These Traeger Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends are served drizzled in BBQ sauce, crispy on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside. Your cookout spread needs this recipe. This mouthwatering dish can be made with any smoker or pellet grill.
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What are Burnt Ends
Burnt ends are a popular barbecue dish that originated in Kansas City, Missouri. And hey! Kansas City, girl here. We love ’em. Standard burnt ends are made from the crispy pieces of beef brisket that are cut from the “point” end of the brisket. They have so much flavor since brisket is smoked low and slow for several hours.
Smoked pork belly burnt ends are a variation of the traditional beef burnt ends, made using pork belly instead of brisket. Pork belly is loaded with fat which makes it great for crisping and these will get the same texture as the standard version. These are known for their rich, savory flavor and their melt-in-your-mouth texture.
What is Pork Belly
It’s a cut of meat from the belly of a pig. It is a fatty and flavorful cut that is used in various ways, particularly in Asian cuisine. It is often used to make bacon, but can also be cooked in other ways such as braising, roasting, grilling, or frying.
It is a popular ingredient in many cultures around the world due to its rich flavor and versatility in cooking. I find it at Costco. Your local butcher is also a great option.
Dry Rub/How to Season the Meat
A dry rub is a combination of spices and seasoning added to the meat to enhance flavor. It’s different from a marinade which has liquid ingredients (often to tenderize the meat) like apple cider vinegar or citrus. The purpose of a dry rub is to create a crust around the meat. A dry rub will enhance the flavor of the ribs without using moisture or a liquid marinade. Rubs are usually a little more coarse than simply adding seasoning.
As a rule of thumb, when applying a rub you should apply enough to fully coat the meat. You don’t want to see any empty spots. Add more spices if necessary. I love to use my Homemade BBQ Rub and Seasoning for these. It’s a combination of the following:
How to Slice It
You want to slice the pork into cubes that are evenly sized. That way they cook at an even and consistent temperature, such as 1/2 inch or an inch. Sometimes this can be tough to accomplish if the slices of pork belly you purchased aren’t all equally sized.
When this is the case, I take note of the smaller pieces and pull those off the smoker earlier than the other pieces to ensure they don’t overcook.
Trimming the Fat
Pork belly is mostly fat. It’s usually found on one side of the meat and can vary in thickness, with some sections being thicker than others. The fat is made up of both subcutaneous fat (the fat that lies just beneath the skin) and intramuscular fat (the fat that is dispersed throughout the muscle fibers).
The intramuscular fat is what gives the meat its signature marbling. Trimming is a matter of preference and what you think is best will vary based on what you purchase. Since each cut will be different, you may find some slabs don’t need much trimming and vice versa.
I typically keep a good amount of fat on the pieces. Do what works best for you.
How to Make Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Drizzle the pork belly with olive oil and sprinkle BBQ rub throughout. Rub the spices into the meat. Ensure the meat is fully coated, add additional spices if necessary.
- Place the pork belly on the grates on the smoker.
- Remove the burnt ends and place them in a pan. Drizzle BBQ sauce and apple cider vinegar throughout and stir.
- Place the burnt ends back on the smoker.
What Type of Wood Pellets to Use
I love to use fruit flavors or the Traeger Signature Blend. Here are some options:
- Hickory: Classic flavor that is known for its bold, smoky taste. It pairs well with pork belly, enhancing its natural flavor and giving it a rich, savory taste.
- Apple: Imparts a sweet and fruity flavor, creating a mild, smoky taste.
- Maple: Offers a sweet and slightly smoky flavor that works well. It creates a nice balance of sweet and savory flavors and can add a caramelized crust.
- Cherry: Provides a mild, fruity flavor that pairs well with the natural sweetness of the meat. It creates a delicate smoke flavor that is not overpowering.
- Mesquite: Has a bold, intense flavor that is best suited for those who prefer a stronger smoke flavor.
I recommend 225 degrees so the pork cooks low and slow and the smoky flavor imparts into the meat.
Cook Time/How Long to Smoke
Initially, you will need to smoke it for 2-3 hours to get it tender, around 165 degrees internal temperature. From there, I like to drizzle the burnt ends with BBQ sauce and a little apple cider vinegar to keep them tender and smoke them again until they reach an internal temperature of 195-205 degrees.
They are done with they are crisp on the outside and tender. Be careful not to overcook. Overcooked pork will taste dry and chewy.
How to Store
Leftovers can be stored tightly covered and sealed for 3-4 days.
How to Reheat
The best way to reheat is on the stove with additional BBQ sauce to help prevent the dish from drying out. You can also use the microwave along with some additional BBQ sauce.
You can freeze it tightly covered and sealed for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight.
Pair With these Side Dish Recipes
Smoked Mac and Cheese
Steakhouse Creamed Spinach
Smoked Baked Potatoes
Smoked Sweet Potatoes
Smoked Baked Beans
Seafood Pasta Salad with Shrimp and Crab
Traeger Smoked Corn on the Cob
Smoked Cream Cheese
More Traeger and Smoker Recipes
More Pork Belly Recipes
Traeger Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees.
- Drizzle the pork belly with olive oil and sprinkle the spices throughout. Rub the spices into the meat. Ensure the meat is fully coated, add additional spices if necessary.
- Place the pork belly on the grates on the smoker. (You can place them in a pan if you wish).
- Smoke for 2-3 hours until the meat reaches an internal temperature of around 165 degrees. The size of your burnt ends will impact the cooking time.
- Remove the burnt ends and place them in a pan. I use a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Drizzle the BBQ sauce and apple cider vinegar throughout and stir. The vinegar will help keep the meat from drying out.
- Place the burnt ends back on the smoker and smoke until they reach an internal temperature of 195-205 degrees. They are done with they are crisp on the outside and tender. Be careful not to overcook. Overcooked pork will taste dry and chewy.
- Allow the pork to rest for 10-15 minutes prior to serving.
- Apple cider vinegar is optional and will help keep the meat from drying out.
- You want to slice the pork into cubes that are evenly sized. That way they cook at an even and consistent temperature, such as 1/2 inch or an inch. Sometimes this can be tough to accomplish if the slices of pork belly you purchased aren’t all equally sized. When this is the case, I take note of the smaller pieces and pull those off the smoker earlier than the other pieces to ensure they don’t overcook.
- Pork belly is mostly fat. Feel free to trim any fat to suit your taste and liking.
- Since the recipe uses a dry rub, I don’t feel the need to marinate/allow the spices to sit on the meat before placing it on the smoker.