Sweet and smoky come together for these Teriyaki Pork Belly Burnt Ends. Cube them up or serve them on wooden skewers, either way, they won’t last long. Side of rice? Naw. That just takes up unnecessary space in your stomach for more pork.
This recipe was originally created in collaboration with Derek Wolf at Over The Fire Cooking.
Dark, Sweet, Soy Pork Candy
Read that headline, because it’s the best description I can think of. Every juicy bite of the smoked pork, coated in sweet teriyaki sauce will have your eyes rolling back. You’ll be wondering “Where has this been? Who cares? It’s here now“.
There’s no magic story to this idea, I simply wanted to create a new flavor for pork belly burnt ends while also using the smoker to cook the sauce. Thinking about my Smoked Orange Chicken Lollipops, the East-Asian inspiration hit me like a brick. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had teriyaki pork… anything before.
Testing this was extremely fun, as most BBQ recipes are. Nailing the teriyaki sauce recipe was the first step, which was tested on numerous pounds of bacon for a quick study. Making the sauce was extremely easy, it’s all about balance with the aromatics such as garlic and ginger.
Prepping the Pork Belly for skewers
This was a really fun spin on pork belly burnt ends. These teriyaki pork belly skewers just hit different, like a sticky BBQ popsicle that you didn’t realize you’ve been missing all summer.
Make sure that you use a pork belly with the skin removed. Save the skin for chicharrones if you have to remove it. We sliced the pork belly in half, length-wise. Next, the pork belly was sliced into 1 1/2″ strips, knowing that they will shrink down during the smoking process.
Season the pork belly generously on all sides with the simple BBQ seasoning:
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup salt
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
This blend is meant to add a base layer to the pork, creating a really nice bark and highlighting the meaty flavors. The homemade teriyaki sauce will come through later, punching the pork with hits of aromatics and spice. Feel free to use this blend as a base for any type of smoked pork recipe.
Can I just make pork belly burnt ends?
Yes, you certainly can. Slice the pork into even-sized cubes, around 2″ each to make sure they stay moist. The process will be very similar, might take slightly less time for the smoking portion.
Smoking the Pork Belly
You’ll need to use a smoker for this recipe, no ovens are allowed. I don’t want to pretend there’s an oven-alternative as this is meant to be a spin on pork belly burnt ends. Get a smoker!
Preheat your smoker for indirect grilling, around 225-250F. I highly recommend using a wire rack to transfer the pork belly in/out of the smoker, and also for seasoning it. These USA pans are incredibly helpful and come with a massive wire rack. Get one, you’ll end up dedicating it to BBQ as we do:
Smoke the pork belly for about 3 hours, until the temperature is around 165-180F. It doesn’t need to be exactly we’re going to be temping the pork at the end to make sure it’s finished to your preference.
Don’t forget the homemade teriyaki sauce! The best time to make it is when the pork is smoking away.
Homemade teriyaki sauce has to be one of the easiest, and tastiest versions of any storebought sauce I can think of. (It’s tough, homemade Alfredo might be a better example only because the jars are so awful.). Add everything into a small saucepot and cook it until it thickens up, can’t be that hard right?
Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- ¼ cup water mixed with 3 tsp cornstarch
There’s always a trick. OK, this is more of a tip: If you want a thinner sauce, skip the cornstarch. The cornstarch slurry is what thickens it, also creating that nice shiny glaze, commonly found in a lot of different Eastern Asian sauces. Leave it out though if you want to make this sauce and glaze chicken on the grill, or plan to stir fry veggies.
Pork Belly Burnt Ends, Teriyaki-style
Smoked pork belly skewer recipes are starting to hit more online, smoking the pork with metal skewers inside. Leave out the skewers for this recipe. Eventually, we’ll be smoking the pork with butter and homemade teriyaki sauce, wrapped up in a foil pan. You don’t want to deal with blazing hot, sticky skewers when you’re trying to prepare the dish. The pork will be soft afterward and you can simply use a skewer at the end.
Add the pork belly, teriyaki sauce, and butter to a foil pan. Wrap it up tight and place it back in your smoker. We’re going to take the pork up to 200-205F, which should take between 60-90 minutes or so. It’s not exact, so after an hour you can temp your pork and feel it. Look to see that it’s softer, very tender. If it’s still extremely firm and would take a knife to cut, but it back in.
Garnish and Skewer
Teriyaki isn’t the same without some simple toppings. Sesame seeds and green onions are highly recommended, but we kicked it up with some thinly sliced red chiles for that extra punch and color of course.
Serve immediately if possible. Your guests have been patient enough, and the lifespan on burnt ends goes down quickly once you remove them from the heat.
Yes, leave them wrapped in the foil pan and turn down your smoker to a lower temp if possible, such as 160-180F. You don’t want to cook the pork any further. This is where an oven could come in handy.
You can see in the photos I used a lump charcoal smoker, and I added hard wood. This will produce a heavier smoke profile than a pellet smoker. It’s not necessarily better, but different smokers will produce different results.
Yes, you can, but if you choose to make sure you don’t skip out on the cornstarch slurry. The sugar helps thicken and emulsify the sauce to a nice glaze. If you skip the cornstarch you’ll have a very thin sauce, not meant to be used for burnt ends. Test it out before you’re halfway through cooking everything to make sure it’s right for you.