Pork Belly Lechon

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
December 15, 2022 | Updated on March 28, 2024

Pork belly lechon is marinated then slowly roasted until the meat is juicy and tender and the skin is crackling and crispy. The contrast of the salty crunchy skin and the flavorful melt-in-your-mouth meat makes this a delicacy of epic proportions. This popular Filipino recipe is the perfect entree for a comfort meal or holiday dinner.

If you’re looking for more Filipino pork recipes, try my Adobo Sliders, Pork Adobo and Filipino BBQ (Pork Skewers) next!

plated pork belly lechon with a side of toyomansi

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Growing up, pork belly lechon was served at big Filipino celebrations. Because it involved roasting an entire pig, it was typically reserved for very special occasions like birthdays, weddings, or large family gatherings. But today I can make this mouthwatering pork dish whenever the craving strikes, thanks to this simplified recipe!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy – This method for cooking lechon is foolproof and straightforward. It’s a convenient alternative to serving a whole spit-roasted pig. You get crunchy skin and tender meat on a much smaller scale.
  • Delicious – Pork belly is arguably the tastiest part of the pig. You’re cooking the fattiest cut of the meat so it’s bound to be juicy, succulent, and flavorful.
  • Perfect for Parties – A Filipino celebration isn’t complete without crispy pork belly lechon. Serve this at your next get-together and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it disappears.
front view of roast

What is Pork Belly Lechon?

Pork belly lechon is a rolled, roasted boneless pork belly that is stuffed with herbs. It derives from the traditional Filipino dish known as lechon, or roasted suckling pig. Lechon is cooked over an open fire and rotated until the skin is brown and crispy. The method of rolling the pork is similar to porchetta, an Italian dish that consists of roasted, rolled pork. Dan of pork belly? Then check out this Braised Pork Belly recipe!

Tools You’ll Need

Ingredients You Will Need for Pork Belly Lechon

  • Pork belly – When you purchase the pork belly, make sure it still has the skin.
  • Garlic – Use fresh minced garlic and skip on the the bottled stuff.
  • Ginger – It should be coarsely chopped.
  • Bay leaves – I prefer fresh–found in the produce section of your grocer–but dried works, too.
  • Fresh Lemongrass (stalks) – This infuses the meat with a fresh flavor. Use the bottom 4-inches of the stalk and beat with the back of your knife to loosen the fibers.
  • Cane vinegar –  Use the Datu Puti brand.
  • Kosher salt – Coarse salt penetrates the meat and enhances the flavor. Season to taste.
  • Freshly cracked black pepper – Season to taste.

How To Make Pork Belly Lechon

Patience is key when preparing this homemade pork belly lechon recipe; from the preparation and overnight marinating to low and slow roasting in the oven. The final result will make it worth your while!

Prepare

  • Clean pork belly and pat both sides dry with a paper towel. Lay the belly skin-side down and roll the belly onto itself taking into account when the outer skin begins to fold into the roll. Mark with your knife, unroll the belly and using a knife, carefully remove that part of skin. It’s important to remove this piece since it will be part of the inner belly and will be chewy if not removed.
  • Score the pork belly until you reach the last 1/4 inch edge of the belly. Cut deep enough so that it cuts through the meat and into the fat, but take care to not cut all the way through.
overhead view of scored pork belly
  • Pour vinegar over the belly, then generously season with kosher salt and black pepper. Massage the seasonings into the belly then evenly top with garlic and ginger. Arrange lemongrass and bay leaves on one side of the belly, then roll.
seasoned pork belly

Marinate

  • Secure the belly by tying it with kitchen twine. Rub the skin with kosher salt, then place uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Remove belly from the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking and set on the countertop. Preheat oven to 325°F.
raw pork rolled up with twine

Roast

  • Roast pork belly lechon on the middle rack for 3 hours or internal temperature registers at 160°F.
  • To crisp up the skin, place rack on the lowest setting and increase oven temperature to BROIL. Keep a close eye on the belly and roast until desired crispiness is reached, about 8-13 minutes, depending on your oven.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Carve into 1-inch pieces and serve with garlic rice and toyomansi.
roasted pork belly lechon

Tips and Tricks

  • Use fresh pork. Old or frozen cuts of pork will not yield crunchy skin. If possible, get a fresh slab from the butcher or get it at the meat counter at your local grocery store. Ensure the pork comes with the skin on or you’re missing the best part of this recipe. The meat of pork belly should be pale pink and firm.
  • Poke the meat with a knife just before roasting. This helps with rendering the fat and crisp the skin up without drying out the meat underneath it.
  • Refrigerate the pork overnight. Leave the meat uncovered so the skin dries out and gets crispy when roasted.
  • There are no shortcuts. Roasting the pork at a lower temperature over several hours is necessary. The heat slowly breaks down the muscle fibers which softens and tenderizes the meat and allows it to fully absorb the seasonings.
  • Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes after roasting. That way, all of the natural juices redistribute so the pork will be moist when you slice it.
  • Don’t forget the last broil step. This will ensure that signature crispy skin. Just be sure to keep a close eye on it.

Storing Leftovers

Store leftover pork belly lechon in an airtight container in the fridge. Consume it within 3 days. If frozen, it can last up to 3 months. Wait for the meat to cool before storing it.

How to Reheat

Thaw frozen pork overnight in the refrigerator. To reheat pork belly, bake it in the oven or air fryer at 400°F until the skin is crispy.

side view of roasted pork

Variations

Boiling. Some pork belly lechon recipes include boiling, then simmering the pork for an hour before placing it in the fridge overnight. This step is totally optional and in my experience, not necessary. Using the methods listed above, your pork belly lechon will be perfectly tender without this extra step.

sliced pork belly lechon

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my pork belly lechon not crispy?

If your pork belly lechon is not crispy, then you may not have used enough salt when seasoning. Alternatively, you may have not coated the skin evenly with the salt. Salt reacts to the fat in the pork belly, causing the skin to puff up and harden. Also, remember to broil the pork belly just before taking it out of the oven.

What should you serve with pork belly lechon?

Serve pork belly lechon with Sinangag-Filipino Garlic Rice and a side of homemade toyomansi or atchara.

Looking for More Filipino Recipes?

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pork-belly-lechon

Pork Belly Lechon

Pork belly lechon is marinated then slowly roasted until the meat is juicy and tender and the skin is crackling and crispy. The contrast of the salty crunchy skin and the flavorful melt-in-your-mouth meat makes this a delicacy of epic proportions. This popular Filipino recipe is the perfect entree for a comfort meal or holiday dinner.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings 3 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Filipino

Equipment

  • Wire Rack
  • Baking Sheet
  • kitchen twine

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork belly, skin on, 12 x 5 inches
  • cup garlic, minced (fresh, not bottled)
  • cup ginger, chopped
  • 3 large bay leaves, fresh, dried works, too
  • 4 stalks lemongrass, bottom 4-inches
  • tablespoons cane vinegar, Datu Puti brand
  • Kosher salt, season to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper season to taste

To Pair

  • Siningag – Filipino Garlic Rice
  • Toyomansi

Instructions

  • Clean pork belly and pat both sides dry with a paper towel. Lay the belly skin-side down and roll the belly onto itself taking into account when the outer skin begins to fold into the roll. Mark with your knife, unroll the belly and using a knife, carefully remove that part of skin. It's important to remove this piece since it will be part of the inner belly and will be chewy if not removed.
  • Score the pork belly until you reach the last 1/4 inch edge of the belly. Cut deep enough so that it cuts through the meat and into the fat, but take care to not cut all the way through.
  • Pour vinegar over the belly, then generously season with kosher salt and black pepper. Massage the seasonings into the belly then evenly top with garlic, and ginger. Arrange lemongrass and bay leaves on one side of the belly, then roll.
  • Secure the belly by tying with kitchen twine. Rub the skin with kosher salt, then place uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Remove belly from the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking and set on countertop. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Using a knife poke holes throughout the outer roll. Roast pork belly on the middle rack for 3 hours or when the internal temperature registers at 160°F.
  • To crisp up the skin, place rack on the lowest setting and increase oven temperature to BROIL. Keep a close eye on the belly and roast until desired crispiness is reached, about 8-13 minutes, depending on your oven.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Carve into 1 – 1½ inch thick slices and serve with garlic rice and toyomansi.
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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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