Super crispy skin, tender, and juicy Lechon Kawali that is cooked in an oven and not deep-fried. This is your favorite Filipino crispy pork belly made easier and delicious with the simplest seasoning.
And, this is how you make it!
I love everything about Lechon Kawali! The fat, the crunch and most of all the bacony flavor. BUT the process of making it frightens me. The traditional way that is.
Boiled fatty pork belly with an unknown amount of moisture deep-fried in a large pot of boiling oil. Argg! A recipe for disaster, at least in my case. Most of the time.
Never again will this ever happen! Finally, I found the best way of making my favorite Filipino crispy pork belly. No oil splatters, accidental oil burns, and lingering smell.
I am just so excited to share it with all of you.
A simple Lechon Kawali Recipe
You only need four ingredients to make this, three actually if you exclude the water for boiling.
First, the meat. Lechon Kawali is always made with pork belly. A favorite pork cut of meat of many Filipinos. Hello, adobo! It's fatty, meaty and overall delicious!
This version of Lechon Kawali uses just salt and pepper for the seasoning. It's so basic and simple yet does wonders in bringing out the bacony flavor of the pork.
For the salt, I recommend using a coarse-grained type such as sea salt and kosher. Don't use iodized salt or table salt, please.
Tips on how to make a crispy Lechon Kawali in an Oven
- Crispy and juicy - slice the pork belly into 2 ½ to 3 inches thick to create a good balance of crispy exterior yet juicy (fatty) insides.
- Season the boiled pork just before putting it in the oven. Don't marinate! I mistakenly did this and the skin became 'makunat' I don't know what's the English term for that but Pinoys you get me right? Season the meat and sides first then sprinkle salt on the skin last.
- Broil on high heat until the skin starts crackling. Lower the heat then switch to normal/bake mode until it's crispy and brown all over (see recipe card for more details).
How To prevent the meat from curling?
Make vertical slits (don't cut through!) to the edges of the skin (see video). It's important that the pork can be laid flat on the wire rack and that the is skin side up throughout the broiling process.
How to quickly tenderize the pork belly?
Tenderize the pork by boiling it for 1 hour to 1 ½ hour in salted water with whole black pepper. I use a pressure cooker and it only took 20 minutes for the pork to become fork-tender. Boil longer if you prefer a meltingly tender texture.
Prick holes in the skin using a fork after boiling to make puffy cracklings. The skin is already tender so this step is easier to do.
Hear the crisp and drool over the crackling sound!
Cut into pieces and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I love soy, vinegar with raw onion dip. Click here to get the recipe. It's tangy, salty, and sweet. I recommend reducing the amount of salt if you like using this dip too!
Other popular dips for lechon kawali are spiced vinegar, liver sauce (also known as lechon sauce) and ketchup or sweet chili sauce.
Filipino Snacks and Desserts
- Biko with Latik Sauce
- Special Palitaw
- Bibingka Malagkit
- Maja Blanca
- Leche Flan
- Cassava Cake
- Kutsinta No Lye
- Easy Bibingka (Filipino Rice Cakes)
Watch the video on how to make Oven-Fried Crispy Lechon Kawali
More Filipino dishes for special occasions
- Embutido with Cheese
- Pork Humba (Meltingly tender Pork!)
- Beef Caldereta
- Pork belly Sisig
- Garlic Butter Crab
- Easy Beef Kare Kare
- Lechon Manok
- Pork Belly Lechon
Oven-Fried Crispy Lechon Kawali
- 1 kg to 1.5 kg pork belly (see note 1)
- 3 to 4 cups water (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon salt (for boiling)
- 2 teaspoon whole black pepper
- 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt (adjust to taste, see note 2)
- Make vertical slits (don’t cut through!) around the edges of the skin of the pork belly (see video). It’s important that the pork can be laid flat on the wire rack and that the skin is side up throughout the broiling process.
- Place pork belly, water, salt, and whole black pepper in a large pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and gently boil the pork for 1 hour to 1 ½ hour or pressure cook (see note 3) for 20mins until fork-tender.
- Remove pork from the pot and place in a wire rack with a baking sheet under. Let it cool. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 250c /482f for 20 mins.
- Rub salt on the sides and bottom of the meat. The amount depends on how salty you want the pork to be. And then finally, sprinkle salt evenly on the skin (see video).
- Place pork in the oven, lower rack. Lower the heat to 200c /400f then bake with the fan on (BROIL) until the skin starts puffing and brown all over. This could take 30mins or more depending on the size of the pork and the oven. Rotate with a tong every now and then to evenly brown all sides.
- Cut pork into slices and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Pork belly - choose a fatty cut. Slice into 2 ½ to 3 inches thick to create a good balance of crispy exterior yet juicy (fatty) insides.
- For the salt, I recommend using a coarse-grained type such as sea salt and kosher. Table salt and iodized salt is not recommended for this recipe.
- To quickly tenderize the meat, pressure cook for 20 minutes (high pressure in the Instant pot and use quick release) Reduce the water to 3 ½ cup.
- Broil mode is often known as grill mode in other oven settings. Please refer to your manual.
- Cooking time: Browning of the pork can take longer is using the large oven. Less if using air fryer and smaller ovens.
- Caution: Don't place the pork at the top rack as oil may splatter to the heat source and create smoke inside the oven.
- Reserve the broth for other recipes. Use to make pansit or other Filipino vegetable dishes.