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sliced pork belly in a white tray
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5 from 8 votes

Slow Cooked Pork Belly

This slow cooked pork belly is simple, fool-proof and completely delicious! Twice-cooking the pork makes it succulent and fall-apart tender, with the perfect, crispy crackling. Served with a sticky, spiced citrus sauce and your choice of sides, it is guaranteed to impress. And it is much easier to make than you’d think!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time3 hrs 30 mins
0 mins
Total Time3 hrs 40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 6
Calories: 718kcal


For the pork belly

  • 1.2 kilograms pork belly (2.64 lb) boneless, with the skin thinly scored
  • 8 star anise whole
  • 2-3 brown onions peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice, ground
  • rock salt about 1-2 cups (it will be discarded after cooking)
  • 2 cups water

For the orange sauce

  • 2 strips orange peel Use one whole orange for the peel and juice
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice freshly squeezed (approx. juice from one whole orange)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ⅓ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ tablespoon Chinese five spice, ground
  • 2 cinnamon sticks whole
  • plus the star anise from the cooked pork belly


For the pork belly

  • If the pork skin is not already scored, use a sharp knife to carefully slice lines along the skin about 1cm apart, being careful not to cut too deep. Avoid piercing the fat or meat layers. Place the pork belly in a container (uncovered) and leave it in the fridge overnight for the skin to dry out. **This step is optional and can be skipped if you are short on time, but is highly recommended.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 230°C/446 F. Prepare a deep roasting pan with a fitted wire rack that sits above the bottom of the pan.
  • In the roasting pan, place the chopped onion, star anise and water in the bottom of the tray.
  • Use a paper towel to dry the pork skin. Rub the olive oil and Chinese five spice all over the meat (but not the skin).
  • Place the pork belly skin side up in the tray on the wire rack, sitting over the water bath. **The bottom of the pork belly should not touch the water.
  • Mould some aluminium foil around the sides of the pork, about an inch higher than the skin. Cover the skin with rock salt so you can't see any skin (the foil should hold the salt in place).
  • Cook the pork for 30 minutes at 230°C/446F, before turning the oven down to 150°C/300 F and continue to cook for a further two hours. **Keep an eye on the water level in the pan, as it will reduce over time. There should always be water in the bottom of the pan, to prevent burning. If the level gets too low, carefully add a little more water.
  • Remove the pork from the oven and remove the salt from the skin. Cover the pork with foil and rest at room temperature for up to 2 hours. You can start the second cook immediately, if you are short on time. Reserve the star anise for the pork belly sauce.

For the second cook

  • Place the pork belly onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook for one hour at 150°C/300 F.
  • After one hour, turn the grill/broiler up to 230°C/446 F and adjust the height of the shelf so that the top of the pork belly is at least 25cm (10 ") from the top element, to prevent the skin from burning in patches. The skin will start to bubble, puff and become golden under the grill. Keep a close watch, as this will happen quickly (around 5 minutes). Don't place the skin too close to the heating element, or it will burn before it crisps.
  • Slice the pork into pieces and serve hot, with the sticky sauce and your choice of sides. Enjoy!

For the sauce

  • Place all of the sauce ingredients, including the remaining star anise, into a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for around 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly and becomes glossy. Be careful not to reduce it too far. It will thicken further as it cools.
  • Strain the sauce through a sieve, into a jug. Pour the sauce over the meat when ready to serve.


  1. For best results, start the day before you want to serve your pork. Drying the pork skin in the fridge overnight makes super crispy skin!
  2. Finely scoring the pork skin, either in straight or crisscrossed lines makes all the difference, resulting in the signature puffy and crisp crackling you know and love. If you are not confident in scoring the skin yourself, ask your butcher to do it for you
  3. When scoring the skin, be careful not to cut through to the fat or meat layers. (Doing this will make the meat juices seep into the skin, making it wet and prevent crisping.)
  4. Keep an eye on the water level in the pan during the first cook. There should still be water at the end of the 2.5 hours. If it starts to reduce too much, carefully add a little more to prevent the onion and bottom of the pan from burning.
  5. During the grilling/broiling step to crisp up the crackling, ensure that the pork isn’t too close to the grill/heat element. If it’s too close, the top of the crackling will start to burn before it has crisped.
  6. The meat will shrink as it cooks and serves between 6-8 people, depending on your desired size. You can increase the weight to serve more people, or cook two bellies side by side if required.
  7. The skin needs to be completely dry before cooking, or it won’t crisp. Use a paper towel to remove any excess moisture from the skin before adding the salt.
  8. To make this recipe ahead, cook the pork as per the recipe below, including the crispy skin. Allow the pork to cool and remove the crackling from the meat. Store the meat in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To store the crackling, place it into a re-usable zip-lock bag or small container and keep it in the fridge. The meat can be re-heated by placing it into the microwave until warmed through, or covered in the oven at 180 C for 5-10 minutes.  The crackle can be re-heated in the oven for 3-5 minutes, but it will become soft if left for too long.
  9. Please note that the nutrition information is based on the full amount of fat being counted in the pork. However, a large amount of fat will render out of the pork as it cooks. So real calories will be lower. Of course, it is still definitely not a low-fat meat! The nutritional information is an estimate only and does not take into account any additional sides served with it.
  10. This recipe is made using Australian cups and spoon measurements. Due to cup sizes varying from country to country, I advise adjusting if necessary.
  11. The orange sauce recipe has been adapted from this recipe from Best Recipes.


Calories: 718kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 67g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 1848mg | Potassium: 307mg | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 28IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg