Pork Belly Burnt Ends — Crispy, sticky, sweet-and-savory pieces of pork belly are grilled to burnt ends “perfection”! The pork is moist, tender, and everyone goes crazy for it so double the recipe! Perfect for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, game day parties, or as a special weeknight treat for your family!
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What Are Burnt Ends?
This grilled pork recipe is dedicated to all the meat lovers out there, especially pork belly fans!
Pork belly is seasoned in a dry rub mixture consisting of brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili, garlic, and onion powders.
Then you grill the pork belly for nearly 3 1/2 hours and in the process it also simmers in a barbecue sauce and butter mix.
The result are crispy, sticky pieces of pork belly burnt ends that are tender and moist with a sweet-and-savory flavor.
I promise you that if you serve these at a holiday get-together for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, for game day parties, or as a special dinner treat for your family, there will be no leftovers!
Despite the rather dark, err burnt, look of these grilled burnt pork belly ends, people go nuts for them – particularly anyone who likes the darker pieces or more burnt pieces of anything!
Ingredients in Pork Belly Burnt Ends
To make these pork belly ends that people just can’t keep their hands off, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Wood chips, optional
- Light brown sugar
- Smoked paprika
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pork belly (brisket may be substituted)
Barbecue Sauce Mixture
- Barbecue sauce
- Light brown sugar
- Unsalted butter
How to Make Pork Belly Burnt Ends on the Grill
Making burnt ends at home is easy! To make the best pork belly burnt ends, follow these easy steps:
Step 1: Soak your wood chips in water for 30 minutes, remove them, and place them in a foil packet leaving the top open a bit. Note that wood chips are optional.
Step 2: Preheat one side of your grill or smoker and place the wood chips on top of the hot side.
Step 3: Combine the brown sugar, all spices, salt, pepper, and press the dry rub over the pork.
Tip: Use that same half sheet pan with wire rack to make the crispiest, juiciest Baked Lemon Chicken Wings!
Step 5: Close the lid and cook/smoke for 2 hours.
Tip: I keep the back of my grill hot with the flame and keep the front flames turned off. Therefore, I keep the food in front where it’s unheated.
Step 6: Using tongs, transfer the pork to a disposable foil pan, turn up the heat, place pan away from the heat, and cook for 1 hour.
Step 7: Combine the barbecue sauce, additional brown sugar, and pour it over the pork.
Step 8: Add the butter to the pan, placing around the pork. Cover the pan with foil.
Step 9: Turn the heat up, and place the pan directly over the heat, and cook for 20 minutes before serving.
It’s not obligatory to use wood chips when you’re making pork belly burnt ends. However, wood chips will help smoke the meat to add a rich and smoky flavor.
I use apple wood chips but you can use another wood chip that you’re partial to such as hickory or cherry.
It seems like a silly question but I strongly recommend using actual pork belly in grilled pork belly burnt ends. And the fattier, the better!
One of the best parts of these pork burnt ends is how crispy they get from the fat rendering down which is why you want to choose a cut that has plenty of fat.
Nevertheless, in a pinch, you can use the fattiest part of brisket.
I know some die hard barbecue fans love to make their own bbq sauce. I am not one of those people. If you are, and want to make your own barbecue sauce, go for it!
However, I am a fan of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce. It has a flavor we love and it’s easy to find. Of course, feel free to use your another trusted favorite store bought bbq sauce.
I remember before I had an outdoor grill I was always a little envious of grilling recipes like these pork burnt ends. It’s perfectly suited to grilling and unfortunately I don’t think it will translate well as an oven-baked recipe. Although you can give it a whirl if you’re feeling ambitious and don’t have a grill and see how the pork turns out.
I don’t have a smoker but I am sure these burnt pork belly ends would turn out great in one! I add the wood chips as I mentioned above to help give a smoky flavor to the meat so if you have an actual smoker, awesome!
Yes! Just like any cut of meat, if you cook the pork belly for too long the meat will become tough and dry.
These pork belly burnt ends hot and fresh off the grill are heavenly little morsels and at their best hot and fresh. People fight over them so you may want to consider making a double batch! Leftovers shouldn’t be a problem at all.
However, extra pork belly will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. They will lose an element of their crispy exterior after they’ve been refrigerated or frozen.
Tips for the Best Pork Belly Burnt Ends
When you’re cubing the pork belly, cube it in large-ish bite-sized pieces. After cooking for hours, it definitely reduces in size so don’t start out with something too small at the onset or you’ll end up with dried out little Chiclets.
For those of you using a grill to make your burnt pork belly ends, you will only use one side of the grill for the bulk of the recipe. Meaning, don’t fire up both sides of your grill because you will be cooking the pork on the cold, or non-flame side of the grill.
However, if you’re using the optional wood chips for smoky flavor, you will place them over the hot, or flame, side of your grill.
There are a few twists and turns with the cooking process but in a nutshell cooking your smoked pork belly burnt ends on the grill is as follows:
- You’ll start with a 250F grill and cook the pork on half sheet pan with wire rack (rack only) for 2 hours on the cold side of the grill.
- Transfer the pork to a disposable foil pan, raise the heat to 290F, and cook for 1 hour on the cold side of the grill.
- Add the bbq sauce mixture, butter, cover the pan with foil, raise the heat to 305F, and cook for 20 minutes on the hot side of the grill.
It should go without saying, but whatever pans you use should be old and lined with foil since they will never look the same. And won’t be the ones you reach for the next time you want to bake cookies or impress company.
And you could probably get away with using an old 9×13-inch pan instead of a disposable 9×13-inch foil pan but the disposable pans are easier and more practical for me. Especially the clean up!
Finally, don’t be scared to cook your burnt pork belly ends for the full cooking time of 3 hours 20 minutes. I know that the pork will be burnt looking but it doesn’t taste burnt!
It’s wonderful, chewy, crispy, sweet, sticky, juicy and fabulous despite its dark appearance.
What to Serve with Burnt Ends
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- Heaping handful wood chips, optional
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 pounds pork belly, cubed in large-ish bite-sized pieces* (See Notes)
Barbecue Sauce Mixture
- 1 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce (or your favorite)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed small or sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- Optionally, if you're going to use wood chips (I use apple wood chips although hickory, cherry, or another variety is fine), soak them in water for 30 minutes. Blot them dry and add a large handful to a big sheet of aluminum foil and make a packet, leaving the top space open so that the smoke from the wood chips can escape.
- Preheat your outdoor grill or smoker to 250F on one side only.
- If using, place your wood chip packet on top of the hot side.
- Dry Rub - Combine all ingredients (except the pork belly) and stir to combine.
- To a large bowl, add the cubed pork belly, evenly sprinkle the dry rub, and then press it into all sides of the pork.
- Place the coated pork onto a half sheet pan with wire rack and use the rack portion of it only (or old half sheet pan lined with foil) and place the rack on the cold side (non-flame side) of the grill. For me this is the front side since the back sie is where I have the flame. Close the lid and cook (or smoke) for 2 hours.
- Using tongs, transfer the pork into a disposable 9x13-inch aluminum pan (or old 9x13-inch normal pan lined with foil).
- Turn the heat up to 290F, place the aluminum pan on the cold side of the grill, close the lid, and cook (or smoke) for 1 hour.
- Barbecue Sauce Mixture - Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and stir to combine.
- After the 1 hour cooking time, evenly drizzle the barbecue sauce mixture over the pork.
- Add the butter around the pork, cover the pan with foil, turn the heat up to 305F, and cook directly on the hot side (over the flame) of the grill for 20 minutes. Remove and serve immediately. Pork belly will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months, noting it will lose its crispiness after being cooled and reheated.
*When selecting pork belly, the fattier the better. The fat renders out leaving behind beautifully chewy, crispy yet tender burnt pork ends.
When cubing the pork belly, cube it in large-ish bite-sized pieces. After cooking for hours, it definitely reduces in size so don't start out with something too small at the onset or you'll end up with dried out little Chiclets.
The fatty part of brisket may be substituted in place of pork belly although I strongly suggest sticking with pork belly.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 800Total Fat: 56gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 202mgSodium: 1324mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 53g
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