s like a symphony of tastes and sensations dancing on your palate.

Make this perfect pork belly recipe and serve it with candied walnuts and a crisp Waldorf salad.


  • 1.2 kg pork belly
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil, for pan-frying
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved horizontally, skin left on
  • 6 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 300 ml white wine (preferably chardonnay as it has a nutty flavour)
  • 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dijon or wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish cream, freshly grated horseradish or wasabi, to serve


  • 200 g (2 cups) walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes


  • 2 small green apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons whole egg mayonnaise
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 inner celery sticks, including leaves, finely sliced (about 1 cup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced) for at least 30 minutes to ensure it is nice and hot. Take the pork out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the candied walnuts, line a baking tray with baking paper. Toast the walnuts in a large frying pan over medium heat until lightly golden. Sprinkle over the sugar and chilli flakes and cook, shaking the pan, until the sugar has dissolved and caramelised. Transfer to the prepared tray and leave to cool for 10–15 minutes.
  3. Cut shallow incisions in the pork belly skin in a criss-cross pattern (similar to calamari) using a sharp knife or Stanley knife. Season the skin generously with salt and rub it in with your hands, ensuring it gets into the incisions. Using your hands will also help to bring the meat to room temperature, which will help with the cooking process. Season with black pepper.
  4. Heat a good splash of oil in a large flameproof roasting tin over medium heat. Add the fennel, thyme sprigs, garlic heads, star anise and 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds and cook for about 3 minutes until aromatic.
  5. Push the fennel mixture to the outer edges of the tin, leaving a space for the pork in the middle. Add the pork belly, skin side down, press on it with your hands and sear for 5–7 minutes until golden brown. Take your time to get it nice and golden, as this will ensure a crisp crackling.
  6. Turn the pork over so it is skin-side up and rub with the paprika and remaining fennel seeds. Carefully pour the wine into the tin without touching the pork skin and stir to scrape up any bits caught on the base. Cook off the alcohol for a few minutes and bring it to a boil (don’t skip this step, or the alcoholic flavour will be too strong). Add enough stock to come just below the skin and bring it back to the boil. Don’t let the pork skin get wet, or you won’t get that all-important crispy crackling.
  7. Carefully transfer the tin to the oven, making sure it is still bubbling from the boil, and roast for 2 1⁄2–3 hours until the meat is very tender, and the crackling is irresistible.
  8. Meanwhile, to make the salad, finely slice the apples using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Place in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and toss to coat. Place the mayonnaise, remaining lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water in a screw-top jar, season with salt and pepper and shake to combine. Trim the lettuce and separate the leaves. Place in a large, shallow bowl and scatter with the celery, apple and candied walnuts.
  9. Remove the pork belly from the tin and rest on a large platter or board - don’t cover it with anything. Strain the pan juices into a saucepan, discard the solids, and stir in the mustard and horseradish cream. Pour into a jug.
  10. Using a bread knife, carve the pork belly into chunky slices. Top with the freshly grated horseradish or wasabi and serve with the Waldorf salad and the sauce alongside.


TIP: For a more relaxed version of this perfect pork belly recipe, slice all of the pork and divide it among 12 split bread rolls. Add the salad and serve them as sliders.

Miguel Maestre at Kingaroy's Baconfest - IMAGE Nancy Jayde Photography
Kerry Heaney in Monet in Paris photo garden

Written by Kerry Heaney

Meet Kerry Heaney, an intrepid gastronomic explorer, travelling the globe one delectable bite at a time. Drawing on two decades of experience, she unveils hidden culinary gems and palate-pleasing dishes for your indulgence. A seasoned writer and editor, Kerry's travel stories feature in print and online travel publications, and her food odyssey continues at Eat drink and be Kerry. Follow her escapades on Facebook or join on her latest adventures via Instagram. Kerry's passions include savouring oysters, indulging in art, embracing aquatic experiences, and delighting in new culinary discoveries every time.

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