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smoked pork belly carnitas with tacos and salsa verde

Smoked Pork Belly Carnitas

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Each crispy bite of Smoked Pork Belly Carnitas is packed with so much juicy flavor and texture. You’ll have a hard time deciding on a taco, sandwich, or just a fork. Seriously simple to pull off, there are no excuses.

  • Total Time: 2 days 6-8 hours
  • Yield: Serves about 10-12 1x


  • 35 pound pork belly, no skin

Pork Carnitas Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Prepare the pork belly. Pat it dry with paper towels. Using a very sharp knife, slice into the pork belly to create a crosshatch pattern, about ¼-inch deep. Do this to both sides, the fat cap and the meaty side.
  2. Mix the ingredients together for the Carnitas seasoning. Sprinkle the seasoning from above onto the surface of the pork belly, rubbing it into all of the cracks and crevices.
  3. Dry-brine the pork belly for 48 hours. Place it on a wire rack with a baking sheet, leaving it in the fridge uncovered for 48 hours. This will deeply season the pork while drying out the surface, absolutely key for creating a crispy bark.
  4. Preheat the smoker for 250°F. When it’s time to cook, fire up the smoker and clean the grates. Remove the pork belly from the fridge as you’re preheating.
  5. Smoke the pork belly. Place the seasoned pork belly into the smoker and allow it to smoke for about 6-7 hours, depending on the size. There is no need to spritz, the smoked pork belly has so much fat that will render out, it will keep it moist and crisp for the end. Smoke until the pork belly is around 180°F internal temperature.
  6. Turn up the heat to 300°F. Cook until it’s around 200-205°F. I’ve had some go as high as 208-210°F before being tender enough. Use a temp probe or toothpick, it should slide right through the smoked pork belly with little resistance.
  7. Remove the pork belly and immediately wrap in butcher paper. Allow it to rest on the counter at room temperature until it falls to at least 190°F before placing it in a cooler for resting. Monitor the temperature and allow it to rest at least for a full hour before shredding.
  8. Shred the pork belly carnitas. The outside bark should be crisp, and the pork will have a combination of meaty strands with bits of fat. All of the textures should be mixed together for the best experience. Serve immediately.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 48 hours
  • Cook Time: 6-8 hours
  • Category: Pork
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Mexican
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