Try this pork belly air fryer recipe when you want deliciously moist slices of pork belly with perfectly crispy skin. Pork belly is essentially fresh bacon, unsliced and with the skin still attached. Like bacon, pork belly is very high-fat, and air frying is a great way to lower the fat. When served with warm cinnamon applesauce, this dish is comfort food at its finest.
One of my email subscribers recently asked if I'd do an air fryer pork belly recipe. You all know how much I love air frying, so I was definitely up for the challenge! I'm pleased with how well it turned out.
Pork belly isn't a typical food in much of American cuisine. However, there's a closely related food you may be very familiar with: bacon.
Most of the time, pork belly is purchased as a large slab of meat with the skin still attached. It doesn't appear to resemble bacon much until you flip it on its side…
What is pork belly? It's like minimally processed bacon!
I've actually tried air frying bacon before, but it made a bit of an oily mess in the air fryer. When you air fry pork belly, you get a similar taste, but less clean up is needed. That's a win in my book!
- 🥘 Pork Belly Air Fryer Recipe Ingredients
- 🔪 How to Cook Pork Belly in the Air Fryer
- ⏲ Pork Belly Air Fryer Temperature and Time
- ➕ How do you know when pork belly is ready?
- ♨️ A Tip for Cooking Pork Belly in the Air Fryer
- ⭐ Why Make Air Fryer Pork Belly
- 🥗 What goes with air fryer pork belly?
- 👩🏻🍳 Other Pork Belly Air Fryer Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 👨🏿🍳 Air Fry Pork Belly (Cooking Notes)
- 🔥 Reheating Pork Belly Leftovers
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 💬 Comments
🥘 Pork Belly Air Fryer Recipe Ingredients
Time is the biggest ingredient in this air fried pork belly recipe, as you do need to start the recipe the night before. In terms of food ingredients, not much is need for the basic pork belly air fry:
- 1.5 lbs pork belly
- 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon each dried sage, garlic powder, dried thyme, dried rosemary
- Cooking oil spray
Get a printable recipe card at the end of the post!
The baking powder may seem like an out of place ingredient, but it is vital if you want crispy pork belly skin. Without the baking powder, or with less baking powder, the skin does not crisp up as well. I tried it!
If you reduce the amount of baking powder, the skin remains soft at the end of the cooking time. If you keep cooking it at 400F/200C, the skin will eventually get crispier. However, the meat begins to dry out a bit when you cook it too long under the high heat.
Baking powder is also my secret ingredient in my frozen chicken wings air fryer recipe. It made the chicken wing skin nice and crispy, and it has the same effect on pork belly skin!
🔪 How to Cook Pork Belly in the Air Fryer
First off, make sure you have an air fryer with a large enough capacity for this recipe. I use the top rack of my 10-Quart Kalorik Air Fryer Oven. Also, cooking times can vary between air fryer ovens, so feel free to adjust the cooking time instructions as needed.
As I mentioned above, you need to start this recipe the night before you want to eat pork belly. That is because the pork belly needs some time to dry out for maximum crispiness.
Step 1: To help speed the drying process, most recipes I've seen have you poke holes in the pork belly skin. A metal skewer works well for this. I made the holes a couple of inches apart.
Step 2: Next, you need to rub salt all over the pork belly and let it sit on a plate in the fridge overnight. I blotted any moisture that collected on the plate or the pork belly with a paper towel.
Step 3: The next evening, you'll rub the pork belly with a mixture of baking powder and dried herbs. Then you'll mist it generously with the cooking spray. You want the baking powder mixture to be thoroughly moistened by the oil.
⏲ Pork Belly Air Fryer Temperature and Time
How long do you cook pork belly in the air fryer? To cook the pork belly, I air fried it for 40 minutes at 250F (121C) and then the last 10-20 minutes at 400F (200C).
Step 4: Having your pork belly spend most of its cooking time under the lower heat helps prevent the meat from drying out too much. (It can also prevent rubbery pork belly.)
Step 5: Those final minutes under the high heat is where the skin crisps up nicely in the air fryer basket.
Step 6: Slice pork belly into pork belly strips or pork belly pieces (as desired) with a sharp knife and serve.
➕ How do you know when pork belly is ready?
The minimum safe internal temperature for pork belly is 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63C). Always use a meat thermometer to check for doneness if you have concerns that your meat may not be cooked properly. Pork belly can be a little pink and be at a safe temp.
♨️ A Tip for Cooking Pork Belly in the Air Fryer
One issue that may arise when air frying pork belly is that it may buckle a bit as it cooks. As a result, the pork belly skin can get a little ashy from getting too close to the top of the fryer.
You could move the pork belly to the lower air fryer rack if you see this happening. However, if you don't catch it in time, no worries. The ash wipes off easily with a paper towel, and the crispy skin stays intact.
After you slice it and add some warmed cinnamon applesauce, no one will know what happened. Your secret is safe with us.
One more tip! It's better to use a bit too much baking powder here, even if you end up having to wipe some away at the end. The baking powder is really the key to getting the pork belly skin to crisp up quickly under the high heat.
When I made the recipe video below, I decided all the baking powder made the pork belly look messy. I reshot the video with another piece of pork belly using less baking powder. Yes, it looked "neater," but I was disappointed that the skin didn't crisp as well.
Since taste definitely trumps outward appearances in my book, I reverted back to my original recipe video. It's messy, but it gets the best results. Just wipe the pork belly skin after air frying if there's some ash or baking powder, and don't sweat it.
I swear, everyone is going to love it! (I mean, unless they are one of those people who just don't like pork belly. You might want to avoid serving this to them in that case. Haha)
How to store and reheat leftovers?
Store leftover pork belly for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Leftover cooked pork belly can also be frozen. You can reheat it and cut it into air fryer pork belly bites for a delicious keto snack or appetizer!
Cut leftover pork belly into small pork belly bites that are about 1-inch by 1-inch by ½-inch (2.54 x 2.54 x 1.27 cm). Air fry cooked refrigerated pork belly for 3 minutes at 400F (200C). Air fry frozen pork belly for 3 minutes at 350F (175C) and then 3 more minutes at 400F (200C).
⭐ Why Make Air Fryer Pork Belly
- It's a lower calorie and lower fat way to enjoy pork belly. A lot of the fat from pork belly drips away while it cooks in the air fryer oven. The excess fat accumulates in the lower drip pan of the oven, not on your plate.
- The pork belly has super crisp and crackly skin. It's almost like a delicious crispy chip over the top of the moist pork belly. I was seriously just peeling it off and munching away on it. My goodness, SO GOOD!
- With this easy recipe, we can make pork belly without boiling. I've streamlined this recipe as much as possible to make it simpler for you!
- Fits many low-carb and keto diets. If you're using a low-carb approach for weight loss or to help manage your blood sugar, this dish may fit. Pork belly is a very low carb food.
- Makes a delicious and special meal. If you haven't tried pork belly yet, this is an excellent introduction to this tasty food.
🥗 What goes with air fryer pork belly?
Serve some fruits and/or veggies with this pork belly air fryer recipe to round out the meal. Here are some suggestions of side dishes for air fried pork belly:
- Homemade Unsweetened Applesauce (or try my favorite Applesauce Substitute)
- Low Calorie Salsa
- Potato Rice
You could warm the applesauce and spoon it over the pork belly. An alternative would be to serve a fruit salsa on top. BBQ sauce is also delicious on crispy roast pork belly.
I'd also include some non-starchy veggies with the meal. I went with a mix of zucchini and carrots, but you could do side salads or whatever veggies you prefer instead.
Your local grocery store may not carry pork belly, but luckily, it's not too difficult to obtain. For the best price, I recommend buying pork belly at grocery stores that specialize in East Asian foods. I obtained the pork belly here from Whole Foods through Amazon.
Air fryer pork belly is best because it's faster than oven cooking and the crackle always turns out perfectly. I love to air fry pork belly- IMHO, it's one of the best ways to use an air fryer!
To get crispy crackling, make sure the pork belly skin is dry, that you've used enough baking powder, and that you've cooked it long enough. Also, keep in mind that most foods "fried" in an air fryer aren't exactly like deep fried foods. This is because an air fryer is more like a convection oven than a deep fryer.
Yes, pork belly will continue to get soft and tender as it cooks, up until the fat is properly rendered. After that point, pork belly can become overcooked and dry.
Rubbery pork belly is typically due to overcooking or spending too long at a high temp. The secret to the best pork belly is to start it at a low temp for a long period. Then, at the end of the cooking time, crank up the heat to crisp the skin.
Yes, pork belly should be a good fit for most Paleo diet plans. Outside of dairy products, animal-based foods are typically highly encouraged as part of the Paleo diet.
👩🏻🍳 Other Pork Belly Air Fryer Recipes
After you make this pork belly air fryer recipe, check out this info on How to Cook Costco Pork Belly. You'll learn how to cook pork belly in the Ninja Foodi air fryer, and also the oven, grill, and stove!
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Watch How to Make It!
Pork Belly Air Fryer Recipe
- Start this recipe the night before you want pork belly for dinner! Using a metal skewer, punch holes into the pork belly skin, about 1½-2 inches (4-5 centimeters) apart. Try not to poke all the way through the meat (though it's OK if it happens sometimes).
- Rub all sides of the pork belly with the salt. Let the pork belly sit, skin side up, on a plate in the fridge overnight. Wipe any excess moisture that forms on the plate or the pork belly with paper towels.
- The next evening: mix the baking powder, garlic powder, sage, rosemary, and thyme together. Rub this mixture on all sides of the dried pork belly.
- Mist an air fryer baking tray with cooking spray. Place the pork belly on the tray, skin side up. Generously mist the pork belly skin with the cooking spray. You want the baking powder to be thoroughly moistened by the spray. You can rub the skin of the pork belly if there are any clumps of dry baking powder left after misting with the oil. (Watch the recipe video below for visuals of this process.)
- Place the baking tray in the top rack position in your air fryer oven. The pork belly should not touch the top heating element in the oven. Air fry for 40 minutes at 250°F (120°C). Then turn up the heat to 400°F (200°C) and air fry for an additional 10 minutes. (Check your pork belly at this point. If the skin is not nice and crispy, you may need an additional 10 minutes of cooking time at 400°F (200°C) for crunchy skin.)
- Troubleshooting: If there is some ash or baking powder residue left on the pork belly skin at the end of the cooking time, it will wipe away easily with a paper towel. If you see that your pork belly is bulging in the middle as it cooks, you can move it to the lower rack in the air fryer oven.
- After air frying, let the pork belly rest for 10 minutes. Then slice it into ½-inch (1¼ centimeter) thick slices. Note: The minimum safe internal temp for pork belly is 145°F (63°C).
👨🏿🍳 Air Fry Pork Belly (Cooking Notes)
- Chinese Five-Spice Powder may be used in place of the dried thyme, sage, and rosemary. You could also use other spices including chili powder and black pepper. Some prefer to add a glaze to pork belly with brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey for sweetness.
- If your piece of pork belly comes split in half lengthwise, no worries! You'll need to poke fewer holes in the pork belly and it makes splitting the air fried pork belly into servings easier. The air frying time and temps remain the same.
- Your Ninja Foodi, Cosori, Pampered Chef Air Fryer, Actifry, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Cuisinart, Philips, Power Air Fryer, etc. can cook pork belly. Air frying times may need to be slightly adjusted if you use a different air fryer brand than I do.
🔥 Reheating Pork Belly LeftoversYou can freeze raw pork belly. But what if you've roasted more pork belly than you can eat? You can reheat frozen cooked pork belly and refrigerated cooked pork belly. Cut leftover pork belly into small pork belly bites that are about 1-inch by 1-inch by ½-inch (2.54 x 2.54 x 1.27 cm). Air fry cooked refrigerated pork belly for 3 minutes at 400°F (200°C) in the top rack position. Air fry frozen cooked pork belly on the top rack for 3 minutes at 350°F (175°C) and then 3 more minutes at 400°F (200°C). Your reheated pork belly won't be quite as good as fresh pork belly, but it will be close! The pork crackling (roasted pork skin) will crisp right back up in the air fryer. You don't need to cook it extra crispy before freezing it.
💭 Expert Tips from a DietitianThis is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). The nutrition information provided for this recipe was calculated using raw pork belly and is likely an overestimate. A lot of fat drips off of the pork belly as it cooks, lowering the calorie content. Also, the salt mostly gets wiped away. Even with the air fryer helping to lower the fat, pork belly is still an extremely high-fat and high-calorie food. I would encourage you to think of pork belly in the same way you'd think of bacon. It's really more of an added fat rather than a protein food. Many of the cultures that have pork belly as a more common food in the diet use it in small amounts in dishes. If you have a fat loss goal, it may be better to think of pork belly as a condiment to add flavor. Give other foods (protein, veggies, whole grains) the starring role on your plate. I love pork belly, so I included a rather large portion on my plate. However, I balanced things out by keeping the rest of the meal pretty light, with applesauce and non-starchy veggies. As in my chorizo stuffed zucchini recipe, this is another example of pairing high-calorie fatty meat with low-calorie veggies. No matter what dietary strategy you are using for weight loss, you need to maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight. I recommend remaining mindful of your fat intake if you are following a low carb or keto diet for weight loss. The calories in high fat foods such as pork belly can rack up quickly. If you aren't mindful of your intake, it could end up creating a barrier to you reaching your goals. Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe.
Recipe updated to include metric measurements for our visitors in Australia and other parts of the world. I hope you enjoy this recipe as another delicious alternative to the samgyeopsal (samgyupsal) at Korean BBQ restaurants or the lechon kawali at Filipino (and sometimes Chinese) restaurants!