Smoked Pork Belly

We’ve got a particularly good recipe for y’all and you’ve been asking for this one. We’re smoking up a pork belly with a coffee and brown sugar rub. The coffee isn’t overpowering but gives a nice robust flavor. The brown sugar sweetens slightly, but we finish up this hog on the grill to give it a caramelized and crispy crust.

You can smoke this on any contraption, but today we’re using our Pit Barrel Cooker (more info here). You may have seen us use this before in other recipes and it’s sure my favorite little cooker. It holds heat well and is easy to handle.

So let’s get the wood fired up, the heat going and invite the neighbors over for this one!

Step 1:

First of all, we’re going to mix us some rub. We’ve got about a 4 to 5 pound pork belly and we need to season it up well. The rub is a blend of…

    Now, combine them together in a small bowl (full recipe below).

    pork belly

    Step 2:

    Take your pork belly and lay it  fat side up. We need to score this hog through the fat so the seasoning can penetrate it better.  Take a good sharp knife and cut through the fat layer (but not through the muscle layer). I like to cut it in lines about 3-inches apart. Then, turn the pork in the opposite direction and do the same thing so you’ll end up with about 3-inch squares.

    pork belly

    Generously rub the seasoning blend on that fat side, and be sure to get it in between every little crack. Flip it over and do the same thing on another side, and you are ready to go!

    Important: Reserve about 1 1/4 cups of the seasoning ’cause we’re going to use it later.

    pork belly

    Step 3:

    We’ve got out Pit Barrel Cooker today (info on them here), and I’ve loaded the wood tray with hardwood lump mesquite charcoal.

    We’re going to take the hooks to stick it through our pork belly to hook it up inside the Barrel. You’ve seen me do that before with the chicken, the brisket, too! 

    Hook ’em in there pretty deep, the best in the spot is in between the fat.  Hang it in the Barrel and leave it for about 1 hour or until we can get the temperature to about 165 degrees F.

    pork belly

    Before I shut the lid and let it go, I’m going to add a couple handfuls of hickory wood chips. This is going to give it an extra kick of smoke, and I like how hickory pairs with pork.

    I am going to give you another tip: try to find where that breeze is coming from and always turn the Pit Barrel vent towards it to get the oxygen to circulate that smoke in there. (Watch our video to see it in action, below)

    Step 4:

    When the meat reaching 165F degrees F, we’re going to take it off and remove the hooks. Next wrap the pork securely in foil. At this point, it doesn’t matter which side is up , but you’ll then place the grill grate in the smoker and place the pork on it.

    Let it go another hour or until the temperature is about 185 to 195 degrees F.

    Step 5:

    So, remember the rest of that seasoning that we mixed up? We’ve got about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ of a cup left. Add to that about ½ cup of brown sugar and mix it again.

    pork belly

    Rub that mix again on both sides of the pork.

    We’re actually going to grill it now to give it a little caramelization and crispiness.

    You can use the Pit Barrel or hot grill and place the pork fat side down. On a regular grill, you’ll probably go about 15 minutes or so.

    At this point, you’re only grilling it fat side down until the fat gets crispy.

    Step 6:

    When you get to the point where you like it, go ahead and pull that pork off the fire and lightly cover in foil to rest for a few minutes and cool off.

    Slice it up and enjoy! You’ll catch those good flavors of smoke, light coffee and caramelized brown sugar goodness.

    Smoked Pork Belly - Cowboy Kent Rollins

    Prep Time 4 hours 10 minutes
    Total Time 8 hours


    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • 3 tablespoons coffee preferably regular grind
    • 1 tablespoon coarse ground pepper
    • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon Red River Ranch Mesquite seasoning see note for substitution
    • 1 4-5 lb. pound pork belly
    • Additional ½ cup light brown sugar


    • In a small bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.
    • Score the fat side of the pork belly, through the fat only in about 3-inch squares. This allows for the seasoning to penetrate better.
    • Rub the pork well with the dry seasoning, making sure you season in between the cuts areas. Be sure to reserve about 1 ¼ cups of the seasoning to use later.
    • Cover and place in the icebox for at least 4 hours.
    • Remove the pork about 30 minutes before cooking. Meanwhile, add hot coals to the tray of the Pit Barrel Cooker or other smoker.
    • Place hooks deep through the short side of the pork belly and hang on the rebar of the Pit Barrel.
    • Add a couple handfuls of hickory chips (or hardwood of your choice) to the hot coals for extra smoke flavor.
    • Cook for about 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F.
    • Remove the pork belly and wrap in foil or butcher paper. Place the pork belly on the grill grate of the Pit Barrel and cook for about 1 to 1 ½ hours more or until the internal temperature is between 190 and 195 degrees F.
    • Meanwhile, stir in the additional ½ cup of brown sugar to the reserved seasoning which will help caramelize the pork.
    • Remove the pork belly from the foil and rub both sides with the reserved seasoning.
    • Place fat side down onto a hot and greased grill (or Pit Barrel) for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the fat is crispy
    • Lightly cover with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


    Mesquite seasoning available at, for substitution use your favorite all purpose blend or seasoned salt. 
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!