A lechon pork belly recipe for all you home cooks out there! This homemade lechon is slow-cooked until succulently tender. The skin is roasted until crispy, crackling, and bubbly.
This is a beginner-friendly recipe with lots of tips and step-by-step photos and a video on how to make the best homemade lechon.
Celebrate with Moist and Juicy Lechon Pork Belly
Happy celebration everyone! If you're here, then you're probably planning a wonderful event that needs something special on the menu.
We'll you're in for a treat! Making lechon belly at home has never been easy until now.
What exactly is Lechon Belly?
Lechon belly is a simplified and miniaturized variation of lechon. And I personally think, it's the best idea ever. There's no way I'm making a whole roasted pig in my kitchen.
I don't exactly know where this whole idea started but I think that the method and process of making were most likely inspired by Porchetta, an Italian dish made of roasted rolled pork.
You will love this recipe because:
- It's a Cebu-style lechon infused with garlic, onion, and lemongrass flavor.
- It makes the juiciest and most tender oven-roasted pork belly that you'll ever have.
- The skin is crispy, crackling, and bubbly. Everything we all love about lechon!
- Cooked in the oven. No pit roasting in open fire nor, constant basting.
You're welcome 🙂
Here's what you need to make the best lechon belly at home. Lots of tips included!
Here's are some tips to find the perfect pork belly for your Lechon:
- Size and Shape - use a rectangular piece of boneless pork belly with skin on; roughly the size that can be rolled up. I recommend getting a minimum of 1.5kg (3 pounds) up to the maximum size that can fit in your oven. I used 2.3kg (5 pounds) in this recipe.
- Thickness - look for a piece with an even thickness for easy rolling. Cut out the uneven parts as needed.
- Quality Pork - use the freshest pork you can find, preferably from the butcher. Avoid frozen cuts that have been stored for who knows how long–such cuts will not crisp up. This is speaking from a personal experience.
All you need are garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. These simple seasonings are the secret to making a flavorful Lechon.
To make it spicy: Add red pepper flakes, chopped Thai red chilies, or siling labuyo.
Shallots, garlic, and lemongrass
The 3 key ingredients to making a true Filipino lechon. Tip: pound the garlic and lemongrass to release the aroma before chopping.
This helps the seasonings stick to the meat and skin and boost up the crackling. Any vegetable oil will work; I used canola oil.
The most important ingredient to get that perfect pork crackling! I recommend using a coarse-grained type such as sea salt and kosher.
How to make Lechon Belly: Overview
Here's how to make the best lechon belly at home in 4 simple steps:
- Prepare the pork by drying the skin and scoring the meat. No need to score the skin!
- Season the meat, roll then tie it into a log - I will show you the easiest way to do this. Even beginners can do it!
- Rub the skin with oil and sprinkle salt all over - the second most important step to getting that crispy and puffy pork crackling.
- Slow roast for 2 ½ hours and finally blast at 240c until the skin is crispy all over!
Tender and Crispy Skin Lechon
Here's my step-by-step process to making the best homemade lechon you'll ever have:
- Dry the skin by placing it in a tray with a paper towel skin side down. This will absorb all the water and moisture. Replace the towel until the skin is completely dry. Air-drying can also work but my process is so much faster.
- Score the meat - make shallow cuts about ⅛ to ¼ inch deep. This will allow the meat to properly absorb the seasonings and flavor of the aromatics.
- Brush the meat with vinegar to reduce the pork odor i.e. make the pork smell better. This step is optional but highly recommended.
- Rub the meat with oil all over including the sides.
Part 2: Season and Roll into a log
- Sprinkle the seasonings all over the meat, including the sides. Rub with your hands to distribute evenly.
- Place the garlic, shallots, and lemongrass in the center. While others prefer using thick or whole long cuts of aromatics I prefer them chopped as they're less bulky making the pork easier to roll.
- Place 6 to 8 strings of cooking twine under the pork, at 2-3 inches intervals. Make sure it's long enough to tie into a ribbon.
- Roll into a log then tie each into a ribbon (see video!)–start at the center to hold the shape. Next, do the outermost strings, then just finish the rest. Easy! Nothing complicated. Why do a ribbon? Well, with a ribbon, you can easily adjust the tightness by untying it. Tip: Don't tie the pork too tightly. As it cooks it will expand and become bulky. It's easier to crisp the skin if it's smooth and even.
Part 3: Secret to crispy, crunchy, crackling pork skin!
- Rub skin with oil all over including the sides and bottom. This will help the salt stick to the skin and encourage the crackling. Tip: If there are any patches of moisture left on the skin, pat it dry with a paper towel before doing this step.
- Sprinkle salt evenly (DON'T RUB) all over the skin (see video), including the bottom sides and edges. This will make the skin crispy, puffy, and crackling. Tip: Sprinkle in small amounts to avoid oversalting.
- Cover the meat part with foil so it doesn't dry out during the roasting process. Make sure that the skin is completely exposed.
Part 4: Oven roast the Lechon Belly
- Slow roast for 2 ½ hours - to tenderize the meat and dry up the skin. Do not be tempted to increase the temperature or the skin will not bubble and become hard and dry towards the end of the cooking. Tip: Add another 25 minutes per 500g/ 1 pound until it reaches 62°C/145°F on a meat thermometer.
- Roast the skin at 240c until crispy all over – start roasting the top side at 15 minutes then rotate the pork then roast for another 15 minutes. Flip to one side and roast for 10 minutes or until crispy and repeat the process to the other side. Of course, if your oven has a rotisserie function, use it with gusto! This step roughly takes about 50 minutes to an hour. Tip: Do not leave the pork unattended as it can easily burn at this point because of the considerably high temperature.
What to Serve with Lechon Belly
And oh don't forget the drippings! Skim out the excess oil and use it as sawsawan too! I drizzled mine over warm rice and it was so so good!
What to do with Leftovers
You can store leftovers in an airtight container. It should last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or up to 1 month in the freezer (use a freezer-safe bag or container).
Alternatively, you can make it into Lechon Paksiw! It's the perfect dish to use up leftover lechon or lechon kawali.
How to Re-heat Lechon
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen. Place the baking tray on the upper-level rack. Roast in the oven at 200c until skin is crispy. No preheating is needed. You can do this in a regular oven or air-fryer/ convection oven.
Watch how to make Lechon Belly
More holiday recipes for your menu...
- Oven-fried Lechon Kawali
- Macaroni Salad
- Baked Macaroni
- Fruit Salad Filipino-Style
- Pork Afritada
- Pancit Canton with the Most Delicious Sauce
- Cassava Cake–stays soft!
- Pancit Palabok with Easy Sauce Recipe
- Filipino Pork BBQ Skewers
Lechon Pork Belly with Crispy Crackling
- 1 whole garlic (finely chopped)
- 8 bulbs shallots or 1 whole red onion (chopped)
- 4 stalks lemongrass/ tanglad (bruised then sliced)
- 3 stalks spring onion/scallion (chopped)
Rub for the Skin
- 2-3 teaspoon salt (see note 4)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Prepare the pork
- Place layers of paper towel in a large tray. Lay the pork skin side down. Press down to apply some weight to remove the moisture from the skin. Replace the kitchen towel until the skin is completely dry. I recommend doing this one hour before you're planning to cook the pork.
- Using a sharp knife make shallow cuts about ⅛ to ¼ inch deep across the top of the flesh (not the skin). The cuts should be about 1 inch apart, no need to be exact.
- Brush the meat with vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes. Next, rub oil all over the flesh including the sides. You can remove the paper towel at this point before seasoning the pork.
- Season the meat part with salt including the sides.
Pre-heat the oven
- Preheat the oven to 140°C fan/285°F (170°C/325°F without fan).
Season and Roll (watch the video)
- Combine garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper in a bowl. Rub all over the meat (not the skin) including the sides, and cracks.
- Place the garlic, shallots, and lemongrass in the center. You can also insert some of the pieces in areas with large cuts.
- Place cut strings of cooking twine under the pork with 2-3 inches intervals. Make sure it's long enough to tie into a ribbon.
- Roll into a log then tie each into a ribbon–start at the center to hold the shape. Next, do the outermost strings, then just finish the rest. Don't tie the pork too tightly. As it cooks it will expand and become bulky. It's easier to crisp the skin if the roll is smooth and even.
Season the skin
- Line a roasting tin with a grill rack with a foil. Size should be longer than the pork. Place the pork on top.
- Pat dry skin with a paper towel just to make sure there is no moisture left. Rub skin with oil all over including the sides and bottom.
- Sprinkle salt evenly all over the skin. Do this by section using small amounts until all parts are salted.
- Cover both ends (flesh part) with foil. Make sure the skin is completely exposed.
Slow Roast(see note 3)
- Place pork in a vertical position in the oven. Slow roast for 1 ½ hours then rotate. Continue roasting for another 1 hour until thoroughly cooked (see note 3). Tighten the foil as needed.
Crisp the Skin
- Remove the foil from the pork. Increase oven temperature to 240°C /465°F.
- Roast until crispy and puffy. Start with the top side at 15 to 20 minutes then rotate then roast for another 10-15 minutes. Turn the fan off if the oven is too hot (e.g. if you see burnt marks in the skin).Using a tong, flip to one side and roast for 5-10 minutes or until crispy. Flip to the last side and roast until crispy. DO NOT LEAVE THE PORK UNATTENDED as it can easily burn because of the high temperature. Protect the meat part with foil if it's browning faster.
- Remove from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Pork belly - use a rectangular piece of boneless, skin-on pork belly, roughly the right size to be rolled up inside, skin left on. Have the butcher prepare this for you for convenience.
- Oven Temperature - reduce the temperature if using a small compact oven as the heat source will be too close to the pork and can burn the skin without thoroughly cooking the meat inside.
- Slow Roasting Time - add another 25 minutes per additional 500g/ 1 pound.
- Salt for the skin - 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt is enough to salt the skin of 2 to 3kg pork. DO NOT OVERSALT.
- To Make-Ahead - Season the meat and roll the pork. Let it air-dry in the refrigerator uncovered. Do not salt the skin.
- On the day of roasting, season the skin with oil and salt then roast in the oven.
- Storage and leftovers - you can store leftovers in an airtight container. It should last in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or 1 month in the freezer. Reheat in the oven at 200c until skin is crispy. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating. Alternatively, make it into Lechon Paksiw.
Updated Sept 2021 with new photos, video, and a simplified recipe that yields the best result!