Crispy Roast Pork Belly in Air Fryer

This crispy roast pork belly dish is one of the easiest and simplest recipes ever. The method includes par boiling the meat, drying it out then cooking it in the air fryer. This way the cooking time is greatly reduced and the skin is crispy and delicious!

In the past I have tried making crispy roast pork belly many times with very little success. There was always something wrong with it. The most common issue I had was patches of skin where it is was just soft, wet and chewy. This really angered me since there is nothing worse than spending a small fortune on a nice piece of pork belly, only to stuff it up at the end.

So I have made it my mission to find the easiest way to make delicious crispy pork belly that works every time. I have looked at many recipes and have picked pieces here and there to make my very own.

In the end, my method is to boil the meat first then let it dry out in the fridge. I then use an air fryer to cook the meat since it is so much easier to use and clean than an oven. Now, every time I want crispy pork belly… I make it myself and it turns out great every time!

Everten

Today we are talking KNIVES, specifically big Chinese choppers. A decent knife has been on our wish list for sometime, and we are very excited to have been provided with this beautiful Shun Classic Chinese Chopper 18 cm from online kitchenware retailer Everten.

This knife is an absolute dream to work with. The first time we used it was to cut through a large chunk of partially frozen pork shoulder, and it cut through like butter. The beautiful Damascus pattern on the blade adds a bit of luxury to your cooking, and the whole experience will leave you feeling like a very powerful head chef in a top Chinese restaurant.

This knife is particularly good for cutting up crispy roast pork belly. There is enough weight in that you can easily build up the momentum needed to cut cleanly through the crispy skin without shattering it, leaving nice clean edges. This is the main advantage over using a standard chefs knife. The blade is also extremely sharp so it just glides through the meat without squeezing out all the juices.

Why I Boil the Meat First

There are a few reasons I boil the meat first before putting it in the air fryer:

  1. It takes a lot less time to cook – This has many benefits, including being able to have crispy pork roast on a weeknight.
  2. The meat won’t dry out – Since you are cooking the meat for a lot less time in the air fryer, the meat will not burn or dry out.
  3. Punching holes into the skin is considerably easier – If you don’t have the correct hole punching tool, this task can be very hard and cumbersome. This is because raw skin is tough and doesn’t break easily. You have to apply a lot of force and use something sharp and sturdy like an ice pick. If you boil the meat first however, you can poke holes in the skin with a bamboo skewer. So much easier!

Lessons Learnt about Crackling

I have had many attempts with trying to get the crackling right, and here is what I have learnt:

  • You have to dry the pork skin. There isn’t any way around this. I highly recommend putting the roast pork in the fridge overnight or for at least 12 hours.
  • Do not punch holes that are too deep with the skewer. If you pierce through to the meat then the juices will come flowing up and soften the crispy skin.
  • Rub salt into the skin before you let it dry out in the fridge. It just helps to pull the moisture out. Pat the skin dry with a paper towel once the moisture starts to collect.
  • Make sure the air fryer is preheated before putting the pork roast in. I know that not all air fryers can do this but if yours can, then it does make a difference.
  • Use the “roast” setting on your air fryer (if you have one), where the heat comes directly from the top without the fan.
  • If your air fryer has multiple racks, then put the roast pork towards the upper racks.

What to Look for When Buying Pork Belly

Here are some tips I have found very useful in choosing a good piece of pork belly.

  • A nice flat pork belly will help to evenly distribute the heat onto the skin. This will increase your chances of getting a nice uniformly crispy skin.
  • Choose a pork belly with more meat. There is always enough fat on this cut of meat, so ones with more juicy meat would be better.

My Other Tips for Perfectly Crispy Roast Pork Belly

  • Boil the pork belly skin down first in a fry pan to prevent the pork belly from curling too much.
  • Do not salt the sides and the bottom of the meat while drying. You want the meat to stay juicy and not dry.
  • Cutting slits into the meat will allow the salt and spice powder to penetrate the meat better.
  • Do not cut it straight out of the oven. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes so the skin won’t shatter as you chop it with your knife.

What to Serve Crispy Roast Pork Belly with?

  • Jasmine rice, sliced cucumber and soy sauce to dip – this is easily my favourite. It easy, quick and comforting.
  • In sandwiches like a Vietnamese banh mi. Add some pickled carrots, cucumber, coriander and soy sauce to a bun and you have yourself a fantastic sandwich.
  • If you are to have it on its own, then try with normal mustard, hot English mustard or simply soy sauce.

Crispy Roast Pork Belly in Air Fryer

Crispy Roast Pork Belly

Course Rice Dish
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword Crispy Roast Pork Belly
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Drying Time 12 hours
Servings 4 people
Author Scruff

Ingredients

  • 0.8 – 1 kg pork belly
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp sea salt,
  • 1 tsp sugar

Skin Rub

  • 1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Meat Rub

  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. If there is any hair on the pork skin, scrape it off with a knife. Then wash the pork belly under a tap.

  2. In a fry pan on medium high, add the water, salt and sugar.

  3. Once boiling add the pork belly skin side down and cook for 8 minutes on each side.

  4. Once done, remove the pork belly and let it cool on a rack. Pat dry with some paper towel when it is cool enough to do so.

  5. Get a meat skewer and punch holes lots of holes into the skin of the pork belly – this usually takes me about 5 – 10 minutes. Do not punch holes so deep that it reaches the meat.

  6. Brush the pork skin with vinegar and then sprinkle half the salt. Let it rest for 10 minutes and repeat the process.

  7. Put the pork belly into the fridge uncovered and allow the skin to dry for a minimum of 12 hours. If you can, check on it every now and then to wipe off any moisture that comes to the surface.

  8. Take your pork belly out of the fridge and apply the meat rub on the sides and the bottom of the pork belly.

  9. Preheat your air fryer for 5 minutes then cook the pork belly for 40 minutes at 200 C (392 F).

  10. Once done, let it rest for 15 minutes before cutting.

51 thoughts on “Crispy Roast Pork Belly in Air Fryer

      1. Can I just leave it in the fridge over night and not dry it every few hours? Or will that ruin the process?

      2. Hi Sam! Yes, of course. Just pat dry the skin whenever you can. Thanks for the comment!

    1. Made this last night and it ended up totally as shown
      Very good taste and crackle on the skin
      Paulj

      1. Hi Paulj! We are really chuffed to hear that it went well for you! Thank you for leaving a comment and letting us know!

      1. Thank you very much for the sharing and it is really awesome. Indeed the skin is very crunchy…!

  1. Thanks for your recipe. I marinated the meat first then dried it in the chiller though. It was so crackling until I cant believe it! 🙂 Better than most restaurants, really worth the effort in the poking process.

    1. Hi Mary! I honestly don’t know for sure since I don’t have one. But from the ones I have looked up, it can’t see why it wouldn’t work. Hope it all goes well.

  2. I made this yesterday and it was outstanding. Thank you so much for doing all the hard work and streamlining this recipe. There are way too many recipes out there with different ways of doing it with so many other ingredients. Your recipe was so much more easier to make than I expected and it tasted delicious just like at the local Chinese restaurant. My husband was super impressed. You guys rock!

    1. Thank you so much Mai!!! We are really glad you liked the recipe and for letting us know. Have a good day!

  3. Hi there, I currently have a Breville smart top airfryer oven after the Phillips one gave up its ghost.. Am wondering if that is what you are using? From the photo, it doesn’t look like a Phillips one. If yours is similar, do you just set it to Air fryer mode? I would like to find out if the process leaves the oven at a huge oily mess. The roast pork looks amazing!

    1. Hi Donna! I use a Smith and Noble air fryer which I can’t seem to find on the net for some reason. It is very similar to a Devanti 9L Air Fryer. And yes, there will be a bit of mess after cooking. But as you probably already know, cleaning an air fryer is no where near as troublesome as cleaning an oven. Thanks for the comment!

  4. I’m definitely going to try boiling the meat first from now on! Thanks for some great tips – especially about why we shouldn’t pierce the skin too deep. I didn’t know about the juices spilling out and softening the skin.
    I’m intrigued by the pictures of your air fryer. would you mind sharing what brand you use? I have a Philips but it’s a little too small and I’m thinking of upsizing.
    Thank you again!

    1. Hi Janice! My parents bought me one as a gift about a year ago. The brand is Smith and Noble which I can’t seem to find a picture of on the internet. But it looks very similar to a Devanti 9L Air Fryer which is much more popular. Thanks for dropping a comment!

  5. Hello there, I’ll be using an oven, can you let me know what temperature to use and how long? Tq. “Cooking for dummies” 😅

    1. Hi Jillian! Honestly, I have tried making this in the oven many times and it never works quite well. That is why I have turned to the air fryer. I would love to give you instructions to do it in the oven but I am simply not confident. Sorry!

  6. Hi! This recipe sounds great! How much total time would you say the pork has to be boiled for?
    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Jo! I boil the pork in a deep fry pan for 8 minutes on each side. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  7. Hi Scruff – do you leave the salt on the skin or wipe it off before you put in the fridge overnight?

    1. Hi Sharon! I leave the salt on the skin to help it dry out. I only wipe off moisture that has pooled on top of the skin. Thanks for comment!

  8. I have Cuisinart Fryer and this turns out perfectly if you follow the instructions. My only change, and I think this varies from fryer to fryer, is that the crackling was starting to burn into the 30 minute mark however after adjusting shorter time and less heat to 35 minutes and 180c it turned out as good as any of the best Chinese Roast meat restaurants I’ve tried. Encourages me to try other recipes. Thanks for your dedication to excellence and very clear instructions.

    1. Hi Chris! Thank you for your kind words! And yes I agree that each air fryer needs a slight tweak here and there in terms of cooking times. Thank you for letting us know of your experience and I will incorporate your feedback into the post.

  9. We subbed maple syrup for sugar but used the same cooking technique and it was truly one of the most beautiful, tender and flavorful pieces of pork ever.

  10. I’ve definitely enjoyed my air fryer so much more since discovering all your air fryer recipes. This one especially is my favorite!

  11. I am using the Instant Pot Vortex fryer. Mine didn’t come out like yours. The skin was just slightly crunchy and chewy. Maybe it was my cut of pork. Will have to try it again.

    1. Hi Ray! That’s unfortunate. If the pork is chewy then it is usually because it hasn’t been dried out for long enough. This recipe is for pork belly only. I have not tried other cuts of pork with this method so I can not give you advice with any confidence. Sorry!

      1. Thanks for your reply. What I meant was it was pork belly but maybe not a good part of the belly.

      2. Hi Ray! Thanks for clearing that up. The main reason the skin goes chewy is because there is too much moisture. I recommend drying out the skin for about 24 hours and wiping away any moisture build up when you can.

        Also, when you are pricking the skin, do not pass the fatty layer. If you go into the meat (too deep), the juices will spew out like a volcano in the cooking process and can make your skin very chewy.

        When buying a piece of pork belly, try to get a nice flat piece. If your pork belly has a crater like formation it will pool up the fat and the oil. This will have a negative effect on your crackling of your skin.

        I hope your next attempt will be a lot better Ray! Good luck!

  12. If I want to cook it for dinner tomorrow, how long can i leave it in the fridge as I will prepare it the day before and then leave in the fridge until i cook it for dinner? Does it matter if it’s left for longer than 12 hours?

    1. Hi! You can leave the pork belly in the fridge for up 2 days before cooking it in the air fryer. Hope that helps!

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