Home-Cured Pork Belly Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Paul Bertolli

Adapted by Julia Moskin

Home-Cured Pork Belly Recipe (1)

Total Time
30 minutes, plus at least 1 week for curing
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Tesa, cold-cured pork belly with a delicious spice coating, is the easiest home-curing project, according to Paul Bertolli, the charcuterie guru, who provides the technique in his book “Cooking by Hand.” No special ingredients are needed except for pink curing salt, a mix of sodium nitrite and regular salt. I bought mine (marketed as Insta Cure No. 1) on Amazon.com. You supply space in the refrigerator and the ability to keep it quite cold, below 40 degrees. (If your refrigerator does not have a digital thermostat, you’ll need a good thermometer.) After two weeks my tesa had lost about 15 percent of its weight, indicating that it was ready to eat cooked. A 10-pound piece of pork belly is about as large as a sheet pan, but the recipe can easily be halved. Just take care to use exactly ⅛ teaspoon of curing salt for each pound of meat. —Julia Moskin

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  • ¼cup black peppercorns
  • 1dozen cloves
  • 1dozen allspice berries
  • 1dozen juniper berries
  • tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 1teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • ¾cup kosher salt
  • teaspoons pink curing salt
  • 10-pound piece of pork belly, with the skin
  • 1head of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½cup red wine

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (54 servings)

442 calories; 45 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 21 grams monounsaturated fat; 5 grams polyunsaturated fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 0 grams sugars; 8 grams protein; 207 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Home-Cured Pork Belly Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, juniper berries and hot red pepper flakes. Grind until coarse.

  2. Step


    Mix the spices with nutmeg, kosher salt and curing salt.

  3. Step


    Rub the spice and salt mixture all over a 10-pound piece of pork belly, with the skin. Peel and coarsely chop 1 head of garlic, combine it with ½ cup red wine, and rub this on the meat, too. The wine helps the salt find its way into the meat.

  4. Step


    Arrange a metal rack on a sheet pan with sides and place the meat on the rack, to allow airflow. Leave it in the refrigerator for a week. Turn it over daily and pour off any liquid. The tesa is ready when the salts have penetrated to the center, one to two weeks depending on how thick the belly is. Test after one week by tasting a thin slice from near an edge, crisped in a pan. Once cured, the tesa can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for a month, or frozen. Cook it as you would bacon or pancetta; it’s especially good as crisp lardons in a salad.



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Cooking Notes


Can this be made without the sodium nitrites?


Scaled the recipe down for a 3.5 lb (pre-cure) pork belly, and am very pleased with the result. After 6.5 days the pork is beautifully cured, and has a nuanced flavor that makes the effort worthwhile. To those wondering about salt - I used the proportionally-correct volume of Morton kosher, and found the final product too salty. However, this was easily resolved by brushing off the remnant rub.


10 grams diamond Crystal per pound based 102 g for 3/4 cup

Jim Meyer

Kosher salt - Morton's or Diamond Crystal? Since you specify volume, not weight, it's going to make a big difference.

Jim Meyer

Please add weights to your measurements. Morton kosher salt, for example, weighs almost twice as much per unit of volume as Diamond Crystal. So... if you use Diamond Crystal and the reader uses Morton, the results will be far saltier. For the record: 3/4 cup of Morton's weighs 180 grams (6.35 oz); 3/4 cup of Diamond Crystal weighs 102 grams (3.6 oz).

Katy Balagopal

this was great - easy, delicious. Used skinless pork belly, 5 lbs. I was excited and shared too much with my neighbors so making it again this week shhhhh

Katy Balagopal

Used 5 lb skinless pork belly, cured one week. Delicious! Or as my 83 yo Mom said "That is mighty fine!"


Can you add liquid smoke to give it that smokey, bacon flavor?

Samantha P

Better than store bought. On its own, and with Fettucini Carbonara: 4 egg yolks, 1/4 C shredded parm, 1/4 chopped walnuts, and 4 oz of this dreamy bacon. About 1/4#of pasta. One serving.


When you place the metal pan/rack in the refrigerator for a week, do you leave the meat uncovered this whole time or should you cover with plastic wrap?


The meat should be uncovered. And if you can manage it, two weeks is better than one.


Can this be made without the sodium nitrites?


Hummmm.....I have been wanting to do this for quite some time now. However I did have to substitute maybe half of the whole black peppercorns with Penzeys European-Style and I used already minced garlic for the whole fresh,roughly chopped. I also have the Paul Bertolli cookbook Cooking by Hand which I compared to this recipe. Will let you know how it turns out!!! Can't wait!!


Finally had the time and courage to test out the curing process of the pork belly....end result looks fantastic and the taste is incredible!! I think that next time I may take off the skin prior to curing. Was a tad bit anxious about the spices used but will definitely do this again and again! Bacon was crispy yet tender when fried,looking forward to some wonderful meals with this! Thank you!

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Home-Cured Pork Belly Recipe (2024)


How long does pork belly need to cure? ›

Arrange a metal rack on a sheet pan with sides and place the meat on the rack, to allow airflow. Leave it in the refrigerator for a week. Turn it over daily and pour off any liquid. The tesa is ready when the salts have penetrated to the center, one to two weeks depending on how thick the belly is.

Can you cure pork belly without pink salt? ›

It is absolutely possible to cure bacon without nitrates; but be aware that the end product will be more the color of cooked pork and that the flavor will be akin to that of a pork roast. With or without the pink salt, homemade bacon is worth the effort.

How to cure pre-sliced pork belly? ›

To “Home-Cure” one pound of sliced pork belly (“bacon”): Mix 2 Tbs sugar and 1 Tbs salt in 1 pint warm water. Add 1 or 2 shakes of Liquid Smoke. (Optional–this is what gives it a smokey flavor.)

Is bacon just cured pork belly? ›

Bacon is a type of thin-cut pork belly that has undergone curing and smoking (typically over wood like applewood or hickory). Curing is a preservation process that involves rubbing bacon in a mixture of salt, nitrates, and nitrites to preserve the meat and impart its characteristic pink color.

Can you cure pork too long? ›

But it's important to be aware that if you leave the pork chops in the brine for too long, you likely won't end up with the best results. The brine can start to break down the meat, resulting in a texture that's overly-salty and mushy. It's not a pleasant experience.

How to know when pork belly is done curing? ›

Check the belly to see if it's done curing. Press on it in several spots to see if it is firm. If it is not firm all over, let it cure for another day or two.

What happens if you use too much curing salt? ›

Too much can make you sick

For a piece of meat weighing about 5 pounds, 1 teaspoon of curing salt is needed. Put another way, 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 will cure 100 pounds of meat. It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions because going beyond the recommended amount can make a person very sick.

What can I use as a curing salt? ›

Luckily, there are several substitutes that you can use instead of curing salt:
  • Sea Salt: Sea salt contains natural nitrates that can help preserve meat, but it is less potent than curing salt. ...
  • Celery Juice or Powder: Celery juice or powder contains natural nitrates that can be used to preserve meat.
Mar 20, 2023

Why put baking soda on pork belly? ›

Scotese's trick to crispy pork belly is to rub equal parts baking soda and salt into the skin—the combo of baking soda and salt will draw out moisture and set you up for success. Let the pork belly strips "hang out overnight, uncovered, ideally in front of a fan," which will dry them out even more.

Why do you put vinegar on pork belly? ›

White Vinegar helps dry out the skin – but it has a secondary purpose of removing the odour! If you are prepared, place the Pork in the Fridge UNCOVERED overnight – the skin will dry out. When you pre-heat your oven, remove the pork from the fridge and let it return to room temperature.

Why won t my pork belly get crispy? ›

The skin wasn't dry enough. Make sure to pat the pork completely dry before rubbing in the salt and oil as excess moisture will stop it from crisping up. It's important to score the skin if you want it really crisp. You'll need a sharp knife for this, or ask your butcher to do it for you.

Is it cheaper to buy pork belly and make your own bacon? ›

Is it Cheaper to Make Your Own Bacon? This answer depends on how you source your pork belly and what kind of bacon you compare the cost to. If you've raised and butchered your own hogs, then the cost of your pork belly will be less than what you can buy it for from the grocery store.

Why is pork belly so expensive? ›

It goes back to the elementary lessons of supply and demand. According to market analysis, pork bellies' supply is tight. The latest Cold Storage report by the USDA shows stocks of frozen bellies at a record low. Basically, the bacon stash is depleted, and it is time to restock the freezers.

What is cured pork belly called? ›

Bacon & Pancetta: Cured Pork Belly

Bacon and pancetta have the most in common. They are both typically made from pork belly and both are cured for a certain length of time. Both are also considered “raw” and need to be cooked before eating. The process for making the two is slightly different.

Does pork belly have to be cured before smoking? ›

Allow the pork belly to cure for approximately 7 days. A general rule is to cure your bacon 7 days for every inch of thickness.

Is pork belly usually cured? ›

Pork belly is the uber-fatty and rich portion of meat cut from the belly of the pig. It's uncured, and often sold in big slabs, making its preparations much different from sliced streaky bacon.

Can you dry cure pork belly? ›

Dry-cured pork belly becomes its most tender and flavorful when it is first sautéed, then cooked (braised or simmered) in a liquid such as stock, pot likker, or soup. Dry heat is good for rendering fat and crisping, but the pork will be tough until it is braised.

Can you cure bacon for 2 weeks? ›

There are a few different methods when it comes to curing bacon. As mentioned above it takes approximately five days. However, depending on the size of the cut of meat and the type of salt being used, it can take anywhere from three days to two weeks.


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