This crispy pork belly (siu yuk) made in the air fryer tastes just as good as the oven method but needs only a fraction of the time to make! No overnight drying, par boiling, or baking soda needed!
Who doesn't love a good Cantonese crispy pork belly (siu yuk), especially one made in an air fryer?! It's incredibly easy to make. No need for overnight drying, par boiling the skin, nor baking soda!
This air fryer crispy pork belly is super juicy, flavorful, tender, with melt in your mouth fat. But most importantly, the pork skin is perfectly golden brown and crispy.
If you love this pork belly recipe, you may also like our Chinese braised pork (hong shao rou). A total change of texture and flavor, but so very good!
What is crispy pork belly?
Cantonese roast pork belly, also known as crispy pork belly or siu yuk (烧肉), is a classic Cantonese pork dish. You can find this at almost any Chinatown restaurants and sometimes at Chinese supermarkets as well.
This Cantonese style crispy pork belly features a slab of skin-on pork belly with melt in your mouth fat, tender, juicy, super flavorful meat, and a beautiful crispy pork skin.
- Skin-on pork belly - It is crucial that you use a slab of skin-on pork belly. Also, try to pick a slab of pork belly that's even in thickness and has at least even ratio of fat to meat. Personally, we prefer a 2:1 meat to fat ratio.
- Salt - We recommend using kosher salt (or any coarse salt). Salt will be used as part of the spice mix and to help dry out the pork belly skin.
- Brown sugar - Either light or dark brown sugar will work. It adds more flavor than regular granulated white sugar. But if you only have regular, that is okay too.
- Chinese five spice powder - Five spice is the main flavoring of the spice mix for the crispy pork belly.
- Ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper - These spices are all optional, but we highly recommend it if you have them! They will add a lot more flavor to your pork belly.
- Oil - Any neutral oil with a high smoking point will do (vegetable, soy, grapeseed, etc). Just a small amount will do. It's for lightly brushing the pork belly skin.
How to make crispy pork belly in an air fryer
Make the seasoning mix:
Combine all the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a bowl (brown sugar, salt, five spice, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper). Mix and set aside.
Prepare the pork belly for air frying:
1. Pat dry the pork belly using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
2. With the pork belly skin side up, lightly score the pork skin just deep enough to cut through the skin. Repeat across the entire pork skin, about 1 inch apart. Turn the pork belly 90 degrees and repeat. You can score diagonally to make diamonds or straight for squares.
🌟 Pro tip: Make sure to NOT cut into the meat! Cutting into the meat will cause the meat to release its juice and prevent the pork belly skin from becoming crispy. Cutting into the fat is fine. A sharp knife is recommended.
3. Flip the pork belly skin side down. Score the meaty part of the pork belly with ¼ inch deep cuts all the way across the meat, about 1 inch apart. Turn the pork belly 90 degrees and repeat. Make sure to not cut too deep! We still want the pork to stay intact.
Season the pork belly:
4. With the pork belly still skin side down, generously season the meaty part of the pork belly with the prepared seasoning mix. Make sure to get into the shallow cuts you just made. We used the entire seasoning mix for a 1 ½ pound slab of pork belly.
🌟 Pro tip: Make sure to not get any of the seasoning on the skin! The seasoning will burn and blacken the skin. If you get the seasoning mix on the skin, just wipe it off before air frying.
Air fry the pork belly:
5. Place the seasoned pork belly on a sheet of aluminum foil, skin side up. Wrap and fold the foil up to create a make shift tin that covers the sides of the pork belly while keeping the top open. This will hold the pork belly juices and fat as it cooks.
📝 Note: The reason we recommend using foil to create a tin is because you can freely form the foil to wrap around the pork belly. The tin acts as a steamer which keeps the pork belly juicy while the skin gets cooked with dry heat.
6. Dry the pork belly skin again if needed. Sprinkle a generous amount of coarse salt evenly on the pork belly skin. It doesn't have to be a thick layer.
7. Place the pork belly in the air fryer basket and air fry on 200°F for 35 minutes. After the 35 minutes, scrape off the salt and brush a thin layer of oil on the entire pork skin.
🌟 Pro tip: Don't scrape the salt into the aluminum tin! That will over salt the pork belly. Instead, you can scrape it into the air fryer basket for disposing later.
8. Increase the air fryer temperature to 400°F and air fry for another 40 minutes, or until the pork belly is cooked through and the skin is golden brown and crispy.
9. Once done, remove the pork belly from the air fryer and the tin. Let the pork belly rest on your cutting board for at least 10 minutes before cutting. After resting, cut the pork belly into your desired size and enjoy while hot!
🌟 Pro tip: It is easier to cut the pork belly skin side down. But make sure to let the pork belly rest skin side up to prevent juices from making the skin soggy.
📝 Note: Resting the pork belly will allow the meat to reabsorb the juices. So when you cut it up, less juice will flow out and your pork belly will stay juicy.
Tips to make your pork belly crispy
- Dry the pork belly skin well before air frying. Make sure to thoroughly dry the pork skin with paper towels or clean kitchen towel.
- Generously sprinkle coarse salt on the pork belly skin. Salt draws out moisture, which will dry out the pork belly skin during the initial cooking time.
- Don't cut too deep into the skin. Only score the skin just enough to cut through the skin. Cutting into the fat is fine. But avoid cutting into the meat. It will release juices as it cook, which will prevent the skin from crisping up.
- Instead of scoring the pork belly skin, you could poke holes instead. If you don't want that score mark on the pork belly, you could poke lots of holes in the skin instead. Use a toothpick or meat tenderizing tool. Do remember to not poke into the meat!
- Choose the right pork belly. Try your best to find a slab of skin-on pork belly that's even in thickness and have at least equal amounts of fat to meat. Pork belly with 2 to 1 ratio of meat to fat will be even better.
- Don't get the seasoning mix on the pork skin. The pork skin will darken and burn if the seasoning mix gets on it. If you do get some seasoning on it, just wipe it off before air frying.
- Be generous with seasoning the meaty part of the pork belly. Make sure to get the seasoning mix into the shallow cuts of the pork belly. That will ensure the meat is well seasoned and super flavorful.
- Every air fryer is different. So adjust the air frying temperature and time as you see fit. Our cook time and temperature is based on our Power XL 7Qt air fryer.
If you know you'll have leftover crispy pork belly, cut it into thick strips and store the it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days. Make sure to let the pork belly cool all the way before refrigerating!
You can also freeze the crispy pork belly for up 1 to 2 months. Do note that the skin won't be as crispy as when fresh.
How to reheat crispy pork belly
To reheat refrigerated crispy pork belly, wrap the sides of the pork belly strips in foil, keeping the skin up and exposed. Reheated in the air fryer at 350°F for 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through and the skin is crispy.
You can also do the same in the oven if you have a top heating element. Just move the rack to the second to the top position and bake at 375°F for about 10 minutes or until the pork belly is hot and the skin crispy.
Do note that, reheated pork belly will never be as good as when it's freshly made. The meat will be a little dryer and the skin will be tad less crispy.
If your roasted pork belly is not crispy, the most likely reason is that the pork skin is not dried enough. Make sure to pat the pork skin dry, score it, and use generous amount of salt.
Crispy pork belly or Cantonese roast pork belly is also known as siu yuk in Cantonoese.
Pork belly is a fatty, boneless cut of pork from the underside or "belly"of a pig. You could sometimes get pork belly with the ribs attached as well. Pork belly is the most preferred cut of meat for dishes like siu yuk, hong shao rou (Chinese braised pork belly), and char siu.
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipes from our blog, please tag us on Instagram using #twoplaidaprons! You can also tag us in your Instagram stories using @two_plaid_aprons. We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
Crispy Pork Belly (Air Fryer)
For the pork belly:
- 1½ pounds pork belly whole slab, skin-on (try to pick a slab that's even in thickness if possible)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt or any coarse salt
- Oil any neutral oil (for brushing the pork skin)
- Make the spice mix:In a small bowl, combine all the spices for the spice mix (brown sugar, five spice, salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper). Mix well and set aside.
- Prepare the pork belly:Pat dry the pork belly with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels (both the skin side and meaty side).
- Flip the pork belly skin side up. Score the skin lightly, just enough to cut through the skin and repeat the cuts across the pork belly, about 1 inch apart. Turn the pork belly 90 degrees and repeat. You can cut it vertically or diagonally. Do make sure to NOT cut into the meaty part of the pork belly!*Cutting into the meat will release juices as the pork belly cook, preventing the pork skin from crisping up. Please refer to the post for photo references scoring the pork belly.*
- Flip the pork belly skin side down and lightly score the meaty side of the pork belly. Make shallow cuts about ¼ inch deep across the pork belly, then turn the pork belly 90 degrees and repeat the cuts.
- Season the pork belly:Once the pork belly has been scored, generously season the meaty side of the pork belly with the prepared spiced mix. Make sure to season between the cuts too! We used the entire seasoning mix for 1½ pound slab of pork belly.*Do avoid seasoning the pork skin! If any seasoning gets onto the skin, try your best to wipe it off or it will burn.*
- Cook the pork belly:Place the seasoned pork belly onto a large sheet of aluminum, skin side up. Wrap the aluminum around the pork belly to cover the sides of the pork belly while keeping the top open. This will hold all the juices and fat as the pork belly cooks.
- Dry the skin again if needed and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of coarse salt on the pork skin. It should be enough to generously cover the skin.
- Place the pork belly in the air fryer basket and air fry at 200°F for about 35 minutes. This process is to dry out the skin so that it'll crisp up later.
- Once the 35 minutes are up, scrape the salt off the pork belly and brush the pork skin lightly with a nuetral oil. Increase the air fryer temperature to 400°F and air fry for about 40 mintues or until the skin is golden brown and bubbly.
- Carefully remove the pork belly from the air fryer basket and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Cut the pork belly to your desired size and serve while hot!
- Pork belly - Try your best to find a slab of pork belly that's even in thickness. It'll ensure that the pork belly is evenly cooked. If need be, you can also trim the pork belly so that it's even.
- Air fryer - Because every air fryer is made differently, the settings and temperature may vary as well. So if need be, please adjust the cook time and temperature accordingly. Our cook time is based on Power XL 7Qt air fryer.
- Rest the pork belly after cooking. It is very important that you let the pork belly rest for about 10 minutes so that the meat can cool down and reabsorb all the juices. This way, the pork belly will stay juicy.